As part of our series on Popular Culture and True Crime, our final tutorial looks at why women seem such devoted true crime fans. Tutorials I and II dealt with the fascination with serial killer trading cards and murderabilia (the collection of mementos), respectively.
While I’ve written about crime all my life, I wouldn’t call myself a true crime fan. In fact, I’m new to podcasts and true crime radio and I rarely have time for true crime stories on TV. Writing’s pretty time intensive.
However, I do belong to Facebook groups which discuss the “Murder, Myth and Mystery” podcasts and “True Crime Uncensored” which deals with the Outlaw Radio crime show.
So what does the woman in glasses have in common with many women?
“What One Researcher Discovered About America’s True Crime Obsession.”
Whether it’s popular podcasts like Serial or multi-part documentaries on Netflix like The Keepers and Making a Murderer, it seems like audiences just can’t get enough murder and mayhem.
But who is watching, and why is everyone so obsessed?
The Study of True Crime Fans
The Fear Factor
Yet other theories re True Crime fans.
I’ve uncovered other explanations. According to Dr. Howard Forman, a forensic psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center:
“By the time you get to adulthood, women are able to empathize to a greater degree than men, on average. That may lead to true crime being more interesting to women than men, simply because if you empathize more with the victim, it may be more relevant to you and more gripping.”
Empathy doesn’t tell the whole story, though. Forman suspects there’s actually something unique about the genre of true crime itself that speaks to women in ways it doesn’t for men.
He points to a handful of factors:
- Historically, society has been exposed to death only through men dying, so we have developed a certain numbness toward it. We may still be sensitive to women dying (something that true crime stories aren’t afraid to show), which plays into the larger sense of empathy.
- Women haven’t been given the same latitude, socially, to be aggressive like men have. True crime may let women tap into something darker than they’d normally express in daily life.
- On-screen victims let female viewers temporarily live through the victim they’re watching. Forman calls this a “sublimation process.”
What’s your opinion?
Do you lean toward Dr. Forman’s explanations or Professor Vicary’s notion that true crime serves as a kind of guidebook for women, offering useful tips for staying safe?
To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.