Women’s Criminology – Emotion and passion in women’s crimes

And in the long chapter of women, Lord, have mercy on women. Have mercy on them, Lord, that within them life hurts deeper and more fruitful. And sex is in them, and the world is in them, and madness resides in this world.

Woman and criminality.

Woman and criminality.

The theme, although not new, involves and falls in love with the thinker of the Law.

The research already done recognizes the lower incidence of crimes committed by women and some of the explanations for this phenomenon can be found in the family unit and in the environment in which we live and which provides us with the models of conduct, in what is denominated, specifically within the scope of this work, as culture.

For the attribution of gender, the birth is a crucial moment. The role of gender can not be understood, according to Robert Stöller, without giving due credit to the moment of attribution, which, in turn, sets in motion an entire process of acculturation that teaches the girl to be female and who, as a woman, must think, feel and act in the family and in the segment of society in which the family represents and acts.

From birth, at the time of sex signaling, the labeling that doctors and family perform of the newborn becomes the first criterion of identification of a subject. From this moment on, the entire family of the child will position itself in respect to this data and will be emitting a cultural discourse that will reflect the stereotypes that men and women will sustain for the adequate creation of that identified body.

The set of expectations about appropriate social behaviors for people with a particular sex sanctions as pertinent to the female gender – that is, as positive characteristics – a series of behaviors that, at the same time, have a low social self-esteem (fear, passivity, dependency). These stereotypes are so deeply ingrained that they are considered as the expression of the biological foundations of the genre.

Lacan asserts that the structures of behavior and representation go beyond the limits of consciousness and the weight of conventions ends up imprisoning the woman within the limits of what is “permissible.” However, women, like men, practice homicide, robbery, and narcotics trafficking, in order to remain only the most common crimes. The motives which lead her to such crimes do not differ greatly from those which compel the man to commit them. But when a woman practices abortion in herself, when she consents to the death of the fruit of her gut, when she abandons the newborn child, what is the motive that guides her conduct?

female criminology

female criminology

To dissociate female criminology from the cultural construction imposed on both sexes would restrict this work to the periphery of the question we are about to face, namely, the dichotomy between masculine and feminine, between cultural discourse and legal discourse, between oppressor and oppressed. Analyzing these aspects, we will see the correction of Alessandro Baratta’s assertion that the feminine question has become a privileged component of the criminal issue.

It is not possible to separate women’s own crimes from the paradox of the existence of subtle violence, Bourdieu points out, mild violence, insensitive, invisible to their own victims, which is essentially exercised by the purely symbolic means of communication or knowledge, or, more precisely, of ignorance, of recognition or, ultimately, of feeling.

The latent duality in these crimes is that in them the woman is, at the same time, the perpetrator and victim of the crime. Author, because it performs the typical, illicit and guilty conduct provided for in criminal law. Victim, because the State fails to comply with it with one of its primary attributions: that of guarantor of rights, causing the state co-culpability.

The State’s omission, which is significantly relevant to women and their effective access to culture, according to Habermas, means that any special regulations designed to compensate for the inequalities of women will depend on the way in which women are interpreted. experiences and existential situations typical of the sexes. Through the ‘normalizing effects’ produced by legislation and justice, they often become part of the problem that they should in principle solve.

Penetrating the emotion that guides the woman who practices or consents to abortion, who kills her child during or shortly after birth, or who abandons her right after birth, is a challenge and a learning experience. It means a taking of position, the beginning of a thought and the glancing of a new look at the woman and her life.

To undertake this analysis and to unveil this universe of emotions means to raise the veil that covers the most hidden and deep feminine feeling.

For these reasons we can affirm that in no other branch of the Brazilian legal system is there as much emotion as in Criminal Law. Crime has this characteristic, it stirs up the passions, it inflames the speeches, it rekindles the verb.

Women’s own crimes are fertile soil for the analysis of the norm in comparison with social reality. Since the first insertion of the law of these criminal figures, he sought the country’s legislature to reduce the guilt of the delinquent woman. The penalties applicable to crimes, varying in time, have always been significantly milder than in other crimes against life or health. It recognizes our repressive law that the motive of the crime is not the vile and abject motive, but the relevant emotion that dominates the pregnant woman, the infanticide and the mother who leaves the child of few days to the helplessness, leading to intentional acts and socially repudiated and criminally criminalized.

In these crimes we see the woman in the full fragility of her human condition, guided by her desires, hatreds and affections. Through them we can penetrate their psyche and unravel the tortuous paths that lead to crime. Through your study, we understand the human soul and exercise compassion.

And it is in this wake that Hungary stands out, stating that criminal law is not what is content with eruditeism and the impeccable elegance of theories, but what, preferably, seeks to find life and man for the knowledge of all their weaknesses and miseries, of all infamy and dereliction, of all anger and denial, and of the never-hopeless attempt to contain or correct them in the measure of earthly justice.

