Women and men look physically different. Yet, we have in common a shared humanity that distinguishes us from animals: our ability to love, think, feel fear, anger, joy, even boredom. However, the thing that sets us apart absolutely is the criminality of men. In this essay, I argue that women are far less engaged in criminal activity than me.
According to Steffensmeier and Streifel: “Gender is the single best predictor of criminal behavior: men commit more crime, and women commit less.”[i] Moreover, the authors assert that “(t)his distinction holds throughout history, for all societies, for all groups, and for nearly every crime category.” There is only one category for which more women are arrested than men, and that is prostitution.[ii] And even then, many sex worker activists might argue that it is the clients who are the criminals, not the women.
Rape is one of the most heinous crimes that has pervaded humanity’s history in every culture. Rape of a man or another woman by a woman is rare. Women do not rape. Rape is a crime unique to men. In 2005, the United Nations[iii]estimated that 250,000 women and children had been raped worldwide. That’s a quarter of a million people (men and women) mostly raped by men, just for starters.
Wikipedia[iv]gives the figure for rape in a first world country like Australia in that year as 91 people per 100 000, although this dropped to 28 in 2010. In developing countries like South Africa, an estimated 114 people are raped per 100 000. We do not know the statistics in many countries where rape is seen as a stain on the victim, rather than the perpetrator and therefore is not reported.
Let’s compare these figures to intentional homicide. The Global Study on Homicide 2013[v] gives the figure of 437,000 homicides across the world in 2012, which equals around 6.2 per 100,000 population. Only about 1.6 women in America commit intentional murder compared to 11,3 per 100,000 men.
Men are almost solely responsible for mass shootings[vi]and acts of terrorism, killing innocent bystanders. We only have to think about the recent London Bridge massacre; the Manchester Ariane Grande concert; the Nice massacre… all of these crimes committed in the name of religion against complete strangers were carried out by men. Recent mass shootings at schools or in communities in China, Norway and the United States have also been by men.
Men are also responsible for sex trafficking of women and children, for it is for the “pleasure” of men that women and children are abducted and forced to work in the sex trade. Women do not force other women to pleasure them for money.
Serial killers tend to be male, and their victims often female. Women also tend not to get involved in the criminal side of gangs, although they may be “groupies’.
The crimes mentioned above – rape, intentional homicide, mass shootings, acts of terror and sex trafficking, serial killing – are all carried out predominantly by men. Moreover, the female-to-male ratio remains fairly constant across the life span.[vii]The same disproportionate numbers appear for less serious offences, such as burglary, robbery, fraud or shoplifting: men commit far more of these crimes. This is despite similar circumstances like poverty, lack of education, poor parenting and similar motivations, such as the need for money.
In summary, despite both women and men being sensate creatures – able to love, laugh, get angry or engage in criminal activity – women choose not to commit crimes. Their contribution to the world on this level is negligible. Thank goodness for women.
[i]Steffensmeier and Streifel (1991) Age, Gender and Crime across three historical periods: 1935, 1960 and 1985. Social Forces.
[vii]Steffensmeier and Streifel (1991) Age, Gender and Crime across three historical periods: 1935, 1960 and 1985. Social Forces.