Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Patriarchy vs. Amanda Knox

Now 30, Amanda looks like she's aged about 20 years in 6. 
Like many of you I decided to Netflix and Chill with a rather unnerving documentary that was just released yesterday simply titled Amanda Knox. We all, or most of us, remember this scandal. To us American folk, we saw it quite differently from how Italians saw it. We know bits and pieces here and there, and almost kind of know what happened, but this documentary is not so much about the crime, but about the titular character and what she had to endure. 
'Foxy Knoxy' as her friends called her decided to study abroad her second year of college in Perugia, Italy, a small provincial yet beautiful town in Umbria. She very quickly caught the attention of an awkward but pretty engineering student; Rafaelle Sollecito. They had a whirlwind romance of 5 days which culminated with them sleeping together at his place. The next morning this 20 year old woke up to just about the worst news anyone could; her British roommate Meredith Kercher had been brutally murdered in the dorm they shared together, with her body still there, and blood everywhere. 
Where people got suspicious of Amanda was that she didn't call the police immediately and in fact showered, changed, and hung out a bit before she realized there was a body in the other room. 
We all remember when the media descended on the dorm and outside of it there was Amanda and Rafaelle making out. Most saw this as bizarre behavior, like she couldn't give two shits, which she explains in the documentary was actually a comfort from someone she cared about in a time of crisis. 
We all have different ways of dealing with shock, and this was hers. 

The infamous kiss outside the crime scene that the media saw is extremely weird ....understandably so, but c'mon.
The government of Perugia didn't see it that way, and charged both Knox and Sollecito with first degree murder, with the former barely able to speak Italian, held without a lawyer for days of questioning without the use of a bathroom or food. She finally broke in what we here in the states would call a 'coerced confession', and after a very short trial both were found guilty and sentenced to 26 years and 25 years respectfully. 
Where it gets really sick is that the judge, who is featured heavily in the documentary; a self-proclaimed devout Catholic (not that there's anything wrong with that) and a Sherlock Holmes aficionado, had dreamt up a scenario where Amanda was in the middle of some kind of Satanic orgy when Meredith walked in on her and paid the ultimate price. We now know that what actually happened was a violent burglary; poor Meredith was home alone when two men broke into the dorm, sexually assaulted her and killed her. But the judge still ...still believes his ridiculous Satanic ritual theory as if he has Rosemary's Baby on a loop in his head. This leads me to a very vicious double standard forced on Amanda Knox which made her spend 4 years of her life without a lawyer, and without support, in an Italian jail, to which she refers as 'the dark place'. 
When defending herself she said something extremely important and resonant; 'I was sexually active, I was not sexually deviant'. It's sad to think that those two are mutually exclusive when it comes to women...perhaps not all women, but certainly for Knox. 

Foxy Knoxy as a happy 19 year old with a sparkle in her eye, in her hometown of Seattle. 
At her appeal, it was found that the judge was kind of a ridiculous sycophant, misogynist, and an overall crazy person. Also, there was heavy tampering with the crime scene, and both Sollecito and Knox's convictions were overturned. Thus ending the saga of a whole patriarchal state of mind against an innocent girl. She returned to Seattle in tears and disappeared from the spotlight, until she reappeared for this documentary. But it wasn't over. Apparently that same judge wanted her blood so badly that he petitioned for her to be extradited back to Italy for a second trial, to which the American government gave the finger. She was at last exonerated completely after two more years. On the whole, this scandal lasted for 9 years of Amanda's life. Yes her behavior was strange, yes she was promiscuous, does that make her a cold blooded killer? According to the government of Perugia, yes it did. 
When she begins the documentary, she says that; 'if I am guilty, it means that I am the ultimate figure to fear, but if I'm innocent that means that everyone is vulnerable. Either I'm a psychopath in sheep's clothing, or I am' Those words basically sum it all up; Because she was young, beautiful, and rather odd, she paid a price of 4 years behind bars. 'Femme fatale', 'heartless manipulator', 'concertante of sex' ...even if these were true they don't spell murderer to me. 

Seconds after hearing that the Supreme Court of Perugia had overturned her conviction. 
Because I'm a woman, I think what happened to her was one of the greatest injustices and miscarriages of the criminal justice system. There is still a double standard where we as women are not just labeled whores for our sexual behaviors, (which are by the way are nobody's business) but can be put to prison for them. I believed in her innocence from the beginning and you're free to disagree with me. But, I believe a large part of her struggle was just because she was beautiful, sexually active, talked a lot about sex, and not much else. Would we for a second combine those traits with the premonition or heartless killer if it were a man? I doubt it. 
Anyway, I'm going to get off my soap box, and just recommend you watch it. As a documentary it's very engrossing and competently made. Even if you think you know the story, you don't know all of it. 

Below, trailer: 

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