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The True Crime Effect: Why is it capturing young women’s minds all over the globe?

By Kyle Hughes

True crime is captivating young women’s minds with its ability to focus on the details of real people and the actions that affected them. However, one question lays on the forefront of many minds, why is true crime so popular with young women?

UNSW students listen to a true crime podcast (Meg Wheelhouse and Rachael Ward)

Co-owner of the Australian True Crime podcast, Emily Webb, is one of many women who is fixated on true crime and the gory and often forgotten details found within. Alongside her co-host, Meshell Laurie, Emily tries to bring to light the graphics with direct questions and humour, focused on leaving no stone untouched.

“I think women are interested in the details. The reasons ‘why?’” says Emily Webb, co-host of the Australian True Crime podcast.

Webb believes that it is “an ingrained sense” in women. “We have to take a bit of extra care about how we move around in the world. It’s not right that we have to do this but it’s reality.”

According to OurWatch, it is statistically proven that women face higher rates of violence and as an outcome, have more thoughts on the effects of violence on them. This might be a leading reason as to why young women are attracted to true crime media.

“When I am walking the dog at night I am super conscious of my surroundings”, says Emily Webb.

“When I travelled overseas I was extra careful and when I use public transport I am always scoping out the train platform, or carriage to look for any signs of risk to myself or my children.”

Webb, isn’t the only person fixated on the answer to ‘why’?

Professor of Writing at the University of Technology Sydney, John Dale has conducted extensive research on true crime, with 3 crime books having been published as a result.

John Dale, having also done a memoir investigating the murder of his grandfather in 1940’s Tasmania, gives further insight into the ‘why’ question involving true crime and its hold on young women.

“True crime feels more real than fiction crime does,’ says John Dale.

Dale also believes that there is a “flirting with danger” type element that might draw young women in.

“With True Crime it is often a female who is the victim”, says Dale. “It can be more relatable as it directly affects the young female”.

According to ABC News, true crime allows women to be seen as “complex figures” and thus, “more and more writers are now increasingly focused on the human cost of crime”.

The idea of true crime focusing on the “human cost of crime” may be what draws young women in.

However, the consequences of watching too much true crime media is a point that John Dale believes is important.

“I think a problem of true crime is that it isn’t a true reflection of our society,” Dale says. “It can affect your perception and perspective of things”.

Despite the potential consequence of watching too much true crime media, young females are captivated by the mysterious world of crime and the story of the victims.

A survey conducted with young women and their obsession on true crime media.

A survey was produced and conducted, gathering the details of 46 young women who are obsessed with true crime. The survey covered the ‘why’ factor as to why they are obsessed with true crime media as well as what true crime media they consume.

The highest number was “documentaries” coming to a total of 28%, closely followed by “TV shows” at a total of 27%, and “podcasts” at a total of 22%.

“I feel like watching them could help me be prepared if anything were to ever happen although I’d rather not test that theory,” one survey responder says.

Another survey participant says, “there a puzzle that you don’t have to solve, but you can watch it all unfold from the periphery without you yourself getting involved.”

Survey participants also gave insight into why they think young women are the great true crime audience consumers.

“Most women I know are more interested in crime than male friends and I think it’s because they’re more empathic”, says one participant.

Another participant says, “Women as they are more aware of the issues of true crime and often fall victims to such [acts of violence]”.

Another true crime podcast has also formed to explore the details of victims. This time from ACT, Australia, 19-year-old podcast host Olivia De Jong seeks to further the conversation into what true crime and the stories found within.

Olivia’s new podcast series, titled “The Veils of Innocence” seeks to swap the template and explore female perpetrators instead.

Host of newly created true crime podcast, “The Veils of Innocence”, Olivia De Jong.


“If you look at a lot of crimes that are committed by women, a lot of those women had a history of abuse in their life so there is that sort of cycle,” says Olivia.

“The Veils of Innocence” seeks to unravel the ‘why’ factor in a different way. It tries to understand why women have conducted the crimes and what were the causes.

“I think it’s really interesting and I think it’s important that we research these things, we learn about these things and we engage with them because it does help us to regain a sense of control and power over something that is intimidating”, says Olivia.

“The Veils of Innocence” was inspired by popular American true crime podcast, “My Favourite Murder”.

Boasting over 200000 members in their Facebook group, and having remained in the “Top 10 Global Itunes Charts”, My Favourite Murder can be acknowledged as one of the driving reasons behind why women are so addicted to true crime.

Co-hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, both speak about true crime in a way that ensures the truth is spilt and many laughs are to be had.

With their slogan carrying a humorous role focusing on a serious topic, “ Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered” or “SSDGM” is captivating women internationally.

Co-hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark doing a live performance for their famous true crime podcast, “My Favourite Murder”. Photographer: Joseph Schwartz.

With varying ways on how to get the stories of both victims and perpetrators into the open, true crime is dominating globally and the audience is only going to grow. However, the question still stands.

Why are young women so drawn to true crime media?