Female Serial Killers

FEMALE SERIAL KILLERS
Guest Post by Tim Ellis

female_serialkiller

Image of Asami Yamazaki from Gores Truly

Gender equality means that men and women should receive equal treatment, and should not be discriminated against based on gender, unless there is a sound biological reason for different treatment. Women are, however, under-represented in any list of serial killers. Why is that?

I’ve included a female serial killer in the novel I’m currently writing, but they’re as rare as rocking horse droppings. When we think of serial killers – we think of males such as Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer, Andrei Chikatilo, John Wayne Gacy and Henry Lee Lucas – not a female to be seen among them. Why is that?

Yes, there have been female serial killers throughout history – Beverly Allitt, Andrea Yates, Karla Homolka, Aileen Wuornos – to name a few of the more recent ones, but they represent a tiny percentage of the total, and to be honest, they’re not scary, and they don’t fire the imagination like a really evil male serial killer. Why is that?

Female serial killers are usually classified as black widows (Blanche Taylor Moore); angels of death (Beverly Allitt); sexual predators (Aileen Wuornos); or kill for revenge (Martha Wise), profit or in the commission of another crime (Dorothea Puente). A lot of the time, they act in partnership with a man (Fred & Rosemary West, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley).

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but women are different to men! No, I don’t mean on the outside, I mean on the inside.

Books have been written about these differences (Gray, 1992, Tannen, 1992), which is reinforced by societal stereotypes:

* Feminine Traits

Submissive
Dependent
Unintelligent and Incapable
Emotional
Receptive
Intuitive
Weak
Timid
Content
Passive
Cooperative
Sensitive
Sex object
Attractive because of physical appearance

* Masculine Traits

Dominant
Independent
Intelligent and capable
Rational
Assertive
Analytical
Strong
Brave
Ambitious
Active
Competitive
Insensitive
Sexually aggressive
Attractive because of achievement

And there’s the problem! Do you really see a scary female serial killer with those feminine traits? I don’t think you need to jump up and down to answer that question – the answer is obviously no.

If we look at the behaviours on Robert Hare’s (2003) psychopathy checklist (2nd Edition), we’re looking at masculine behaviours. As far as I recall, he didn’t interview any females as part of his research:

Glib and superficial charm
Grandiosity
Need for stimulation
Pathological lying
Cunning and manipulating
Lack of remorse
Callousness
Poor behavioral controls
Impulsiveness
Irresponsibility
Denial
Parasitic lifestyle
Sexual promiscuity
Early behavior problems
Lack of realistic long-term goals
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Many short-term marital relationships
Juvenile delinquency
Revocation of conditional release
Criminal versatility

So, my advice – if you want to include a female serial killer (or murderer) in your novel – is to give the character masculine traits. They can look like Marilyn Monroe, but they need to kill like men.

* * *

TIM ELLIS lives in Essex with his wife and five Shitzus and writes fiction full time. To date, he has written 25 novels (crime, historical, science fiction and fantasy), and sold over 400,000 copies of his books (as of March 2014). He was a participant in the London Book Fair 2014.

Tim Ellis Online: Website | Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads | LBF

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s