This essay investigates the subject of deviance and gender as it relates to criminal gangs. It examines the notable differences in the behavior of members of criminal gangs who belong to either sex. Further, the essay evaluates the sociological theories and the general understanding of the gender as it relates to deviance. According to this literature, the implications of self control theory have a significant bearing in how individual members of a criminal gang behave and is certainly the basis of the notable sex differences. However, the importance that gender has is largely dependent on the parameters over which self control and deviance are measured. According to this paper, women in criminal gangs exhibit less deviant behavior than their male counterparts. (Travies, 2009)
Deviance is generally measured based on how one’s behavior violates the social norms to the extent that it may be disapproved by the said society. The subject of deviance is certainly very complex because social values and norms differ considerably across different groups of people as well as the time and place. Due to this fact, what one society may consider deviant may be largely acceptable in another society. For instance, seeking the services of a prostitute is considered deviant in most parts of the world. However, there are some minority tribes like the Kung of Southern Africa that consider it socially acceptable to seek sexual gratification with several women. Sociologically, several theories have been put forward concerning the criminal form of deviance. These include the differential-association theory, the anomie theory, control theory and the labeling theory. (Thomson, 2004)
The most realistic theory of deviance is the control theory which essentially supports my assertion that women in criminal gangs are more humane. According to this theory, deviant tendencies are checked by both inner and outer forces that tend to exert social restrain. More often than not people have a propensity to behave in a deviant way, but end up behaving otherwise. This is attributed to internal feelings of constrains that include but not limited to moral values, conscience, integrity and the desire to fit into the society. Moreover, the fear of being arrested by the police and being noticed by members of one’s church exerts certain degree of control over people’s behavior. This therefore implies that gender differences should not mean much on how criminal gangs conduct themselves. For instance, when a gang attacks a household demanding cash and its occupants at a gun point, it would be expected that a female member of the gang would not be as ruthless as the male members. This difference is purely based on the fact that women generally have a greater self control. It is their desire to look motherly at all times that would cause them to exercise maximum restrain when it comes to human life. (Travies, 2009)
As a matter of fact, any male individual who is brought up with good self-control would certainly behave the same way as females confirms my view that females are naturally more humane. The Male members of the society can be made to acquire these values through proper socialization, especially during their younger days. It is perfectly understandable that female children who are brought up lacking sufficient self-control may easily grow up to become hardcore criminals and display tendencies of deviant behavior. For instance, although it is generally believed that most women would behave more humanely as compared to the men, the society is not new to the cases of mothers who give birth and then throw away their babies at dump sites. This shows that it is never clear how one would behave after they are born because the society plays a major role in shaping up their behavior. It is only a coincidence that women behave more humanely because the society exposes them to child bearing at an earlier age as compared to their male counterparts. (Thomson, 2004)
Another theory that may have some relevance in women as being more humane is the differential association theory. It emphasizes that deviance is learned from the environment one lives in. According to this sociological theory, it’s the reference group within the society that sets the standards of behavior by defining good morals from deviant behavior. These standards then play a pivotal role on how the world views and reacts to certain actions. For instance, individuals may learn criminal behavior by interacting with a criminal gang that will shape their character to that of a criminal irrespective of their gender. What happens is that they feel integral part of the criminal group that serves as their reference group and eventually shape their behavior to be in line with criminal gangs. For instance, juvenile criminal gangs may make a perfect breeding ground for young criminals. This is because these gangs identify with this line of behavior and do their utmost in portraying these activities as perfectly normal and therefore worth embracing. Essentially, members of a gang irrespective of their gender learn to conform to the norms of a gang to the extent that the larger society views them as deviant. However, the degree to which they embrace these behaviors and actually execute them is defined by their level of self-control.