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The period 1870–1958 was revolutionary in the lives of women. Society’s shifting perceptions of women and their role were apparent in the courtroom. Women Who Kill Men analyzes eighteen sensational cases of women on trial for murder in this period to identify the intersections of media, law, and gender in California.
The fascinating details of these murder trials, documented in court records and embellished newspaper coverage, mirrored the changing public image of women. Most women and their attorneys relied on gendered stereotypes and language to create their defense and sometimes to leverage their status in a patriarchal system. Those who could successfully dress and act the part of the victim were most often able to win the sympathy of the jury. Gender mattered. And though the norms shifted over time, the press, attorneys, and juries were all informed by contemporary gender stereotypes
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