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In the age of advanced technology, we have the privilege of accessing almost any kind of information we want, right at our fingertips. This means we can search up whatever we want, whenever we want, and however many times we want! What’s more, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means that most of us are spending even more time in front of our screens than we normally would. Whether it’s scrolling through TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, or binge-watching the latest Netflix show, everyone has been spending a lot of time-consuming media content recently. 

That being said, it’s no wonder that so many trends stay popular for such a long time! One of those trends, and one of my personal favourites, is the true crime genre. 

The fascinating thing about true crime is that it seems to be most popular with women. Why is this? Why are women drawn to movies and shows about gruesome murders and horrific crimes more than any other demographic? 

When I first became invested in true crime, I was asking myself this exact question. I knew I found it captivating; I spent a lot of time at night binge-watching crime shows and documentaries, and at one point, I was this close to choosing criminology as my major. My dilemma was that I couldn’t figure out why I found it so appealing. I wasn’t alone in my obsession, either; it was a hot topic among my close-knit friend group of girls. In fact, we would often swap recommendations for podcasts and shows, exchanging theories about Whodunit? over iced coffee and lunch on the rare occasions we could align our schedules to hang out. In the early months of quarantine, we would often spend our evenings huddled up in our respective homes, watching a true crime show or movie on Netflix Party. My personal favourite had to be Broadchurch, which we binge-watched all three seasons of in just two weeks. 

These conversations, combined with my other passion for psychology, led me down a rabbit hole to find the answer to my questions. 

By the looks of it, I wasn’t the only one wondering the same thing. When I Googled “why are women so obsessed with true crimes.”, I got thousands and thousands of hits. The longer I spent leafing through the various articles and interviews, the more I thought, “This makes so much sense!” It was almost like I knew all along in my subconscious, but reading the actual research confirmed it, sort of like a ‘light-bulb’ moment. 

As it turns out from my research, there are a few reasons for true crime’s growing popularity among women, some of which may surprise you. 

If we dive into the recent research done on this topic (such as this fantastic article published by BBC), one of the most common explanations is the difference in the biological and psychological make-up of women compared to men. In general, women are thought to be more empathetic, compassionate, and prone to experience higher levels of fear than men are. In addition, women are often the targeted victims in many of the stories that are featured in true crime movies, shows, books and podcasts. Think of documentaries like The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, biopics like Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (in which Zac Efron plays notorious serial killer Ted Bundy) and podcasts such as Casefile True Crime, all of which recount horrific stories involving women being targeted by the killers. 

You’d think this violence would turn women off of watching true crime. But because women see themselves represented in true crime media, not only are they more compassionate towards the victims for the pain and violence they have suffered, but they also become more fearful of the possibility that this could happen to them as well. 

This brings us to another interesting point. These stories interpreted in the media often place a heavy focus on the mindset of the serial killers, revealing patterns that explain the reasoning behind their actions (for example, many of these killers have experienced traumatic childhoods). They also include thorough explanations of the typical habits of serial killers when they’re targeting their victims, including the weapons and methods they use. This gives a lot of clues for what to look out for in real life. This means women can recognize the signs of a serial killer and can protect themselves, as well as the other people around them. For the stories where women succeeded in escaping from their killers, there is a lot of focus on how exactly they escaped, what tactics they used, what their plan was, etc. 

By watching documentaries, reading books, and listening to podcasts on the subjects of true crime, women aim to find out as much as they can about serial killers. This essentially allows them to face their fears and prepare themselves for danger in a world where women are constantly on guard.

Hello! My name is Nina, I'm 19 years old and I am a second-year student majoring in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, and minoring in Communications. This is my first year writing for Her Campus and I am so beyond thrilled and excited to be a part of the team and create content for all of you that I'm sure you will love.
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