Good Example Of Research Paper On Alexia McDowell
Senior seminar for women
In a world that is constantly being granted equality for all members of a society and special consideration taken for special interest groups, it is small wonder that an epidemic that has already spread across the country might begin to fracture and feature a new and disconcerting development that has lawmakers and citizens alike worried. While all-girl gangs are not nearly as prominent as their male counterparts, they are still a very real and present danger that is beginning to appear in cities across America, proving to be just as deadly and as troublesome as male-dominated gangs.
Female gang participation has been on the rise now for some time, and what’s more is that in comparison their male counterparts; females are seen to be much more aggressive when they become violent. While it is important to protect young females from the dilemma that girl gangs represent it remains just as vital to sort out the reasons why youths are so attracted to gangs. Finding out how to stage an intervention so as to prolong and even save the lives of female gang members, those who are either active or potential, is a shared goal of many sociologists and the Department of Justice. (Carrasco, 1999)
The phenomenon of females participating in gangs is not a new development unfortunately, as females have in actuality been a part of gangs from as far back as the 1800’s. Since that time female participation has taken a steep rise in comparison to males, and has grown increasingly more violent as those who are inducted into either a male-dominated gang or enter into an all female gang are required to do more to prove themselves and are thus asked to participate or engage in activities that are decidedly brutal and can show that they are in fact dedicated to the cause. (Howard, 2015)
What psychological, emotional, and mental factors that might go into making such a decision are the same in an historic sense, as an inadequate and even harmful home life can lead to the effort of seeking out a place to belong, a place that offers less judgment and more acceptance. Ideally this is what gangs can give those who are troubled in their home life, offering the type of social belonging that they otherwise lack anywhere else. In essence the females that seek out gangs are looking for a new family to either supplement or replace their own, a life away from the struggle they experience at home. They are looking for a way to belong and to feel safe, and in gangs the general feeling is that brothers, and sisters, will always have one another’s back.
There are economic reasons behind young women joining gangs as well, as joining up becomes a matter of survival for those that cannot provide for themselves or their family. Selling drugs has become a fast lane to easy money for a good number of gang members, and in this females are little different if at all. For some this is seen as the only means by which they can succeed, as the view of a nine to five job is not acceptable to many and even less so when it is considered that they might have to pay for childcare and other such expenses.
Socioeconomic status also factors into females entering gangs, as they at times are seen as lesser than others and thus have a rather negative self-image that many women will attempt to push past in order to be recognized. Gangs offer a solution to those that are well aware that they will be somebody if they join, rather than spend their lives being nothing if they remain apart. Poverty is a great motivator for many women to join, as being a part of the gang affords them status and brings them from being lower class to someone who is control of their life, and can therefore leave a mark on society rather than just be swallowed up by it.
While the general consensus of anyone who does not join a gang tends to swing from the ideal that gangs are little more than social gatherings for thugs and delinquents, those within the gang tend to denounce such statements and beliefs with the unwavering attitude that they are in fact a family and are also elevated above the common folk by dint of their organization. When in a gang one finds status, a sense of belonging, and a family that, while still prone to violence, will stand up for one another. It is a pleasant fantasy that offers much and takes far more from the willing participants.
There are times when it is simply safer to belong to a gang thanks to the assumptions made by others when taking into regard the neighborhood or community in which an individual lives. There is protection in a gang to be certain, as most gangs will find safety in numbers so that they might find some sense of security. Of course it is then ironic that once they join, any gang members, including females, find that the gang life is virtually filled with violence. One of the most notorious forms comes with the act of initiation into a gang, which can involve what is known as a “beat in”, which is little more than a mugging that lasts anywhere from thirteen seconds to a minute in which gang members stomp, hit, kick, and generally abuse initiates to insure that they can in fact take the punishment and perhaps even stand up for themselves.
Women are allowed to participate in a beat in, though in male-dominated gangs they are also given the option of being sexed in, which should be self-explanatory but for the purpose of this report will be explained as a woman having sexual intercourse with several gang members in order to prove their dedication to the gang. While neither method is seen as acceptable to anyone outside the gang, it is this dedication and willingness to go through the process that solidifies the mindset that has gripped so many. Once you’re in, you’re in for good, and rarely is there any getting out on good terms.
Once past the initiation the violence doesn’t necessarily stop. Gangs are widely known for protecting their territory, as it is a matter of pride, economics, and integrity all cast into the same mix. Like their male counterparts, females fight over territory and the right over where they will be allowed to perform their drug deals and other activities. Protecting one’s territory is everything in a gang, as the pride that most gang members hold in their street, community, or even block is tantamount to the pride that a patriot holds in their country; they will live and die for that territory if need be.
