Women's Prison Subculture Analysis

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Women’s Prison Subculture: An Analysis and Comparison to Men’s Prisons Breione R. Nora Southern University Of New Orleans Abstract In the 18th century society, one that placed such heavy emphasis on traditional roles, to be a criminal was seen as a greater violation of the female sex role than that of the male. Back in times where society generally expected a woman to present herself as a “lady”, it was perceived that for her to be a criminal, she must have had to be either crazy (commonly referred to as “mad“) or just inherently evil. This, along with the fact that women were considered property, contributed to the substandard treatment of women in corrections. Throughout the 19th century, female prisoners were generally incarcerated…show more content…
In such facilities, it was particularly common to have male guards oversee the female prisoners, and even legally have sexual relations with them, considering the fact that their reasons for being incarcerated were sexual in nature anyway. Eventually, this was deemed socially unacceptable, and once again, the Quakers pushed for reform concerning female prisoners. In 1816, Elizabeth Fry, an English Quaker woman, formed the Ladies Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners in an attempt to improve the quality of female incarceration and get Parliament to make other reforms dealing with issues specific to women in prison. Although it took almost thirty years, Fry’s efforts paid off and some of her requests were finally granted. Among those was complete separation of prisoners by sex, the use of female guards to oversee female prisoners in women’s facilities, and significantly decreasing the amount of hard labor women were required to do during their incarceration. Needless to say, although not solely, Fry’s push for reform has heavily influenced the model of women’s prisons that we see…show more content…
While female prisoners mainly internalize their emotions and use more personal, self-destructive ways, such as self-mutilation, drug use, and suicide attempts to release aggression and make them feel better, male prisoners take out their frustration, anger, and hostility out on prison staff. Oftentimes, they seek to provoke conflict by deliberately breaking rules, disobeying the staff’s direct commands, or purposely defacing and/or vandalizing their cell as a way to release frustration, or to simply gain some extra attention. A more serious form of defiance against prison staff, however, is rioting, which is when a group of inmates come together in order to reach a common goal, whether it be to gain publicity to expose unfair or unlivable conditions within the prisons, to harm prison staff, or even to escape. Prison riots are very common in male prisons due to the overwhelming presence of hostility, whereas they are extremely rare in women’s

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