WHY ARE WOMEN OBSESSED WITH TRUE CRIME?
There’s a hilarious sketch from SNL that parodies women’s obsession with true crime (It’s called Murder Show, worth a watch). The women sit around singing about how they casually watch horrifying and graphic retellings of true crime while they do mundane, life admin tasks like fold laundry and pay taxes, it’s their “relaxing time”. It seems like an odd combination but I’m guessing it doesn’t feel that foreign to you, because anyone with ears and the slightest attention span can see that true crime stories have taken over most mediums, and you can’t search for new podcast, television show or book without being given gruesome recommendations.
You’re also probably not surprised to hear that it’s mostly women consuming this genre. But why? As a long time fan of true crime (as a child I used to say I wanted to be a blood splatter expert, is that normal?), I’ve always found a weird comfort in true crime stories, but it only occurred to me in my adult years as to why that is. Being a classic #dork growing up (a badge I wear proudly), I always had my head in a book, so being fascinated with all stories, even disturbing ones, didn’t seem like that much of a leap. But it turns out it’s so much more than that.
The first reason to note is it gives women a sense of community. I know, sounds weird, but we all know the dangers of being a woman in society, we have a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted here in the UK, we’re more likely to be killed by someone we know than a stranger, and we’re brought up the classic tropes about “boys only wanting one thing” accompanied by how to use your keys as tiny shives. We hear stories about women being attacked almost daily, but knowing we’re not in this alone, that the collective feels uneasy walking to their car alone at night the way we do, makes it a little easier.
Secondly, we’re pragmatic. This is basically a reconnaissance mission for us. We watch these shows and take mental notes about what to look out for in a potential attacker, how the victim fell into their trap, and how they managed to escape if they did. We deep dive into the attacker's childhood, mental diagnoses, sometimes we go as far as analysing their diet. I don’t know about you, but I can say I’ve learned countless tricks from listening to true crime podcasts, and now if I ever feel threatened or slightly wary of someone, I “fuck politeness” as My Favorite Murder hosts Karen and Georgia say and get the hell out of there while taking a mental note of their approx. height, age, and clothes just in case.
And lastly, we care about each other. We listen to these horrific retellings because we want the victims' stories to be heard and not forgotten. So often when reporting crime, people focus on the attacker, with the victim becoming collateral damage along the way. We’re not here for this, we want the thousands of women taken too early to live on in a small way, and we do this by knowing and preserving their stories.
Written by Laura Coggles