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Friday, April 2, 2021

Female Aggression: The Liberation Hypothesis

In 1975, a criminologist named Freda Adler shook up her field by publishing a book called Sisters in Crime in which she proposed, with undeniable excitement, that female aggression and criminality were going to catch up with men's. [This has not happened.] As the opportunities opened up by feminism led women to assert themselves, they would adopt more traditionally masculine methods of self-empowerment. Adler envisioned the change primarily in economic terms, as one in which women went for the gold, just as men did, legitimately or illegally, depending upon what avenues were open to them. If their only means were deviant, due to poverty or lack of skill, then their self-assertion would take place within the context of crime. The traditionally higher involvement of African-American women in criminal enterprise would be balanced as white women joined them. White-collar women might engage in embezzlement or insider trading; unemployed women would settle for extortion, trafficking, or robbery. [Only a tiny percentage of robbers are women.] But it would happen. As support for her argument, Adler pointed to the rising crime rates of young women, and to the outbreak of women's prison riots, among other 1970s trends.

Patricia Pearson, When She Was Bad, 1997

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