Being a woman in mixed-gender prisons

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In this chapter, I will examine the penal and mixed gender practices surrounding female prisoners in Denmark and attempt to unfold how these practices both support and constrain the wellbeing and welfare of incarcerated women. I will examine the ways of being the practice of mixed gendered prisons enables and restricts for imprisoned women. In doing so, I will refer to Judith Butler (2004) and her question: “What, given the contemporary order of being, can I be?” (ibid., p. 58), which, in the context of this chapter, can be re-phrased as: What kinds of lives are viable for female prisoners in Danish prisons? Gender equality, which refers to both men and women having the same possibilities and rights to participate in societal life (I discuss this further below), is said to be a core value in advanced welfare regimes like Denmark (; Borchorst & Dahlerup, 2003 ) .However, whether and how gender equality is achieved in the Danish prison context is intimately connected to the ratio of men to women in each prison. It also depends on the professional practice in prison. It is therefore important to consider how this professional practice is co-constituted with assumptions about gender, normalcy, and the reasons why women commit crime. Female prisoners in Denmark represent a marked gendered minority; so, in this chapter, I will ask what this means for the principle of gender equality in Danish prisons.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScandinavian penal history, culture and prison practice : embraced by the welfare state?
EditorsPeter Scharff Smith, Thomas Ugelvik
Place of publicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication year2017
Pages377 - 404
ISBN (print)978-1-137-58528-8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-58529-5
Publication statusPublished - 2017
SeriesPalgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology

    Research areas

  • Køn, Fængsler

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