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FEMALE GANGBANGERS Essay, Research Paper
A year in the World of Female Gangsters:
There is no way you can neatly squeeze in a single report what female gang life posses. What I am giving is highlights and statistics staffed with local information. There is no such thing as a typical gang each possess a history that reflects the community they grew up in. The research is in Los Angeles and smaller California communities San Antonio, Texas, and Chicago, Ill.. Most research has been done in L.A. where female gangs have achieved a greater notoriety more than anywhere else but no matter where the gang is each are similar in nature.
History of gangs:
The history of gangs is a history of fear?the fear of the outsiders. Although their skin was darker, their faith was catholic, Latino gangs grew in Los Angeles for reasons that most street gangs do everywhere, including the white Italian and Irish gangs of Chicago and New York in the mid 1800?s and later the German and Jewish gangs as a result of swift demographic change. In the 1920?s thousand of Hispanics streamed into California to answer the need for cheap labor, looking for a ?better life?. It was here the term Barrio, a Hispanic settlement in unincorporated terrain?s left over from the Italians and Irish Youths who moved into the larger economy and society of Los Angeles.
When the Depressionhit in the 1930?s, the Hispanics were no longer needed.
It was felt that they took away the jobs from the poor white families. These were jobs white people would not of even considered working in but was all that was available in times when jobs were scarce.
The Hispanic Communities remained outcasts, facing more intense discrimination than most white immigrants do. California began repatriation, forcing immigrants back across the border.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s neighborhood street gangs formed for protection and identity. Their members were called cholos, ?people trapped between worlds?, originally referring to those on the fringes of indigenous Indian and Spanish colonial cultures in Mexico. In America it meant poor second-generation kids whose parents remained Mexican at heart while their children desired, yet were denied, full American citizenship. Misunderstood in their own homes as unwelcomed outsiders they fell into the area between Slauson Avenue and Firestone (Manchester), during the 20’s and 30’s which was occupied primarily by white residents, but just south of Firestone, African-American populations were growing in Watts between 92nd Street and Imperial.
During the 1920’s and 30’s, some of the Black gangs that were active in Los
Angeles were the “Goodlows,” “Kelleys,” “Magnificents,” “Driver Brothers,” the “Boozies,” and the “Blodgettes” which hung out in an area off the Imperial Freeway known as the “Blodgette Track,” where the 105 Freeway is today.
The “Boozies” were a family of many brothers and friends who were involved in
prostituion and robbery.
The guys frequented the Jefferson Park area on Los Angeles and hung out on Denker Avenue. The “Magnificents” were a group of youths from the Central Avenue on the eastside of LA. Eventually these gangs faded in the late 1930’s as the youths became older. Gangs during this time were strictly juvenile in nature, and those reaching their late teens distanced themselves from gang.
Although black gangs also existed by the 40?s, they were in response to racist whites. Today one of the largest gangs in L.A. ?Grape Street Watts Crips?, named after it?s neighborhood turf of 103rd and Grape Street is the oldest black gang in existance.
The Crips and Bloods didn?t arrive on the scene until three decades later, the Crips being the largest of the two out numbering Bloods seven to one, but not to undermine their reputation it is thought the Bloods are more crazier.
According to statistics in 1993 female gangs represented 10% of 650,000 gang members, this polled from 79-law enforcement agencies nation wide. This does not identify those girls that are affiliated with already existing male gangs. These girls are regulated to associate gang members.
Wherever teenage boys get together, girls are sure to follow. The early female gangs were called Cholas. They wore short skirts, mesh stockings, and pompadours. In the 1960s, they grew their hair long and teased, lined their eyes in black and white raccoonlike circles, and slithered into hip-hugging balk skirts. They participated in gang life as the sisters and girlfriends of male gang members, although soon female cliques or auxiliaries emerged.
Though they took their name from the feminine version of a male gang?s name the Diablas, for instance, spun off from the Diablos?they acted, for the most part, entirely on their own. In some cases, girls formed completely autonomous all female gangs, like Las Monas or the Black Legion, they bonded for partying and dancing, a girls? club without a clubhouse.
Although both early male and female gangs were primarily social, occasionally breaking out into chains and knife fights, the Los Angeles police treated them like a corrupting force.
The female gangs of Los Angeles:
For the fifth straight year, nearly 800 people died in gang killings, the highest gang homicide rate in the nation. In one year alone, some 8,050 victims were treated at L.A. county hospitals for gun shot wounds thirteen times the number of U.S. military personnel killed and wounded during the Gulf War.
