There are several authors and philosophers that have argued to the effect that crime in the early modern times was predominantly a masculine activity. They argue that the crimes were fundamentally carried out or practiced by males, with the only exception being the few crimes that are related to femininity. Such crimes that were exempted from being classified as being masculine include witchcraft and infanticide. The females committed a fewer number of crimes and in most cases, these crimes were petty and very lacking in courage and initiative. As such, the courts treated women leniently because of the fact that the female crimes were relatively insignificant when compared to the masculine ones. This line of argument has particularly elicited much heated debates as to its validity of subjecting the different genders differently when it comes to the application of the law. It is important to note that during the early modern periods, most crimes were committed by men. However, making conclusions that these crimes were related to the factor of masculinity will be doing a great injustice to the male gender since even the females committed the crimes. Human beings are unique with a variety of characters. The notion of generalizing on only one gender as being more oriented to crimes than the other is a wrong presumption. This has not been supported by any empirical evidence.
Recent studies on the historiography of modern crime tend to concentrate on crimes that take a violent nature and that of theft. However, people have also had discussions on the other range of offenses such as assault and battery. Through deep analysis and examining the intersection of discourse, relevant conclusions should be made on the validity of this argument. We can achieve this through examining the ,manner in which variations are exhibited not just because of the varying nature of women and men’s lives, but also on the discourses that are available for justifying or condemning them. In these early times, it was a common phenomenon for the authorities and other stakeholders to gender the legal categories. This, as a matter of fact, distinguished the crimes that were committed by the different sexes. Comparing these criminal activities invariably reduces the differences between the sexes.
In these early modern times, there were different outlets that were available for the expression of masculinity. Using logistic regression to make conclusive analysis leads to the findings that masculinity alone as a factor does not predict the violent events that may likely be committed. People widely have accepted the fact that most crimes are committed by men as compared to women. However, this does not mean that the females are too innocent or that the females have not committed crimes of a high magnitude. Classifying crimes according to the nature of the sexes that promote it is therefore a terrible mistake as it fails to factor in other important reasons that may be behind the argued crimes.
The available information on violent crimes, for instance, shows that although there were some women that were accused of assault crimes, both parties were often involved in the use of arms. However, in most cases, only men were prosecuted in case both parties engaged in the crimes. As such, it would be right to argue that both parties of the different genders participated in the crimes and it would not be right to conclude that crime was a masculine activity.
There are several reasons as to why the figures available during the time tend to indicate that more men committed crimes as compared to the females. It is very rare to expect a woman to engage herself in violent activities that may be of a criminal nature except when pushed by the circumstances. Violence, to women, was a tactic that they highly used when they wanted to protect their households. These were in most cases directed to the officials who sought to distrain goods for uncleared debts. In equal measure, women also participated in major crimes such as housebreaking and burglary.
However, what reduced the number of women that were prosecuted was the accounts by the male victims on the women’s participation. This resulted to minimized violence in females in the records. In most cases, men wanted to be seen as the stronger sex of the two. It would therefore be an unthinkable thing for a man to confess in public that he was overpowered by a woman. They did this in order to defend their honor and avoid the embarrassment they would face if they revealed that they were overpowered by the women. As such, the men tended to associate the females with crimes that were of a light nature such as verbal insults. The records never reflected the ideal situations. Judges, for example, never prosecuted men in crimes such as infanticide because the crime was perceived by many to be of a feminine nature.
Europe has the highest number of crimes when compared to the other continents. However, the males are responsible for committing most of the crimes. In many nations, males have been portrayed to participate in the major violent crimes when compared to women. However, this trend is a bit worrying because there is no proof that males are attracted to crimes than females. This is not an issue that is brought about by genetics or by the fact that the males have some unique trait that triggers them to commit the crimes. It is important to note that most of the studies that have been made on this subject always tend to portray men as crimonogenic. This is a mere assumption that most of the researchers tend to rely on and as such, they fail to explain the phenomenon or the character that is in men that leads them to commit serious crimes when compared to women. The National Research Council, in their report, for instance, never mentioned gender as one of the factors that contributed to the violence in the society.
