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Empowerment through Violence: Most people associate gangs with their ability to destroy communities by engaging in drug use, drug distribution and violence, and they have been studied for decades. Researchers are interested in defining gangs, understanding how they work, and finding reasons why the members join and stay in the gangs. However, when researchers study gangs, they invariably focus on male members. When and if these studies mention women, most of the research solely references their roles as sexual objects or girlfriends of gang members. Only recently have a small percentage of researchers begun to include females as a part of the demographics of their studies. While examining research in Gender Studies, I have found evidence that women’s role in gangs and violent acts have become more ‘masculine’ over time. Granted, women’s roles in mixed gangs continue to be sexualized, but this is rapidly changing, especially within all girl gangs. By including organized crime, these women are transforming the boundaries of gaining gender equality. Although gangs can be dangerous, many operate much like organized businesses. Females' growing rate of gang involvement in such "masculine" structures offers the potential for building status in all male communities and female empowerment.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Mass Communications

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Bonnie Boaz


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

Is Part Of

VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


© The Author(s)

From Cooking Meals to Cocking guns