By Stina Chyn | September 6, 2003

Society traditionally views the struggle for equal rights between men and women as a matter of equal standing in the workplace. While most people completely accept and embrace women as judges, law enforcers, politicians, biochemical engineers, and soldiers, there is still one area filled with discrepancies. You’d most likely believe that a woman would steal, write bad checks, or be an accomplice to a more serious crime like armed robbery. What about murder or sexual assault? Would you buy that a woman could execute a premeditated murder or knowingly commit acts of sexual abuse with or without a partner’s help? Infamous females such as The Countess of Bathory, Lizzie Borden, Bonnie Parker, and Amy Fischer, who were given either judicial or vigilante justice, have surely helped open society’s mind to the notion that women are capable of illegal and or immoral acts.
Glynis Whiting’s documentary “When Girls Do It: An Examination of Female Sexual Predators” explores the reality of female sexual offending. Produced in association with CTV, Canada’s leading broadcast communications company, Whiting’s film introduces the idea that women can be sexually deviant, both morally and criminally. Like the “special story” segments of familiar American news shows such as Dateline NBC, 20/20, and Prime Time Live, “When Girls Do It” conveys a specific message, includes footage from a variety of sources, and breaks for commercials in expected places. The only component missing is a serious Stone Phillips or Diane Sawyer providing transitional narration.
The documentary begins with a brief discussion of the circumstances behind the 1997 arrest of teenager Crystal Hendricks in northern British Columbia. Utilizing Crystal’s story as a springboard, “When Girls Do It” illustrates the very real, very serious topic of the ways in which a female can sexually abuse another human being. Whiting interviews Canadian forensic psychologist Dr. Randy L. Atkinson and Don Wright, the Executive Director of the British Columbia Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse. They both offer insights into what categories of female sexual offenders exist and why an abused male would hesitate to inform anyone about his abuser.
Whiting’s documentary runs for 100 minutes and was broadcasted on Canadian television (which explains the presence of fade-to-blacks, signaling a commercial break). The piece is very informative and is engaging enough to maintain the viewer’s interest. But, it isn’t the sort of documentary that you would want to watch again. It isn’t an issue of content; rather it’s more about the material. If you’ve ever made or helped with the making of a documentary (or any kind of film for that matter), you know how difficult it is to cut out everything but the bare essentials. “When Girls Do It” starts with the right kind of attitude and presentation. At the halfway mark, though, it’s as if Whiting has become so engrossed with the footage that she cannot bear to part with the ten to fifteen minutes of sexually abused males relating their stories in group therapy session.
Whiting takes on a very ambitious but necessary endeavor with “When Girls Do It,” and she does it as best as she can. She argues that girls can do bad things and they must be held responsible for their actions. This piece isn’t Whiting’s first documentary nor should it be her last. Her pacing may need some tweaking, but she has a keen mind for important social issues that need addressing.

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