Female Criminality VS Legal Rhetoric: An Exploration into the Legal Discourse Surrounding Canadian Female Offenders
An increase in feminist writing within the area of women’s criminalization and public concern about the plight of incarcerated women, challenges criminological research to expand its focus on women’s experiences in prison and women’s reintegration into society to include earlier legal processes, such as their experiences through the court process. The purpose of this research is to examine the discursive constructions, which inform the legal portrayals of women in the criminal courts, to uncover the larger themes that impact the legal representations of these women. I employ a postmodern feminist analysis and a thematic discourse analysis of ten Saskatchewan criminal trial transcripts to highlight a feminist-informed perspective on the legal portrayals of criminalized women. The major themes emerging from the analysis pertained to: gender roles and regulated lifestyles; victimization and dependency; racial images and Aboriginal stereotypes; and, the medicalization of female activity and the criminalization of medical issues. My findings suggest that the themes revealed in the legal discourse contained within the trial transcripts highlight the social constraints affecting women’s activities and roles. This study points to the potential of uniting feminist approaches into an epistemology that fosters collaboration among researchers and activists to amplify the voices of women within the criminal court system.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeSamuelson, Les; Buhler, Sarah
Copyright DateAugust 2011
anti oppressive theory