Prompted by a perplexing trend of women increasingly committing felonies, Morris, a clinical and forensic psychologist, examines why some females go wild and crazy, resulting in bad sexual behavior or murder. Although the author (The Male Heterosexual) revisits familiar media trivia on bad girls like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, the book doesn't really pick up steam until he explores the troubled pasts of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a single mother who killed several men and was executed in 2002, and Karla Homolka, known as "The Barbie Doll," who, with her lover, taped their rape and murder of two teenaged girls, including one of Homolka's sisters. Morris delves into the lethal mix of developmental, psychological and cultural factors-negligent or abusive parents, social messages idolizing "girls gone wild"-that compel females to molest and kill: 70-year-old Loretta Fontaine killed her abusive husband, who terrorized her after they separated, and the infamous Susan Smith drowned her children and claimed a black man had killed them. Uncensored and engrossing, this study shows us the why and how, and gives practical ways to halt this heinous behavior from happening. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Dangerous Women: Why Mothers, Daughters, and Sisters Become Stalkers, Molesters, and Murderersby Larry A. Morris
Criminologists have noted a disturbing trend in the last few decades. Though men are still most often the perpetrators of murder, violent assault, and child molestation, more girls and women are becoming dangerous criminals. The news increasingly includes stories of mothers molesting or killing their children, female teachers having "affairs" with grade school boys
Criminologists have noted a disturbing trend in the last few decades. Though men are still most often the perpetrators of murder, violent assault, and child molestation, more girls and women are becoming dangerous criminals. The news increasingly includes stories of mothers molesting or killing their children, female teachers having "affairs" with grade school boys, and young girls beating up or molesting other children. Simultaneously fascinated and repelled by these lurid accounts, people often wonder out loud: How could a mother or young girl do such a thing?
This is the first book to explore the full scope of girls and women behaving badly. From inappropriate sexual behavior to brutal murders, forensic psychologist Dr. Larry A. Morris relies on thirty years of personal clinical experience with perpetrators and victims of interpersonal violence to reveal why an alarming number of girls and women are now walking down dangerous paths to destruction.
But this book is much more than a walk through the forbidden side of femininity. It provides a fresh perspective on the complex biological, developmental, psychological, and sociocultural forces driving girls and women to molest and murder. Blending humanity with scientific rigor and evocative case material, the book draws readers into the direct experiences of dangerous girls and women, their families, and the professionals who try to understand and help them. Along the way, readers also learn practical ways to prevent these grievous acts from creeping into their lives.
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Read an Excerpt
WHY MOTHERS, DAUGHTERS, AND SISTERS BECOME STALKERS, MOLESTERS, AND MURDERERS
By LARRY A. MORRIS
Copyright © 2008
Larry A. Morris
All right reserved.
Chapter One GROWING UP DANGEROUS
The Warning Signs
A scantly clad young girl flaunted her nubile body as she sang and danced across a stage cluttered with equally nubile bodies. After prancing and getting the most of her jiggles, she paused with legs spread wide. The camera zoomed in, providing an eager audience with a great crotch shot, then she bent low to reveal a titillating view of teenage tits. The beginning of a pornographic movie? No. It was the first TV commercial aired at half time of a college football game between opponents I no longer remember. The product? Viagra.
The camera shifts from crotch and tits to a smirking Senator Bob Dole sitting in his living room. Dole turns to his golden retriever who is moaning with excitement and says, "Easy boy." Dole then admits to having ED (erectile dysfunction) and urges men to talk to their doctors about their erection problems and the wonders of Viagra, as though any man would need Viagra after watching the former Mouseketeer Britney Spears display her newly grown goods.
Senator Dole and his golden retriever are not the only ones who have been watching with wonder and appreciating Britney's talents. Millions of adoring fans flock to her concerts, buy her albums, dress like her, and want to be like Britney. So who is this teenage phenom and why is she dangerous?
Britney Jean Spears was born December 2, 1981. She grew up in the small town of Kentwood, Louisiana, upstream from New Orleans toward the Mississippi state line. She was one of two daughters and one son born to her parents, James Spears, a building contractor, and Lynne Bridges, a grade school teacher.
As a young girl Britney performed locally as a singer and dancer, then wowed a national television audience on Star Search. At age eight she auditioned for the New Mickey Mouse Club and was turned down, not because she didn't have talent, but because she was too young. However, Britney's audition led her to a New York agent, the Professional Performing Arts School, television commercials, and off-Broadway plays. By age eleven, Britney was ready for another shot at Mickey Mouse, and Mickey was ready for her. For two seasons, Britney wore her ears proudly alongside other notable Mouseketeers such as Justin Timberlake, J. C. Chase, Christina Aguilera, and Keri Russell. Then the show was cancelled, tossing an early teenage Britney out of a job. But not for long.