Women’s sexuality and the confrontation of the gender issue


Women’s sexuality and the confrontation of the gender issue are fundamental questions when it is sought to undertake the journey that will lead us to an understanding of women’s own crimes and the way in which culture has verticalized the relations between men and women, differentiating them fundamentally and mainly in of the sex with which they were born.

Sex and gender are not directly related. According to Emilce Dio Bleichmar, according to Emilce Dio Bleichmar, the biological and anatomical components and the sexual intercourse itself are understood, while under the noun gender, the psychological and cultural aspects of masculinity / femininity are grouped into a man or woman.

Stöller maintains that masculinity and femininity are a dense mass of convictions, an algebraic sum of “if”, “but” and “is,” not an incontrovertible fact. Such convictions are not eternal truths; they change when societies change.

Any analysis of the feminine condition in Criminal Law must pass through the institutions that form the society. The objectively orchestrated Family, Church, and State had until the recent epoch that they acted upon unconscious structures and thereby perpetuated the discourse of gender inequality.

It is undoubtedly the family that plays the leading role in the reproduction of male domination and vision. It is the precocious experience of the social division of labor and the legitimate representation of this division, guaranteed by law and inscribed by language.

As for the Church, marked by the profound antifeminism of a clergy always ready to condemn all feminine faults to decency and to reproduce a pessimistic view of women and femininity, as Muel-Dreyfus explicitly inculcated a familiaristic view, completely dominated by patriarchal values and especially by the dogma of the innate inferiority of women.

The State, for its part, accentuated Bourdieu, reinforced the prescriptions and proscriptions of the private patriarchy with those of a “public patriarchy,” inscribed in all institutions charged with managing and regulating the daily existence of the domestic unit.

Based on this tripod – Family, Church and State – the symbolic machine of inequality between the genres works, which undeniably strengthens the laws.

Bourdieu places the places considered as “natural” and “permissible” for each sex, stating that it is the structure of space, opposing the place of assembly or market reserved for men, and the house reserved for women; or inside, between the male part, the salon, and the female part, with the stable, water, and vegetables; is the structure of time, the journey, the agrarian year, or the life cycle, with moments of rupture, masculine, and long periods of gestation, feminine.

Women’s criminality is basically anchored in their sexuality.


Self-pledged or consensual abortion, infanticide and the abandonment of newborns are offenses originating from fruitful intercourse. Fetus, nascent or newborn become passive subjects of crimes when poverty, marginality, difficulty of access to the means of production, helplessness, hopelessness, settle in the feminine heart and lead to the death or abandonment of offspring.

The great transgression of the woman, Genesis tells us contained in the Old Testament, was the discovery of sex. Analyzing God’s punishments to her creatures, Rose Marie Muraro explains this: once knowledge has been acquired, man must suffer. Work enslaves him. And so he enslaves the woman. The relation man-woman-nature is no more of integration, but of domination. The dominant desire now is that of man. A woman’s desire will forever be wanting and it is this passion that will be her punishment. From then on it will be defined by its sexuality, and the man by his work.

Emotion, passion and the exercise of sexuality are indissolubly linked in the crimes of women. For Anibal Bruno, emotion and passion are forces that condition man’s individual-social behavior – emotion, which is a sudden movement of the soul, of affective charge, and passion, which is its continuous and lasting form. Their influence depends on their influence on the normality of the understanding and the process of volition. But in spite of its incidence in almost all crimes, our criminal system does not recognize them as capable of excluding imputability, even in cases where they obscure the understanding, preventing self-determination.

Emotion and passion, seen as part of the psychology of the human being, do not exclude criminal responsibility, but lessen punishment in common crimes. Then, it is not fair to recognize the strength of these feelings that guide the conduct of the woman who delinquishes in these crimes so special.

As Anibal Bruno rightly points out, it is not exactly the emotion that justifies the penal relaxation, but the reason it originates, and the motives for the conduct of the woman are based mainly on social issues or honor.

There is still, although less marked in some societies, a true female apartheid, whose essence is based on culture itself. Rodrigo da Cunha Pereira writes that despite the proclamation of equality by international organizations and democratic constitutions at the end of this century, the inequality of rights between genders is not dissolved. Woman continues to be the object of equality while man is the subject and paradigm of this so-called system of equality.

The rights to difference, embodied in formal equality, and rights to compensation for inequalities, in material, must go hand in hand. And only with the coexistence of both will it be possible, if we do not eradicate, at least significantly reduce female crime rates and move away from Tove Stang Dahl’s statement that up to now, studies on women have been, in great measure, studies of doom.

Correct, certain and just changes in legal diplomas should be sought in order to achieve the true principle of gender equality, the mark of a society that perseveres in the struggle for the reduction of social inequalities, with which, consequently, we will see a significant reduction of women’s own crimes.


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