supermale | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminology

Supermale is a criminological concept that refers to an individual who believes in the traditional male gender role and exhibits hypermasculine traits, including aggression, dominance, and a lack of empathy.

The term “supermale” was coined by criminologist Freda Adler in her book “Sisters in Crime” (1975) to describe a particular type of male offender who is driven by a need to prove his masculinity through violent and criminal behavior.

According to Adler, supermales are typically raised in environments that emphasize traditional gender roles and values, such as toughness, strength, and assertiveness. They may have been socialized to believe that violence and aggression are acceptable means of asserting power and control over others.

Supermales often have a sense of entitlement and view themselves as superior to others, particularly women. They may have a history of violent behavior and may be more likely to commit crimes such as rape, assault, and murder.

The concept of supermale has been criticized for its narrow focus on male offenders and its neglect of the social and structural factors that contribute to violent behavior. Critics argue that supermales are not a distinct group of offenders but are instead a reflection of broader societal values and beliefs about gender and violence.

Despite these criticisms, the concept of supermale has been influential in shaping criminological research and policy, particularly in the areas of violence against women and gender-based violence. It highlights the importance of addressing the underlying cultural and societal factors that contribute to violent behavior and the need for interventions that challenge traditional gender roles and promote non-violent ways of asserting power and control.

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Last Modified: 03/14/2023


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