“Macabre” pretty young females and the sexist media


Rebecca Leighton, the so-called “Saline Death” nurse has been released due to lack of evidence. I haven’t been following this case, and am not saying whether I think she is guilty or not… however I do think there is a propensity for the media to give a disproportionate amount of attention to cases where young, pretty women are allegedly involved in murder.

The ante is upped when there is potentially sex involved.

The case of Amanda Knox comes to mind. In the early days of the story breaking, I was initially sure that Ms Knox was involved in the murder of her flatmate, Meredith Kercher… until I started reading further into the case. The blog of Candace Dempsey particularly forced me to reconsider the evidence, and I began to reflect on how this young woman’s looks may have impacted on how the case has been reported–regardless of Knox’s innocence or guilt. The way Knox was reported on buying thongs shortly after the murder (because she was locked out of her crime-scene house) or how her knickname of “Foxy Knoxy” was seized upon by the media (she runs fox-like on the football field) makes me shudder.

Who knows what we will learn about Rebecca Leighton and the deaths at her hospital in the weeks to come, but I can’t help but feel that it is all reported through the prism of a largely male-dominated media that is slightly hopeful to find that the sexy nurse was truly naughty.

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Dr Jill Stuart is an academic based at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is an expert in the politics, ethics and law of outer space exploration and exploitation. She is a frequent presence in the global media (print, radio, television, documentary) and regularly gives lectures around the world. From 2013-2017 she was Editor in Chief of the Elsevier journal Space Policy where she remains on the Editorial Board. She is also on the Board of Advisors of METI International, conducting scientific research into messaging potential extraterrestrial intelligence. She is one of an elite number of people to be endorsed by the UK Home Office as an Exceptional Talent Migrant/ World Leader in her Field. In 2015 she was awarded the prestigious Margaret Mead Award Lecture by the British Science Association in recognition of her cutting edge research. She is trained in both domestic and international mediation and has done consultancy work for the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. She has a sub-specialism in women, peace and security and gender based violence. She is a Trustee of Luton All Women’s Centre.


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