Yes, Girls Can Kill People Too

By Sonja Hutson

The actors brutally stabbed Caesar on the steps of the courthouse, using red ribbons to symbolize blood. Their betrayal rang out through the theater and red ribbons were flying everywhere- it was a fantastic spectacle. Until I heard a gasp and a disgusted “They’re girls!” from a few rows behind me.

CTE’s decision to produce Julius Caesar with an all-girl cast was proof of all the progress being made in feminism. Perhaps we were finally starting to view women as more than innocent and fragile beings; perhaps we were accepting the fact that women were capable of so much more than traditional gender roles. The girls’ ability to transform the traditionally masculine roles into powerful feminine roles was extraordinary. They were especially successful because they avoided drifting into androgyny. So often strong female characters are hermaphroditic and lose all characteristics of femininity. The actors were able to be powerful and feminine at the same time.

But their performance seemed to have missed one demographic: the middle aged, insensitive man. Besides the fact that the comment I overheard was overtly sexist, insensitive, and inaccurate (yes, girls can kill people, too). It contradicted the entire purpose of the play’s casting. Shakespearean themes such as betrayal and violence are just as applicable to boys as to girls, and all the actors proved that very successfully. It worries me that this man could have missed what was so obviously placed in front of him. If a performance this progressive in a community this progressive spurs such sexist comments, what is to be expected from the rest of the world? What progress can be made?

A similar trend denying women’s ability to maliciously kill exists in the criminal justice system. Women account for ten percent of annual murder arrests since 1973, but make up an average of only 2.1 percent of annual death sentences imposed at the trial level, according to a study conducted by Victor Streib, a retired law professor at Ohio Northern University. As women make appeals and progress further through the capital punishment system, the death penalty is more commonly dropped.

True equality entails women being held just as responsible as men for their actions. It is not fair to expect equal treatment only in ways that benefit females, such as equal pay and success in politics; we must also push for equal treatment in areas such as criminal justice and the military draft. An inability to recognize a woman’s ability to commit violent crime willingly is a crime itself. Many dangerous criminals are acquitted or released early because our society often cannot grasp the possibility of punishing women so harshly. Often females are viewed as fragile, unstable, and therefore not really in control of their actions. The pity drawn from these assumptions is dangerous as well as troubling.

Some may not understand my passion for capital punishment of women. If I were ever convicted of a murder, wouldn’t I want the judge to be lenient? Of course I would, but this goes beyond that. One cannot expect equality in certain areas if one does not push for equality in all areas, including those that may adversely affect women. A woman has just as much a right to a lethal injection as a man does. A change in the trend of leniency would mean that women are no longer viewed as impulsive and impetuous.

Women need to be treated equally in all facets of society; endorsing anything else is counterproductive and insulting.