Female assassins defy stereotypes and are fascinating to readers and movie viewers alike, so let’s delve a little into what makes a female turn assassin. I’m taking this information from Sean Mactire’s book Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists, and Other Criminal Think.
Mactire says, “Contrary to widely held misconceptions, women became terrorists because of the equality of opportunity that is available.” I’ll admit, when I first read this line, I thought of all the job listings for ‘assassin’ and wondered what percentage of applicants were female. Setting aside the funnier aspects of that statement, let’s look at the reasons Mactire offers as to WHY females choose to kill for hire. (Note: Mactire doesn’t differentiate between assassins and terrorists – they’re the same in his book. I see a finer line, as an assassin usually kills for cash, whereas a terrorist kills for ideals, but since I’m passing along Mactire’s ideas, I’ll keep my nose out of it for a bit.) Here are those reason:
1. They are pursuing dreams of a better life for people
2. They desire to help people in need
3. They desire to change social and governmental policies
(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)
These female killers see themselves as soldiers, fighting for the side of injustice to bring about lasting political-economic changes that will better the lives around them. Sounds noble, when you put it that way, but keep in mind they are still taking lives in defense of their own idealistic world views. Mactire goes on to say that “women terrorists are more ruthless and persistent than their male colleagues.” I had a commenter several posts ago who brought up the “Mama Bear” idea, that women will do anything to protect their own. This is the same thing–women who come to the conclusion that violence is the only way to bring about the necessary changes and improve the lives of their loved ones. (They’re obviously NOT thinking of improving the lives of their victims or their victims families, so it’s a safe bet to say that all female terrorists/assassins are sociopaths with no ability to empathize.)
Mactire sites several examples of “famous” female terrorists/assassins. I won’t give you those examples here (check out the book if you want them), but he noted that 70% of the leadership of the new-wave alliance in Europe is female. They’ve taken their nurturing, organizing, and protecting instincts and turned them into acts of terror. He sites women who followed in lovers footsteps to become terrorists, women who use their fake “pregnancy” to deliver bombs, women who partner up with men to appear as lovers before they commit their act of violence, and women who lead religious cults that espouse murder and mass suicide.
When creating a female assassin/terrorist for your novel, keep these “ideals” in mind and you’ll have a thoroughly believable and unpredictable character.
That wraps up the chapter on female killers. Chapter 15 is about psychology in the courtroom and the various defenses bad guys use to try getting away with what they’ve done after they’ve been caught. It’s bound to be an interesting (and probably amusing) set of posts, so stay tuned.