Historian Lucy Worsley discusses female representation in crime dramas

Historian Lucy Worsley says it is ‘distasteful’ that women are often the victim in crime dramas and wants to shift the focus to female murderers

Lucy Worsley has spoken out about female representation in crime dramas, saying it’s ‘distasteful’ that women are often the victim. 

The historian believes that placing ‘dead, naked young women at the heart of crime dramas’ is owing to the media looking at women ‘through the eyes of men.’ 

The 48-year-old, who is often the face of BBC programmes on historical topics, wants to switch the focus from helpless young female victims to female murderers in history.   

Historian: Lucy Worsley has spoken out about female representation in crime dramas, saying it’s ‘distasteful’ that women are often the victim (pictured December 2018)

Lucy told Radio Times: ‘It might surprise you to learn how important murderesses have been in the development of the whole idea of women’s history. 

‘Sometimes a woman in the dock could say things that were otherwise unsayable in Victorian society, things like, “He shouldn’t have hit me”, or “I was desperate because my children were hungry”.’ 

Last December, Lucy revealed she would put women in charge of money to avoid war and invest more in education, if she were in charge of the future.

Speaking out: The historian believes that placing ‘dead, naked young women at the heart of crime dramas’ is owing to the media looking at women ‘through the eyes of men’ (pictured 2020)

Speaking to Good Housekeeping as they celebrated their 100th anniversary, the British presenter looked at the last century of women’s lives – delving into the history and how it has since developed.

The joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces also branded it ‘unthinkable’ that women were expected to give up their job on getting married in the 1920s, and admitted that would have ‘bothered her’.

Speaking about what she’d like to see change for women in the coming decades, she said: ‘I would actually put women in charge of the world’s money: I think we’d see very different spending priorities, such as less on war, more on education.’  

Opinions: Last December, Lucy revealed she would put women in charge of money to avoid war and invest more in education, if she were in charge of the future

And addressing the lack of women’s choices 100 years ago, Lucy said:  ‘People being worried about me working. I mean, that seems so restricting – giving up your job when you got married, which women used to have to do. It seems unthinkable. 

‘This is what would bother me personally, but what about not having a vote, what about not having birth control? Things have really come on in 100 years. We feel like we know the 1920s because we see it depicted in films, but people had a very different mentality then.’

Lucy praised ‘more choices in life’ as the main change in women’s rights – but argued it’s ‘not wide enough yet.’ 

Having her say: The joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces also branded it ‘unthinkable’ that women were expected to give up their job on getting married in the 1920s (pictured 2021)

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