Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Of course even pretty young girls can kill."

Double X blog has an article entitled, "Lady Killers and Why We Are Fascinated by Them" that is worth a read. As part of the story, they have a picture of Tiger Wood's wife, Elin Nordegren (along with Amanda Knox, who actually was convicted of killing another woman) which is a bit unfair, given that she may have engaged in domestic violence but is hardly a killer. However, I suppose she fits into the mold of how the public wants to believe that women, especially good-looking ones are always trying to help, rather than hurt others. The article makes a good point:

...most people are deeply uncomfortable with the idea that a woman—especially a fresh-faced young woman like Amanda—could be a violent criminal, they must create a more palatable narrative. Generally this involves a predictable twist: first normalize, then demonize.

In her book, When She Was Bad...: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence, Patricia Pearson has a chapter that addresses this topic called "Maybe You Mistook me for an Angel." She states:

Clearly, chivalry justice will continue to operate as long as the justice system has a host of exonerative excuses for female behavior and a highly simplistic vocabulary of motive.

Pearson points out that women are still receiving preferential treatment in the justice system; for example, one study found that men were 11 percent more likely to be incarcerated than women for violent crime. Perhaps, this is why people think women are less violent than they are. They do not receive much, if any punishment, and thus, are seen as innocent. It also shows up in the stats as a lesser crime or none at all.

What needs to change is our perception in the culture that women are not violent, for to do so encourages violence as there are no or few consequences for it on the part of women. Women do not get the help they need in order to change their behavior before it escalates. In addition, to pretend that women are not capable of real violence is to take away their autonomy and deny that they are capable of the full range of human behavior and emotions, and how sexist is that?



Blogger DADvocate said...

Attractive Della Sutorius (you have to search for her name) certainly had no trouble murdering and committing acts of violence. I suspect her being a woman and pretty allowed her get away with her earlier acts of violence which led her to believe she could get away with murder.

12:24 PM, December 10, 2009  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

Curious, how the perception brings about its opposite reality. Was there ever a situation in which going easy on bad behavior did anything but encourage it, leading to more of it?

2:44 PM, December 10, 2009  
Blogger Bill said...

John's right. If you pay for anything, you get more of it. Going easy on bad behavior generates more bad behavior.


2:51 PM, December 10, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:48 PM, December 10, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you look for them, there are plenty of cases that are even more unfair than the Mary Winkler case.

There are women shooting their husbands in the back for life insurance, women having hit men kill their military husbands as they came back from overseas and any other number of bizarre cases - and the woman either serve very short jail terms or get off completely.

It's truly bizarre.

I recently saw an article in the Internet about how people simply rationalize things when a patently unfair situation is presented before their very eyes. A murdered person was probably involved in a drug deal or was abusive or otherwise earned it. That helps to mitigate the angst that something like that could happen to YOU. Without any reason for it.

But we prosecute men who commit murder, why the (chivalry) pass with regard to women?

9:53 PM, December 10, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women abusing men is a joke to a lot of otherwise normal people. I can't figure it out. One of my friends (not close, but a nice girl) posted on Facebook today that "happy wives don't kill their husbands. Something to think about, guys". I flipped out. The double standard is just amazing. I thought of Dr. Helen, of course.

11:09 PM, December 10, 2009  
Blogger Robert said...

"Women do not get the help they need"??? what makes you think that psychology or psychiatry can "help" anyone? Where is the evidence? All counselors do is provide excuses for what has happened. They have no answers or "help" whatever.

11:28 PM, December 10, 2009  
Blogger JorgXMcKie said...

Since I didn't see all the evidence, I don't know if Knox is guilty or not. I do know that if all they had has shown up in the media [ had a nice roundup] she couldn't have been convicted in a US court.

I do have the misfortune of knowing a young woman [then], who convinced one boyfriend to murder another. If you knew her at all well you wouldn't have been all that surprised, since she was a narcissistic manipulator of the first rank, but lots of people who worked with her just couldn't believe it.

12:11 AM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...


"what makes you think that psychology or psychiatry can "help" anyone?"

Though you may be right about some psychologists, psychiatrists, I have seen many people learn to deal with anger that is part of another mental health disorder. If the therapist is good, they can help someone who is potentially violent or violent or just rageful sublimate their anger in a more constructive way. Anger management might be more appropriate for someone who just needs to learn more appropriate ways of handling anger. Discussing anger in a healthy way with someone who is trained or a friend can help the person find another way out than violence. I am talking here about inappropriate anger, such as beating up a boyfriend, yelling at people who don't deserve it, etc., not anger that is justified.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

5:41 AM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger Doubting Richard said...

I am perfectly happy to accept that Knox could have killed, pretty girl or not. Given the gaping flaws in the prosecution I am not happy to accept that she did.

6:30 AM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger Backpages said...

I have no idea if Amanda Knox is a murderer. But young pretty girls have been killers long before Knox, the Manson Cult women being the most notorious.

7:57 AM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger swissbob said...

