A Crash-Course in Femininity? – Female criminals in the Victorian and Edwardian era


Jane Forbes, brought before the North Shields Police Court for larceny, 1905. Source : Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

While ideal Victorian women were supposed to be “angels in the house”, female criminals were seen as “demons in the jailhouse”. As such, they were a disruptive force and had to be dealt with. Deconstructing and reconstructing these deviants to make them more “womanly” became a major issue in the late 19th century.

Nowadays, female prisoners in England and Wales represent 5% of the prison population. Between 1995 and 2010, this number more than doubled. Because of this worrying trend, there has been much debate in Britain around the issue of rehabilitation. Such attempts at rehabilitating criminals are nothing new, but they took on a different dimension in the mid-Victorian and Edwardian eras. In a society that was fascinated with the criminal mind, [1] reconstructing the identity of the criminal for it to fit certain moral and gender-biased standards was key. The female criminal in particular was the focal point of reconstruction attempts…

A Crash-Course in Femininity?

Female criminals in the Victorian and Edwardian era

by Alice Bonzom , 23 October 

http://www.booksandideas.net/A-Crash-Course-in-Femininity.html

 


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