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The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman
Gender, Crime, and Justice

Fifth Edition

September 2023 | 568 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Now with SAGE Publishing!

The Invisible Woman: Gender, Crime, and Justice offers a thorough exploration of the theories and issues regarding the experiences of women and girls with the criminal justice system as victims, offenders, and criminal justice professionals. Working to counter the "invisibility" of women in criminal justice, this definitive text utilizes a feminist perspective that incorporates current research, theory, and the intersections of sexism with racism, classism, and other types of oppression. Focusing on empowerment of marginalized populations, author Joanne Belknap’s gendered approach to the criminal justice system examines how to improve the visibility of women and to promote their role in society.

Included with this title:

The password-protected Instructor Resource Site (formally known as SAGE Edge)
offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank and editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides. Learn more.
Preface and Acknowledgments
New to This Edition
About the Author
Part I: Introduction
Chapter 1: Gendering Criminology Through an Intersectional Lens
Diversity Among Women and Girls

What Is Feminism?

Women and Girls’ Invisibility

Sex Versus Gender

What Are Feminist Methods?

The Effect of Societal Images on Women Regarding Crime


Part II: Women And Girls’ Offending
Chapter 2: Theories Part I: Positivist, Evolutionary, Strain, Differential Association, Social Control, and Women’s Emancipation Theories
The Original and Positivist Studies

Biosocial and Evolutionary (Psychological) Theories (BSETs)

Strain Theories

Differential Association Theory (DAT) and Social Learning Theory (SLT)

Social Control Theories (SCTs)

Women’s Liberation/Emancipation Hypothesis (WLEH)


Chapter 3: Theories Part II: Critical, Labeling, Cycle of Violence, Life Course, Pathways, and Masculinity Theories
Agency and Resiliency

Critical Theories

Labeling Theory (LT)

Developmental and Adverse Life Events Theories

Masculinity Theory (MT)


Chapter 4: Accounting for Gender–Crime Patterns
Measuring Crime

The Roles of Gender Regarding Co-Offenders, Age, Race, Class, Sexuality, and Mental Illness


Chapter 5: The Context of Women and Girls’ Offending for Specific Crimes
Drugs and Alcohol: Substance Use, Abuse, and Selling (SUAS)

Theft, Burglary, and Robbery

White-Collar Crimes (WCCs)

Sex Work and Prostitution

Aggression and Assault

Child Abductions/Kidnappings


Girls and Women in Gangs


Chapter 6: Processing Women and Girls in the Criminal Legal System
Hypotheses of Gender Discrimination in the CLS

Chivalry Is Complicated

The Legacy of Racism and Confounding Measures of Race/Ethnicity

Criminal Laws and Gender Discrimination

Processing Youthful Defendants/Offenders

Empirical Findings on Gender Differences in Adult Crime Processing

Chivalry Remains Complicated


Chapter 7: Incarcerating, Punishing, and “Treating” Offending Women and Girls
The History of Incarcerating Women and Girls

Rates of Incarceration

The Women’s Prison Regime

Educational, Vocational, and Recreational Programs

Health Needs and Access to Services

The Prison Subculture

Sexual Abuse of Women and Girls While Incarcerated


Part III: Gender-Based Abuse
Chapter 8: Gender-Based Abuse (GBA)
Defining Gender-Based Abuse (GBA)

Culture, Gender Inequality, and GBA

Rates of GBA and the Fear of Crime

Focusing on Intersectional GBA: The History and Its Legacy


Corporate and Environmental GBA

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG)

What Does Feminist Reform Look Like?


Chapter 9: Focusing on Sexual Abuse
Defining Sexual Abuse

Historical Developments in Defining Rape and Other Sexual Abuses

Another Look at Rape Myths and a Rape Culture

Statistics on Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)

College Sexual Abuse

Marital/Spousal/Partner Rape

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Abuse and the Criminal Legal System (CLS)


Chapter 10: Intimate Partner Abuse (IPA) and Stalking
Defining Intimate Partner Abuse (IPA) and Stalking

The Significance of Coercion/Coercive Control

IPA Tactics

Stalking Tactics

The Historical Identification of IPA and Stalking as Social Problems

The Frequency of IPA and Stalking

Walker’s Cycle Theory of Violence

IPA and Stalking Abusers

IPA and Stalking Victims/Survivors

Inhibitors to Leaving/Returning to an Abusive Relationship and What Helps Survivors Leave

IPA and Stalking and the Criminal Legal System (CLS)


Part IV: Women Working In The Criminal Legal System
Chapter 11: Women Working in Prisons and Jails
A Brief History of Sex/Gender Discrimination in the Paid Labor Force

Comparing Racial and Gender Workplace Discrimination

The Matron Role: Women’s Breaking Into CLS Jobs Through Sexist Stereotypical Positions

Women as Token Workers

Women Trailblazers

The Significant Role of Legislative and Court Rulings on Women’s Work in the CLS

Prisoner Privacy and Prison Safety: Legal Resistance to Women Guards

Gender Similarities and Differences in Guards’ Job Performance and Attitudes


Chapter 12: Women Working in Policing and Law Enforcement
What Is Policing?

Women Breaking Into Police Work

Police Officer Identities

Title VII and Other Legislation and Policies

Resistance to Women in Policing

Sexual Harassment

Gender and Stress

Gender Differences in Job Performance

Classifications of Women Police Officers

Women’s Representation in Policing

The Intersection of Racism and Sexual Identity With Gender and Sexism


Chapter 13: Women Working in the Courts
The History of Women on Juries

The History of Women’s Access to Legal Education and Training

Women in Law Schools Since the 1950s

Women Attorneys

Women Judges

Looking for Gender Differences in Judges’ Decision-Making

Women Law Professors


Part V: Conclusions
Chapter 14: Effecting Change
Improving Theoretical Approaches

Improving Research Methods

Two Strategies Cutting Across Offending, Victimization, and CLS Workers

Changing the Risks for and Responses to Girls and Women’s Offending

Changing Responses to Gender-Based Abuse (GBA)

Changes for Women Working in the Criminal Legal System (CLS)




Instructor Resource Site

Online resources included with this text

The online resources for your text are available via the password-protected Instructor Resource Site, which offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank and editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides.

The Invisible Woman should be a required text for every Criminal Justice student. It provides an in-depth look at women in the criminal justice system from a feminist perspective that examines women offenders to women practitioners in the field. The approach is very appealing, especially in our current political climate.”

Angelina Inesia-Forde
Walden University

The Invisible Woman is the authority, in my opinion, for discussions about gender and crime…It is a straightforward and compelling text that applies a feminist perspective in understanding complex issues, involving women and gender, crime, offending, victimization, and the practitioner experience.”

Christina Mancini
Virginia Commonwealth University

"I appreciate that this text offers a balance of addressing theory, offending, victimization, and women’s participation in criminal justice institutions. The text’s commitment to a feminist perspective provides a welcome distinction from other currently available books.”

Benjamin D. Albers
Bridgewater College

“The text provides informative and insightful information on what’s happening with women while providing strategic activities on how to improve the visibility of women to ensure programs, services, and promote their role in society.”

Robbin Day Brooks
Arizona State University

The Invisible Woman is the best book out there to date.”

J. Robert Duke
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Several chapters in this text addresses intersectionality, masculinity and categorizing young girls and women in the context of how this course is taught. The book is a compliment to journal articles and popular culture readings assigned in this class.

Dr Vida Samuel
Communications, Univ Of Connecticut-Stamford
October 27, 2021

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