Category Archives: criminal woman

Social and Moral Deviance

Things I am thinking about as I prepare my proposal for Eastern State Penitentiary

Standards are set and norm is created – anything outside the norm is deviance – downfall of Catholic control in general resulting from Darwinism, Positivism and the birth of Sociology create new categories of social hierarchy based on morality and male dominance within civilized society….ramblings on…

Positivism as religion satisfies the need to normalize through both science and mythology – comparing empirical knowledge with a higher world order understood through creationism – not necessarily Christian but the belief of the supernatural such as Comte’s declaration that “all phenomena [is] produced by the immediate action of supernatural beings”

This leads Lombroso to use Aryan physiological characteristics as a base model and Anglo/European civilization as basis for social and moral norms.

Criminals are sacrifices to the positivists as saints are to Christianity as a way to uphold belief – the if then state – atavistic characteristics proving the existence of the born criminal as underdeveloped (primitive) and therefor sub-human – also degeneration as the martyr is to Christianity?  just a thought…

Both atavistic and degenerative characteristics can be natal – however – atavism is often associated with racism and degeneration with disease (either physiological or mental, ie. alcoholism) and can be passed down as a birth defect. Degeneration – social in origin is gradually weakening and hereditary – criminal behavior caused by atavism and degeneration is therefor not created through choice and women fall into these categories of criminals as seen as sub-human.

One way to be more primitive is that a female has too many masculine characteristics as is proven that the more refined a culture – the more the women take on feminine characteristics of domesticity, beauty, modesty, and passivity –  and that civilized males look for these qualities in a mate – makes me think of plastic surgery

phrenology – correlation of sections of the skull to propensities of good and evil…

criminal anthropologists extended physical anomalies to the entire body

The Normal Woman

The normal woman as studied and put forth by Cesare Lombroso in the 1890’s.   The notes below are based on Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman by Cesare Lombroso and Guglielmo Ferrero translated and with a new introduction and feminist commentary by Nicole Hahn Rafter and Mary Gibson.

The Normal Woman is proven to be more primitive than man:

  • Measurements of the head
    • cranial capacity in weight – smaller in women
    • brachycephaly or broad-headedness in size – greater in women
    • dolichocephaly or long-headedness in size – greater in men
    • jaw size – greater in men
    • Measurements of thoracic cavity, cervical and lumbar parts, arms comparing body shape
    • Body hair length in relation to age
    • Weight and Height
    • Viscera, Fat and Blood
    • Measurements of white hair and baldness of middle class Europeans
  • Differences of sensitivity Continue reading

Questioning Positivism

I am conducting an independent research project in preparation for a proposal submission, to Eastern State Penitentiary, for an art installation – my proposal looks at phrenology and female criminology of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.Reaching back in time, as I so often do, looking for the origins of particular societal phenomena that baffle me… I have come across a philosophy coined by Auguste Comte – Positivism. My question is: How does the concept of ‘universality’  cause systematic oppression through the creation of deviance? Continue reading