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Neither Bad Nor Mad: The Female Violent Offender Reassessed

S. Edwards
Published 1986 · Sociology

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Abstract In examining characterisations of the violent female offender this article provides an occasion whereby typical and non-typical notions of the female offender might be explored. The discussion sheds some light on a misconceived, and maligned, group, presenting essentially a series of propositions for consideration challenging at each successive stage the conventional orthodoxy on women and violence. A misguided ‘wisdom’ exists in which the legal constitution of certain violent crimes and the legal conception of motive are very much at variance with the diverse justificatory or excusatory rationales advanced by the female defendant herself. These legal and private realities are so conflicting and contradictory that rather than standing as competing versions the legal version eclipses the female defendant's version resulting in an obscuring of her socially situated motives. The reality and antecedents of the violent act are further cast into obscurity by the insistence of the criminal justice system to pathologise this untypical response thus serving to divert attention away from social, political, and economic factors in preference for individualised explanations, solutions and remedies.
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