Investing in Difference: Violent Women as Masculinity in Disguise?
This chapter examines the literature on violent women, specifically those women who commit acts of interpersonal violence. It argues that female interpersonal violence particularly invokes a discursive process which attempts to re-establish gender difference. Female adolescent offences consist largely of running away from home, being considered either beyond the control of parents, or in 'moral danger'. Of the few murders that women commit each year the majority are of (ex)partners. About seventy percent of these women who killed their partners were physically abused by them. The problem with the use of the Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) as a defense strategy is that it invokes an a priori association between masculinity and violence. Discourses of childhood operate coterminously with discourses concerned with motherhood. Research on lesbian battering has directly confronted the subject of female interpersonal violence, necessitating the acknowledgment that partner abuse is not confined to heterosexual relationships and the supposed inherent patriarchal oppression to be found therein.