UPDATE: This post was first published June 3, 2013. Since then, the guilty verdict against Amanda Knox has been reinstated. (She insists she is innocent.)


Throughout history many – if not most – cultures have perpetuated the myth of the evil woman. Television presenter, journalist and bestselling crime novelist Tara Moss discusses evil women, female criminals and the demonisation of the female gender: from Eve and Pandora to Elizabeth Bathory, Amanda Knox and Paula Broadwell for The Wheeler Centre, in her talk Deadlier Than The Male – The Myth of the Evil Woman.

Watch the video now:


Women are a necessary evil, the famous proverb says.

Pandora – the first woman on earth, created by a male god (Hephaestus) on the order of a male god (Zeus), as a wife for a male (Epimetheus) – was perhaps not the ideal first love. She famously opened that box – in fact a jar – back in the days of ancient Greece, letting all the evil into the world.

From her is the race of women and female kind: 
of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who 
live amongst mortal men to their great trouble, 
no helpmates in hateful poverty, but only in wealth. – From Hesiod’s Theogony (8th-7th century BC)

Eve – the first woman on earth, created by a male god from a man’s rib as a gift for a male (Adam) – was also not without flaws. She sought the Tree of Knowledge and famously bit into that apple in the Garden of Eden, ending Paradise and letting all the evil into the world.

And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done?

– Genesis 3:13.

Perhaps if Adam had met some Greeks, he would have known what was coming.

Eve and Pandora were the first bad girls, and ever since, women have been linked in the popular consciousness with the concept of sin and their sins with sex.

Mae West once quipped that there are ‘no good girls gone wrong, only bad girls found out.’ And she has a point, if you consider that Eve’s sin was to ‘eat from the Tree of knowledge.’ The Good Girl standard then, of passivity, obedience, lack of curiosity about flora and fauna, (including speaking snakes) and a general disinterest in knowledge, would surely make being ‘a good girl’ a near impossibility. And not much fun, by the sounds of it.

If you believe women to be morally weak, as did Freud, who wrote that we possess ‘little sense of justice’, or the Greek philosopher Plato, who in Timaeus offers that women are the reincarnation of men who have lived evil lives, and as such, are morally flawed…well, no wonder women can’t be trusted, and men need to be ashamed of their emotions, as they so often lead them to women and therefore to their own demise.

Sherlock Holmes – that popular fictional character of great logic and high intelligence, was very clear on the matter of that other gender:

“Women are never to be entirely trusted, not the best of them,” he warned.

Hear the rest at The Wheeler Centre online.