Archives for Crime
It’s almost October and you know what that means: Here come the goblins, ghosts, witches, and sluts! The sleaziness of women’s (and little girls’) Halloween costumes has become an annual gripe for mommies and feminists. But my friend Jeannine Gailey, PhD, a sociologist at Texas Christian University, clued me in on what might be the most appalling costume ever created: Anna Rexia, the sexy side of a life-threatening eating disorder. Yikes. The model dressed as someone starving herself to death is slender, yes. Even skinny. But her breasts strain to escape the bodice that barely contains them. Her skin glows, her hair is shiny, her eyes have a come-hither sparkle. She doesn’t look the least bit like a woman with anorexia. She looks like a woman ready to take control with her womanly wiles. Gailey also sent me a 2009 article she published in Critical Criminology, titled ‘‘Starving Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have’’: The Pro-Ana Subculture as Edgework."
My newspaper this morning contained a terrible story about a local man who drowned two of his children. As usual, it appears he was getting revenge on a woman who was trying to extricate herself from an abusive relationship. She was trying…but not hard. It seems she still wasn't sure. The man has a history of family violence. He has drug problems, though he had just completed rehab and been declared ready to be a "pro-social and productive member of society." He has violated his probation. In one incident, he choked the woman, dragged her by her hair, and threatened to get a gun. He then dragged her back to the car where he held her for three hours, threatening to kill her. Police intervened but she refused to cooperate with them. And in July 2010, when the man (and I use the term loosely) was picked up for probation violation, the woman blamed authorities, posting on her Facebook page, “Im <sic> upset because my family has been forcefully broken. Its just the MAN trying to keep us down.” Wow. Just yesterday I read about research out of Ohio State University in which recorded jailhouse phone calls were analyzed in order to try and understand why women recant on felony charges of domestic violence. (Washington state routinely records inmates' phone calls, and these may be released for research.)
A friend was recently robbed at gunpoint on a dark street. She’s a little bruised from being pushed around, but she's generally OK. However, she says, she can’t stop thinking about it and wishes she could. Not unusual. In the psychological literature, that’s called repetitive thought, and it can be a bad thing except when it’s a good thing. As you probably already know, trying to suppress a thought is pointless—that old “don’t think about a white bear” parlor game. In fact, studies indicate that the more you try to suppress a thought, the more you will have it. So if you can’t stop a repetitive thought, what do you do with it? I found a fascinating article titled “Constructive and Unconstructive Repetitive Thought”, and it’s a 2008 literature review of different sorts of repetitive thoughts. I never thought about how many types there are. The article discusses…
New research out of Cornell University finds that people can identify criminals simply by looking at photos. The researchers did all they could to make all things equal about the photos. Participants saw head shots of “Caucasian males, ages 20 to 28, with similar attractiveness and facial expression." Half were just guys, the other half were guys who had committed violent (forcible rape, murder, assault) or nonviolent (forgery, theft, arson and drug dealing) crimes. Nobody had tattoos, facial hair, or a menacing expression. Backgrounds were edited out. Even so, according to research published in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, participants could spot the bad guys.