Criminal or Victim?

This article by Glenn Sacks points out how common infanticide is and that it is usually the mother who murders the infant. It also says that about two-thirds of the women who have been convicted for the murder of their newborn don’t do any jail time at all. Sacks also gives an interesting statistic which is that “A man convicted of murder is 20 times more likely to receive the death penalty than a woman.” Sacks poses the question “why do women get away with murder?”

Well according to crime journalist Patricia Pearson, society tends to view and treat violent women as a child, insane or victim who is worthy of sympathy. This comment reminded me of Lombroso who says that women are a lot like children. He said that women are jealous, have low moral sense and feel they must take revenge. Pearson believes the leniency towards women in the court system is due to “male judges and law enforcement personnel and men in the media who don’t take women’s capacity for violence seriously and tend to make excuses for, and cover up for, violent women.” I believe men in general are more lenient and sympathetic to women because they do not understand them so they tend to sympathize with women. Just like a father is more sympathetic to his daughter and harder on his son.

Pearson also says something very interesting which is that women are clever and successful at flipping the script, turning themselves from a criminal into a victim. They blame things like PMS, postpartum depression and battered wife syndrome. This also reminded me of Lombroso who said that women denied committing crimes because that would mean the female recognizes herself and identifies herself as a monster. Lombroso says it is ontologically impossible for a woman to assume this type of identity. Maybe Lombroso was right here.

The recent Casey Anthony case is a good example of this victimizing of the female criminal. Whether true of not, Casey Anthony and her defense team claimed that both her father and brother sexually abused her. This played with people’s minds, the jurors in particular and it turned from Casey being the murderer of her daughter to the poor victim who has been sexually abused and needs some sympathy. People couldn’t understand her narcissistic and odd behavior so it was very convincing to many that she was an abused victim. Its clear by the not guilty verdict that the trick of turning the tables and making oneself the victim worked for Casey Anthony.

The Casey Anthony case drew a lot of attention from around the world. The media was all over the case 24/7. I mean people were truly obsessed with this case. People just cannot wrap their minds around the idea that a young beautiful “normal” girl like Casey Anthony could have murdered her 3 year old daughter.

Female murderers always draw a lot of of attention to the media. I think its easiest for society to believe that the female murderer is a victim and suffers from some type of hysteria because it is otherwise intrinsically unnatural and frightening. It is just inconceivable to the human mind that the most loving and nurturing, the woman, the mother who bears life can also take it away.

About laura.szymanski

Hello everyone! I am a senior here at Baruch. This fall will be my last semester. My major is Accounting. I am currently studying for the GMAT which will allow me to enroll into a masters program to further my studies in accounting. I'm also starting the job search process for full time employment. Some things I enjoy doing on my spare time is jogging, yoga and reading.
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14 Responses to Criminal or Victim?

  1. I think women are capable of doing worst things than men. Just because a women looks nice and pretty, and seems to be always doing the right things, it definitely does not mean that this woman is not a criminal. The stats on the article are just unbelievable. If a man was to murder his child, then he would get more years in prison that a women would. The whole issue with gender difference should not be a problem when they are committing the same crime. It should be the same sentence no matter what gender committed it. I agree the female offenders do receive a lot of attention, like the example of Casey Anthony, and that they get really get away with anything if they act as the victim. Everyone thinks of the woman as a patient, loving, caring person, but never as a criminal. When woman try to keep that image in front of the others, they can get away with murder, like previously mentioned, and the whole crowd will have some sympathy for you.

  2. nancy.murphy says:

    This article and those statistics seem very shocking, but perhaps show a more realistic view of women and violence. It is hard for one to understand that many women do not want to be mothers and perhaps had children by accident. Society as a whole likes to view women as embracing motherhood and being a good, caring, loving parent to their children. While this may be the case for many, this article opened my eyes to another view which shows women as killing their children. Female murderers seem to get the media attention very quickly, but also, as in Casey Anthony’s case, avoid punishment and the death penalty. In the case of Anthony, there was so much talk as to how she did not want to be a mother and even thought about giving up the child for adoption. As a young women myself, this seems like a very reasonable and logical thing to think about when giving birth to a child. Children are not play things and require a lot of attention. You, in a sense, need to chose your own youth and freedom, or having a child. I feel in everyday life women get away with playing the victim more than men can because of our alleged gentle and sensitive nature. It is easy to see how this can also be the case for female murderers trying to defend themselves and avoid jail time or the death penalty. It has worked in the past to get women off the hook, so why wouldn’t others try it?

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