If you’re a woman there’s a very good chance you’re obsessed with true crime.
You’ve probably just watched the latest true crime documentary on Netflix, or binged your way through the My Favorite Murder podcast back catalogue, or even witnessed Ice T solve more crimes than you can count.
Women are by far the biggest consumers of crime and true crime stories.
We can’t get enough of it and as the genre becomes more and more prolific, our hunger for crime content only grows stronger.
“Most of my fans are female. Seventy per cent of my fans are female between the ages of 25-45. Why is that? Why are women so interested in murder stories? I don’t really know,” Mike Boudet, the host of the true crime Sword and Scale podcast, told Mashable in 2016.
Candice Fox is a woman who’s obsessed with true crime and she’s carved a career out of her obsession.
Fox grew up around crime, her dad was a parole officer at Long Bay Correctional Centre and her family fostered over 150 kids from troubled backgrounds.
Her mum was always fascinated with true crime and Candice’s childhood was punctuated by brief encounters with crime, as the foster kids’ parents floated in and out of their lives.
She also devoured any kind of crime media she could get her hands on. Crime was just a part of the furniture.
“My everyday life was filled with crime, and that’s what I built my idea of heroes and villains on,” she tells Mamamia.
For Fox, serial killers are her true crime drug of choice.
“I’ve always been intensely interested in serial killers,” she explains. “I can kind of understand that someone could kill once – in the heat of the moment – but I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers who could methodically kill over and over again.”
“I think serial killers are one of the few places in life where you see real madness and real evilness.”
So it’s no surprise Candice became a crime fiction author and won the 2014 Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Novel for her book, Hades.
Since then she’s penned three more novels and co-authored three books with bestselling crime writer James Patterson.
Fox believes women, in particular, are drawn to true crime because we’re often victims of crime ourselves.
“Women have a distinct relationship with crime that men don’t have – because we’re more vulnerable to it, ” she says.
“True crime offers us real life heroes and villains – it’s gritty and high stakes stuff – and women are drawn to that.”
The statistics agree with Fox, women are overwhelmingly more likely to watch a crime show or listen to a true crime podcast than men.
A 2010 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that women are significantly bigger fans of true crime than men. Researchers discovered that women were far more likely to choose crime stories over war stories.
The researchers also analysed Amazon data and found that 70 per cent of the sites true crime book reviews were written by women, while reviews in the general fiction paperback section were evenly split between women and men.
Amanda Vicary, a social psychologist and co-author of the study, told The Atlantic there might be an evolutionary reason for women’s ever-increasingly obsession with true crime.
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“We’ve adapted to pay attention to anything that can help us increase our survival,” Vicary says. “So it could be the fact that we’re just in tune and interested in these things that are dangerous to us because understanding and knowing about them can increase our chances that it’s not going to happen to us.”
Studies have also proven that women fear crime more than men.
Vicary says true crime often serves as a kind of guidebook for women, offering useful tips on how to stay safe or avoid dangerous situations, or as the hosts of the My Favourite Murder podcast put it, ‘Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered’.
While women have always been interested in true crime, it’s only been in the last decade that they’ve started publicly speaking about it.
“Though I cannot watch a person get sliced and diced in a movie, I will read about serial killers on Wikipedia all day,” Lindy West wrote on Jezebel in 2012 when talking about Law & Order. “And I will watch any police procedural about any kind of murder or terror or menace. I can’t get enough.”
But Vicary warns that such a strong focus on crime could be creating a vicious cycle for women.
“They fear being a victim of a crime, so they may subconsciously turn to crime books or television shows to learn ways to prevent being a victim,” she says. “This in turn exposes them to even more crime, perhaps increasing their worry even more.”
Fox says this fear of crime and the ability to put themselves in the victim’s shoes, means women make great crime writers.
“Women are more empathetic,”she says. “They can see themselves in the victims and that makes it easier for them to write about it.”
So while the reason women are drawn to true crime in the first place is evolutionary, it doesn’t seem like we’ll be easing off on our obsession anytime soon.
Crime addict? Binge your way through the following DVD titles – The Blacklist S4 (out now), Macgyver S1 (out now), Hawaii Five-0 S7 (out now) and Law & Order S18 (out Dec).
The award-winning podcast Mamamia Out Loud is doing their first live show. There will be laughs, disagreements and you can meet the hosts afterwards! We’re also donating $5 of every ticket price to Share The Dignity so grab your friends and come along to share the love and laughs, get your tickets here.