At age fifteen, she headed back to New York, where she eventually worked out a deal with Jive Records, again joining good company with pop stars like Whitney Houston, Backstreet Boys, and *NSYNC. At barely seventeen years old, her debut single, "Baby One More Time," shot to the top of the charts. Fans, including millions of young girls, couldn't get enough of her. Never mind that Britney and a troupe of dancers pranced around in Catholic schoolgirl uniforms titillating any male within eyeshot. About a year later her first album with the same title started at the top of the charts and stayed there seemingly forever while spinning off single hits like a musical centrifuge.
Britney was too young to vote, drink, or have legal sex in most states, but she was a superstar, a teen queen. And the media was all over her, knowing that anything they published about Britney would be bought by millions of fans, including those same young girls dreaming of stardom. Be like Britney.
In 2000 Britney's follow-up album, Ooops! I Did It Again, hit the top of the charts upon release and set a record for single-week sales by a female artist. In 2001 Britney was no longer a teenager and her next album, Britney, tried to reflect a coming-of-age quality she and many of her fans were experiencing. Although Britney debuted at number one, the spin-off singles didn't fare as well and never reached the Top Ten. Like a lot of musical superstars, Britney looked to the movies for more star power. After her feature-film debut in Crossroads pretty much fizzled as a commercial success, Britney made a cameo appearance in Austin Powers: Goldmember, singing a remix of her hit "Boys."
In her early twenties, Britney's reign as a teen queen slipped. Sales stalled. Could she be all washed up at the age when most people are just getting started? She took a break from all performances to work on a new album. When her new album In the Zone was released in 2003, Britney again hit the mother lode. The album shot to number one on the Billboard 200 and spun off several megahit singles, including "Toxic," which won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. It appeared Britney was back. But all was not well.
Soon the tabloids would be reporting about Britney's wild times at clubs and parties, wardrobe malfunctions including panty-less nights on the town, rumors of drug abuse, career-risking bad behavior on photo shoots and during interviews, serious family squabbles, and other self-destructive behaviors. It seemed to start when Britney ran off and married a childhood friend, Jason Alexander. The marriage lasted two days. When Britney's financially successful but highly sexualized Onyx Hotel tour was canceled, fans were told she had injured a knee. Britney watchers worried that she was cracking, heading for another meltdown. Brit on the brink.
Bizarre behavior by superstars always drives the media into a feeding frenzy, especially the paparazzi, who picked up the scent of wounded prey. When the rumors that Britney was having a relationship with bad boy Kevin Federline were confirmed and the couple planned to wed, the media moved in for the kill. Photos and stories of Britney's personal life appeared everywhere for months. The couple even participated in the carnage by showing awful home movies on a television reality show, Chaotic, a harbinger of things to come for Britney.
In the midst of her new life as a wife, this time longer than two days, Britney released her album Greatest Hits: My Prerogative and made an announcement. The highly sexualized former teen queen was with child.
Sean Preston Federline was born on September 14, 2005. His birth was marked by a fierce bidding war for the first baby photos. A celebrity at birth. What else do you need as a baby? A celebrity mother? How about a celebrity mother with two babies? About twelve months after Sean was born, biology spoke again: Britney gave birth to her second child, Jayden James.
Biology dictated that Britney was indeed a mother. But could she be a parent? How about a single parent? Britney and Kevin separated and set about to divide their fortunes and children. Their divorce was final in July 2007. But which one would step forward as the parent with the best interest of the children?
Hints at Britney's questionable parenting skills came from the tabloid photos of her driving around with Sean sitting on her lap, not strapped into a car seat. She blew off the criticism and pointed to her upbringing in rural Louisiana where, according to Britney, most parents just toss their kids in the car and go. Visions of another pop star gone bad-Michael Jackson, dangling his baby out of a second-story window so the media could get good shots-flashed in my mind. I also wondered what else in Britney's upbringing would dictate how she would raise her babies.
Another hint came when twenty-five-year-old Britney and her mother, Lynne, locked horns in a battle about Lynne's role as mother, grandmother, and as a member of Britney's management team. Showing tough love, Lynne insisted Britney enter rehab and she drove Britney to the front door. Tabloids reported that Britney was furious and that she told her mother she would never speak to her again. After rehab, which Britney insisted she did not need, Britney's feelings about her mother soared to the top of the anger charts. According to Britney, her mother was plotting with her ex-husband Kevin to take her children. Britney wanted to file a restraining order against her mother, but her legal eagles advised her against it.
In the end, Britney fired Lynne as mother, grandmother, and from her management team. Her mother fired back allegations that Britney was not a good mother and the children may be in physical danger. This from a mother who raised her own baby daughter to become the tween queen of sleaze.
