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Title: The use of gender in the trials of Myra Hindley and Rose West
Author: Winter, Josephine Louise
ISNI:       0000 0001 3570 943X
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2002
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This work examines the transcripts of the trials of Myra Hindley (1966) and Rosemary West (1995). It adopts a feminist perspective to expose the constructions of femininity that were manifest in the cases posed by the prosecution and defence and the judges' summings up. Consequently, it draws primarily upon two theoretical bases: first, the now abundant feminist criminological literature and, second, work on the criminal court process; for example, evidence theory and work on case construction, and the functions and roles of the judge and jury, most of which has not as yet addressed issues of gender. Examination of the trials reveals that many of the characteristics associated with femininity identified by previous feminist work were pervasive during both trials. However, whilst the nature of constructions of femininity deployed are the same in spite of the thirty years that passed between the trials, their usage is not. Whilst it might be expected that the progression of feminist work would have reduced the strength of the presence of gendered norms in the courtroom, the author will show that counsel's use and reliance on gendered stereotypes is greater and more sophisticated in Rosemary West's case than in that of Myra Hindley. The difference between the use of gendered stereotypes in the two cases is a consequence of the means by which they appear. Constructions of femininity in Rosemary West's case formed part of the case, they constituted themes in the narrative created and presented by counsel. Whilst similar norms were present in Myra Hindley's trial, they were less frequently explicitly utilised by counsel. The author suggests that the reasons for the difference are twofold. First, that the stronger and more prolific evidence in Myra Hindley's trial meant that prosecution counsel relied less on gender stereotyping to make a convincing case, whereas the evidentiary gap in Rosemary West's trial was filled with evidence and suggestions pertaining to her failure to fit stereotypes of femininity. Secondly, feminist literature, knowledge and findings were absorbed and internalised by the legal profession by the 1990s, providing counsel with knowledge on how best to fill the evidentiary gap.
Supervisor: Bibbings, Lois Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available