I just finished reading a book entitled The Angel of Darkness set in the 1890's, in which a manipulative psychopath murders innocent children. Of course, no one believes this killer could possibly commit such horrendous acts merely because of her gender. Because of the time period, the notable Elizabeth Cady Stanton is able to comment, and she blames patriachal society and abusive men. Even people who want equal rights for women can't accept that women might be as dangerous as men, and I often feel this still applies today.
In the aknowledgements the author admits to having based his killer on several women, combining the worst of the worst, if you will. But it's true, our society is afraid and disbelieving of women who can commit acts of violence, particularly towards their children. Perhaps it's because every one depends on a woman at some point (infancy, for example) that it's such a stigma.
An interesting Salon.com article examines this idea in more depth, but I was wondering what you all thought of females being as capable of violence as men.
And I just realized I mispelled the topic, oh well.
[This message has been edited by Gaffer (edited 07-23-2002).]
Posts: 356 | From: Phoenix--name that plurally | Registered: Dec 2000
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I have checked a number of web sites on this issue. Unfortunately, most have some axe to grind on this issue. The consensus appears to be that more children are murdered by their mothers than by their fathers. This may simply be a factor because most mothers have more contact time with their children than do fathers.
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[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 07-23-2002).]
I have no qualms saying that women can be just as horrible as men. But when women commit crimes, they seem to get an easier ride of it in the media. I'm of two minds about this. Obviously, the double standard bothers me. But at the same time, it's nice to see more in-depth articles speculating on the motive for the crime instead of just simplistic "this man's a monster!" type stories.
Posts: 582 | From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Aug 2000
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quote:But when women commit crimes, they seem to get an easier ride of it in the media.
The double standard seems to be double-edged, though. People may be more reluctant to suspect a woman of being guilty of a particularly horrible crime - but if it becomes clear she is guilty, she may be doubly vilified in the press (because women are "supposed" to be naturally nurturing, pure, etc.)
I think women are every bit as capable of violence as men - we're human, after all . However, social influences do have a big impact, both on the proportions and types of crimes that get committed by people of each gender, and on the way they get perceived.
I don't think women get it easier when it comes to the media. A few years ago, there was a woman named Susan Smith who drowned her two children in the lake. She was crucified by the press. The Andrea Yates case (mom drowns her 5 children in the bathtub) was a little different because it was more arguable that Yates was demented. But the Smith case was clearly in cold blood.
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Posts: 12677 | From: Los Angeles, CA ... somewhere off the 10 | Registered: Jul 2000
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Some of you may also have heard of the Lindy Chamerlain case here in Australia (they made a Meryl Streep movie about it). In 1980 Chamberlain was accused of murdering her infant daughter Azaria, and was basically subjected to trial by press. The people hated her, for what she allegedly did, and ridiculed her claims that a dingo did it.
A few years later, strong evidence came to light that she was actually telling the truth, and these days, with the level of forensic technology that we have, the case probably would not have gone to trial.
I read an article on this issue relating it to how female murderers are perceived. Apparently, most of the discussion in the jury room centred not around whether or not she DID do it, but whether or not she COULD HAVE done it. Apparently the fact that she refused to cry in the witness stand worked against her (both in the press and in the jury room), because she wasn't displaying a "proper" maternal reaction to the death of her child. Apparently, in contrast to the Andrea Yates case, had she pleaded some kind of insanity, and wept and said she couldn't help it, she probably could have received a one year jail sentence. But she stood strong and declared her innocence, and was crucified for not acting in the way people thought a female should.
Well I think as a whole women are less likely (not nessecarily less capable) of commiting violent crimes then men. Here in the US at least women are not "socially programmed" to be violent the way men are. This causes several problems. 1. Men are almost expected to commit violent acts, and it horrifys people when women are.
2. People ( both men and women) learn to accept violent behavior in males. Thus, more males commit violent acts because males are precieved as "naturally agressive".
3. Violent women are often labeled as "insane" or "unnatural" and tend to demonized for the same acts.
Just for the record someone brought up one of my favorite legal cases; the Andrea Yates case. The reason I call this my favorite is because to me it was not about a woman on trial for commiting murder, but a trial of what I saw was a mentally ill person on trial. I mean the woman had a history of severe depression, and I of all people know that can lead a person to do strange things. NOt only did she have severe depression, but it seemed she may have had other mental problems. Yes, she did kill 5 of her children by drowning no less, but I personally think she was so demonized by the media it really did affect her trial.
I think that is often the case with female violent crimnals. It is such a shock to so many people when a women commits a violent crime that everyting is sensationalized and I think it's harder to get a fair trial in any case where the media homes in on it.
Anyway... women certainly have more uhh hormonal imbalances, generally, right? That's why when you think about this kinda stuff you think "Well, ok, something went wrong inside her, chemically, and that set her off..." and so like half the time, that's REALLY the case, so it becomes a pretty strong stereotype.
As far as serial murderers go... I wonder why most of them are male...
quote:Originally posted by KandyKorn17: As far as serial murderers go... I wonder why most of them are male...
A theory on that that I've heard is that as children, boys are generally taught to supress their emotions (you know, only girls cry etc) and to not talk openly with other men. Some psychologists believe this can affect some men to the point where some of them become violent, and find murder gratifying.
Anyway, it's usually because of a mental illness, and that's one theory behind why some men end up mentally ill.
Wow. Social standards can really mess up a person, it seems.
I was just searching the net for Female Serial Killers just to have a little more knowledge... it seems like most of them (at least that ive been reading about) have killed close family members and stuff. I think i read somewhere once that a woman is more likely to stab someone than shoot someone because she the knife is more "personal". I might have just seen that on tv, tho.
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