Criminology Essays - Gender Crime Offence

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Gender Crime Offence

Gender-Motivated Bias Crimes

Examining why people view a situation as a hate crime

On June 11th, 2000, there was an attack in Central Park. Over fifty women were assaulted by groups of men after a Puerto Rican Day parade. The women were groped, doused with water, called gender-specific derogatory names and were sexually assaulted. The attackers videotaped the attacks, as did several bystanders. Police were there at the scene, and were notified by victims. However, the police did not try to help.

The newspapers labeled the incident in several different ways, including wilding (another term for sexual violence), wolf pack, rowdy fun, and hate crime. However, a surprising thing occurred. The writers rarely used the term hate crime to describe the Central Park Attack. Lexis-Nexis Academic was used to perform an article search revealing only four articles using the label “hate crime” in over a hundred articles. At issue is what prevented people from labeling the incident a hate crime.

In this research, I examine what causes people to identify a situation as a hate crime or not. I would like to know, for example, whether or not the presence of sexual assault will make people identify a situation as a hate crime more often than the presence of acquaintanceship between victim and perpetrator.

Brief History of Hate Crime Law

As defined in the 1999 National Crime Victim Survey, "A hate crime is a criminal offence committed against a person or property motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias against a race, religion, ethnicity/national origin, gender, sexual preference, or disability. The offence is considered a hate crime whether or not the offender's perception of the victim as a member or supporter of a protected group is correct" (National Crime Victim Survey, 1999, PAGE number?). Do not have one paragraph be little more than someone else’s words. You need to frame it with your own discussion.

Bias-motivated acts have been around for a long time, but it was not until the late 1970’s that the first state-level law addressing “hate crimes” was introduced, when Massachusetts enacted the first state law aimed at hate crime. The enactment of this law followed riots that broke out over court-ordered busing. However, it was not until ten years later that the term “hate crime” officially entered the common language.

It was around this time that the Federal government wrote the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990. The Hate Crime Statistics Act requires the Justice Department to acquire data on crimes which manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity from law enforcement agencies across the country and to publish an annual summary of the findings (Federal Bureau of Investigation).

This background information does not seem relevant. Beyond giving the definition of a hate crime, there is nothing here that ties the legislation back to the central question of “what constitutes a hate crime?” (Or in the original paper – WHO deserves protection?) That discussion is what segueways to introducing the issue of gender. At present there is not a transition between paragraphs and thus this brief history is just sort of stuck in here without it being clear why we needed to know any history.

Gender in hate crimes

Less than half of the states include gender in their anti-hate crime policies, and among those states, prosecutions for crimes based on gender are rare. Overall, there seems to be a lack of recognition when it comes to gender-bias crimes. For example, McPhail and DiNitto (2005) interviewed prosecutors in Texas where gender is included in the state hate crime policy in 2001. Few of the attorneys knew that gender was included as a protected class in hate crime policy. They thought that the interviewers were referring to sexual prejudice. Even the prosecutors were against including gender as a protected class. Over 60% of the attorney’s asserted that the inclusion of gender was both unnecessary and problematic.

When Craig and Waldo (1996) asked people to tell them about their conception of a “typical” hate crime, Craig and Waldo described an act in which violence was perpetrated against an innocent member of a specific minority group by a white male, motivated by ignorance. In a similar study, Boyd and colleagues (1996) asked police officers to describe the “typical hate crime.” Police described a hate crime as one where there was no provocation, no prior relationship between the victim and perpetrator, a specific victim selected based on racial, religious, or sexual identity, and accompanied by derogatory insults. Police also said that affiliation with known hate groups was a clear indicator.

Currently, the place of gender when it comes to hate crimes remains ambiguous. In a study by Saucier and colleagues (2006), participants read scenarios that varied the type of assault (simple vs. aggravated) and type of victim (racial minority, Jewish, homosexual, female, or white male).

They found that the more violent the attack, the more likely it was to be labeled as a hate crime. Also, whenever the crime targeted a minority group, it was considered to be a hate crime. The targeting of a minority also resulted in a longer sentence than an assault of a woman by a white male. When participants were asked to rank the groups according to who they thought would most likely be a target of a hate crime, women were 10th on the list.

There is NO TRANSITION to this paragraph. Why should the reader care about confronting sexism? What connection does that have to the last paragraph and to your paper at large? Czopp and Monteith (2003) found that participants who imagined being confronted with accusations of sexism found this accusation to be amusing or annoying, especially when coming from a woman.

When the participants were confronted about racism, they were more serious and apologetic in their responses. College student participants in 2 studies reported how they would feel, think, and behave after being confronted about either gender-biased or equivalent racial-biased responses. In Study 2, whether the confrontation was from a target group member (Black or female) or non-target (White or male) group member was manipulated. Regardless of confronter status, allegations of racial bias elicited more guilt and apologetic responses than similar confrontations of gender bias, which elicited more amusement. Target confrontations elicited less guilt and greater discomfort than non-target confrontations and were associated with feelings of irritation and antagonism among more prejudiced subjects.

When a hate crime is a hate crime

It is clear from previous studies that demographics matter for….. The victim and perpetrator need to be from different groups. The requirement that victim and perpetrator be of different demographic groups is the first of the criteria provided by the FBI to aid in determining whether a hate crime is a hate crime. Hate crime statistics reveal that the typical perpetrator is a stranger to the victim. There is some evidence that bias-motivated crimes are more likely to be perpetrated by strangers than non-bias motivated crimes (Weisburd and Levin, 1994).

