Approaches Focusing on Race, Class,and Gender
Some recent studies have focused on the simultaneous effects of race. class. and gender on deviant behavior. In one study. the sociologist Regina Arnold (1990) examined the relationship between women's earlier victimization in their family and their subsequent involvement in the criminal justice system. Arnold interviewed African American women serving criminal sentences and found that adolescent females are often "labeled and processed as deviants-and subsequently as criminals-for refusing to accept or participate in their own victimization," Arnold attributes many of the women's offenses to living in families in which sexual abuse. incest, and other violence left them few choices except to engage in deviance. Economic marginality and racism also contributed to their victimization: "To be. young. Black. poor. and female is to be in a 'high-risk category for victimization and stigmatization on many levels" (Arnold, 1990: 156). According to Arnold. the criminal behavior of the women in her study was linked to class. gender. and racial oppression. which they experienced daily in their families and at school and work.
Feminist sociologists and criminologists believe that research on women as both victims and perpetrators. of crime Is long overdue. For example. few studies of violent crime-such as robbery and aggravated assault-have included women as subjects or respondents. Some scholars have argued that women are less motivated to commit such crimes. are not as readily exposed to attractive targets, and are more protected from being the victims of such crimes than men are (see Sommers and Baskin. 1993).Other scholars have stressed that research should integrate women into the larger picture of criminology (Simpson. 1989). For example, sociologists Susan Ehrlich Martin and Nancy [urik (1996) examined the role of women in the criminal justice system and found that women continue to experience significant barriers in justice occupations ranging from law enforcement to the legal profession.