Sunday, 15 November 2009

... Or is it just that they don't get caught?

Amazing where my reading habits take me, sometimes.

Going through an article on the theft of a collection of bonsai trees, I was struck by the author's assumption that the thief was male.  Aside from the fact that moving multiples of trees in pots would make more sense if it were a group effort - in which case why couldn't this be a whole misguided Sorority thinking they could fund their University education with ill-gotten gain, for example.

So before I logged off with the S word (that would be 'sexism' of course) in my head, I decided to do some checking on the likelihood of a bonsai thief having the XY chromosome deal.  Now I wasn't about to do hours of trawling, but let me share with you what I found out in the course of an hour. 

Statistics gathered by the US Department of Justice showed that 'in 1998 there were an estimated 3.2 million arrests of women, accounting for 22% of all arrests that year'.  I couldn't find more recent stats than that, so if you can point me in the direction of newer numbers, by all means feel free.

In Psychology Today, The Scientific Fundamentalist blog ran a series of posts dated July 2008 on criminality and men.  The bit that interested me, of course, being the motivation behind property crimes of robbery and theft:

...If women prefer to mate with men with more resources, then men can increase their reproductive prospects by acquiring material resources. Resources in traditional societies, however, tend to be concentrated in the hands of older men; younger men are often excluded from attaining them through legitimate means and must therefore resort to illegitimate means to acquire them.


And female criminality?

... Apart from their tendency and inclination to avoid physical risks and danger altogether, this is another reason that women commit fewer crimes than men. Women only steal what they need for them and their children to survive, whereas men steal to show off and gain status as well as resources. In other words, women steal less than men for exactly the same reason as they earn less than men. Women generally earn less than men do because they tend to make only what they need and usually have better things to do than earn money, whereas men are motivated to earn far more than they need to survive in order to use the money to attract women. Similarly, women steal less than men do because they tend to steal what they need to survive and do not use crime for other purposes, like showing off and gaining status.

OK, I realise I've only scratched the tip of the iceberg here.  Nor do I necessarily agree with the views expressed above.  And don't take things out of context; if you want to fly off the handle, read all the blogposts first.

There are probably tons of number crunchers out there who can corroborate or disprove what's written here.  And the DOJ stats still tell me that there's at least a 1 in 5 chance that the bonsai thief could've been a chick.  Still, I'm now curious enough to wonder how things have evolved over the last 10 years.  For years women have been encouraged to believe they could do as well as men in all areas of their lives.  Has that spilled over into the criminal world?  So what would the numbers say - is the disparity still as great?

And no, I don't think it's just because women don't get caught as often as men.  No matter how inefficient some may believe the criminal justice systems to be, 78% is just too big a gap to be explained by that; even if the stats are over 10 years old.

Hmmm. Should I only allow women and older married men (or at least co-habiting ones) to come into the garden and view the bonsai?  Single, childless young dudes need not apply. :D

On a lighter note, what about what I found on this Forum?

It's because men are, plainly put, the cause of all misery:
MENtal illness
MENstrual cramps
MENtal breakdown
GUYnecologist (too bad it's not spelled that way)
and when we have real trouble it's a...

Yep, found all that in the space of an hour. 


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