In the case of State of California v. McCall (2000), McCall was charged with five counts of assault and battery. The fifth case was the only case that the jury declared to be bias motivated. The other four cases were deemed to be misdemeanor assaults. The jury believed that the reasoning behind McCall’s attacks were because the women rejected him, not out of bias toward women. In four out of the five attacks, McCall was a stranger to the victim. Before attacking the women, McCall would approach them, exchange comments, and, as the woman walked away, he would knock them down to the ground. During the fifth attack, McCall did not converse with the woman. He knocked her down to the ground without exchanging a word. This fifth victim suffered a fractured skull. (McPhail, 2002).

Hate Crime Motivation

A reason often given for excluding gender in hate crime legislation is the perpetrator’s motivations. While it is true that the perpetrator might not necessarily hate the victim, this is also the case for all other status categories. Hate crime is less about hate, than bias or prejudice. Jenness and Grattett (2001) have reported that recent judicial decisions on hate crime cases have shifted from the offender’s motivation to the offender’s discriminatory selection of his victim.

Research has revealed that most perpetrators act with multiple motives, and often the primary motive is not hate. The primary motive is the perpetrator getting caught up in excitement. The second most common motive is revenge. This is where the perpetrator seeks out groups that they perceive to have wronged them in some way. According to Weisburd and Levin (1994, p. 36), “The key to bias crime categorization is not really about the hateful ‘specific intent’ of the offender, but rather the offender’s discriminatory use of violence to enforce a particular social hierarchy that is biased against the targeted status category.”

At approximately 5:00 p.m. on the afternoon of December 6, 1999, a young white man, 25 years old, named Marc Lepine sought out the classroom wing of the School of Engineering at Michigan Technological University. He stormed into the auditorium of an engineering class and yelled “Okay, everybody stop what they’re doing.” He commenced to line them up while proclaiming that the women were all feminists.

Lepine then began to shoot the women, one by one. He left the classroom and continued on his rampage throughout the hallways. This is a clear case of a gender-motivated bias crime. It is also clear that Lepine was a sexist. “The term hate crime can be misleading if it implies that the attacker’s motivation always is intense personal hatred for the victim’s group” (Herek, 1992). As noted before, hate crimes that fit the prototype rarely have hatred as the primary motive. The thing that underlies hate crimes is a desire to assert domination, power and control over the individual. Again, this write-up is virtually identical to mine.

The Harm of Hate Crimes

Hershberger and D’Augelli (1995) conducted surveys of gay, lesbian and bisexual adults. The respondents who had been victims of hate crimes were more likely to have higher levels of depression, anxiety and anger than victims of other types of crimes.

Weisburd and B. Levin (1994) have suggested that hate crimes attack community cohesion and the social order in general, leading to distrust, fear and anxiety. Hate crimes hurt the specific victims of the crime more as hate crimes are typically more violent than non-bias crimes and have more of a lasting impact on the victim.

When a victim is attacked for something that they cannot change their feeling of control in life is threatened. Hate crimes also affect the community in which the individual is a member of by implying that anyone in the community could be the next to be attacked.


Study 1

In this study, I took a real-life scenario, namely the Marc Lepine massacre in Canada, and manipulated the victim type, presence of sexual assault and acquaintanceship. Victim type was manipulated to see whether participants would apply a hate crime label to an incident based only on victim demographics. The presence of sexual assault was manipulated to see whether the participants would apply a hate crime label to a situation based only upon the presence or absence of sexual assault. Finally, acquaintanceship was looked at to see if participants would apply a hate crime label based on whether or not the perpetrator knew the victims.


H1: Identical crimes that target women will be less likely to be labeled as a hate crime.

H2: The manipulation of victim type will have the largest increase of the application of a

hate crime label.

H3: Acquaintanceship will cause a statistically significant increase in the application of a

hate crime label.

H4: The presence of sexual assault will not have a significant effect of the increase in the

application of a hate crime label.


Participants were recruited from introductory psychology classes at Mississippi State University. Participants were awarded class credit through sona systems for their participation. Consent was achieved through a consent form.


Stimulus Materials:

This study used a scenario modeled after an actual event. The print-out was made to look like a copy of a newspaper clipping. The facts were pieced together from an article by the Associated Press on the incident. The scenario was ? pages and ? words in length.

The scenario was based on a school shooting in Canada by Marc Lepine. It was selected because it represents a clear case of a gender-based hate crime. The aspects that were changed in the scenario were victim type, presence of sexual assault and acquaintanceship.

Assessment materials: This study includes multiple dependent variable measurements. The questionnaire was administered with more open ended questions then proceeding to forced choice questions. The questionnaire asked participants to

(1) summarize the events that happened,

(2) list what they thought the perpetrators motive,

(3) list any contributing factors such as heat or alcohol,

(4) write what they thought the perpetrator should be charged with,

(5) tell whether they had heard anything about the shooting before.

*Note – more will be written about the questionnaire when I have completed it.


This study employed a 2 x 2 x 2 full factorial between-subjects design. Scenarios varied as to Victim Type (Race or Gender), Presence of Sexual Assault, andAcquaintanceship.


Participants were recruited to participate in a study titled “Classifying Crimes.” The participants were instructed that they would receive a newspaper account of an incident. The participants would be asked questions pertaining to the event described, including whether they thought the event was a crime, and if so, what type of crime. They were then asked to list what they thought the perpetrators motivation was, any contributing factors, and intent. In addition, if they thought the event was a crime, they were to say what they felt the appropriate charge and sentence would be. Participants were told that they would be exposed to a description of violence, and if they preferred not to watch violent news or media, they might want to reconsider their participation in the study.