When She Was Bad Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence

Our culture argues award winning journalist Patricia Pearson is in denial of women's innate capacity for aggression We deny that women batter their husbands We forget that the statistics prove that children in America are abused mostly by women We ignore the 200 percent increase in crime by women during a period in which most crime statistics are dropping Instead we transform female violence into victimhood by citing PMS battered wife syndrome postpartum depression as the sources of women's actions When She Was Bad tells the stories of such women as Karla Homolka who raped and killed three women including her own sister then blamed it on battered wife syndrome Dorothea Puente who murdered several elderly tenants in her boardinghouse before attracting any attention and Marti Salas Tarin an ex con who runs a halfway house for women just out of prison Pearson weaves these and other stories with the results of research by criminologists anthropologists and psychiatrists to examine the facts of women's violence and to demolish the myth of female innocence

10 thoughts on “When She Was Bad Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence

  1. says:

    This is NOT for the faint hearted This is an eye opening and challenging book What's particularly shocking is how relevant this book is today nearly twenty years on Pearson identified the current feminist narrative of victimhood long before Twitter or SJW was even a phrase What's she breaks down the fact that treating women as children not capable of responsibility for their own actions is not helpful feminist OR patriarchal I didn't always agree with certain readings Pearson makes here but all are valid and well researched I totally agree that violence should not be gendered we all have the capacity for it for a variety of reasons and we ALL have the ability to take the consequences for our actions If you're a feminist who is frustrated with what I call online feminism and the neverending shrieking echochamber of Twitter but still want thoughtful commentary about real life cases then this is the book for you

  2. says:

    This was a great book to read That said when I read it I guess I had a stronger stomach There is one case in it involving sexual violence against a woman that still haunts me The book's gist that women are just as capable of violence as men and that the myth of innocence sometimes keeps women from being apprehended or even being conceived of as killers etc

  3. says:

    This made for very uncomfortable reading at times It taught me a lot of things that I didn't want to accept which is good as sometimes we all need to be challenged

  4. says:

    This book stands in direct opposition to John E Douglas's assertion in his 1995 book Mindhunter Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit that there are no female serial killers Women do not kill in the same way or anywhere remotely near the numbers men doThus I came straight here for information The fact is women do kill but in ways that aren't necessarily labelled as serial killing Women are much likely to commit violence indirectly and the women who do kill will lean towards infanticide Munchausen by proxy and killing in groups or in assistance of a romantic partner Solo female killers tend to remain in the same place with a smaller hunting ground of victims that come to them rather than actively seeking them out as men doThat's all good information but the major problem I had with this book was its disparaging tone towards feminism The author basically states that many of these violent women were getting off unjustly on the battered woman defense when in reality they made a conscious decision to kill and were only playing the innocent victim in court when it suited them She insists that because of deeply ingrained cultural stereotypes about women being sweet loving and nurturing at heart these psychopaths were often not caught in a timely manner were released early or not punished as severely as they should have been often to the detriment of the public Women were not to be held as men's equals in villany they were to be shown as men's victimsThis is pretty much the thesis of the entire book and while I don't disagree with it her constant knocking on feminism in the process which was a very real response to injustices of the time and continues to be an important response today really irked me While I understand the point she was making about double standards for female criminals I have to wonder why she needed to trash the entire school of feminist thought in the process Honestly girl who hurt you? Her vendetta felt personal which was very weird for a book that was otherwise very dry I can't count the number of times I almost fell asleep while readingThe casual racism she dropped was also rather off puttingThe traditionally higher involvement of African American women in criminal enterprise would be balanced as white women joined themThis right after a section where she interviews former inmates at a women's prison who corroborated that the white prisoners were treated better than the black and often believed No mention of racial profiling or the inherent racism of the American justice system just this blanket statement I'm left shaking my headThat said the chapter on domestic abuse was absolutely amazing There are male victims of domestic abuse and it's still so stigmatized and laughed at in our society when it shouldn't be She also talks about domestic violence within lesbian relationships another perspective that's so often neglected or ignored altogether It reminded me that me I need to get to In the Dream House ASAP I might pick it up next actually

  5. says:

    Very strange to be reading this 20 year old book in the shitstorm of 2017 I admire the breadth of this book and the author makes some pretty ballsy pardon the phrase allegations about female victimization namely that it permits women to commit violent crimes and get away with them That's quite a thesis but Pearson believes it fully and it shows So there's one star off but I'm knocking off another for some of the outrageous descriptions in here I admit I read this for its salacious lady violence rather than its sociology and I get the feeling Pearson enjoyed writing those bits best of all she could put on her Mystery Horror Hack hat and describe a sea scented dawn

  6. says:

    One of the most important books I have ever read and thus criminally neglected in the criminological literature The reason this doesn't deserve all the allocated stars is because the citing methodology is atrocious It would make sense to use end notes with numerical points for easy navigation Instead the book quotes passages in each chapter with a brief summation of the source This is infuriating