The Gentle Sex Muscles in on Crime
Good News Magazine
March 1976
Volume: Vol XXV, No. 3
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The Gentle Sex Muscles in on Crime
Carole Ritter  

What's happening to Western womanhood? A couple of decades ago, we would read about an occasional Ma Barker or Bonnie Parker. Today, our newspapers report a virtual army of female felons, and their numbers are growing daily. Statistics show that crime rates among girls are going up at an alarming rate, far faster than among boys. Why this sharp increase? Is it some sort of "fem-lib" offshoot, or is it just another symptom of our sick society?

   Women have begun to make inroads in nearly every area of human achievement, and now they are starting to excel in yet another area. In spite of social pressure and institutional opposition, many women are choosing a career in the traditionally male-dominated milieu of crime.
   In the past decade women have proved they can stand toe to toe with the worst of the bad guys. In 1967 Ruth Eisemann-Schier accomplished a first for co-ed criminals by breaking into the FBI's ten-most-wanted list. A few years later Charles Manson's murderous harem proved that girls can be just as vicious and degenerate as fellows. Camilla Hall, Nancy Ling Perry and Patricia Soltysik later helped found the terrorist Symbionese Liberation Army, and their kidnap victim Patricia Hearst allegedly became a machine-gun-toting bank robber under their tutelage. And finally, Lynette Fromme and Sara Jane Moore proved that you don't have to be male to try to assassinate the President of the United States.
Liberated Larceny? What is causing this sudden upswing in women's crime? Recently a spate of articles have been written attributing it to the women's liberation movement. But as yet no detailed or controlled scientific study has been done on the phenomenon, and experts still disagree as to the cause or causes.
   Speculators seem to concur, though, that it's not the formal organized women's movement per se that is causing the increase. Most female criminals disavow the ideals of women's lib and would resent being labeled as "liberated." As Connie Bruck wrote in Human Behavior: "The average incarcerated woman is poor and uneducated, has a weak self-image and assumes such a traditional, dependent role that she is often in prison because of a man" ("Women Against the Law," December 1975, p. 27). Only the younger, more affluent, politically oriented types seem to gravitate toward fem-lib ideology.
   Dr. Freda Adler, associate professor in the Graduate School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, and author of Sisters in Crime (McGraw-Hill), has stated that "Female liberation has not caused more criminality. We are dealing with something quite different. We are dealing with an opportunity structure." In other words, as more women begin to participate in the labor force, more have opportunities for crime that were formerly open only to men. She added, "Women no longer want to be second-rate citizens legitimately, so why should they be second-rate citizens illegitimately?"
   And James A. Brussel, a former Assistant Commissioner of Mental Hygiene for the state of New York, had this to say: "It's nonsense to think that there is something basically or innately non-violent about women. No biological factors, no hormones are involved. Until recently, the only thing that held women back was the cultural influence. Now there is a sharing of everything — including crime" (Pasadena Star-News, August 18, 1973).
   Dr. Rita Simon, writer of a monograph for the National Institute of Mental Health on "The Contemporary Woman and Crime," actually suggests that equality between the sexes might even discourage certain types of female crime. As women achieve a more satisfying place in the labor force, "Their sense of frustration, their feelings of being victimized, and their sense of powerlessness should diminish.... It is these types of emotions that stimulate women to violence" (Christian Science Monitor, August 6, 1975).

Skyrocking Female Crime Rates

The FBI Uniform Crime Reports from 1960 to 1972 show that:
•Total female crime rose 95% during this twelve-year period.
•The arrest rate among females rose nearly three times faster than that for males.
•There were 286.66% more robberies and 296% more homicides (including murder and manslaughter) recorded for women during this period.
•The number of women arrested for violent crimes increased 277.9%, while the number of men involved in such crimes increased only 87.9%.
•Violent crime among girls under 18 increased 388.3%; the increase for young males was 203.2%.
•There was a 508% increase in the robbery rate for girls under 18, while the increase for boys was only half that.
The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare reported that the number of cases handled in juvenile courts between 1965 and 1972 increased 49% for boys but a whopping 101% for girls.

Female Felons in Western Nations

The alarming and shocking increase in women's crime rates particularly plagues the more affluent Western countries. Here are just a few examples.
Canada: The ratio of women involved in criminal acts doubled from 1960 to 1969.
England: From 1968 to 1974, serious offenses. committed by women rose 54%, while the percentage of male offenses was less than half that (25%). Noted British jurist Justice Gerald Sparrow said he "notes a sharp increase in crime among women in the British Isles as well as Europe. He believes they are playing more open leadership roles in criminal activities than before" (Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1974).
West Germany: The percentage of female criminals increased from 15.4% in 1963 to 17.1% in 1970.
Norway: Women committed 4% of all crimes prior to 1958, but now they contribute to 10% of the total figure.