Lennox-13 a large Latino gang consisted of smaller gangs or ?cliques,? of thirty to fifty kids all around the same age. Most lennox-13 members are first generation teenagers born of Spanish speaking parents who crossed the border from Mexico, El Salvadore, or other Central American countries. The gang takes its name from its neighborhood of Lennox a 1.5 square mile area of Los Angeles. In 1980s the female gang the Lennox Playgirl Gangstas came about. Although deeply affiliated with the male gang Lennox-13, these girls kept their own identity. Girls face the same risks as guys?poverty, drugs, unemployment, violence.
Most of their mothers had been teenagers themselves when they gave birth, and without strong female role models to emulate, their daughters looked to the boys.
The gangs accept anybody handicapped ugly, fat, gay girls, not guys, but almost anyone. Most girls come from really abusive homes and they?re just looking for some comfort. In the gangs these girls find a level of acceptance and what they think of as love.
They adopted names such as Miss Crazy, Bambi, Dreamer; this follows the rules to keep their identity secret. Girls excelled in gang life, they learned how to break into houses, by watching crime shows on T.V..
Steel cars by jimmy an ignition and start one without a key in under a minute. Even dress up as guys and commit murder, since most carry guns either Mac 11s or TEC-9s, because they are easy to conceal.
Roles in Gangs
While some girls are allowed to join male gangs this is rare. To join a male gang a female has to be as tough as a guy, and willing to take a beating from one of several boys. Many male gang members welcomed lesbians in their ranks with an acceptance that extended beyond most. Both boys and girls in gangs prized aggressive masculinity above nearly any other trait. Extremely butch homosexual women win respect precisely because they appear almost indistinguishable form men, favoring the same clothes, right down to boxer shorts. They stay active far later if life than straight women because usually they do not have kids.
The level of girl?s involvement in cliques runs in cycles. At times the boys? gangs welcomed girls, at other times they pushed them aside, denigrating them as whores, bitches, snitches, and spies. Girls frequently found themselves in a catch-22: male leaders would order the prettiest to infiltrate an enemy party to set up or lure a rival-at high risk to herself-only to resent her and all females for making men vulnerable. Girls are at the bottom of the totem pole by their male counter parts.
Beatings and rape for these girls by there boyfriends, x-boyfriends, so called homeboys, and enemy?s of their clan is not unusual.
It is a accepted way of gang life for these girls where most already know what it is to be beaten, they?ve seen they?re fathers do it to their mothers and many have it experienced themselves from their mothers boyfriends.
The age group is similar to male gangs starting at the age of 12 or 13. Most have dreams and goals but all share an attitude of ?Nothing to live for, Nothing to lose.?
Like women nearly everywhere, women in gangs will always be second-class.
San Antonio, Texas
Throughout the 1980s San Antonio?s stray and misplaced children began to find each other, forming secret tribes, developing their own language, writing their legends on walls: The stompers, the town freaks, Tha fellas. If this graffiti was the extent of teenage terror the city had light-years to go before reaching the level of gang war raging in Los Angeles. San Antonio is a Mecca of Spanish-American culture, a retirement paradise hat is home to the Alamo, rodeos, and debutantes, with the tourism industry second only the military.
Although San Antonio is 54% Latino, most residents will tell you that Hispanics live on the West Side, blacks on the East Side, whites on The North Side, and a mix on the South Side.
On the East Side, poor black kids, mimicking L.A., called themselves the Crips and Bloods. On the West Side, Chicanos formed the Kings and their female counterpart, the Queens, which eventually exploded into the city?s largest gang. San Antonio hods the distinction of being the drive-by capital of Texas, averaging 3.5 shootings a day.
Gang life in San Antonio was explained, ?Want to know what gang life is about? It?s all about kill or be killed.?
The current generation of girls began joining gangs in the late eighties and early nineties. Some were, of course, the steady girlfriends, or ?wives,? of gang members. One male gang member explained girl life in gangs, he said, ?I flush girls down the toilet. Kick them to the curb. But we have them in the organization.
Anyone messes with us, we send the girls to talk to them, start a relationship, and set them up so we can take over.? The girls were known as POLOs: ?Property of Latino Organization.?
In schools of San Antonio as now everywhere students are barred from wearing gang attire of tossing signs. One teacher quotes, ? their swagger, their tattoos, the way they slouch in their chairs, the aggressive way the boys and girls flirted, as though issuing a challenge, spoke as loudly as if they had all pulled out semiautomatics and fired.
