The Gender Correctional Machine: Institutional Mechanisms that Reinforce a Patriarchal Gender Order in Correctional Facilities

  • Micaela Robalino Temple University


Mass incarceration is a feminist struggle. Not only are women the fastest growing population in correctional facilities in the United States but they also face institutional regulations that aim at "correcting" their gender and sexual "deviance." Correction, within women's correctional facilities, refers to the structural attempt to enforce a gendered, class-based, and racialized order. The mechanism that allows the gender correctional machine to be enacted functions through two branches: correctional industries and library content. This study examines the extent to which regulatory programs, such as limited labor options and libraries, are actually constructed through male-gaze-dominated norms. By looking at the connection between vocational programs and the prison-industrial complex, it is evident that labor-oriented programs not only exploit women but do so in a gendered way. Low-waged, traditionally feminine, and potentially racialized training within the facilities showcase the regulatory mechanism to keep women "were they belong." Furthermore, this study imports the theoretical lens of Laura Mulvey's notion of the male gaze into the area of sociology of law, and seeks to understand how prison libraries enforce patriarchal norms. By looking at denied and permitted library publications in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, this study shows that the male gaze functions as a normalizing and correcting force in the ways that gender and sexuality are visually portrayed in publications' covers. Thus, the study unveils the regulatory mechanisms of the gender correctional machine, and proposes radical resistance as an alternative to it.

Author Biography

Micaela Robalino, Temple University

Micaela Robalino is a recent graduate of Temple University with a B.A. in Gender Studies and Political Science.


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How to Cite
Robalino, M. (2019). The Gender Correctional Machine: Institutional Mechanisms that Reinforce a Patriarchal Gender Order in Correctional Facilities. Perceptions, 5(2).