It’s unfortunate then that the aggression shown by many females is exaggerated when they are heard to claim that they have participated in violent activities. This is done to build up reputation and is at times solely talk, not action. While it can be a negative stereotype that begins once rumors start about how “hard” or “tough” a woman is, the mere fact that she has gained such a reputation can be both good and bad in violent neighborhoods where being thought of as hardened might actually deter many from wishing to fight. Unfortunately this also makes them bigger targets, as those who are currently are on the rise into their own position of repute find it necessary to take out the most influential persons near the top of their gang. Being thought of as tough and untouchable seems only to make others see that person as a potential target, a means of gaining the same reputation the individual worked so hard to develop.
Interestingly, females within gangs don’t seem to see the need for guns as much as their male counterparts, favoring instead fights in which matters are settled with either their fists or a knife. While the numbers for this statistic are changing, as women are becoming more dependent upon guns, it is still a low number when compared to males in gangs.
There are definite differences between female and male gangs. For one, female gangs tend to spring up in the wake of male gangs and while they will keep some sort of affiliation with the male gang, the name is changed in a way that is more feminine and reflects their independence, such as it is. (Carlie, 2002) The role of the leader is almost entirely different in a female gang as opposed to a male gang, in that it is far more diffuse. The democratic model is used more frequently in female gangs, leaving no truly established leader but instead relying more upon the influence of several key members and a final decision that the entire gang is involved in making when it concerns matters that need their attention.
There are some key similarities between male and female gangs. As mentioned above, there is generally a “beat in”, or a “jump in”, or what is known as a “cora check”, which is Hispanic for “heart check”. In essence a new member has to show that they have the heart and the courage to enter the gang and stick up for themselves. It is a bit ironic considering how once one enters the gang it is generally observed that an individual who is still on good terms with their set will never have to fight alone again.
Race within gangs is not generally the only factor that will keep one in or out, as class also decides who is in or out. Generally gangs seem to develop in urban settings that are close if not under the poverty line. Those who suffer from this condition will more likely band together than allow those who are of a higher social class join in their gang, as the feelings of inferiority and superiority between different classes can tend to have a polarizing effect upon individuals. While racial backgrounds can be important for some gangs, especially those of strict ethnic background it is nonetheless not an absolute measuring stick that can be adhered to in order to consider who will join with what gang.
Females gang members have existed within the gang sect since documented reports of gangs were first seen to emerge, though their role throughout history has been one of subservience and general support rather than true, equal membership. This development, that of all-female gangs and their continual rise, has only been occurring since the late 20th century, in which women have begun to show their male counterparts that they can be just as ruthless, just as violent, and just as dangerous if not more so.
Three of the most noted girl gangs are closely associated with the male gangs that created them, the Cholas, the Criplettes, and the Bloodlettes. (Criplettes, Bloodlettes, And Cholas, 2015)) None of these women have any love or respect for one another, and adhere strictly to the guidelines laid down by their parent gang as well as their own laws. While there are many other girl gangs across the nation and even throughout different countries it is important to note that more often than not the all-female gangs seem to be primarily of any ethnicity but Caucasian. Cholas are Latina, Criplettes and Bloodlettes are primarily African-American, and there is no real mention of Caucasian girl gangs other than those who are deemed “posers”, those who pretend to belong to a set but in reality either could not handle the life or are simply claiming one set or another to seem cool.
Why ethnicity plays such a role in who enters a gang and who does not is not entirely certain, but class, as mentioned above, has a great deal to do with it. It is less likely that a young African-American woman from a prominent family living in a nice neighborhood and with all her needs attended to will find her way into a gang, but for the sake of this paper it can happen, if only to show defiance and rebellion. Likely as not though gangs are usually made up of those who are living in poverty or close enough to it to feel the cold edge of the street at their backs.
In such events the money is easy and the life is hard to avoid, either because of pressure from friends or life itself. Gang members don’t often join just because it’s the cool thing to do, though that is in fact one of the reasons. The money attracts a great many, and the life spent amongst those who profess to truly care about them and their welfare is another bonus that many of them are drawn to thanks to the marked lack of any true belonging they feel in their own family.
It is surprising in some sense that Caucasian women, whether or not they are financially secure, do not seem to be mentioned much when it comes to gang activity, other than to be seen as possessions, property, and of a much lesser status than men. It is within the more diverse ethnicities that one tends to see more gang activity amongst females, for several reasons that have been rumored, gossiped, and even studied over since the initial rise of females within the gang circle.