Nancy?s story: Nancy was a member of the BCs chicks, raised poor, dropped out of school before eighth grade, abusive father. Friendship was easily uprooted by the tug of economic or psychological self-interest?the guys wanted sex and Nancy was willing to provide it for them. At 15 she never had had a relationship, never fell for anyone. She had been having sex with the BC?s for over 4 years. For Nancy it was never a case of rape not with the BC?s she always came back for more, her stepfather however had been raping her for years.
In Texas the laws of domestic violence did not change until 1991, until then it was legal to raping your wife. This is the environment that gang kids come from. One gang member when asked about gang rape says: ?When it domes to gang, there is not such thing as raping. I?ll tell you straight right now, the girls have a choice of initiations: (A). Fighting one-on-one with a guy for two minutes, (B) get shot in the leg with a Glock, (C). get jumped in by six chicks for a minute and a half, or (D) they can roll the dice and hope they get two at the most.?
?Most of the time the girls will take the dice,?cause to them it?s probably easiest of anything. There are two dice. If they roll eleven or twelve, fine, they?re going to get at least eleven or twelve of us. That?s what they want, that?s what they get. ?Most guys do not use protection. They just do her, then let the next one come in. Now suppose somebody gets pregnant? We don?t care?afterwards some of us refer to them as our bitches or our hos. But that?s what they are. They?re the bitches of the gang. They proved it right??
In female gangs other girls fight there way in so guys don?t have to deal with the problem all the time. But the girl gangs are under the guy gang, and to their way of thinking that?s the way is has to be and the way it?s going to stay.
A lot of females resented girls who used sex for initiation because it gives gang females a bad reputation, maligning them as sex crazed, deranged sluts. It is referred to as the ?cowards way in.? Girls join gangs to get what they never had. If a guy in a gang hangs with a homegirl, he probably never had a sister.
For a lot of these girls murder is a part of life, many have lost brothers, and sisters, not to mention boyfriends and for some husbands. These girls have hardened their hearts; their lives consist of going to funerals instead of coming out parties, their scrapbooks full of obituaries.
Making a living
In the ghetto, there are hundreds of independent ?rock house? franchises. Although not all gang members sell drugs, some work a menial job a stepping stone to no where, selling drugs provided prestige and instant reward. Most gang members who sold drugs did not get rich. Some deal to pay the rent while mothers look the other way.
Crack became the drug of choice for the poor because it was cheap. Before 1981 a kilo of cocaine cost $55-$65,000. When cocaine switched form a drug of high power for the middleclass prices plummeted. By 1984 you could by a kilo for as little as $12-$16,000. More addicting than heroin, crack provides a 15-minute high that left users craving for more. On Chicago North Side with beeper in hand a 15 year old who sells drugs is known to make as much as $500.00 a day splits 70-30 and walks away with a $150.00. But should you get got the price is high.
Someone caught with a small amount of crack around $125.00 you?ll receive a sentence equal to someone selling $50,000 worth of cocaine. That is approximately 3 years longer. For girls it worse, because according to our judicial system they are suppose to know better.
For many of these girls who are pregnant before the age of 16 AFDC is all that provides for them unless they live with their parents.
Not all girls are from poverty-stricken families, some are in it just for the kicks. Bad boys have a certain charm and charisma with young women.
These girls are no less loyal, but are more of your wanna-be?a girl associated with gangs through a boyfriend, family member, or best friends. Some gang counselors dismissed them, while others believed they had the most to gain if society focused on them and the most to lose if neglected. But most of these girls have choices and don?t last long, for them it?s a phase.
In San Antonio, at a Charter Hospital a psychiatrist who counseled gang girls says, ?Ninety percent of female patients had been molested, usually by their stepfather or mother?s boyfriend. ?He described their lives with sorrowful inevitability: ? Ultimately, the mother and daughter form some kind of alliance. They don?t hold the guy responsible. The mother?s attitude is ?This is one of life?s tragedies that happens to girls. I feel for you, but it happened to me. It happened to my cousin, to my sister. But you can count your blessings. He brings home the money. What do you want me to do? Kick him out??
The mother may cry with her daughter because they?ve all been victimized, but the sad story is men are men.? Most gang kids don?t receive any kind of professional help. Often their parents, if not abusing them, were oblivious to the pain their daughters were in.
For those abused or beaten by their partners, or even parents no help is available. The Battered Women?s Shelters can not take a minor.
For the same reason the police cannot get a restraining order, only if there is a common child between them or if they?re married. This is true in almost all states.
Even if she is pregnant it?s not enough, the law requires paternity to be established. So she has no where to go. Not even child protective services can get involved because she is to old then. So she is caught in between the cracks to young for shelter, to old for protection.
