Thursday, December 15, 2005

Why Women 'Snap'

I just read an article at Alternet with the original use of the title. The author takes on the idea for a new show, presented by Oxygen,* that promises to turn the average viewers mind inside out with regards to women who kill and why they do it.

Oxygen, a women-oriented cable channel, hypes its popular "Snapped" series this way: "From millionaire brides with everything to lose, to small-town sweethearts who should simply know better, these shocking but true stories turn common assumptions about crime and criminals upside down."
However, Talvi makes a good argument on why not to watch nor believe the tv show is telling viewers the whole truth.

When women kill their mates, such acts are usually in self-defense -- or as a result of longstanding physical and emotional abuse. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), at least half of all women in prison, including those jailed for nonviolent offences, were abused by spouses before their incarceration.
This isn't a secret and it's fairly easy to find proof. So why did the producers and researchers for Oxygen miss it and yet purport to be of women, by women, for women?

Talvi gives us the example of Flozella Woodmore who was abused by her boyfriend since the mere age of 13. When she was 18, she killed her boyfriend, thus committing her first and only offense. She has become a model prisoner yet has been denied parole by 4 different California governors, including Schwarzenegger, reversing the parole board's earlier decision.

Another good point is that a majority of women are in jail because of their involvement with drugs.

According to the latest findings from the BJS, women were more likely to be in a state prison for a drug offense in 2004, at 32 percent of inmates, than men were, at the rate of 21 percent.
Another large percentage of women in prison are mothers, whose children more often than not become wards of the state while their mother is incarcerated, whereas when men are incarcerated, the children stay with their mother or someone in the man's family.**

Nationally, some 200,000 women are now sitting in jails or prisons -- more than eight times as many incarcerated women as in 1980. At least 75 percent of these women are mothers.
I blogged about an article a while back that focused it's attention on the greater need for women prisoners to be rehabilitated in order to make them good mothers when they get out. In fact, there are 2 other examples of women who are serving time in prison because their mental illnesses, which were ignored, prompted them to each kill their children.

Watch "Snapped" for yourself then come back and tell me what you thought about it. Perhaps you shouldn't read Talvi's article until then so as not to color your judgment of the show, eh?

*I personally have not seen the show because I didn't know it existed. I will look for it now to determine what it's about before I give my definite opinion.
**The article then goes on to mention 2 very interesting books which have now been added to my wish list over at amazon.