Study Questions

Study a range of newspapers and pay close attention to stories involving women offenders.

1. What evidence can you find for the proposition that women are constructed according to their perceived “otherness”? What kinds of motifs and stereotypes are apparent in your chosen news report?

2. To what extent do Lombrosian ideas about “born female criminals,” whose deviance is indicated by their very physiology, permeate contemporary discourses concerning women and crime?

3. What sorts of women conform to mediated ideas about “ideal” victims, and which women are invisible in media discourses about victimization?

4. The unwillingness of media, legal, and academic discourses to recognize the possibility of women’s agency has arguably resulted in other “omissions” in our understanding of female offending. Explanations centering on women’s lust, greed, revenge, or sheer entrepreneurism are curiously absent from criminological inquiries (P. Davies, 2003). What examples of “invisible crimes” can you think of that illustrate this observation?