Predators: The social construction of “Stranger-Danger” in Washington state as a form of patriarchal ideology

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The article critically examines Washington State's Predator Law (1990). The most controversial part of the law provides for the indefinite civil commitment of “sexually violent predators.” Under the legislation, husbands who victimize their wives and children cannot be defined as predators, I argue that the social construction of predators as sick strangers is an ideological construct. This non-conspiratorial construct diverts attention from the fact that male intrafamilial violence is by far the greatest threat to the safety of women and children. These diversionary tendencies in the predator discourse constitute a hitherto scarcely publicized backlash against feminist arguments about the need for criminal laws that work in the interests of all women and children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-68
Number of pages26
JournalWomen and Criminal Justice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 17 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Law

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