Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I Hope That It's Because It's S***

As you're undeniably aware, this week, Amanda Knox, the wrongly accused murderer of Meredith Kercher by the Italian authorities has finally been acquitted of the charges, and, clearly shaken, disturbed, most certainly fragile, she has bravely returned to face the media circus - which had long settled upon the assumption of her being a crazed killer, her love of 'sex games' causing the tragedy - to speak about her ordeal. Speaking in Seattle on her return, signs point towards Post Traumatic Stress, as she quavered through half sobs and darting eyes:

'I'm really overwhelmed right now... I was looking down from the aeroplane and it seemed like everything wasn't real... thank you to everyone who believed in me... my family is the most important thing to me, and I really just want to go and be with them'

The event has shown up the cruelty and anti-feminist practices in action of many members of the press and their organisations, although, for the usual suspects, this has been approached with severely dubious tact; The Daily Mail took an unusual perspective on the story, distancing themselves whilst not entirely rejecting their earlier vilification of Knox, going with:

'She has matured into a very different young woman from the unappealingly self-absorbed figure we first saw smooching with her boyfriend when Meredith’s body was barely cold.'

Again, kudos to David Jones of the Daily Fail for going with: What now for Foxy? Dreams of being a mother, Hollywood millions and a new life as a professional martyr to injustice. Very observant Jones! More than me I must say, because I could have sworn she said she just wanted to go home, but I must have missed out on the subtle indications of dreams of sex, money, motherhood and sacrifice. Just as well since that's what you originally said she was all about... well, perhaps without the motherhood bit, but you were probably doubting that she could be allowed with children.

It's an unusual way to seem supportive, when all it makes me think of is William Thomas's The Unadjusted Girl (1923) which argued that because of men and women's unavoidably different biological personality traits, (because all women act like ladies... which really even in 1923 is a heap of BS - note the caught on camera Suffragettes of 1912) women are too busy wanting to lie on their backs and think of England to engage in criminal activity. When, however, a woman hasn't had enough attention and love, they use sex to get what they want, recklessly throwing aside dreams of domesticity for thrills, cash, and luxury; so if Jones argues Knox is a 'professional martyr to injustice', she sure still seems like a criminal.

It's long established Criminological fact that in criminal cases, where a woman is believed to have committed a crime which suggests she has stepped outside the roles of femininity, particularly if it represents a significant breach of normalcy for the submissive nature of motherhood and daughteronomy she is hit with the full, furious weight of the law. It is interesting to look at what even high class media publications such as Vanity Fair decided to select for print when the case broke in 2008, for the media's judgement of Knox has been in this case the more belligerent and insidious arbiter of the law, passing their verdict early on non-existent evidence. Painting her portrait from a combination of vague confessionals, Judy Bachrach uses Knox's 'high school drama teacher's confession, 'Let's lay it out: she wasn't a dazzler.', to Diya Patrick Lumumba - the oft described as 'innocent' man Knox would later under pressure implicate in the crime - happily telling Vanity, that in the bar she worked 'she spent most of her time chatting up guys and flirting'. Perhaps her lack of attention and love early in life meant she had to pursue sexual attentions and criminal actions? Gosh that profile seems to fit time and again...

Adding further to the profile of general weirdo, 'one of' Kercher's friends would tell the police to be printed in Vanity 'the first time I met her we were eating in a restaurant, when all of a sudden she began to sing in a loud voice. It was very strange and out of place.' I don't know about you reader, but if spontaneity and liberated expression is a legitimate precursor to 'extreme sex murder' (all VF btw ) then someone ought to either sew me up, or lock me up now.

Unsurprisingly, the ever wonderful Julia Kristeva can express my point more poetically than with my fresh annoyance on the point of this portraiture of a weirdo/criminal/sex fiend for strengthening the patriarchal order in About Chinese Women:

'If a woman cannot be part of the temporal symbolic order except by identifying with her father, it is clear that as soon as she shows any sign of that which, in herself, escapes such identification and acts differently, resembling the dream of the maternal body, she evolves into this 'truth' in question. It is thus that female specificity defines itself in patrilinear society: woman is a specialist in the unconscious, a witch, a bacchanalian, taking her jouissance in an anti-Apollonian, Dionysian orgy.' (154)

As Victor Burgin, less poetically, but perhaps more succinctly summarizes of Kristeva's philosophy of 'psycho-cultural otherness' in a description where Knox's transformation from the 'mousy' brunette scaring girls and luring men like a Siren in the bars of Italy, to 'Foxy Knox' (which will bring me back to my title, honest) is incredibly apt:

'... the woman in society... in the patriarchal, as perpetually at the boundary, the borderline, the edge, the 'outer limit' - the place where order shades into chaos, light into darkness. The peripheral and ambivalent position allocated to woman, says Kristeva, had led to that familiar division of the field of representation in which women are viewed as either saintly or demonic - according to whether they are seen as bringing the darkness or as keeping it out.' Geometry and Abjection 115-6

It seems that Knox has experienced this media transformation from 'bringing the darkness' to 'keeping out', from depraved 'unappealingly self self-absorbed' sex criminal to 'martyr to injustice'. Strangely then, the only figure who has had to make a public apology for his representation of Knox, is the ever enlightened Matthew Wright of The Wright Stuff who ran with Foxy Knoxy: Would Ya? on a recent episode in profoundly bad taste.

Wright's show not only served to play into this dialectic of psycho-cultural otherness, but served to severely attempt to undermine the entire question of double standards for women's position in law and media by reducing her to the level of sexual object, cruelly removed from any of the trials and tribulations which have reduced her to a traumatised and a confused woman, who once worked hard to meet her aspiration of becoming a teacher. It is not what Wright said, or more to the point what my lover Murdoch's Channel 5 sanctioned (indeed, Wright only apologises for 'the on-screen title was wrong, no doubt about it') that worries me, it is that Ofcom only made an investigation upon the basis of 15 complaints, an appallingly low amount of protest. This finally brings me back to my title, why is it so low? The choices surely are that either The Wright Stuff is a terrible programme for which 15 viewers would be an impressive amount, leaving a potential 100% complaint rate; and one could certainly argue this point quite strongly, or that simply his comments were simply out of time.

Considering the remaining memory of the Royal Wedding was Pippa Middleton's posterior, for which I have come across almost no complaint, it is only that Knox is now a recognised victim that the discussion was out of order, not that women should be belittled so much, their private bodies considered so much as publicly owned that there is nothing wrong in this discussion. I fear that this is in fact the culprit for the paltry amount of complaints, that the dialectic which exists of judging whether a woman is seen 'as bringing the darkness or as keeping it out' upon the basis of her looks (do I need to explain how this relates to Susan Boyle's 'transformation'?) is so well subconsciously accepted, that a woman must be a freshly traumatised individual to even elicit 15 complaints. Knox is a particularly vulnerable victim of this dialectic, but it is only her particular vulnerability which suggests that the conversation must be stopped. Women's bodies, lives, wounds are rightly there to be questioned, observed, and abused. Apparently.

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