top of page

Explain Heidensohn's view on female conformity in patriarchal societies.


Crime and Deviance

 A Level/AS Level/O Level

Free Essay Outline

Heidensohn's View on Female Conformity in Patriarchal Societies
This essay will explore Heidensohn's perspective on female conformity in patriarchal societies.
Define key terms: crime, deviance, conformity, patriarchy.
Briefly outline Heidensohn's main argument: women are socialised to conform due to patriarchal constraints.
Heidensohn's Theory
Control at Home
Explain how women are controlled within the domestic sphere.
Provide examples: housework, childcare, emotional labor.
Control in the Public Sphere
Explain how women are controlled in public spaces.
Provide examples: sexual harassment, fear of violence, economic dependence.
Control through the Criminal Justice System
Explain how the criminal justice system is biased against women.
Provide examples: harsher sentences for women who deviate from expected gender roles.
Evaluation of Heidensohn's Theory
Explain how Heidensohn's theory offers a valuable insight into the experiences of women in patriarchal societies.
Highlight the impact of social control on female conformity.
Discuss criticisms of Heidensohn's theory.
Address the possibility of female agency and resistance to patriarchal constraints.
Restate Heidensohn's main argument.
Summarize the strengths and weaknesses of her theory.
Briefly discuss the implications of Heidensohn's work for understanding female crime and deviance.

Free Essay 

The Shackles of Patriarchy: Heidensohn's Explanation of Female Conformity

Sociologist Frances Heidensohn argues that women's conformity to patriarchal norms stems from the fear of social and physical consequences. Her theory emphasizes the role of ⭐⭐social control⭐⭐, which she views as a powerful force that shapes women's behavior and limits their opportunities. This essay will delve into Heidensohn's perspective, exploring the various mechanisms of control that she identifies, and explaining how these factors contribute to women's seemingly compliant roles in patriarchal societies.

Heidensohn posits that women are subject to a ⭐⭐double standard⭐⭐ compared to men. They are expected to conform to both gendered expectations and the broader social norms of the patriarchal system. This double bind creates significant pressures for women, and failing to conform can lead to severe consequences.

Heidensohn identifies three main forms of social control that women face:

⭐⭐1. Control through the family:⭐⭐ Within the family structure, women often bear the responsibility of domestic duties, childcare, and emotional labor. This can limit their time and resources for pursuing education, careers, or personal ambitions. Additionally, the threat of social stigma or familial disapproval can discourage women from breaking traditional gender roles.

⭐⭐2. Control through the state:⭐⭐ Laws, institutions, and policies can be used to enforce patriarchal norms. For instance, the criminal justice system disproportionately targets women for certain offenses, such as prostitution or drug offenses, while overlooking male perpetrators of similar crimes. Furthermore, societal structures like employment policies and childcare accessibility can disadvantage women economically and professionally.

⭐⭐3. Control through the informal network:⭐⭐ Social expectations and pressure from peer groups, friends, and communities play a significant role in shaping women's behavior. The fear of social ostracism, judgment, or gossip can deter women from challenging existing power structures or pursuing actions that deviate from societal norms.

Heidensohn argues that these forms of control create a system of ⭐⭐deterrence⭐⭐, where women are taught to fear the consequences of non-conformity. This fear can manifest in various ways:

⭐Self-policing:⭐⭐ Women internalize patriarchal norms and begin to police their own behavior, limiting their own actions and choices.
⭐Conformity:⭐⭐ To avoid facing negative social consequences, women conform to expectations even when they feel restricted or unsatisfied.
⭐Silence:⭐⭐ Fear of retaliation or judgment can lead women to suppress their desires, opinions, and grievances.

Heidensohn's theory highlights the complex ways in which patriarchal societies control women's lives. By understanding the mechanisms of control and the resulting fear they generate, we can begin to recognize the limitations placed upon women and advocate for a more equitable and just society.

⭐⭐It's important to note⭐⭐ that while Heidensohn's theory offers a valuable framework for understanding female conformity, it doesn't deny the agency and resilience of women. Many women actively challenge and resist patriarchal norms in various ways, even within the constraints they experience. However, acknowledging the systemic pressures women face is crucial for promoting equality and justice.

bottom of page