Sociology Index


Women's liberation theory is the thesis that women's involvement in crime will come to more closely resemble men's as Gender inequality, inequality of opportunity and inequality of condition between women and men are diminished by women's greater social participation and equality. Women's liberation theory covers the Women's Liberation Movement which was a political alignment of women and feminist intellectualism that emerged in the mid 20th Century.

Though there is some evidence that crimes committed by equally placed women are beginning to resemble men's, there is not much empirical evidence to support this perspective of Women's Liberation Theory. Jenny Brown is an organizer in the women's liberation movement and the author of several books on feminism, reproductive rights, and labor.

Socialist Feminism sees gender and class oppression as inseparable and rather than working for the equality of women within a liberal, democratic capitalist society. Women's Equity Action League are Liberal feminism groups created to further Women's Movements, Women's Liberation Theory and women's rights. Marxist Feminism is a form of feminism which believes that women's oppression is a symptom of oppression. Radical Feminism is recent and differs from traditional Marxism.

The word Feminism today remains entrenched in some people's minds as the cause of most of social problems. Chesney-Lind suggests that 'the invention of the liberated woman' has forced women to bear the brunt of the hostility towards the women's movement. Freda Adler believed that the arrival of the Second Wave of Feminism during the 1970s consequently coincided with a 'dramatic' upsurge in women's criminal activity.

Adler's theory has invited much criticism from other feminist writers such as Brown. She describes it as an 'embarrassment to feminism' and argues instead that feminism has made female crime more visible through increased reporting, policing and sentencing of female offenders. Adler's 'sisters in crime' appears to work within the frameworks of traditional crime and criminology rather than a feminist one.

Bwown's perspective also seems to exclude factors such as race, ethnic-group and ethnic identity, age and social class. Many feminist writers see these factors as very important. The smallest increases in arrests coincided with periods of the greatest increase in economic activity with the most common offence being that of shop lifting. These findings would seem to support a theory of a relationship between employment and crime rather than that offered by the women's liberation theory. When times are good, the offending woman appears to stabilise rather than escalate. An absence rather than availability of employment opportunities in women's liberation theory would seem a more plausible explanation for increases in female crime.

Gainesville Women's Liberation co-founder Carol Giardina said in 1989, "If you know that we are a sex that fights for our freedom, then you already understand the Pro-Woman Line. Now do we fight for it just in a movement, or were you fighting for it before you even heard of a movement? Do you fight for it on the street, in your bedroom, in your classroom? This isn't really just women, it's all oppressed people who can't stop themselves from fighting back. We call it the Pro-Woman Line because we discovered it about women and developed it in the Women's Liberation Movement." - Carol Giardina, "Women's Studies or Women's Liberation Studies," 1989 Women's History Month speech at the University of Florida.

“Towards a Female Liberation Movement” put it this way: “There is something horribly repugnant in the picture of women performing the same menial chores all day, having almost interchangeable conversations with their children, engaging in standard television arguments with their husbands, and then in the late hours of the night, each agonizing over what is considered to be her personal lot, her personal relationship, her personal problem . . . And unmarried women cannot in all honesty say their lives are in much greater measure distinct from each other’s. We are a class, we are oppressed as a class, and we each respond within the limits allowed us as members of that oppressed class. Purposely divided from each other, each of us is ruled by one or more men for the benefit of all men. There is no personal escape, no personal salvation, no personal solution.” - Toward a Female Liberation Movement by Beverly Jones and Judith Brown, June 1968.

Redstockings was a name taken in 1969 by one of the founding women's liberation groups of the 1960's to represent the union of two traditions: the "bluestocking" label disparagingly pinned on feminists of earlier centuries and "red" for revolution.
Redstockings women would go on to champion and spread knowledge of vital women's liberation theory, slogans and actions that have become household words such as consciousness-raising, the personal is political, the pro-woman line, sisterhood is powerful, the politics of housework, the Miss America Protest, and "speakouts" that would break the taboos of silence around subjects like abortion. Redstockings today is a new kind of grassroots, activist "think tank", established by movement veterans, for defending and advancing the women's liberation agenda. The Redstockings Women's Liberation Theory Archives Distribution Project is a mostly volunteer, grassroots effort, which teaches history for activist use.