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Labeling Women Deviant: Gender, Stigma, and Social Control

NCJ Number
E M Schur
Date Published
286 pages
Synthesizing material from women's studies and deviance sociology, this study examines the social origins for labeling women as deviant.
The devaluation of women through various deviance labels applied by a male-dominated culture rests less in the blameworthiness or social harm of female behavior than in males' devaluation of femaleness in general. The study examines the implication of such devaluation and stigmatizing of females for such issues as obesity and anorexia, the medicalizing of childbirth, abortion, lesbianism, sexual harassment, rape, prostitution, pornography, female crime and delinquency, and the diagnosis of women as mentally ill. The impairment of female self-images through stigmatization by a male-dominated culture is not inevitable. Considerable change has already occurred in many norms that restrict and oppress women. As male social power diminishes under increased female social power, female deviance will receive new definitions that are not gender-based. The analysis of the ways in which deviance definitions are still used to control women should inform the work that remains. 450 references and subject index.