Touring female crime: Power and perceptions

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Abstract

Popular interest in crime is substantial and longstanding, driving the development of crime-based dark tourism attractions. The appeal of these sites can partly be explained through the understanding of functions of transgression as tours provide their audiences with infotainment. These representations of crime both reflect and shape social and cultural perceptions of the nature of offending and victimization. There is, however, a significant gap in relation to the discussion of these crime-based dark tourism activities with almost no engagement with gender at these sites. To fill this gap, this paper presents a conceptual discussion on tourism to sites of female criminal activity, drawing parallels to similar male crime locations. Examination of online advertising for murder walking tours in the UK reveals gendered power dynamics wherein traditional, western gender roles are enforced through the removal of agency from women who engage in more violent crimes while simultaneously fetishizing women as victims of violence, especially sexual. This is evident in the absence of female serial killers within organized dark tours, which often focus specifically on this sexual violence. Thus, the tourist activities that revolve around dark heritage sites, especially those that deal with violent criminal activity, reinforce gendered stereotypes around ‘acceptable’ transgression.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Heritage Tourism
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2020

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