Come on, Dr. Helen, no mention of Natasha Cornett? Not even a reference to the ad on the side for SIX? You need some lessons in shameless plugs from Glenn.

9:40 AM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger Jeff Z said...

Anyone following the serious journalism about the interrogation and the trial can see Amanda Knox is completely innocent. The more you read about this case, the more disgusted you will be. It reads like something out of the worst of the Jim Crow south, railroading an obviously innocent person by a fanatical, half-demented prosecutor covering his own incompetence: hours of interrogation records "lost," more hours of interrogation, including smacking the prisoner across the back of the head every time she gave answers they didn't like until she gave one they did, insane allegations of a Satanic cult, threatening the defendant's parents with felony convictions and jail time for complaining to the press about her treatment, and much, much more; it's almost beyond belief.

The only good thing about it is that you can shut up any European using waterboarding and/or Abu Ghraib (sp?) to disparage the US. I've done it once already and it was most satisfying, but I'd rather she were free.

10:14 AM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger Topher said...

"It reads like something out of the worst of the Jim Crow south, railroading an obviously innocent person by a fanatical, half-demented prosecutor covering his own incompetence"

By "the Jim Crow South" do you mean Durham, North Carolina in 2006?

Western society has allowed itself to be run by lawyers, so lawyers more often than not find ways to get what they want.

10:42 AM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger submandave said...

I wonder if part of the discrepancy lies in the more general bias for the attractive. Every average (or less than average) looking guy knows that good looking guys can get away with things we'd never dream of trying. It has been my observation that woment are generally better apprisers of what is attractive than men, so while most guys might not be swayed by a hunk, an attractive woman might be more likely to benefit from "beauty bias" from both genders.

11:21 AM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

submandave, the halo effect is something that we all must deal with.


12:01 PM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I have no clue whether Amanda Knox is guilty or innocent, I didn't follow the story.

Looks play an important role in how much power and control people believe they have. Not to go into a long story, but I witnessed recently a group of good looking educated adults who didn't like one less-than-good-looking person. In unison they enthusiastically lowered themselves to performing slander, namecalling, personal accusations and illegal acts. The victim asked for my assistance and I was able to get things under control by pointing out the law. One pompous arrogant asshole is bad enough, but when there is a group of them the swarm can be deadly. It's high school all over again.

12:49 PM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger Aurelian said...


According to numerous studies on the halo effect concerning promotions, mate selection, attribution of morality, ad nauseum collectively we deal with it very, very badly.

2:05 PM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Aurelian, I completely agree. How many times have I been taken in by height, or attractiveness, or skill, and thought that the talented or beautiful or even just the tall were somehow more worthy? Too many times.

I think that is part of our collective fascination/horror concerning Tiger Woods. I know I was just completely surprised because I thought better of him. And the only thing I knew about his was that he was a great golfer, handsome, and articulate. Well, and rich.

More the sucker I.


2:14 PM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger . said...

It's not just that society refuses to recognize these things, but it is also that society refuses to realize that men and women aggress in stereotypically different manners... males are overt, while females are covert (and aggress through third parties). If one factored in how much violence is caused by a woman manipulating one man against another man, and held her accountable for it as it should be, many of these things would tilt WAY over to illustrate some chilling things about women.

Bullying styles are generally considered to fall under two categories, direct and indirect. Direct physical bullying is to, hit, shove, kick, trip, push, and pull. Direct verbal bullying can involve name-calling, insults, threatening to hurt the other. Indirect bullying, I>also known as social or relational aggression (Crick 1997) involves attacking the relationships of people and hurting the self-esteem. It is subtler and involves behaviours such as spreading nasty rumors, withholding friendships, ignoring, gossiping, or excluding a child from a small group of friends.

There is no doubt that stereotypically, males are more physical and direct in their bullying styles and females more manipulative and indirect (Olweus, 1997; Bjorkqvist, 1994; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Lagerspetz, Bjorkqvist & Peltonen, 1988). Boys in our Western culture are encouraged to be tough and competitive and as they maturate slower and develop social intelligence at a slower rate they will use physical aggression longer than girls (Lagerspetz, Bjorkqvist, & Peltonen, 1988; Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz, & Kauliaien, 1992). However there is no reason to believe that females should be less hostile and less prone to get into conflicts than males (Burbank, 1987, in Bjorkqvist 1994; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995). As females are physically weaker, they develop early in life other bullying styles in order to achieve their goals. Indirect aggression in girls increases drastically at about the age of eleven years (Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz and Kaukiainen, 1992) whereas physical aggression among boys decreases during late adolescence, to be replaced mainly by verbal, but also indirect aggression (Bjorkqvist 1994).

There is a growing body of research in gender differences of bullying and other adolescent aggressive behaviours. There are hundreds of studies dedicated to the topic, many placing the emphasis on boys or the forms of aggression, more salient to boys. Forms of aggression more salient to girls has received comparatively little attention (Crick, 1997; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995).

7:19 PM, December 22, 2009  

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