Why do we love true crime?

My obsession with true crime came long before podcasts. I often fell asleep to the sound of Robert Stack’s voice. I remember a summer between 5th and 6th grade walking to the library in my small town and checking out all the books about the JFK Assassination. It was the first time I remember knowing what murder was. I needed to know the how and the why of it happening. I never remember caring much about the actual cause of death. Over the next 3 decades I rapidly consumed every form of true crime that was coming at me. I think I’ve seen every episode of Forensic Files, I’m up to date on all my podcasts, I read all the books, I am literally the person that will stop dead in my tracks at the announcement of a serial killer being caught. But why?

I was recently watching one of the latest Ted Bundy documentaries while I was simultaneously working. I caught something referencing the time periods in which he was killing, the 1970s. I didn’t think much about it. It has since marinated in my brain over the last few weeks. Then it hit me…

The women of the 70’s had it all. The perfect high-rise jeans, great hair, careers were being opened up to them that never were before, mixed race relationships were being accepted and educational opportunities were exploding! They had freedom and choice, and many enjoyed the hell out of it. But like every other generation before and after they would be misled. Their naivety would be exploited. The would assist a grown ass man with a cast on, because it was the polite thing to do. They would agree to pose for a creepy man with a camera because he told her she was beautiful and could make a model out of her with a few skeevy shots. These women would hitchhike!!!

But the women of the 70’s were naïve in their freedoms. The truth is the patriarchy was still in control, we just wanted that cheese in the trap so bad that we didn’t see the trap.

This little epiphany of mine made me consider about why I am obsessed with true crime. I’m not alone here. There are Murderinos everywhere. I don’t know why each of us is obsessed, but I do know that the majority of us are women. Again why?

More women are obsessed with true crime than men, yet men are often the ones murdering women. Is it that men can’t face what their fellow man is doing to these women? Is it that they feel guilt for something they have done to a woman? Or is it that it isn’t them getting murdered so it isn’t their problem?

Oh, I do know that more men are being killed than women each year. They’re also being killed be men. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to just go ahead and skip over the menfolk that are being murdered each year. I don’t have time, I’m busy raising two men to not be murderers or rapists or general assholes in a culture that keeps telling them to be a man without any definition of what that actually means.

For me the 2 worst things I can be is boring and naïve. I can do a million things to assure I am not boring in the span of a day. The only things I feel I can do to not be naïve is learn. How do I learn to not be murdered? I learn about murder. I listen to several podcasts a week about murders and true crime. I listen closely to what the victim did wrong to assure myself there is no way I would be murdered. I sure as shit am not parking next to any vans or helping some dude with a cast. I am aware that this sounds like victim blaming. It isn’t. The truth is when I put myself in the killers shoes I know what I would do, NOT KILL! When I look at it through the eyes of the victim I have to ability to see the situation differently. I consume true crime to make myself feel like I have the knowledge to know what I would do faced with these insane situations. There is more to my why though.

I am writing this in between calls and texts from friends, coworkers and family all wondering what we should do about the coronavirus. It is morbid, but it is true, sometimes I turn to true crime to distract me and remind myself that shit can always get worse. I am not trapped in a box under a bed for SEVEN years. I have had both of my arms chopped off and thrown in a ditch crawling up an embankment. Murder is awful. Rape is awful. Abuse if awful. The people that survive these things are amazing and inspiring. I need to hear their stories. I love hearing of the strength that got the women held by Ariel Castro through each day for a decade. Women are fragile. We aren’t usually as physically strong as men. Women are smart. We are resilient. We are strong. We know how to fight. We need to remember all of this and in the words of my hero Karen Kilgarif: “We barely get any time on this planet. Do not spend it pleasing other people. Fuck politeness. Live life exactly how you want to live it so you can love the life you make for yourself.”

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