Sugar, Spice….and Murder

ricci as borden

One of the reasons Lizzie Borden was acquitted of double murder was because the jury found it inconceivable that a member of the fairer sex was even capable of committing such a horrendous crime. If you caught the 2015 Lifetime series “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles,” you may have wondered, too, if it was physically possible for the frail-looking Lizzie (as portrayed by Christina Ricci) to carry out the labor and rage intensive murder of her parents. In real life, Lizzie was less of a waif; she was said to be of average height and weight.

It’s no secret that males greatly outnumber females in almost all areas of crime. This fact reinforces the general view that women are passive by nature, and men naturally aggressive. We’ve long been led to believe that women are by nature less aggressive. However, research (by David Adams, and later Pepler and Slaby) holds that biology is not a significant factor in explaining gender differences in offending; i.e. why boys outnumber girls in offending. Psychologist and criminologist Anne Campbell agrees. She maintains that boys and girls have the potential to be aggressive but the difference is in the socialization.

Most experts acknowledge that that girls and boys are socialized differently. Girls are encouraged to be more accommodating toward others and taught not to be aggressive. Boys, on the other hand, are encouraged to be forceful, and even encouraged to be aggressive. It appears that cultural and social factors are largely responsible for the gender gap in criminality.