Skip navigation

The Emerald International Handbook of Feminist Perspectives on Women’s Acts of Violence

The Emerald International Handbook of Feminist Perspectives on Women’s Acts of Violence

Banwell, Stacy ORCID: 0000-0001-7395-2617, Black, Lynsey, Cecil, Dawn K., Djamba, Yanyi K., Kimuna, Sitawa R., Milne, Emma, Seal, Lizzie and Tenkorang, Eric Y. (eds.) (2023) The Emerald International Handbook of Feminist Perspectives on Women’s Acts of Violence. Emerald, Bingley, UK. ISBN 978-1803822563; 978-1803822556; 978-1803822570

PDF (Contents of volume)
44876_BANWELL_The_Emerald_International_Handbook_of_Feminist_Perspectives_on_Women’s_Acts_of_Violence.pdf - Additional Metadata

Download (236kB) | Preview


Over the past twenty years, interest in women’s violence has grown as an area of academic research and teaching across disciplines such as criminology, sociology, history, international relations, public health and film and literary studies. This handbook makes a timely contribution by acting as a comprehensive introduction to a wide range of international, interdisciplinary scholarship which applies feminist perspectives to the phenomenon of women’s violence. Violence is enabled and enacted by individuals, organisations and states with interconnections between these different levels (Collins, 1998, 2017). We adopt this multilevel understanding of violence in the handbook, bringing together contributions on interpersonal and intimate violence by women, women’s violence as agents of institutions, and women’s political violence as state and non-state actors. The handbook is international in scope with contributions from scholars across countries in the Global South and North. Women’s acts of violence are rarer than men’s and frequently perceived as more shocking. Violence by women is regularly sensationalised and stigmatised, especially in media discourses. This sensationalisation and stigmatisation relies on and reproduces misogynistic tropes about violent women as ‘evil’, ‘unnatural’ and masculinised. The chapters in this handbook are written from a feminist perspective and eschew or deconstruct stereotypical portrayals in favour of more considered and complex analyses of the violence women enact and the relevance of their social and political positioning, as well as cultural understandings of womanhood and how these inform understandings of and responses to this violence. Previous literature has emphasised that women’s violence is frequently understood as deviant and transgressive, violating norms of ideal femininity. Such ideas are explored throughout the handbook in contributions which consider, for instance, the vilification and monsterisation of women who kill. These chapters tease out the ways in which violent women are profiled as unnatural and abject. The handbook therefore retains a focus on scholarship which considers the ‘abnormality’ of violent women while also including contributions which demonstrate that women’s violent acts can be normalised and made invisible, for example when perpetrated during a professional role. Adding further nuance, various chapters address how, due to marginalisation across axes of race and class, certain women are not always presumed to be non-violent or perceived through norms of ideal femininity. The handbook explores how these assumptions can lead to overcriminalisation and harsh treatment within the criminal justice system. The significance of women’s intersectional identities is a consistent theme throughout the handbook. Running through the chapters too is the seemingly intractable problem of agency – including the obstacles to fully assigning agency to violent women as well as the frequently unwanted consequences when they are considered to have acted with agency and are punished more harshly. Throughout the handbook, authors grapple with questions of women’s volitional capacity, considering difficult questions of how far we should consider the contexts in which women commit violence, which include structural oppression, domestic- and gender-based violence, and cultural norms. The contributions reveal the necessity of abandoning a binary view of victim-perpetrator, agency/non-agency and evolving a more complex framework in which to gauge questions of intention and deliberation. The handbook is divided into eight sections: historical perspectives; understanding women’s acts of violence; women as perpetrators of interpersonal and intimate violence; power and women’s violence; women and non-state political violence; cultural interpretations of violent women; fictional representations of violent women; and violent women and girls in the criminal justice system. The rest of this introductory chapter outlines the handbook’s structure and summarises each contribution.

Item Type: Edited Book
Uncontrolled Keywords: women violence
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Law & Criminology (LAC)
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2023 09:20

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics