The Departed: Perspectives of Organized Crime

Jori Reiken
6 min readMay 4, 2021

Boston cop goes undercover to infiltrate a crime organization. As the cop continues his investigation, a member of the organization infiltrates the police department and reports to the leaders of the organization. As the higher ups in both institutions find more and more information, it is up to the cop and the criminal to find out the identities of one another. The film The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese shows insight into the stereotypical ideas around the Italian Mafia and organized crime and highlights the lack of women showcased in the media regarding organized crime films and stereotypes.

The emancipation hypothesis explains the lower levels of criminal activity can be attributed to the substantial subordination of women in patriarchal context and backward living conditions, especially regarding their presence in the public sphere (Fiandaca, 2007. 20). Women in society have been given the role as secondary characters throughout history, a phrase such as women belong in the kitchen or the fact that women were not allowed to vote until later in history showcase the identity and role that women play. The aspects of this stereotypical role do not leave room for women to be leaders in the criminal atmosphere and often leaves women on the sidelines when it comes to organized crime. This fact represents the ideas of the 1980s, where the movie was supposed to be taking place. The mafia is a power structure, according to scholar Henner Hess (Finckenauer, 2005. 74). Using this analogy and the societal hierarchy of gender, men are given more power because they are men, and women fall lower on this hierarchy. The film shows this hierarchy as the film does not show many women involved within the mafia, roles that the few women do play are secondary and caregiving roles. These scenes play into the reality that women are inferior and do not deserve to be involved because of their place on said hierarchy. In more recent years, women have been inscripted into participating in mafia organizations, but remain in supportive roles and do not end up joining as a full time career (Pizzini-Gambetta, 2008. 351) “While some males accurately can be described as mafia members since they identify themselves and are recognized as members of such groups the same cannot be said of females” (Pizzini-Gambetta, 2008. 351) this makes it hard for law enforcement to track and find female members of these organizations translating to a lack of women represented in these films.