In the first documented gangs females were often thought of in a mixed variety, as in the first days women were scarcely thought of at all save that they were housewives, homemakers, and otherwise domestic servants that were to be subservient to their husbands and to look after the children and housework rather than participate in the workings of men. Yet for all that there were those women that stepped outside the common role that had been thrust upon them to at least make the attempt to step into what was then considered a “man’s world”. While there were those women that went outside the norms and entered male gangs they were more or less there in a limited capacity, unable to do or say much in any way that might influence the gang.
Since the advent of the girl gang however the voice of each woman is generally heard more often than any one single leader, as the democratic method tends to be the desired mode of leadership within such gangs. However there are notable voices and opinions that are stronger than others, leaders in the sense that they are more influential and seem to have a better sense of direction or initiative than other members. There seems to be less infighting within girl gangs and less overall drama, as is so commonly seen in male-dominate gangs in which members will do what they can to advance regardless whether it is at the expense to a fellow gang member. (Prigg, 2014)
There is no doubt that violence that generates from girl gangs is a great deal more pervasive and personal than male gangs, though this is in part due to the very stereotype that has kept women from forming their own gangs for so long until recently, the idea that women are weaker, cannot organize like men, and generally cannot handle the pressures of the streets as male-dominated gangs have learned to do over time.
While all this has been disproved throughout the past few decades in which girl gangs have been on the rise, it is still very much a fact that they are not the same type of force that their male counterparts represent, as the numbers of girl gangs, especially those that do not hail from already well-established male gangs, are still small in number and influence. While equality in both law-abiding and criminal activities is in flux, girl gangs are determined to have their say and to improve their chances of being recognized as a true force. Despite their low numbers they are increasingly more and more violent than male gang members, as they have something to prove and are not always expected to be as forceful. In other words it is generally taken as a surprise when a woman manages to overpower another person, even if it is another woman.
Of course there are times when women find out that the gang life is either not for them, or that they will not profit from it and may very well land in jail or worse. Gangs don’t offer much of a future for anyone, let alone a woman that, as she grows older, will lose her sex appeal, her mobility, and her ability to “bang” as she used to. This is a concern amongst all gangsters, as there is no set retirement for those who join a gang. There is usually only prison or a grave to be had in a gangster’s old age, and neither of those are seen as appealing by any gang member, though they are constants that are considered by many. Some people do manage to get out, though some also find that once the life takes them they are stuck and cannot find a way to quit, no matter the consequences.
Among the many factors that can be attributed to departure from a gang there is one overlying reason for girls that is fairly common. When leaving a gang a girl usually will do so when their adolescence is at an end. This is of course assuming any woman that desires to leave is still standing at that point, as gang life in male or girl gangs is exceedingly violent and does not carry a great hope for living to a ripe old age.
Another reason can come when a woman gives birth and then is forced to realize just how much responsibility she now has to her child. This alone would entail the departure of many a woman from the gang life, and perhaps even the realization that such a life is not safe for a child. There are those that raise their children around gang violence and even encourage it, but thankfully they are few.
Other women even manage to set up a lasting relationship with men who are not part of a gang and can almost entirely leave the streets behind. Unfortunately it is not always this easy, as members who leave are often “jumped out”, which means they are beaten severely by several of their soon to be former gang members. This can result in very serious injury that requires hospitalization and sometimes even intensive care, not to mention physical rehab for some of the worst injuries. Some gangs even favor the “blood in/blood out” method, which is no less than once a gang member enters the gang, they cannot leave until they are dead.
There is a heavy price to be paid for gang participation, as the family unit that develops is considered to be sacrosanct to many gang members. (Moore, Hagedorn, 2001) At times this is considered a tighter unit than most regular families, as members profess that they will gladly die for one another and have even gone so far to kill for slights that have been directed at their own fellow women. Girl gangs are no doubt far different than male gangs, but in terms of violence, motivation, and the need to prove themselves, they are just as fierce and just as determined to make their mark.
Efforts are always being made to employ and otherwise occupy young women to steer them away from gangs, the allure is always there. Without a beneficial change within neighborhoods in which gangs form, there is no likely solution that will solve the current problem.
Carlie, Mike PhD. (2002). Into the Abyss: A Personal Journey into the World of Street Gangs.
Springfield, MO: Mike Carlie (self-published).
Carrasco, Valaree. (1999). Female Gang Participation: Causes and Solutions. Edge.
Criplettes, Bloodlettes, And Cholas. (2015). United Gangs. Retrieved from
Hamilton, Brad. (2011). Rise of the girl gangs. The New York Post. Retrieved from
Howard, Sally. (2015). The terrifying rise of the all-girl gang. The Telegraph. Retrieved from
Moore, Joan; Hagedorn, John. (2001) Female Gangs: A Focus on Research. Juvenile Justice
Bulletin. Retrieved from
Prigg, Mark. (2014). Girls do well in street gangs because of better people skills (and their ability