Do men kill women more than women kill men?: the six blinders
The Department of Justice tells us that men kill women tuice as often as women kill men.®4 But let’s look more closely. Certainly men are more likely to be serial killers of women. Almost always these killings follow a pattern and the man is found. Therefore the Justice Department statistics can reflect this reality. Other killings by men of women also provide easy evidence – the man spontaneously shoots his wife or woman friend and then takes a gun to his own head. The evidence is lying on the floor.
Six blinders, (hough, prevent us from seeing the female methods of killing. First, a woman is more likely to poison a man than shoot him, and poisoning Is often recorded as a heart attack or accident. Thus Blanche Taylor Moore (the Arsenic and Old Lace case) murdered men for a quarter century before she was discovered. And Stella Nickel Is Excedrin murders were blamed on vandals.
Contract killing is also less detectable because it is premeditated and often hired out to a professional. When it is discovered, the Department of Justice registers it as a multiple offender killing – it nei>ergets recorded as a иютап killing a man 89 This creates a second blinder.
While men who murder women generally come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, women who murder husbands or boyfriends are more likely to come from middle-class backgrounds. Thus the third blinder: the money factor. For example, Jean Harris (who killed the author of The Scarsdale Diet) was at one time a private school headmistress90; Elizabeth Broderick had gone from elementary schoolteacher to high society wife, Pamela Smart was a schoolteacher in New Hampshire.91 The money allows the best lawyers, more acquittals, and therefore fewer female murderers to become Justice Department statistics.
Probably the most important blinders are the chivalry factor and the innocent woman factor, which prevent many women from becoming serious suspects to begin with. In addition, the plea bargain defense sometimes leads to the dismissal of charges. When, for example, a woman hires a boy who is a minor or a man who is a boyfriend or professional.
When the six blinders – the poisoning disguise, contract killings disguised as accidents and registered as multiple offender killings, the money factor, the chivalry factor, the innocent woman factor, and the plea bargain defense – are combined, we can see how we have consciously and unconsciously kept ourselves blind to seeing women who murder men.
A distortion of statistics is created by the six blinders. But a distortion of perception is created by the media’s tendency to make it international news when men murder women (the University of Montreal murderer, the Hillside and Boston stranglers) and, unless the man is famous, to make it local news when a woman murders only a man.
In brief, it is impossible to know the degree to which the sexes kill each other. The only thing we know for certain is that both sexes kill men more than they kill women.