Table of Contents
Journal of Criminology
Volume 2014, Article ID 414525, 8 pages
Research Article

Female Sex Offenders and Pariah Femininities: Rewriting the Sexual Scripts

School of Justice, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Qld 4000, Australia

Received 2 July 2014; Revised 22 October 2014; Accepted 24 October 2014; Published 25 December 2014

Academic Editor: Xiaojin Chen

Copyright © 2014 Sharon Hayes and Bethney Baker. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper aims to analyze the way in which the media reports of sex offences tend to reinforce traditional sexual scripts and gender identities. Compared to investigations into male sex offenders, female sex offending is relatively underresearched, undertheorized, and misunderstood (Hayes and Carpenter, 2013). We argue that the media’s reinforcement of traditional scripts has hindered the development of awareness of sex offending by women, depicting them as aberrations, that is, as “female pariahs.” As Harris (2010) notes, female sex crimes cannot be explained by male theories of crime. To address this issue, we examined 487 media reports from Australia and the United Kingdom and found that, as key stakeholders in public debate, the media does indeed play a crucial role in shaping the public perceptions of female sex offenders as aberrations and pariahs. This distorted view influences approaches to understanding and acknowledging sex offending by women as well as hindering the safe and timely reporting of offences by victims.