Surely Britney's mother, like most mothers, began to teach her daughter values before she allowed choreographers to teach her to twist and grind. Surely she was a good role model for morals and values. And surely she was a great role model for how to parent and protect children. But what if she wasn't? Where in Britney's young life would she have learned these important skills, if not from her mother? Perhaps from her idol, Madonna? And if she didn't have these skills, how was she going to be a good role model to her own children? Did Lynne or anybody really expect Britney would grow up, ditch all the sleaze-tease, and become mother of the year? Or did anyone care?
Britney's estranged relationship with her mother shocked most Britney watchers. Before the falling-out Lynne and Britney seemed to be very close. In Heart to Heart, a book they published together in 2000, Britney claimed that her mother was her best friend and the strongest, bravest, and most generous person she had ever known. So what happened?
Britney does what Britney was packaged to do. Her childhood life was all smoke and mirrors. Some make-believe is healthy for children, but a steady diet is toxic. And as children move from childhood into the demands of adult reality, new skills are necessary for survival. Someone steeped in a steady diet of make-believe will be tested and sorely ill-equipped to negotiate this developmental task.
Once Britney left her teens, she seemed to fall apart. For the next five or six years she went on a rampage of dysfunctional behavior including impulsive sexual exploits, two ill-fated marriages, suspected substance abuse, severe body image changes, a sudden estranged relationship with her mother, and a careless disregard for her children.
On September 17, 2007, I watched Matt Lauer of the Today show ask the self-proclaimed first supermodel, Janice Dickinson, "Is thirteen too young to be on the runway?" She responded without hesitation. Dickinson warned that parents abandon their children to a dangerous adult world when they allow young children to be exposed to such a provocative profession as modeling. She then took a swipe at Britney's mother as an example. "Look at Britney's mother, she's bad. She's a stage mom. Now Britney can't keep her clothes on."
So why did I include Britney Spears in a book about dangerous women, women who commit crimes much more heinous than taking clothes off? Isn't she just a simple country girl looking for love in all the wrong places? According to most Britney fans her only "crime" was to almost single-handedly resurrect teen pop when most had declared it dead. But along with the music she gave preteens and teenagers a message. Sex sells. Sure, her videos and commercials were highly sexualized, but she openly sang a different tune in her private life: abstinence until marriage. So what's the danger? So what's the harm in tweens strutting around showing cleavage they don't have and belly buttons they do? Why is Britney dangerous?
Because she has two children who need good parenting and will probably not find it. She has millions of adoring fans who still want to be like her and do not have parents capable of guiding them away. But Britney is not the only dangerous celebrity out there.
In the early morning hours of July 24, 2007, a Los Angeles 911 operator received an emergency call from a frantic woman pleading for help because she was being followed by another car. When the police arrived they found Lindsay Lohan, who was barely twenty-one, and Michelle Peck, the mother of Lindsay's personal assistant who had just resigned a few hours earlier, standing nose to nose outside of Peck's SUV engaged in a heated argument.
When approached by the officers, a disheveled and belligerent Lindsay stepped aside sporting a clunky alcohol-monitoring bracelet wrapped cozy around her dainty ankle. She screamed that she was not the driver and pointed to one of two young men who had been in her SUV. She was the driver, though. Both young men, obviously shaken by the experience, told police they were just along for the ride and had been fearful for their lives. They also said they pleaded with Lindsay to stop the SUV and let them out, but she refused.
After Lindsay refused to take a breathalyzer test and failed her field sobriety tests, she was carted off to a police station. Her blood tested above the California legal limit. Officers also found cocaine in Lindsay's pocket. NBC News reported that somewhere along the way she shouted something like "I'm a celebrity and I can do whatever the f- I want." Maybe so, but she was charged with DUI, driving with a suspended license, and felony charges for possession of cocaine and transportation of a narcotic. Who is this belligerent celebrity and why does she think she's above the law and can do anything she wants?
Lindsay Dee Lohan was born in the Bronx on July 2, 1986, to troubled but financially secure parents. Her father, Michael Lohan, was a one-time actor who came into money when he inherited and sold his family's pasta business. He used the money to trade in futures and became the president of New York Futures Traders for a brief period. Then he was convicted of securities fraud and spent most of Lindsay's preteen years in prison. In 2005 her father was sentenced to a maximum of four years for DUI and assaulting his brother-in-law. He served two years.
Lindsay's mother, Donata "Dina" Sullivan, claims she had been one of the famed Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, but no credible records have surfaced to support her claim. There is no dispute, however, that she worked on Wall Street as an analyst until she became Lindsay's manager.
Lindsay has three younger siblings, two brothers and one sister, each an aspiring model or actor. Early in Lindsay's childhood, the Lohan family moved from the Bronx to more upscale neighborhoods on Long Island.
