Category: women

Apr 14 2009

The Killer Next Door

I’m finding all this stuff about Sandra Cantu’s killer very sad, of course, but I’m also really fascinated by the fact that this is a woman.

One of my favorite classes in college was Criminology, and like oh so many college courses, we had a large term paper to do as a final project. We had to present an original concept, with research to back it up. I wrote my paper on female serial killers, with a theory that the only reason the statistics were so low on women and murder was because people didn’t look for them.

Where did that come from? Well, statistics for female serial killers dropped dramatically in the late 70’s – right at the exact same time the FBI began heavy profiling. The generic serial killer profile is a white male, 30-50, middle class, etc. Nearly every investigation into a serial killer at the FBI begins with that standard profile. Meaning…they don’t look for women.

I don’t have the paper anymore, so unfortunately, I can’t give sources for any data. I used a lot of FBI/CIA documents (publicly available stuff, obviously), books on profiling, and lots of articles/interviews of serial killers.

My paper caused quite an outrage in my class (me? causing trouble? never!). My professor thought my theory was “plausible, but could never be proved,” but over half the class insisted it was impossible. They didn’t have data, there is none, but “women don’t do things like that.”

But of course they do. We have multiple instances in our history of women being just as nasty and evil as men, and yet, we expect women to be “better.” I keep hearing the quote “why would one woman kill another woman’s child.” People don’t say “why would one man kill another man’s child.” Women kill their own children, they murder, they’ve even raped before…raped both boys and girls. And because we all think the way we do, it genuinely HURTS to find out a woman did something like this.

I’m as guilty of it as anyone. Intellectually – I know full well that women can be as evil as men, obviously, I was pushing the theory over ten years ago. Emotionally – I was as horrified as everyone else to find out that Sandra Cantu’s killer, and possible rapist, was a woman. There is an expectation that women should be better, which makes absolutely no logical sense.

I still feel the same as I did back when I wrote the paper. Profiling is really great, and very helpful in solving criminal investigations, but it is dangerous when an entire segment of society is excluded for no good reason. I believe the statistics are flawed, and that there really is a correlation between the rise in white male serial killers and FBI profiliers looking for them.

To get back to Sandra Cantu (which is what inspired this blabbering), police stumbled into Melissa Huckaby as a suspect. They knew of her and had interviewed her; she told police that the suitcase Sandra Cantu was found in had been “stolen from her driveway.” But she did not become the focus of an investigation until she had done two more interviews with conflicting information (if I remember right, it was a CNN interview that was the nail in her coffin). I can’t believe that had a man said he owned the suitcase the girl was found in that he wouldn’t have been – at the very least – dragged down to police headquarters.

With all that said, kudos to the Tracy police for figuring this out. Women slip under the radar in things like this, and even though it took CNN to help “break” this for them, at least they were open minded enough to consider the possibility. Women are fully capable of evil things, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s going to be watching the criminologists and psychologists that are bound to start coming out to talk about this topic.

Why is it that while we push for gender equality everywhere, we still dodge the possibility that women could be just as evil as men? Equality is equality, after all. Women killing people on the front lines of a war? Absolutely! Women killing people…for no reason? Absolutely not. How on earth does that make sense, and why do I feel that way? I dislike logic that comes from emotion. I want facts, figures, proof. The data says we’re just as bad. But I simply can’t believe it.

Can you?

Feb 10 2009

The New State of Gender in Technology

I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with the so called feminist movement in the web community. There have been a lot of these “hey, why isn’t a woman listed on this,” complaints over the last couple of months, more than I’ve seen in a long time. I really don’t like it, and think it hurts, rather than helps, our cause.

Earlier today, a question was thrown out on twitter about whether or not a woman should have been included in this article about A-Listers who have stopped blogging, Jason Calacanis, Michael Arrington, and the latest to join the list…Dan Lyons.’

My answer was no, I couldn’t think of an A-lister who belonged on the list. In fact, the only female blogger I could of who would even remotely fit the concept of the article was Kathy Sierra, but that was almost a year ago now, and the article was listing recent blogging drop outs.

Fact is, there isn’t a woman to put on the list. Period. It is one thing to not include a woman on a keynote of a conference about women (as happened a couple of weeks ago). It’s a whole other thing to ask why women aren’t included in everything.

10 years ago, I did lots and lots of interviews and panels about women and technology. The internet was male dominated, it still is, but it was certainly worse back then. There was blatant hostility towards women, we were genuinely afraid (at times) to openly be a woman online and it was important that we talked about it to change things. I took the same view then I did now. Don’t treat us any differently, don’t make concessions or lower standards because we’re women. We can totally rise to the challenge and beat you at your own game.

I thought things were getting better, and have said as much over the last few years. Sure, the industry is still male dominated – hell, my own company is comprised of 11 men and me, but so what. This generation of teenagers are growing up with computers, and I fully believe they will be heading into technology in mass numbers. Things are, without a doubt, going to change.

I never, ever expected to hear “women must be included everywhere just because they’re women.” That’s just not true, and it really upsets me to hear that. I think it’s destructive to our fight for equality, and only perpetuates the belief that men need to pander to women.

I don’t know where this came from. I’m a little concerned that it’s related in some part to the mommy blogger movement, which, for better or worse, is convincing some (with emphasis on SOME, I’m not trashing the entire movement) women that they should be rich and famous just because they blog about pampers. Male or female, you’re not going to get rich off of a blog. Period.

Do I sound bitter? Good, because I am. We’re taking steps backwards, not forwards.

Women are looking at gender first, then content. Please stop it. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the problem now really is with the women, not the men. And that’s pathetic.

Equality needs to start with us. If women can’t even act like they’re equal to men, then we can’t expect men to treat us that way. Stop using gender as a sword, and acting like you’re entitled to something special because you’re female.  Act like you’re equal, and you’ll be treated equally.

To get back to the original point here, stop pointing out every single thing that doesn’t include a woman! It doesn’t matter, and it sure as hell doesn’t help.

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