Dehumanized in Death: Representations of Murdered Women in American True Crime Podcasts

Jessica Lang, Audrey Alejandro


How do American true crime podcasts represent women victims of murder? Emerging research shows that the podcast storytelling format can produce more personal and compassionate discourse, potentially countering the overall harmful representations of the true crime genre. However, research focusing on the representation of women victims of violence in the podcast genre has so far been limited. Based on a discourse analysis of 14 popular true crime podcast episodes released between 2014 and 2021, we identified that the murdered women in the podcasts are represented as part of a dehumanized group who are complicit in their deaths and who serve as a cautionary tale for other women. Based on these findings, we argue that although podcasts’ discursive dynamics can potentially introduce alternative representations of the victims based on social group identification and self-reflexivity, overall, American true crime podcasts align with dominant representations and discourses about stigmatized victims.


representation, true crime, podcast, immersive storytelling, women, media, victim, victim blaming, crimes, discourse analysis

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