Wednesday, May 9, 2018

How Women Kill

Female hostility is different than that of men. However, it’s the male version with which we are most familiar. That’s what is generally depicted on page and screen. But, be not deceived. Though the end result of female violence may be the same as a male, the path leading there is quite different.

Although statistically women kill less often than men, it is not because they are less violent. As a whole, women are as aggressive, if not more so, than their male counterparts. Marriage researchers have noted women are more likely to pick fights, quicker to escalate verbal aggression, and are just as likely to use physical aggression as men (1). However, that is in an intimate relationship. Women are far less likely to be as aggressive with those to whom they have no intimate ties. Yes, you are in far more danger around a woman you know than one who is a total stranger. 

So, if they are just as aggressive or more than men, why do they kill less? Well, that's for another post. In this post, we are going to look at how they get the deed done and it is much different than men.

First, the statistics I am going to show are U.S. statistics. I have a loyal contingency in Europe so I want to point that out. (Love y'all!) You will find that outside the good old U. S. of A. that gun violence will be much lower. In the U.K., according to the Office of National Statistics report in February of 2016, the number one method of homicide was knife. (2) The second most common was kicking and hitting without a weapon. Which is exactly what we saw in our post, Being Attacked, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland. 

However, although the modus operandi in other countries differs from the U.S., the difference in how the genders kill is pretty similar. Before I go any further, let’s look at the U.S. stats.  

Murder Weapons Used by Men Versus Women - FBI Supplemental Homicide Report 1999 - 2012
                                             Men          Women
Murders committed by           160,368          17,431    

Means of Attack                                           
   Gun                                    67%             39%
  Knife                                  12                23
Beating                                 7.1             12
  Other                                    7                12   
Blunt Object                         4.5             5.4
Strangulation                          .7               .9
Asphyxiation                           .6             2.6
Fire                                        .46           1.5
Poison                                    .4             2.5
Drowning                                .1                1
Explosives                               .03           .07
Defenestration                        .02           .04

Defenestration means throwing somebody out of a window. Yes, there's a term for throwing somebody out of a window that's not just "throw somebody out the window!"

Ok, what do we learn here? Yes, in the United States you are less likely to get shot by a woman. But, that may be because women simply own guns less than men. For every three male gun owners in the U.S. there is one female. And, women do tend to be at home more than men and folks don't generally carry their gun in their house. So, that could account for the lesser percentage of gun violence.

But, look at every other means of violence. Women are more likely to use an instrument to kill. And, the instrument is most likely a knife. Why do women use a tool to kill (statistically) more often than men? I see two reasons. If you see more, please put them in the comments. 

First, women do tend to be physically weaker than men. It's how we are and that's ok. I'm not sure who said we had to be as strong as a man or how we even starting comparing physicality of men and women. We are complimentary to one another not in competition with one another. Yeesh! Anyway, that disparity of strength can make overpowering a male victim difficult. Thus, women use a tool to even the playing field.

Two, women tend to kill people they know. (3) And, when you are intimately connected to the victim, you sometimes want to experience their suffering. Almost every other noted means of death requires being in someone's intimate space. That's not an accident. (But, women might make it look like one! Again, another post.)

Well, writers, what did we learn today? One: women are as aggressive as men. Ask the marriage counselors. Two: women kill less often than men. (Or do they? We'll look at that in another post.) Three: when women kill in the U.S. they are more likely to use a means that isn't a gun more often than men. That may be due to a strength disparity or their connection with the victim. 

Apply all this warm, fuzzy info to your female characters that kill. I don't mean soldiers. On the battlefield a soldier is a soldier. I mean in any other instance a woman isn't necessarily going to kill in the same way a man might. And, if your setting is outside the U.S. that method of killing will not likely be a gun. Your character will employ a tool of some sort and that tool might be a window. (Beware of any woman who walks around with a window!!!!)

In our next round at we will look a little closer at why women kill less often than men. Or, do they??? 

Until then, I leave you with the words of Rudyard Kipling...

When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride, 
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
- The Female of the Species

Now, go out there and get blood on your pages!