People tend to rely on anecdotal evidence that the scientists have not proven to make assumptions that may be misleading. Masculinity, as many people have argued, is an important element that should be keenly taken into account when studying about violence and crime. This is because the males are more often than not associated with dominance and toughness as compared to women. In solving inter-personal conflicts, men are likely to resort to the use of violence when compared to women. Social science researches have also played a big role in portraying men as the most likely gender that may resort to using violence even at the slightest opportunity available.
As the researchers agree, gender roles are socially construed. As such, it would be unwise to think that all the males in the society are characterized by equal masculine traits. As such, resolving in committing crime or violence depends on an individual rather than a particular gender.
Gender roles differ a lot and as such, they are the best variables to be applied when making studies that are geared to understanding violence and crime in the society. Taking into account the fact that there have been tough criminals of the female gender further complicates the matters since it becomes a difficult task to explain what motivate them or the trait that they have that other women lack. The role that the masculine gender plays in the commitment of the crimes and the violence therefore lacks a philosophical argument.
Discussions of a criminological thought have tended to link the criminal behavior in males to masculinity. In an early study, past researchers tended to conclude that masculinity was something that is internalized by males during the adolescence period. As such, delinquent behavior was more common in boys as compared to women. The society is said to be offering ‘roughness’ and ‘toughness’ lessons to the boys further exposing the role that masculinity plays to crimes in the society.
Role models also play a major role in shaping the future of the young ones in a given society. In most societies, for example, young boys are presented with different opportunities as compared to the females. This is because they get to learn both legal and illegal behaviors from their older role models.
Dominance and toughness, being traits that are associated to the masculine nature are learned and acquired through the contact that exists with the older males in the society. This is the argument that has been generally agreed by men people in the society. However, it does not hold any water for a number of reasons.
For instance, contact with the older males in the society who are considered to be criminals and violent in nature is not only limited to the young boys. The young girls may also be close to them. What this argument fails to explain is the reasons as to why the young girls fail to become violent when they grow or even engage in criminal activities. Secondly, not all young boys that are exposed to the violent old role models end up being violent. This shows and supports the argument that violence and criminal behavior is something that is internal in nature and does not depend on the exposure or the gender that a person belongs to.
There are several factors that influence the criminal behavior in human beings. Gender does not play any role in the character that an individual may end up taking. Peer pressure, socialization and media are some of the factors that influence the behavior that an individual may take. The historiography of the early modern crime as a masculine activity therefore fails to establish to meet the relevant arguments that are needed to explain the reasons as to why most crimes are committed by men.
The levels of masculinity are not easily measured because there is no generally accepted empirical method of measuring masculinity. The lack of this operational definition makes it a difficult task to explain the reasons as to why some men are more violent than other. Even when subjected to the same conditions, it is difficult to find two people with the same level of violence and criminal nature. This raises a lot of questions as to the role that masculinity plays in shaping the manner in which somebody behaves. Making conclusions that the early modern crime was a masculine activity is therefore a big mistake that cannot be explained.
Walker, G 2003, Crime, gender, and social order in early modern England, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Ward, J. P 2008, Violence, politics, and gender in early modern England, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Seidler, K 2010, Crime, culture and violence: Understanding how masculinity and identity shapes offending, Bowen Hills, Qld: Australian Academic Press.
Winlow, S 2001, Badfellas: Crime, tradition and new masculinities, Oxford: Berg.
Potter, C. B 998, War on crime: Bandits, G-men, and the politics of mass culture, New Brunswick, N.J, Rutgers University Press.
Arrigo, B. A., & Williams, C. R 2006, Philosophy, crime, and criminology, Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Helen, B n.d, Keeping it in the Family: Crime and the Early Modern Household, Cambridge University Press.
Morgan, G., & Rushton, P 1998, Rogues, thieves, and the rule of law: The problem of law enforcement in north-east England, 1718-1800, London, UCL Press.
Eales, J. 1998 Women in early modern England, 1500-1700, London, UCL.
Amussen, S. D 1994, "Being stirred to much unquietness": Violence and domestic violence in early modern England.