Killing Women: The Visual Culture of Gender and Violence.


328 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-88920-497-7
DDC 305.4'896949




Edited by Annette Burfoot and Susan Lord
Reviewed by Margaret Conrad

Margaret Conrad is a history professor at Acadia University and editor
of They Planted Well: New England Planters in Maritime Canada.


This collection of new and previously published essays tackles the complicated issue of women and violence. While it is still the case that women are more often the victims of violence than they are its perpetrators, the existence wilful murderers such as Karla Homolka and female suicide bombers in the Middle East suggests that not all women can be essentialized as maternal protectors of the human species. The essays explore gender and violence primarily from the perspective of visual culture, focusing in particular on film and the news media, and are grouped to draw attention to important questions of historical memory, technologies of representation, and national cultures that shape how we interpret violent behaviour. Deeply rooted in theories of cultural studies and feminism, these essays are written for those familiar with the academic literature on women and violence, but they address topics that implicate everyone in our “wired” world and offer “ways of seeing” that serve us well in the 21st century.


Anyone questioning the value of the theoretical approaches employed here is advised to read Sharon Rosenberg’s essay. Rosenberg analyzes media representations on the 10th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre of December 6, 1989, in which 14 women were killed at l’École Polythechnique by a man claiming that feminists had ruined his life. By deconstructing the language used to memorialize the tragedy, Rosenberg reveals how Marc Lépine’s anti-feminist message has been submerged in other meanings and vocabularies. Essays focusing on such topics as women on death row in the United States, the murder of over 300 women in Cuidad, Mexico, the curious absence of feminist criticism on Karla Homolka, violent imagery in feminist media, female psycho-killers in American horror films, and media images of Palestine and Israeli female warriors offer perspectives that are rarely represented in the popular media, but should be essential reading for anyone interested in the topic of violence and especially those who make it their business to represent it in any and all contexts.


“Killing Women: The Visual Culture of Gender and Violence.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,