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When She Was Bad...: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence Paperback – October 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; ARC edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140243887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140243888
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #324,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This important, necessary book highlights our urgent need to re-examine what we think we know about female aggression."
The Globe and Mail (Notable Book of the Year)

"Groundbreaking."
The Vancouver Sun

"A compelling, frightening look at women, not as victims of violence, but as perpetrators of it... Gripping, controversial material that sheds light on violence and society, and how women can get away with murder."
Kirkus

"Remarkable... A pleasure to read. It is also profoundly disturbing, as it is the first significant sustained challenge against mainstream notions about violent femmes."
Quill & Quire --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

In this provocative book, award-winning journalist Patricia Pearson argues that our culture is in denial of women's innate capacity for aggression. We don't believe that women batter their husbands or abuse the majority of children in North America. We ignore the 200 percent increase in crime by women in a period when most crime statistics are dropping. Pearson weaves the stories of women such as Karla Homolka and Mary Beth Tinning (who smothered eight of her children) with the results of criminologists and psychiatrists to expose the myth of female innocence. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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This book challenges preconceptions at every level, but with copious research and eminent logic to back its conclusions up.
Dean Esmay
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the changing roles and characters in society as well as those interested in criminology in general.
Myra Klayman
Ms. Pearson does us all a great favor by pushing us to come up with a more complex understanding of why women commit violent crimes.
Richard G. Wright

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Renee on April 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
I consider myself an feminist and admit to it... I am not sure I agreed with Ms. Pearson on all her points, but in a long line of books on women's topics this was the first one since Out of the Garden to really make me sit back and think. Well researched, it is much more than just opinions and politics (for once). This book literally had me up nights reading, and has caused me to relook at many of the assumptions about what women do and don't do.. and why. Particularly compelling in comparison with the other books in this field. This is an incredible book and I reccommend it without reservation to anyone interested in women's issues or crime. Like me, you may disagree with Ms. Pearson's interpretation of some things, but the research and the points she makes will open your eyes.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By southpaw68 VINE VOICE on June 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
The author Patricia Pearson is an independent-minded feminist who critiques foibles in the philosophy of her other sisters; namely, that women are morally superior to men and don't do as much violence against others. Or if they do, they only do it because they are oppressed by the patriarchy. They are victims.

Pearson wants women to be treated like adults, not children, being held to full account for their wrong doings in the justice system. She believes that women are equal or capable of being equal to men in all spheres, including combat. (This argument about equality in combat I think is erroneous). If the sexes are equal, she implies, then they should have equal punishment for their crimes. People and women should stop making excuses for women's crimes such as pleading temporary insanity, being a battered wife, being abused,or having PMS. Chivalry in the justice system should not mete out lighter sentences for women who commit similar crimes that their male counterparts do.

Pearson mixes her work with juicy stories about womens' crimes for the delight of your tabloid mind along with a scholarly analysis of what it all means. She talks about the nature of female aggression can also include things overlooked by society such as vicious slander against enemies, and "...an acid bath of words, the children used as pawns, the destruction of property, (and) enlistment of community as a means of control..."

She speculates that children dying of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome may have been purposely neglected by their mothers who were having crazy thoughts about wanting their children dead. She thinks that women are not as naturally nurturant in motherhood as society says they are.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard G. Wright on March 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ms. Pearson does an excellent job at both describing the issue of female violence and arguing about how it is publicly debated. She pushes mainstream feminism to expand its analysis about violent and abusive behavior to fully examine female violence. Much of theoretical discussion about female violence is usually set in a debate about "battered women's syndrome" or a childhood history of sexual abuse. Ms. Pearson documents several cases where childhood sexual abuse may have been a factor in a women's adult violent behavior, but is not a cause. Ms. Pearson does us all a great favor by pushing us to come up with a more complex understanding of why women commit violent crimes. If you are interested in crime and issues of gender, I would strongly recommend it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Myra Klayman on October 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ms Pearson has given us a carefully researched and written vision into a problem that has historically been unrecognized. It is clear that the misassignment of feminine characteristics to an entire gender has left us blank faced when we encounter the extreme violent crimes committed by women. It has done woman and our society a great disservice and prevented much needed work in solving the problems. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the changing roles and characters in society as well as those interested in criminology in general.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on November 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am currently at work on a book about women and was a little concerned when I bought this one that it might be more emotive than evidentiary, but, luckily, my premonition was completely inaccurate. I am pleased to report that When She Was Bad surpassed all of my expectations. In fact, I'm going to hard to limit myself to a set number of citations for use in my own narrative because the material here is so exquisite. Patricia Pearson is a very brave person [notice I didn't say woman] because female aggression, especially back in 1997, is the kind of subject which can result in one being professionally ostracized; although, it obviously hasn't hurt Ms. Pearson's career as she publishes voluminously. What I appreciated most about these pages was just how much which was new to me. Particularly of value, is her idea of "chivalry justice," wherein males within the legal system are predisposed to judge and handle women more favorably than they do men. Radical feminists, of course, tell us the complete opposite which is in keeping with their attitude in general towards the truth. What really interested me about this work is that Pearson manages to find a perfect mix of case study, statistics, and narrative interpretation across these 250 or so pages. It's a lively book, filled with illuminating stories along with the author's common sense. I highly recommend it. I finished mine quickly and now it's barely readable from all the underlining I've done.
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