Visitors enjoy the Femme Fatale exhibition at the Justice & Police Museum Photo © Carmen Lee Platt / encapture photography for Sydney Living Museums

Femme Fatale: the female criminal

Wicked women, seductive sinners, vicious vixens – the female criminal is portrayed in many guises in popular culture, myth, literature and history but what do these stereotypes tell us about women and crime?

Australian authorities have grappled with how to control wayward women from the moment raucous female convicts stepped ashore. The brutal reality of notorious female criminals such as ‘the man woman murderer’ Eugenia Falleni, sly grogger Kate Leigh and poisoner Yvonne Fletcher is in stark contrast to the glamour of the noir seductress and pulp novel siren. This exhibition examines these extremes, traversing criminological theory, popular culture and case studies.

Listen to a selection of interviews with people who once knew Kate Leigh, as featured in the ABC Radio National 'Hindsight' feature Wild and Wicked - Sydney's Women of the Underworld(1999).


7 March 2009 - 18 April 2010