Female Perpetrators in Prison: Agency, Suffering and the Gendering of Responsibility
1University College of Norwegian Correctional Service, Norway; 2Oslo Metropolitan University
In the intersection between critical criminology and feminism, the juxtaposition of the categories prisoner and woman creates challenges, for complex gendered- and social theoretical reasons. While the critical criminologists were, and still are, engaged in problematisations of black and white thinking around people’s criminality, distancing themselves from reductionist explanations of criminality and emphasising the effects of social processes of marginalisation, feminists have attempted to demonstrate how gender is a social construction impacting differently on the lives of women and men and their opportunities for self-realisation. However, where we permit different feminisms and critical criminology to meet in order to increase our understanding of the lives, conditions, and actions of women in prison, problems arise with regard to how we should relate to the concepts individual responsibility, agency and suffering. Here, discourse hold out two gendered subject positions; the woman as a victim and the man (and prisoner) as a perpetrator, also engaging the contested labelling’s of women as passive and men as active. Taking female prisoner’s engagement with violent crime as our point of departure, our papers ambition is to shed light on the complex and gendered reactions to these violent acts within the judiciary system.
Gender and Women’s Commitment in Mafia Organizations: The Family as a Greedy Institution
University of Milan, Italy
Women play a crucial role within mafia organizations as confirmed by a number of studies, especially focussing on the Italian case, that have emphasised the emergence, during the past few decades, of a growing female presence in the management of the various illegal activities carried out by these groups. Gender relations in mafia groups, however, have been mainly studied through the narratives of women who decided to turn state’s witnesses and through court records. This paper suggests a different approach by focusing on the accounts given by women who are still linked to criminal organizations. It employs qualitative methods and is based on 18 semi-structured discursive interviews with mafia women belonging to the main Italian mafia groups (Camorra, ‘Ndrangheta, Cosa Nostra) who were detained in a high security prison.
The analysis focuses on the role played by family in constructing gender practices within mafia contexts and on the mechanisms used by criminal organizations in order to ensure women’s commitment. In particular, the research shows that family acts as a greedy institution (Coser 1974) thanks to an encapsulation process (Greil and Rudy 1984) which confines women to the role of mothers and caregivers, making them experiencing segregation, especially after sexual maturity, and a coercive control over their bodies. Finally, family also regulates forms of dyadic attachment through the control of matrimonial practices. In conclusion, the paper highlights that gender roles are structured through interactions with mafia group’s norms and needs, which are reproduced within the household contexts. Indeed, mafia family seems to behave as a device for the greedy membership required by mafia organizations.
Ideal family. Women Idealized: The prisoner’s stigma that contradict models constructed historically
Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (Pucrs), Brazil
Analysing biographical narratives of women who were in the prison system in Brazil, it is evidenced how those people try to represent what society expect. They recover in their speeches the gender stereotypes and the role that women play in family, which was constructed historically. The interviewees showed mainly three aspects: stigma; reinforcement of gender stereotypes, used as a way to mitigate the image of ex-prisoners; and learning period. The representations of passivity and delicacy were recurrent associated with women throughout history. Therefore, when they commit a crime, they would be assuming a place reserved for the man, which is more associated with the violation of the established order. Thus, the jail would have the intention of transforming and framing the woman in traditional models, according to sexist patterns. It seeks to reestablish the social role of mother, wife and guardian of the home.
Preparations For The Next Life? Authenticity, Ambivalence And Middle-Class Femininities
1Volda University College, Norway; 2University of Melbourne, Australia
In this paper we explore how professional women in their late twenties/early thirties construct identities as successful middle-class women and the tensions involved in this. Based on qualitative interviews with 19 Norwegian women aged 27-34, we argue that their identity-work is not only tied to their present situation, but also to their imagined future lives and identities.
Drawing on cultural class analysis, we focus on the complex ways in which the participants construct specific classed and gendered identities through their own consumption patterns and the distinctions they draw towards others’ regarding alcohol, nightlife and broader lifestyles. The analysis falls into two parts: first, we consider the ways in which the participants presented themselves as progressive career-oriented women, distancing themselves from what was considered excessive, sexualized and conservative drinking cultures in (mainstream) nightlife. Second, we look at the growing centrality of the home sphere in the participants’ lives, centring around private dinner parties, an interest in food and wine and cultivating close relationships with family, friends and partners. While these practices are becoming more central in the participants’ present lives, they seem particularly pertinent to their imagined futures. However, these imagined futures were marked by feelings of ambivalence.
We conclude the paper by discussing the implications of these findings in relation to the concept of new femininities and we relate the participants’ ambivalence towards their ‘next life (phase)’ to the limitations in terms of gender performances that they seem to associate with this.