Compelled to Crime: The Gender Entrapment of Battered, Black Women

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  • Format: Nonspecific Binding
  • Copyright: 1995-12-05
  • Publisher: Routledge

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Compelled to Crimedocuments the lives of battered, African American women incarcerated in a New York City correctional facility. Chronicling the lives of women from low-income communities who have been physically battered, sexually assaulted, emotionally abused, and involved in illegal activity, the book illustrates the degree to which these women's devastated and deteriorating circumstances represents a socially constructed position--but one from which there is little escape. Borrowing the phrase "gender entrapment" from the legal notion of the term--which implies a circumstance whereby an individual is lured into a compromising act--author Beth Richie uses gender entrapment to describe the process whereby African American women who are vulnerable to men's violence in their intimate relationships are penalized for criminal behaviors they engage in when these behaviors are logical extensions of their racialized gender identities, their culturally mediated gender roles, and the violence intheir private lives. The book documents in graphic detail the lives of these women--often marred by drug use, prostitution, and violence culminating in illegal activity. Richie charts the women's gender entrapment by considering a number of factors in their early lives--whether the women were privileged in their homes as girls and how such benefits actually might have handicapped them; their relationships with males; the presence or absence of childhood abuse--and how these factors contributed to their sense of vulnerability and fear of success later in life. Richie then analyzes how the women's circumstantial and emotional vulnerability in the early years sets the stage for the violence in their intimate relationships with men as adults, and how the women's feelings of self-blame, emotional trauma, and desperation lead them--perhaps inexorably--into illegal, often violent activity. Compelled to Crimealso gives special consideration to the complicated set of reasons why some low incomeAfrican American battered women resort to illegal activity. By contrasting their experiences with two smaller comparison groups, Richie offers important methodological and analytical contributions to the scholarship on gender, race, violence, and crime. In reaching her conclusions, Richie makes the disturbing point that in the end because these women are involved in illegal activity and hence labelled "criminal," they did not have access to services for battered women, sexual assault survivors, or other crime victims.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Life Histories: Listening to the Women's Storiesp. 16
Gender-Identity Development: "Growing up as a Black girl was hard, but good."p. 31
Trapped by Violence: "Just trying to deal with the force of his blows"p. 69
Six Paths to Crime: "I was running, dealing, robbing, and stealing."p. 101
The Story of Gender Entrapment: Considering the Contextp. 132
Conclusionp. 159
Notesp. 165
Bibliographyp. 171
Indexp. 183
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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