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Why Women Love True Crime Movies

Do not disturb. Tonight, your "FBI friend" will be tuning in to Secrets, deception, and alibi.

My favorite childhood memories include sitting in a circle and taking turns telling a scary story. These engrossing mysteries were frequently discussed in groups for their unexpected intrigue and, in some cases, in exchange for popularity. The same plot lines and characters no longer captivate me, but the adrenaline rush and the enthralling what-happens-next feeling they elicit remain relevant, and what began as a fun sleepover activity has evolved into a hobby that keeps me awake at night.

Why Women Love True Crime Movies. No one loves a good murder mystery more than women and in case you are wondering here is why women love true crime movies.

As a self-proclaimed 'true crime addict' who thrives on the fodder of content like Casefile, Serial Killers, and Bailey Sarian's podcasts, true crime movies, and countless crime TV shows, I believe that our obsession with crime is more than just inquisitive — it can provide us with the agency that we don't always have in real life as females. Call it educational, a genuine desire to correct injustices, or morbid intrigue. Still, our appetite for true crime stories is increasingly apparent on streaming platforms and podcast charts.

Rachel Monroe, a journalist, questions and analyzes our collective attraction to true crime as a genre in her book Savage Appetites. She mentions that when researchers at West Virginia University asked female forensics students what drew them to their field of study, they cited, among other things, "a past experience of trauma." Monroe points out that trauma can be both personal and societal. "Pain doesn't have to be motivational to be a motivating force," she writes in her book. "Something has happened to all of us."

Netflix has become a serial killer encyclopedia, with the streaming giant releasing a new true-crime docuseries seemingly every week. Some of its most binge-worthy series include The Ted Bundy Tapes, Night Stalker, House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths, and The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. It made me wonder why females are drawn to true crime television shows, crime films, and even hour-long podcasts. One might believe that we treat real crimes as entertainment, but this is not the case. In these crime films, I—and others—seek validation. Escapism is definitely a factor for me. It absorbs my brain because it takes me away from normalcy. After all, we see ourselves in stories all the time.

I believe this is why women enjoy it so much; it allows them to express their vulnerability and pain. There's this kind of vicarious participation in something horrifying and forbidden, and perhaps for some reason—I'm not sure why—we're drawn to seeing and participating in it, for better or worse.

Simply put, when women see other women in dangerous situations, they may feel a sense of secondhand relief because they are relieved they are not there and believe they might learn something from watching. The female experience lends itself to an appetite for true crime, and these find themselves in the same murky, subconscious, and hidden realms in which true crime resides.

Of course, as I've read more, I've realized that the reasons women are drawn to true crime are far more complex than the oversimplified notion that women want to learn how to defend themselves by consuming graphic depictions of violent crime. For one thing, both men and women can be victims of violent crime. There are notable examples of female murderers, even serial killers, whose victims were men. Some experts believe women's interest in true crime stems from their higher empathy. This can even sometimes lead to compassion for the devil.

Women with higher levels of empathy may be more interested in the origins of killers and criminals. Who wouldn't want to know what Ted Bundy or the Golden State Killer had in mind when they killed dozens of people?

Another plausible explanation for women's fascination with true crime is that it is one of the few outlets for women to express their aggressive tendencies. Fear and anger in a woman can be mighty. That is the beauty of true crime. No other genre gets to the heart of the nagging feeling that most, if not all, women have - that everything is fine, but it might not be. I could be murdered simply for existing. Many women continue to choose (or are subliminally taught) to conform to traditionally feminine mannerisms and activities, but this does not mean that women are not angry. Perhaps true crime allows women to experience suppressed feelings of rage and fear or a combination of the two.

There's a reason why crime shows like Law & Order and CSI (both of which have a majority female audience) have such long runtimes: we love a good mystery. And because we enjoy playing detective, True-crime docuseries give us a behind-the-scenes look at the legal system and encourage us to examine crime scenes and evidence for ourselves.

This desire to know what happens next and subconsciously reading between the lines outweighed the discomfort and negative feelings associated with watching and listening (and sometimes sleeping) to distressing content. The final observation is that women are willing to endure discomfort and fear to get their true crime fix, even if it doesn't change their reality. It only becomes an emotive safe haven. true crime movies crime movies


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