“The times have changed, the dope has changed”: Women's cooking roles and gender performances in shake methamphetamine markets*

Academic Article


  • Drug markets are typically portrayed as male dominated, with men occupying the higher positions and women fulfilling the lower positions. Yet, the results of recent work highlight how women's participation and experiences in drug economies varies by the structure and organization of the specific market. We focus on the shake-and-bake (“shake”) methamphetamine (meth) market, which seems to have emerged mainly in response to legal attempts to curtail methamphetamine production. We explore how women adapt to structural changes and how they perform gender to navigate a market in which the focus is on personal consumption instead of on monetary gain. By relying on semistructured interviews with 40 women who cooked meth, we identify the gendered strategies they adopt and how these coincide with their position in the drug market. Cooking roles took three forms (partner, lead, and team), and each role was characterized by distinct patterns of gender performance and autonomy (emphasized femininity, matriarchal control, and gender neutral). We show that certain market conditions allow for increased participation among women in meth manufacturing. Yet, even within favorable conditions, variability remains in women's positions and gender performances. The findings highlight the role of organizational and legal context in shaping both the roles women adopt in drug markets and the ways they perform gender.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Criminology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Deitzer JR; Leban L; Copes H
  • Start Page

  • 268
  • End Page

  • 288
  • Volume

  • 57
  • Issue

  • 2