   Undoubtedly the women's movement has had at least an indirect effect on some forms of crime by raising women's expectations faster than society has been able to deal with them. And younger women — who have abandoned traditional societal constraints — are no longer treated with chivalry by the police. Officers are less likely to let them off for the same offenses that would have been overlooked a few years ago.
The Underlying Cause. But there is a climate of unrest in our Western society that has spawned both the women's movement and the greater participation of women in crime. It stems from the complicated, technologically overwhelming nature of the world in which we live. For the first time in history, machines have made it possible for us to live in a society where "less than one-half of the total population... is gainfully occupied, and about one-third of these are actual producers in agriculture, mining, construction, and industry" (E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful, New York: Harper and Row, 1973, p. 141). Meaningful jobs are scarce, and competition for them is fierce. It is well-nigh impossible for any youth under 16 to — get decent work. Many minority groups find that they have been made obsolete by farm machinery or computerized factories. And many women who formerly found a sense of worth and dignity keeping house, find that this activity, too, has been rendered routine and boring by a plethora of household appliances (among other factors).
   "The type of work which modern technology is most successful in reducing or even eliminating is skillful, productive work of human hands, in touch with real materials of one kind or another. In an advanced industrial society, such work has become exceedingly rare, and to make a decent living by doing such work has become virtually impossible. A great part of the modern neurosis may be due to this very fact; for the human being ... enjoys nothing more than to be creatively, usefully, productively engaged with both his hands and his brains. Today, a person has to be wealthy to be able to enjoy this simple thing, this very great luxury: he has to be able to afford space and good tools; he has to be lucky enough to find a good teacher and plenty of free time to learn and practice. He really has to be rich enough not to need a job; for the number of jobs that would be satisfactory in these respects is very small indeed" (ibid.).
   The Bible concurs with this analysis. Ecclesiastes 2:24 reads: "There is nothing better for a man than that he should... find enjoyment in his toil." And Ephesians 4:28 shows that the antidote to stealing is meaningful labor: "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need."
   In their search for meaningful work and/or an activity that gives them a sense of identity, satisfaction and accomplishment, some women are reaching out toward consciousness-raising groups and jobs outside the home. Others are expressing their sense of frustration and alienation in a life of crime.
Wayward Girls. It is not just those who are caught on the lower-class treadmill that opt for illegality. Young middle-class women also commit unlawful acts as a political protest against "the system." And old age doesn't seem to present a barrier, either. One eighty-two-year-old woman was reported taking numbers bets totaling 80 to 100 dollars a day.
   But the main increase in female crime is occurring among the young. A study involving 3000 teenagers in Illinois found that girls fight, cheat, shoplift and take drugs almost as often as boys. Carrying a weapon, gang fighting and mugging have also increased among these Midwest girls.
   An HEW Social and Rehabilitation Service report reads: "The rise in girls' delinquency has generally been attributed to their changing attitude towards society and society's changing attitude towards them. Instead of the passive role assumed by girls in the past and society's protective role towards them, girls are becoming more aggressive and more independent in their day-today attitudes. Unfortunately some of this behavior has resulted in large increases in the incidence of running away from home and in participation in the use of drugs, often necessitating other crime-related activities, such as shoplifting, robbery, etc." (HEW News, April 12, 1972). Milt Hoffmann of the Denver Anti-Crime Council adds this opinion: "By telling girls that they are just as good as boys and can do anything a boy can do, some girls see that if their boyfriends can rip off a car, they can, too."
Implications for the Future. What does this drastic increase in female crime portend for the future? A great number of tomorrow's mothers seem to be headed for careers in crime. If mommy is a mugger, what hope do her children have of growing up as law-abiding citizens?
   Statistical projections show that further increases in distaff defendants are in the offing. With girls' crime rates outdistancing boys' by hundreds of percentage points, the next generation will probably see even more frightening growth in this area.
   But women's crime is just a symptom — another sign that our civilization is rapidly degenerating to the state of other ancient civilizations prior to their fall. In the New Testament, Paul prophesied that "In the last days perilous times shall come. For men [and women] shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection [women are the primary killers and maimers of children], trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:1-4, KJV). Our times come very close to. fitting Paul's description.
   Here is what God had to say to some ancient women who, although they were relatively "unliberrated," still managed to participate in their share of chicanery: "Listen. to this, you cows of Bashan, you women in high Samaria, you who defraud the poor and are hard on the needy, who tell your husbands, 'Let us have wine to drink!' As sure as I am God, the Lord Eternal swears, your day is coming, when you will be dragged out with prongs, the last of you with fishhooks; out you go, through breaches in the walls, each of you headlong, chased to mount Hermon — by order of the Eternal" (Amos 4:1-3, Moffatt).
   This prophecy saw historic fulfillment — God finally did bring captivity on these women as punishment for their crimes. In light of this, what must His attitude be today toward women who manage to take part in just as much depravity as their male counterparts? Will God once again bring severe punishment upon modern nations as today's young women descend more and more into the shadowy world of crime and violence? History has a way of repeating itself!
   Our Western nations are exhibiting all the outward symptoms of ancient Rome before its downfall — women's increasing role in crime is only part of the picture. For more information on this subject read our free booklet The MODERN ROMANS. It catalogs the trends that may lead to the extinction of society as we know it — and tells what you, personally, can do about it.

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Good News MagazineMarch 1976Vol XXV, No. 3