At the age of three, Lindsay began her career with Ford Models in New York. She wasn't an instant success but eventually found steady work as a child fashion model for magazine advertisements and television commercials, including spots with Bill Cosby. When Lindsay was ten years old her young career got a tremendous boost. She landed the role as Alexandra "Alli" Fowler on the popular television soap Another World. Next in line was the critically acclaimed dual roles as estranged twin sisters in the Disney movie The Parent Trap. At a mere eleven years old Lindsay was declared a major talent.
Over the next few years Lindsay landed major roles in television movies (Life-Size, 2000; Get a Clue, 2002), a series (Bette, 2000), three movies (Freaky Friday, 2003; Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, 2004; Mean Girls, 2004), and she turned down a role in Inspector Gadget. Ironically, Lindsay also turned down the lead role in Mean Girls played by Rachel McAdams because she worried the character was too mean and her young fan base wasn't ready for her to be that mean. How old would her fan base need to be to accept Lindsay's heightened meanness on or reportedly off the screen?
Most Lindsay watchers claim that Lindsay started to melt down shortly after she turned sixteen, the age most adolescent girls are looking forward to friends, parties, and proms. She sort of got stuck on the party part, along with her mother, who often partied hearty with her daughter. Lindsay also had a long string of celebrity "boyfriends," and a longer list of well-publicized feuds with other teenage female celebrities.
At work she gained a reputation for being exhausted and difficult. Even so, Lindsay continued to land major roles in movies (Herbie: Fully Loaded, 2005; Bobbie, 2005; Just My Luck, 2006; Prairie Home Companion, 2006; Georgia Rule, 2007; Chapter 27, 2007) and garner votes as one of the top one hundred sexiest women. But by the time the teen movie queen turned twenty, her personal and professional problems were coming to a head. The entertainment media was full of Lindsay's heavy partying and bad behavior, and her young fans couldn't get enough. Party on dude!
Excerpted from Dangerous Women by LARRY A. MORRIS Copyright © 2008 by Larry A. Morris. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Larry A. Morris, PhD (Tucson, AZ), is a clinical and forensic psychologist who has been in private practice for more than thirty years. He is the author of four books including The Male Heterosexual, plus book chapters in New Psychology for Men (edited by W.S. Pollack and R.F. Levant) and Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse (edited by M. Hunter).
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"Danerous Women" is a fascinating well written book! What a contribution not only to the world of psychology but to anyone interested in reading true crime! Dr. Morris obviously has many years of interpersonal violence experience because he offered a griping look at many of his own case studies as well as his "take" on some of the other more nationally known female perpetrators. As a former high school teacher I can identify my female students' bad behavior with those behaviors Dr. Morris profiled. On numerous occasions I was more frightened by female than male students. He thoroughly understands this growing problem. Additionally his "Path to Prevention" chapter gives a hopeful voice to the end of "Dangerous Women." Buy this book for a window into the real life problems that some of our mothers, daughters and sisters face daily.
I think that this book is insightful in perspective, but what needs to be realized is that sometimes when women have a traumatic event happen in their lives, and they are not supported when they seek help this type of perspective further victimizes them by viewing them in a way that they are potentially dangerous to society when they are trying to build a safe life for themselves and are most likely dealing with post traumatic stress. In the quest for entertainment and drama, sometimes it is a pattern to look for a "bad guy" or a "boogieman" figure in someone that is somehow not falling into place as much as the "norm". Women dealing with post traumatic stress are already struggling enough, and when they are alienated even further and under suspicion of ridiculous "witch hunt" attitudes- it creates even more defensiveness and sometimes they never even ARE capable of leading normal lives BECAUSE of this reaction they receive. When you further victimize someone it contributes to the problems both in the victim and in society.
I waited for this book to be mailed to me, which took a little longer than the time frame I was given, and I can say that it was worth the wait. This book contains some insightful information on women who commit these crimes. I would recommend anyone, male and female, to read this book.
I found Dangerous Women quite fascinating. Mr. Morris brings to light a problem that has been with us but has been overshadowed by similar type behavior usually associated with males amd males only. It's an awakening call to all of us. Parents need to read this book lest their own daughters fall into similar situations. It's a must read and well written. Sections covering the development of the teen female mind under duress are especially important to focus on.
The author's extensive background and knowledge serves to skillfully guide the reader to the real story behind today's deadly and shocking headlines. It soon becomes apparent that a serious problem now exists and Dr. Morris is sounding the alarm. His solutions to help stem the tide are well within reason and should be considered viable as a means to help quell a problem that even now continues to grow.
This book is really, really bad. It's a fascinating subject matter and by all appearances this book should have some sort or redeeming merit, but it doesn't. Basically a collection of poorly written summaries of women we all already know something 'or too much' about Britney Spears, Susan Smith, Aileen Wuornos, Mary Kay Letourneau, ect.. This is ultimately nothing more than a trashy tabloid in hardback with some pop-psychology thrown in. Did I mention the writing is extremely bad?