From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Gender is a factor that plays a role in both human and animal aggression. Males are generally more aggressive than females (Coi & Dodge 1997, Maccoby & Jacklin 1974), and men commit the vast majority of murders (Buss 2005). This is one of the most robust and reliable behavioral sex differences, and it has been found across many different age groups and cultures. There is evidence that males are quicker to aggression (Frey et al 2003) and more likely than females to express their aggression physically (Bjorkqvist et al. 1994). However, some researchers have suggested that females are not necessarily less aggressive, but that they tend to show their aggression in less overt, less physical ways (Bjorkqvist et al. 1994, Hines and Saudino 2003). For example, females may display more verbal and relational aggression, such as social rejection.
In fiction: the femme fatale trope
A femme fatale (plural: femmes fatales) is an alluring and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous and deadly situations. She is an archetypal character of literature and art.
Archetypes of bad women
- Bad women of the bible
- Valeria Messalina
- Lucrezia Borgia (1480 - 1519)
- Catherine de' Medici (1519 - 1589)
- Giulia Tofana (died in Rome, July 1659)
Female murders are rare but greatly attract the popular imagination, the popular press likes to refer to them as black widows. There are few cases of female serial killers and a couple of examples of warrior women.
- Mary I of England (1516 – 1558), the so-called "Bloody Mary"
- Elizabeth Bathory (1560 – 1614)
- Christine and Lea Papin (1905 - 1937) and (1911 - 2001), two French maids who brutally murdered their employer's wife and daughter in Le Mans, France in 1933.
- Ilse Koch (1906 – 1967), and other female guards in Nazi concentration camps, Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields
- Myra Hindley (1942- 2002), mass murderer
Women and poison
- Visha Kanya, Lucrezia Borgia, Catherine de Medici, Aqua Tofana, Affair of the Poisons, Madeleine Smith, Florence Harding, The Angel Makers of Nagyrév
The reason poison has been popular as modus operandi in murder by women is that women are a) physically not as strong as men and cannot kill for example with their bare hands and b) women are the traditional caregivers who are by definition close to their victims, making it easy to for example gradually poison them. The shift from home to hospital care for the sick changed in the 19th century and poisoning became less popular.
- Male crime
- Dark Lady (character)
- Feminist school of criminology
- Gender and crime
- List of women who have murdered their husbands
- Criminal Woman, the Prostitute and the Normal Woman (1893) - Cesare Lombroso, Guglielmo Ferrero
- Testosterone and aggression
- Women in prison