U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Cultural Literacy, Criminology, and Female-gender Issues: The Power To Exclude

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Education Volume: 3 Issue: 2 Dated: special issue (Fall 1992) Pages: 183-202
M J Lynch; J Huey; J S Nunez; B R Close; C Johnston
Date Published
This analysis of the recent call to create a "cultural literacy" in criminology and criminal justice concludes that such an effort would be undesirable, because cultural- literacy approaches incorporate biases that exclude female- gender issues.
The concept of cultural literacy relies upon traditions in academic knowledge to define a central core of literature. However, minorities and women have historically been excluded from academic traditions. As a result, their voices have been repressed and omitted from academic literature. Thus, for example, in "The Closing of the American Mind," Allan Bloom promotes unity and sameness at the expense of excluded races, classes, and cultures. Bloom's vision is a vision of men: although it superficially accommodates race, class, and culture, it entirely ignores gender as a problematic issue. In criminology and criminal justice, female-gender issues are the subject of extensive literature and interest and must be included if these fields are to remain relevant to contemporary problems and issues. Topics covered include female criminality, female police officers, and women and corrections. A cultural-literacy perspective that excludes women fails, because current issues were not part of past research agendas. However, the inclusion of female-specific issues is only a first step toward creating a multicultural literacy that is sensitive not only to gender but also to race, ethnicity, cultural, history, and the intersection of these factors in specific social contexts. Footnotes and 97 references