Why Women Like True Crime
I love true crime. I consider Karen and Georgia from “My Favorite Murder” some of my best friends, and I can recite the opening of Law & Order: SVU at the drop of a hat.
“If I’m murdered – she did it!” My husband likes to joke at parties. But frankly, I take offense to that insinuation. My obsession with true crime doesn’t mean I want to murder people! I just like true crime!
Honestly, though, I can’t really articulate why. Something about the worst of humanity has always fascinated me, and I know I’m not alone. There are gazillions of true-crime-loving ladies just like me. An article in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that more women are fans of true crime than men. One study found that 70% of the reviews of true crime books on Amazon are from women, and Investigation Discovery (basically the true crime channel), is one of the most-watched cable channels for women.
Though no woman and her reasons for binging murder documentaries are exactly alike, here are the most common reasons why women might like true crime.
It Scares the Crap Out of Us
“Face your fears” becomes real when it comes to true crime. A lot of people find comfort when they’re afraid by confronting what makes them scared. From the time we’re little kids, women are told to watch out, be careful, never walk home alone at night. Fear of becoming a victim of crime is drilled into us. While we can’t really go out and yell at serial killers or rapists, we can listen to their victim’s stories as a way of facing our fear of becoming a victim, too.
We Like the Rush
Adrenaline is a serious drug. Think of the last time you rode a roller coaster—how badly did you want to get in line and ride it again? Listening to true crime stories gives a rush like going on an emotional roller coaster.
We Feel for the Victims
A lot of women are murdered, raped and otherwise impacted by crime, so it’s really easy for us to see ourselves in victims and to empathize with their stories. The “that could have been me” feeling is very real.
I promise we’re not crazy for feeling comforted by awful serial killer stories. It’s a legit thing that humans are comforted by familiarity—and nothing is more familiar than the good guy vs. bad guy story format. In the end, no matter how horrible the story is, the mysteries get solved, the bad guys go to jail, and justice prevails.
There. Is. Nothing. Weird. About. Liking. True. Crime.
“I think our interest in crime serves a number of different healthy psychological purposes,” Dr. Michael Mantell, former chief psychologist of the San Diego Police Department, told NPR in 2009. “It says that we're normal and we're healthy.”
It doesn’t mean we’re unbalanced; it doesn’t mean we want to murder you. We just like it, ok?
Now leave me alone. I need to go watch the new Night Stalker documentary on Netflix.