Unsexing Sentencing: Gender, Justice, and the Female Sex Offender

This project aims to uncover and question the gendered structures that have perpetuated a consistent leniency in the treatment of female sex offenders in the criminal justice process. It will explore how this treatment saturates the system, from the initial crime through investigation, trial, sentencing, and beyond; however, the paper will take a magnifying glass to the sentencing, the point at which the participants in the case express their attitudes and biases outright. This paper seeks to explore the ways in which this preferential treatment is actually expressly anti-feminist, continuing to fuel long-burning patriarchal attitudes. In addition, it investigates the psychological ramifications for the victims, who face invalidation, invisibility, and self-doubt as the crimes against them are brushed off. To accomplish this, the paper explores the history of gender criminology, focusing on female sex offenders and highlighting the exclusion of female victims from consideration. In addition, it analyzes Commonwealth of PA v. Randi Lynn Zurenko, a criminal sex offender case in which a female teacher groomed, manipulated, and engaged in sex acts with multiple female students, ultimately receiving a figurative slap on the wrist and leaving behind a tidal wave of trauma in her wake. The paper argues that the stakeholders of the legal system in Pennsylvania, including the public, still do not consider women to have the power or agency to commit a non-consensual sex crime, which invalidates both the female sex offender and her victims.



Work Title Unsexing Sentencing: Gender, Justice, and the Female Sex Offender
Penn State
  1. Corinna Mazzitti
  1. female sex offenders
  2. criminal justice system
  3. female sex abuse victims
  4. American Studies
  5. Penn State Harrisburg
  6. gender disparity
  7. sexual abuse victims
License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives)
Work Type Masters Thesis
DOI doi:10.18113/S1CK96
Deposited December 02, 2018




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Corinna_Mazzitti_Final_Thesis.pdf
  • Added Creator Corinna Mazzitti
  • Published