There are many types of white gangs but the Aryan Brotherhood is the largest. Aryan brotherhood started in the state penitentiary as a form of protection from other races, has since become part of other nationally known groups like the KK.K. (Ku Klux Klan) or Nazi groups whose purpose is protecting the all great white race. This story is more on the personal side one I?ve never told before.
Motorcycle Groups like the Hells Angels are known as patch holders are almost always Aryan. They are also a form of organized crime.
A patch holder is a member of a group of bikers who where a patch either on a leather vest or if you?re a lifer tattooed on your back (similar to almost all gangs) with a motorcycle gangs name on it.
Women in these gangs are almost always the breadwinners, supporting the family. Most work in the sex industry, dancers, massage parlors, porno movies, prostitution, or bars. The men hustled, sold drugs, gambled, women were used as delivers of the goods. In one gang member?s word when asked why he did not work an honest job his response was ?It takes work not to work.?
Most women give all their money to the man who paid the bills, supplied the booze and the drugs, buys what he thinks is necessary.
If a woman wants or needs something she has to ask for it. Women like the gangs in this paper are second class citizens, the motorcycle and brothers (club members)come first. Although rape occurred, not as often as in street gangs but it definitely occurred. Women were abused but were thought of as a necessary item. In the Aryan Brotherhood women were property the only ones raped were the outsiders who mouthed off or got to loose while partying.
In the prison system women were used to help a fellow brother get through his time more easily, either by writing letters, visiting, or through false documentation, marriage certificates were provided for conjugal visits. Some women legitimately married inmates. Women are used to smuggle in drugs either by under their tongue or parts of her personal cavities. These drugs are swapped through kissing and swallowed by the inmate who later sold the drugs at a profit or traded it for commodities.
This is how he survived in prison. Brothers on work furllows from prison smuggle money out to take care of the family?s. This was only done in some cases if there was an excess or her cut for the risk she took.
The reason women join is a sense of belonging. Culture is not an issue. Women of all walks of life join in these gangs from models to whores, from rich to poor. The thrill of living on the edge is the attraction. Women do not have a gang of their own; their gang is the fellow women who belong to other men. Age is a factor. Must be at least 18 but if you?re smart a fake I.D. is provided no questions asked, simply because you?re a commodity and thought to be able to make money. Keeping your mouth shut and knowing when to do so is a big plus. Talking about club business can get you beat or killed.
The danger involved with these gangs is the risk of infectious disease, either from their occupation, or groupies, these are women who love Harley-Davidsons and will do anything for a putt and a party. Getting busted for bringing in contraband to prisons or selling drugs is another danger and not wearing a property patch while in the presence of a rival gang can get you raped. A property patch is a leather vest with a patch that says property of whom ever your old man was. It was not uncommon for women to be sold or traded this is why being smart and staying in control is important. For a man keeping control of your woman or in some cases women (not uncommon to have more than one woman per household) is a big deal.
A woman has to know how to conduct business in a professional manner, know when to keep her mouth shut, and know how to use a gun if necessary.
This kind of woman is a valuable commodity, she was usually respected by her peers, and very much in demand, especially if she worked and took care of her home as well. It is important for your man to be proud it gave him an edge with power, like ?keeping your own house in order?. This kind of woman in the Aryan Brotherhood had power and control over some parts of her life and usually got what she wanted when she wanted it. But never with out a price of looking over her shoulder for herself and her man.
Death was not an uncommon thing. A minimum of at least two funerals a year or more if a war was going on. But prison is more common than death.
Warfare consisted of disrespecting a fellow brother of a different gang, they were always at war with anyone of color, especially black. Blacks were never allowed.
If a woman was ever known to date or have dated a black man she was usually raped and left along side a road somewhere in the middle of nowhere, totally shunned from all her friends. You did not have to agree with their policies but you were better off not vocalizing your opinion.
For a woman to leave a gang is not as easy as just walking away. There are some gangs who will throw you out but usually not without harm not all escaped with their life or in one piece. The easiest way to get out was to leave state and hope they did not find you. But if they really wanted to find you they could it all depended on if your leaving was a threat to them.
For me to leave was not a threat, but two months after I left I got a phone call reminding me they knew where I was, it was not an intimidating phone call, they were only making a point. I left on good standing, actually they don?t like you to say you left it was more like retired, that was 15 years ago.
“A Personal Story” by Dawn McElwain
“Eight Ball Chicks” by Gini Sikes
“Social Problems” pgs.61-64 by Harold Widdison
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