It's Not Zany When Women Commit Crimes

It’s certainly worth thinking about why headlines present the incident as some kind of madcap, sexy adventure.
Publish date:
September 13, 2012

Where to even begin with this: a woman in Port Charlotte, Florida (because it had to be Florida) met a man at a bar; went back to his place with a friend and had sex with him; demanded $250 in cash and was given $120; left and met up with the same man again outside a convenience store, where she got in a car with him, had sex with him again, demanded more money and threatened him with a gun when he didn’t comply. The scuffle over the gun led to the woman, 26-year-old Amanda Linscott, being punched in the face, and the car to crash.

The New York Daily News reports:

"The two began wrestling over the gun, which led the driver to hit a palm tree, sail into the air and run across two lawns, according to police. He also reportedly said he struck her in the head. Linscott bolted but was later busted by deputies who said her father told them she had been in a car crash and was punched in the face."

To most people, this story ought to be upsetting — Linscott was clearly disturbed in some way, and the man who she threatened with a gun was probably terrified. Why, then, is the headline for theDaily News story “She’s hell on wheels: Wild sexcapade ends with suspect pulling gun on driver during sex”?

It’s not just the Daily News, either. Here are several other headlines for the same story:

Herald Tribune: Deputies: Woman pulls gun on man during sex in moving car

Nine MSN: Woman ‘pulled gun during sex with driver’

Newser: Cops: Woman Holds Up Man During Sex in Moving Car

Headlines are meant to be provocative, to entice readers to take a look at the story. It’s understandable that they all single out the same detail that makes this story unique. But it’s certainly worth thinking about why headlines present the incident as some kind of madcap, sexy adventure. It’s a clichéd exercise, but occasionally still useful: does the headline “Man Holds Up Woman During Sex in Moving Car” sound like an action movie romp or a horror story? It cheapens the danger the driver was in to make him appear to be the victim of some kind of femme fatale, especially when it seems like Linscott was anything but in control of the situation.

Moreover, this kind of treatment also diminishes the danger that Linscott put the driver and herself in, in a way that I think we just don’t do to men who commit bizarre but still dangerous crimes. It’s not sexy, it’s not zany, and it’s not cute. If anything, the gigantic photo of a vacant-eyed Linscott sporting an enormous black eye in her mugshot should be enough to remind everyone of that.

Reprinted with permission from The Jane Dough.