Crime Curious (part 2): The True Crime Female Paradigm, Paranoia and Amateur Hour
Nov 16th, 2021
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Neil Blakemore - joins us again for episode two and explores more expereiences being involved in the notorious True Crime expose : The Staircase and lends a hand at informing more details behind the trend in True Crime.
The True Crime Female Paradigm:
There have been a few studies over the years - looking at the gender ratio in true crime media - from books to podcasts it has been consistently weighing heavily on women as the most avid consumers - which I like to call the True Crime Female Paradigm - a 2018 study that found that 73 percent of true crime podcast listeners are women.
And although a slightly outdated number - According to a 2010 study by Social Psychological and Personality Science women dramatically outnumber men as consumers of true crime, hypothesising that women may be especially drawn to this type of genre as a subconscious way of regaining control over the real-life or perceived threats they face. By visualizing how they might react or get away in a similar situation to the one that’s happening on-screen, murder shows may provide them with a worst-case scenario dress rehearsal of sorts; one that helps prepare them for the unthinkable.
Interestingly also - Women make up a relatively small percentage of law enforcement jobs, but they’re 78 percent of forensics students in the United States, more than double their rate in other science fields.
In a fascinating read from Mother Jones - writer P.E. MOSKOWITZ came out with a really interesting view on the genre titled True Crime Is Cathartic for Women. It’s Also Cop Propaganda
I am going to quote Moskowitz here who says: “While there are popular shows that investigate mistakes made by cops and judges, the vast majority treat the police as undeniable heroes, and frame punishment and imprisonment as a form of feminism: If only more men were behind bars, women could begin to thrive. Evil is out there. It’s okay to call the police.
The rap on true crime is that it’s a form of rubbernecking, a way to gawk at other people’s misfortune. But that’s not entirely right. True crime validates; it allows us to feel collectively what we’re often not allowed to discuss in public: Men are fucking scary, the world is fucking scary, and we have every fucking right to be scared. This is not to excuse the genre’s moral defects; it’s only to point out that the failings of true crime podcasts do not lie in their basic premise—that women are harmed by men—because that is undoubtedly true. The problem is in their assumption that increased awareness, surveillance, policing, and imprisonment are the remedies. The problem is true crime’s politics.
Which leads me right into this idea - that all this true crime is making people - particularly women Paranoid.
So Gawker reports in this great article called True Crime is Rotting Our Brains that Amanda turned me onto - and the writer Emma Berquist (who herself was a victim of a violent, random knifing) explores the paranoia that has evolved from True Crime - even though crime has been dropping since the 90’s - where we are currently about a ⅓ the crime rate and actually men statistically are more likely to be involved in a homicide in the US!
Neil was even convinced that something has happened to his neighbor and has concocted an elaborate story of intrigue - as we heard them fighting a few weeks ago and he hasn’t seen her since...but has seen her boyfriend driving her car around and the windows of their place are all blacked out. So - a classic case of true-crime influenced suspicious situations. Of course neil recently saw her walking her dog in the neighborhood so….
I am quoting Emma here from the arcle who announces that : “Stay sexy don’t get murdered,” is the tagline of one of the most popular true crime podcasts, as if being murdered is a choice women make, or a risk that can be avoided if we’re just smart enough. Women aren’t stupid; we don’t walk down dark alleys alone while wearing stilettoes and lamenting loudly about how no one would miss us if we disappeared. We all take precautions, we lock our doors and let our friends know where we’re going. “Be aware of your surroundings and don’t trust strangers” is not particularly helpful advice for avoiding the one scenario in which women are most likely to actually be murdered: by their partner. It’s victim blaming dressed up in empowerment; no one questions someone killed in a car accident, but if a woman is murdered her story becomes a precaution.”
Beyond just entertainment value - we have seen that several of these documentaries and podcasts have shed new light on cold cases, stirred up dormant dramas and actually lead to arrests. From either the investigative prowess of the host securing testimonies and witnesses, exposing and unearthing clues to the and armchair detectives that have solved cases.
In april of 2021 - Police investigating the disappearance of Kristin Smart arrested Paul Flores after interviewing new witnesses found through the popular eight-part podcast Your Own Backyard.
The Murder Squad podcast was credited with helping to close a 40-year-old cold case. Through the attention of the podcast, a listener was compelled to upload their DNA to a database. That DNA helped lead investigators to the murderer.
In 2020, a convicted serial killer confessed to another murder on the podcast Where the Bodies Are Buried. In 2018, a husband was charged with his wife’s murder after the Australian podcast The Teacher’s Pet brought renewed attention to the case.
Digging deeper here into these Armchair detectives - One of the most fascinating effects of true crime is the raging community of Amateur slueths. They comb through instagram profiles, available clues, videos, etc - often times acting as crowd sourced investigations all happening in online forums.
I think one of the most fascinating aspects of that are the people who literally quit their jobs to focus their efforts full time on an investigation - you see this happen in a lot of these true crime investigations that have the help of community members - I feel like there is always someone who has quit their job! Like it is practically an obsession and worthy of dropping everything in your life. I know that some cases are grateful for such dedication and some of the people have banned together and actually solved cases - Like Don’t Fuck with Cats is all about this style of creative and inventive Amateur Slueths pieceing evidence together and solving a murder.
To Live and Die in L.A
Root of evil
Dead and gone
Missing and murdered
Up and Vanished