What role does coercion play in women’s involvement in crime?
This is the first book to explore coercion as a pathway into crime for co-offending women. Using newspaper articles and case and court files, it analyses four cases of women co-accused of a crime with their partner who suggested that coercive techniques had influenced their involvement in the offending.
Based on a feminist perspective, it highlights the importance of gender role expectations and gendered discourses in how the trials were conducted, and the ways in which the media framed the trials (and the women).
Considering the legal and social construction of coercion, this fascinating book concludes by exploring the implications for public understanding of coercion and female offending more broadly.
perceived threat to the social order (Riggins, 1997; Ajzenstandt and Shapira, 2012). A key aspect of this ‘othering’ process for the co-accused women was to construct them as ‘non-human’ by comparing them to or representing them as monsters, animals or mythical creatures. Janet was often described using animalistic and mythical language, for example, she was described as being ‘savage’ (Daily Mail, 8 March 2013), having a ‘hunger for vengeance’ (Express, 8 March 2013), a ‘vindictive banshee’ (Sun, 9 March 2013b) and was also compared to the mythical creature
2524 COERCION AND WOMEN CO-OFFENDERS THREE UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF COERCED WOMEN Introduction This chapter will outline the feminist methodology deployed in the analysis of the case studies, which involved adopting a woman-centred approach to research and aims to gain a more nuanced understanding of the co-accused women’s experiences and stories (Letherby, 2003). The chapter will also discuss the benefits of using a case study approach in criminological research and will critically consider the strengths and limitations of this particular
‘offender’ identities within such cases, which contradicts the traditional image of the singular victim/offender binary. Traditionally, media, the criminal justice system and criminologists have treated victims and offenders as distinct groups, separate from one another. As highlighted in Chapter Four, the social construction and representation of the co-accused women analysed here highlights that simplistic and gendered motifs were used to explain complicated co-offending relationships, which served to firmly represent the women as not only offenders, but in
women commit crime, so as to develop a more nuanced understanding of women’s offending behaviour. Furthermore, Maher (1997) suggests that female offenders are typically viewed to be either wholly independent agents or as being ‘out of control’ of their offending behaviour. However, this dichotomisation of agency is a reductionist approach and does not apply to all female offending behaviour, as highlighted by the four case studies of co-accused women discussed here. The binary categorisation of agency and coercion leads to over-simplistic understandings of
from the case file material. The framework of a ‘continuum of coercion’ highlights the ways in which abusive, controlling and/or obsessive relationships with a male partner may influence a woman’s ‘decision’ to offend and suggests that in some instances, such behaviours should be understood as being part of the wider continuum of domestic violence. A rational choice? A key similarly in the construction of the co-accused women is that the influence and impact of the personal relationship between the 65 FOR YOUTH WORKERS AND YOUTH WORK 64 C ERCION AND WOMEN CO
creative energy and their offending agency. The pervasive dichotomy of the ‘nature’ of women versus the ‘reason’ of men (Sydie, 1987) has defined traditional criminological thought and has subsequently led to the male offender to be viewed as 7 WHAT YOUTH WORKERS DO1. MEDIATED REPRESENTATIONS 6 COERCION AND WOMEN CO-OFFENDERS the norm and the female offender described as the abnormal, ‘other’, as exemplified by the four co-accused women analysed here. Women offenders as ‘others’ Female offending is often individualised, pathologised and explained by over