8 Harv. Women's L.J. 121 (1985)
The Meaning of Equality for Battered Woman Who Kill Men in Self-Defense

handle is hein.journals/hwlj8 and id is 129 raw text is: THE MEANING OF EQUALITY FOR BATTERED
WOMEN WHO KILL MEN IN SELF-DEFENSE
PHYLLIS L. CROCKER*
Seems like I ben all ways thinking on that thing in us what thinks
us but it don't think like us. Our woaI life is a idear we dint think
of nor we don't know what it is. What a way to live.
-R. HOBAN, RIDDLEY WALKER (1980)
Women kill men.1 It is a fact. They do not do so as frequently
as men kill women.2 Wives kill husbands.3 Another fact. Again,
not as often as husbands kill their wives.4 Still, it happens. And
when it does, women, as men, are tried for the crime, judged by
a jury, and found guilty or not.
At no point, from the homicide through the verdict, do the
facts mean, imply, cause, manifest, or represent the same sub-
stantive process for women as they do for men. Women kill men
for different reasons than men kill women. They do so under
different circumstances. Judges, juries, and attorneys view a
woman's act of homicide differently from a man's. This is true
* B.A., Yale University; J.D., Northeastern University Law School.
Many friends and colleagues contributed to the creation of this Article. In particular I
am indebted to Anne E. Simon, Margaret Errington, Kent Harvey, and Lynn Rubinett
for listening to my thoughts and theories, sharing my outrages, always offering valuable
observations, and asking difficult questions as I developed the argument in this Article.
Marjorie Meyers, Mayo Schreiber, Jr., A. Max Kohlenberg, Harriet Dichter, and John
G.S. Flym provided insights and steadfast encouragement. Ruth Borenstein and Gail
Horowitz each taught me valuable lessons about the need for clarity. Finally, I thank my
editors, David Nied and Karen Getman, for their graceful persistence.
I In 1982, female offenders killed 1551 male victims nationwide. U.S. DEPT. OF JUSTICE,
UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS: CRIME IN THE UNITED STATES 9 (1982).
2 In 1982, male offenders killed 2511 female victims nationwide. Id.
3 In 1982, 17% of all murders nationwide involved family relationships; one-half of
which were spouse killing spouse, of these 40% were wives killing husbands. Id. at 11.
4 Sixty per cent of spousal murders were husbands killing wives. Id.
121

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