Theorizing Men, Masculinities, and Homicide

Vickie Jensen, California State University at Northridge

Homicide has been the subject of criminological study for decades, but only relatively recently has the gendered nature of homicide been the central focus of research. Most of this gendered research has addressed women's homicide offending and victimization with gender analysis of homicide viewed as nearly synonymous with understanding gender in the lives of women who kill and are killed. Yet, overwhelmingly, homicide is committed by men, and with only a few exceptions, gender and men's homicide has not been fully examined in criminology. This paper will report a developing gender-centered theoretical explanation for men's homicide offending, bring both macro-and micro-level analyses of gender systems and gender interaction to bear on explaining why men kill. Necessarily, this discussion includes a consideration of both men's position in a patriarchal system and how masculinities play out in social interaction. This work draws upon the work of Messerschmidt and others in masculinities and crime as well as the work in violent transactions in order to propose how men's experiences of gender can translate into lethal violence.

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Updated 05/20/2006