According to the most recent FBI statistics, in the United States men account for about 70% of violent crime arrests (1). Arrests, not acts. Why is that? Well, I touched on that a bit in the last post. Women are physically weaker than men which means overpowering often requires a tool such as a knife, poison or window. (Defenestration anyone?) It is also less socially acceptable for women to act out violently. The fact would make some women feel as if the act of murder isn't an option. Finally, women tend to only act out violently toward people with whom they are intimately connected.
And, in my opinion, all of those reasons are part of why women may actually be getting away with murder.
How women kill - According to Gregg McCrary, FBI profiler: Women tend as a rule to do softer killings, poisoning, suffocation, those sorts of things. Rarely are they the slasher types of inflicting a lot of bodily damage." (2) All of the adds up to less evidence. It also shows that, unlike those of men, murders by women are not happening under impassioned circumstances as often. The less passion involved the more thought can be given to the act. The more thought given means the more well planned the crime. Those together equal less evidence.
Who women kill - Women generally kill people they know. Between 1976 and 2015, 46% of those murdered by women were family members or intimate partners (3). Because of that the planning, the opportunity and the aftermath can be much different. When you kill someone you know, you can have greater control over the crime and crime scene. You can create a situation where there is less struggle, fewer witnesses and the evidence can be contained.
Why women kill - Women kill more often for "gain" or what they personally perceive as "love (4)." In the case of "gain," the murder was related to a women being removed from a will, insurance payouts or other financial assets (4). In the homicides where "love" was the impetus, that love was not connected to lust. It's a common notion that women kill male partners because they are abused. And, while that is sometimes the cause, it's not as often the case as we think. More often than not is was connected to what the killer saw as mercy or the need to remove someone from what they saw as a damaging situation (4). This was often connected to mental illness. That is not to say women don't do heinous crimes. It's just not their M.O.
So, what does all that mean to me? Again, this is just me. I think women are literally getting away with murder more often than men - I don't mean in the criminal justice system. I mean that women aren't getting caught for it because they are leaving less evidence around. Yes, I still think men are more murdery than women. But, that is in part because women tend to internalize things. When we are angry or in emotional pain, we hurt our own self more than others.
What does all this mean for writers? Well, I think you can comfortably make the murderer in your story a woman. And, because of who she will likely attack and how she will do it, it's plausible that she will get away with it. I think more than focus on how she does the killing, a writer better look at how that female character covers it up. And, because of how women kill, there will be less to clean and therefore less to cover. (I really want to insert a joke on women being good at cleaning but I think that might be tacky.) Is is plausible that the female murderer in your story is the slashy type? Yes. But, that's not the norm.
Until the next round at FightWrite.net, get blood on your pages!
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