After watching seasons 1 and 2 of Mindhunter (Netflix), I was reminded of the psychological component of crimminal investigations. Why do people think they way they do? What makes someone kill someone they know versus a series of strangers? This recent article (Why Are We So Obsessed With Female Killers?) had me thinking about how exploring the psychology of female serial killers if different.
This article had a couple of quotes that really stood out to me. Like this one:
“Violence is often seen as a heroic attribute of masculinity,” says Jane Caputi, professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Florida Atlantic University. “Whereas when a woman is violent, she is almost always seen as evil.”
and this quote:
“A lot of our superhero stories are vigilante stories and they glorify that phenomenal, explosive, violent power, but in fact, when women in real life act that way in their self-defense, they are disproportionately punished by judicial systems, and that’s true all over the world,” says Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger. “In actuality, there is a strong cultural prohibition on women acting violently and what that violence represents. I think it’s interesting [that by watching shows about female killers], women are exploring violence in a medium in which the punishment cannot be exercised on them. It’s an imaginative exercise.”
According to the article, this is a profile of the “typical” female murderer: a white, middle-class, married woman in her 20s or 30s, likely of average intelligence. “When religion was reported, 100% of the time she was Christian,” said Marissa A. Harrison, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Harrisburg. Our killer probably cares for children or the elderly — giving her easy access to potential victims — and there’s at least a 40% chance she suffers from a form of mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. She’s also probably attractive. “That might be why they get away with it,” said Harrison, “because who wants to look at a beautiful woman and say, wow, she just shot somebody in the face?” Wouldn’t you watch a TV show about this woman? She sounds like a homecoming queen who snapped. “Take that shiny veneer off a human being and we all have some kind of drive within us, good or bad,” said Harrison.
This gave me some ideas to explore for characters and story lines.
What other traits make a woman a good killer?
What circumstances would to turn a nonviolent woman into a violent killer?
Exploring the idea that men who turn to vigilante violence are seen as heroes but when a woman does this, she is seen as evil or psycho.
Who wants to talk more about how you can use this idea in your current or next story?