Theories on Female Gangs
Why do females join gangs? Criminologist and researchers have considered a few of their reasons for joining. Recent years research about female gangs and gang involvement has expanded due to the escalation of youth’s involvement in crime, including violent crime. A few researchers such as, Miller (1998) recommend that it victimization starts at a young age, being victimized at an early age can lead to a vicious history of being victimized. Thus, leading to more gang involvement compared to those who are not around gangs or being victimized. Experiencing victimization because of gender inequalities leads to being labelled by people. Victimization such as violence in family and abuse from men or leads to separates them because they don’t feel protected. Therefore to protect themselves any female that’s victimized all become one. This way they feel more protected as one rather than being separate. Joining a female gang can also be because of economic class issues, As Miller (1998) suggest many young women in gangs are living in impoverished urban “underclass” communities. Main theories that gangs in particular evolve around are “Standard Gang Theory” which relates to a gang as a social group who commits crime. The other theory is “Social Network Theory” which means to have a network of people that can perform specific activities. In addition the last theory is the “Social Exchange Theory” which explains the economy and how living in specific areas can change a thought process. Reasons females were targeted for certain delinquent activities was because less attention was paid to it them.
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As per history of female dominance, back in the past female didn’t have the rights to even vote now they stand up for their rights to the fullest. Females who stand up in front of many crowds who have also become more educated with society today are the ones that play a significant role. The ones that stood up were the ones that kept provoking the females to fight back instead of just standing there and take verbal and physical abuse .Bowker, Gross, and Klein (1998) suggested that there was “structural exclusion of young women from male criminal activities” with in the gangs (p.516). Exclusion lead to the point that even if a woman came to the scene they would just terminate whatever was planned. When females started to get excluded from activities they wanted to do something of their own. This leads to the “Standard Gang theory” because when the females decide to do something of their own a new social group is reformed based on the members that join (Fleisher, 2000). Victimization plays a key role in being a member of a female gang, there can by numerous kinds of victimization that a female can go through before they become a part of a gang. Sexually being victimized gives others an idea that a female is available when ever especially if it’s a repeated matter. Research shows that most female gang members have been sexually abused at home. Miller (2001) explains that vast majority noted family problems as contributing factors, is drug addiction and abuse as the most common problems (Hagedorn & Moore, 2001). Women don’t like to feel over powered by men, they don’t like to feel like their only used for certain activities. Females were being stereotyped as “Sex objects” instead of die-hard gang members. This would then lead to females seeking gang membership to escape form domestic labor and violence. The way a gang would then be made is based on the social network of which female knows who. Through their research, Miller (1998), Campbell (1989), and Fleisher (1998), have realized that females are more than just auxiliaries or sex objects.
Social and economic theoretical perspectives suggest that immigrants in urban neighborhoods are the ones that go through soci-cultural difficulties (Miller, 1998). Violence in this case is at higher levels than young women living in communities that are well developed. Most young people agree to the fact that the streets are dangerous, for the reason that no one knows each other. Neighborhoods where the streets are considered a dangerous place is because there is always someone you have to show respect to. For young females that grow up in streets like that always find themselves getting in trouble. Young women that commute to work and back home may not know about other people around them. Social exchange theory argues that people balance their life with support from others and if that support is not there than everything depreciates from there on (Fleisher, 2001). Sutherlands Differential Association theory, suggest that criminal behaviour is learned by associating with other individuals from gangs. Females may start up by already participating in gang related activity such as being dealers or contract killers. It’s hard to be specific on whether or not females take part in more serious violent activities then males. However there are those who do get involved in more delinquent acts but reports show that the rates are lower than male delinquent activities (Hagedorn & Moore, 2001). This usually takes place within many youth gangs. Urban-underclass theory is valid for inner-city girls who are poor and does not work for those whom are middle class or live in rural areas.
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Additionally the main theories for female gangs all lead to victimization and differential association theory. The reason for that is because most females that are included in male gangs or have a separate gang of just females have all went through the phase of victimization. Arguments of poverty, racism, and sexism are concerning factors because females that don’t receive respect, don’t respect. Perhaps, there can be some similarities between male gangs and females gangs and how they work. Bruce Willis says “what causes violent in young adults and adults, is not having a good childhood, not having a father in the house, learning to become a sociopath instead of a good human being” (Hagedorn & Moore, 2001). Dysfunctionality at a young age can change an individual’s thoughts and feelings towards life and make them step into a direction where they are fighting to survive on their own. In conclusion there’s a mix of qualities females have that are part of female gangs, qualities such as parenting, a good education how well they are punished for misbehaving by the criminal justice system. When these qualities tend to fail the move onto living a gang life and settle with those that go through the same problems as they do.
Campbell, Anne. (June 1984) Girl’s talk: the social representation of aggression by
female gang members. In Criminal Justice and Behavior, 11, p139-156.
Fleisher, M.S. (2001). Women and Gangs : A Field Research Study. Illinois State University
Miller, J. 1998. Gender and victimization risk among young women in youth gangs. Journal of
Research in Crime and Delinquency 35:429–45
Miller, J. 2000a. Gender dynamics in youth gangs: A comparison of males’ and females’
accounts. Justice Quarterly 17(3):419–448