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Hypocrisy in Feminist Criminology?


So in my last post, I wrote about victim precipitation, and the horror of Amir, and how academics contributed to today’s victim blaming culture: https://www.muffoncrime.com/post/academia-s-contribution-to-victim-blaming-culture


While writing it, I remembered something from A-level Law (I know, I'm surprised too). And it made me question whether I've already seen victim precipitation used before, but within feminist criminology.



In the last few decades a very special defence to murder was born: diminished responsibility. This was a response to an old defence of 'provocation' - which meant if I called you a wanker and you killed me, you might get a reduced sentence. So you'd get charged with manslaughter, instead of murder - and as a result, probably get a lesser sentence.


However, a whole bunch of feminist criminologists argued that this was really unfair. Because while men are very quick to murder someone after being antagonized, women are much more likely to slow burn after years of abuse and then suddenly snap and murder someone.


This was particularly relevant in cases of domestic abuse. In one precedent setting a case, a woman was beaten and abused for a very long time. After one night too many, she set the fucker alight - killing him.

Her name was Kiranjit Ahluwalia. The case 'R v Ahluwalia' commenced the use of 'diminished responsibility' as a defence, and it went on to be mainly used by battered women as a defence to them murdering (manslaughtering) their abusive partners.



In this case, I'm sure feminists would very much argue that Kiranjit's husband had a hand in his own murder. After all, the whole defence they argued for is based on the idea that the victim somehow spurred the offender into the criminal act - which is the exact same sentiment as Amir (1967), with his "Victim Precipitated Rape."


So it's interesting to see both sides here:

On one hand, victim blaming is a very shitty thing for women. Especially victims of sexual assault, where they're blamed for their own victimization.


On the other hand, a situation where it might be sexist to not allow victim blaming as a reason for murder (to account for the differences in how both sexes snap.)


I'm not saying I agree with Amir, I think what he and Wolfang, Schafer, Von Hentig and countless others published was unbearably shitty - and the fact that their work continues to influence courts today is a cruel but effective testament to how much work is still left to do.


But it is interesting to see the paradoxes within feminist criminology.