The policing of women’s sexuality and, particularly, their reproductive capacity is arguably a centrepiece of patriarchy. Feminist criminology provides a unique site from which to explore the increasing political pressure in the United States to police girls’ and women’s bodies through the restriction of contraceptive and abortion services. A particular focus on the re-criminalisation of abortion in the United States provides a case study of the larger issue of the specific role of the criminal justice system in the enforcement of patriarchal privilege.

This talk given by Meda Chesney-Lind draws on an essay that appeared in a special issue of Women and Criminal Justice Policing Women’s Bodies: Law, Crime, Sexuality, and Reproduction, edited by the author.


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Meda Chesney-Lind is a feminist criminologist and an advocate for girls and women who come in contact with the criminal justice system. She is a Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and the incoming President for the American Society of Criminology.

This lecture was held as part of the Gender Studies Speaker Series at the University of Auckland. For more information, click here.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this lecture reflect the opinions of the lecturer and not necessarily the views of The Big Q. 

See Also:

Do We Have a ‘Violent Girl’ Problem? Moral Panics and the Policing of Girlhood ▶

Which Faces of Feminism Appear Acceptable to Teens? ▶