Amanda Knox: Victim of “Outlandish” Misogyny

An emotional Amanda Knox and her mother at press conference in Seattle

Thank goodness, Amanda Knox is finally free! Apparently the Prosecutors in Perugia still plan to appeal, but the U.S. should never allow her to be returned to Italy. Years ago, I read a long piece in the NYT about this case, and I was horrified at the accusations that were hurled at this young woman. I never thought she would be convicted in the first place, and that it took this long for the conviction to be reversed is an outrage.

Knox was a victim of anti-Americanism, as Joseph Cannon wrote, but most of all she was a victim of fear and hatred of the feminine. There’s a very good article in the LA Times today by Nina Burleigh that I think most women can identify with, although the misogyny and superstition behind the Knox conviction were extremely bizarre. Burleigh writes:

There was almost no material evidence linking Knox or her boyfriend to the murder, and no motive, while there was voluminous evidence — material and circumstantial — implicating a third person, a man, whose name one almost never read in accounts of the case. It became clear that it wasn’t facts but Knox — her femaleness, her Americaness, her beauty — that was driving the case.

In person, in prison and in the media, Knox was subjected to all manner of outlandish, misogynistic behavior. A prison “doctor” (he has never stepped forward publicly) tested a sample of Knox’s blood and then informed her she was HIV-positive, prompting Knox to list every man she’d had sex with. Authorities passed the names of seven men to reporters from the British tabloid pack, who printed it. Soon thereafter, Knox was told the doctor was mistaken and she didn’t have AIDS.

Outside prison walls, Italian criminologists were opining in the media and eventually on the witness stand that because the body had been covered with a blanket, the killer was surely female because such an act was evidence of feminine “pieta.”

Finally, there were the prosecution’s operatic closing arguments, repeated almost verbatim in the appeal that ended last week. Knox was a “luciferina” — a she-devil — capable of a special, female duplicity. She was “dirty on the inside.” Always, even from the defense lawyers, the closing arguments ended with appeals to God, in a medieval courtroom with a peeling fresco of the Madonna on the wall and a crucifix hanging above the judge.

Long story short: Knox returned from visiting her boyfriend on the night after Halloween in 2007 to find her roommate Meredith Kercher raped and murdered. Although, as Nina Burleigh points out in the LA Times article linked above, 1 in 5 women in Europe have been sexually assaulted and 98% of the perpetrators are men, Knox and her boyfriend were immediately suspected.

A local man, Rudy Guede, was convicted of the crime in 2008. But that wasn’t good enough for the prosecutor. He made up a story out of whole cloth: the story of an American girl who was a “witch” and had masterminded the Satanic rape and murder of her roommate. Never mind that Knox was a naive young woman who hadn’t even had a boyfriend until she was 19. She had dreamed all her life of going to college in Italy, and had worked multiple jobs during high school to save up the money to go to Perugia. What possible motive could she have had to organize this horrible crime just a a couple of months after she had achieved her dream?

Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini

From the New York Post, another article by Nina Burleigh:

The story of Amanda Knox in Italy is of media, misogyny, mistranslation, misbehavior — but chiefly superstition. Kercher’s death was a terrible but simple act of sexual aggression against a young woman in her home. Yet while a prosecutor in the United States might see only the forensic evidence, the motives and the opportunity — the small-town Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini saw something more. It was a Halloween crime, and that was one of the first clues to register with Mignini, called to the crime scene fresh from celebrating All Souls’ Day, a day when proper Italian families visit their dead.

And on scene was a pale, light-eyed 20-year-old girl who, prosecutors said in their closing arguments last week, had the look of a “she-devil.”

Mignini always included witch fear in his murder theory, and only reluctantly relinquished it. As late as October 2008, a year after the murder, he told a court that the murder “was premeditated and was in addition a ‘rite’ celebrated on the occasion of the night of Halloween. A sexual and sacrificial rite [that] in the intention of the organizers … should have occurred 24 hours earlier” — on Halloween itself — “but on account of a dinner at the house of horrors, organized by Meredith and Amanda’s Italian flatmates, it was postponed for one day.”

Unbelievable! Read the entire article for some startling insights into the roots of Mignini’s fantasies. I guess we should be grateful that church and state are still somewhat separate in the U.S., but for how long?

Finally, yesterday Knox was freed. Here’s the scene in the courtroom:

Knox arrived in Seattle earlier today, where she spoke to supporters:

“I’m a little overwhelmed right now,” Knox said, adding that looking down from the airplane on her flight home was surreal.

“Thanks to everyone who believed in me, who has defended me, who supported my family,” Knox said before tearing up. “My family’s the most important thing right now and i just want to go be with them.”

Knox then appeared to be too overcome with emotions to continue.

I wish her well, and hope she’ll be able to recover from her nightmarish experience. Meanwhile, we have another example of the extreme misogyny that is still so powerful around the world. Dakinikat gave us another reminder in her post about earlier today. We know from what happened to Hillary in 2008 and the attacks on women’s reproductive freedom that have taken place over the past few years that fear and hatred of women is right below the surface here in the U.S. as well.

15 Comments on “Amanda Knox: Victim of “Outlandish” Misogyny”

  1. northwestrain says:

    The Seattle press has been covering this story — you’ve found details that I’ve not read before. Ages ago I spent a summer in Europe — women were told to avoid Italy because so many women in youth hostels were raped. I talked with one of the rape survivors — the attitude of the Italian police — well it could not have possibly been rape.

    The witching trials of the dark ages are alive and well — especially if you are a female American — and even more prejudice — an American from the Northwest. We are just so primitive and well so different from the sophisticated Europeans.

    But then if we look at the sexual practices of the Italians — many Italians are into BSDM and recently one nitwit strung two women up in a parking lot. He was into some sort of Japanese knot tying — strangling — boarder line near death experience for enhanced sex. One woman fainted and managed to strangle the other woman. Nitwit male — supposedly very experienced Sadist gave the other woman the ultimate trip — death.

    It will be interesting to see how the press covers this story — or if he gets away with manslaughter.

    Since so many Italians are into vile forms of sex (I’m being judgement, I know) it isn’t hard to understand that a old man prosecutor believes that Americans, especially female Americans are as depraved as the Italians.

    Knox is lucky — at least burning at the stake is out of fashion (for now) in Europe.

    • bostonboomer says:

      She is lucky, in a way, but she spent four years in prison. The U.S. should never permit her to be extradited back there–no matter what they charge her with.

    • Owen says:

      Isn’t Italy the place where a judge said that if a woman was wearing jeans she couldn’t be raped, she ‘wanted’ it??

  2. boogieman7167 says:

    yea this was a crazy trial she got screewd royally

  3. Branjor says:

    So glad she has been freed! It is scary that she was convicted and sentenced based on female-phobic demonology rather than on evidence. How many more women are rotting in Italian prisons and in prisons in other countries based on the same hate, fear, ignorance and superstition?

    • bostonboomer says:

      Good point. I’m surprised they didn’t just dunk her in water to see if she would drown. It’s frightening. If you read that article from the NY Post, you’ll be horrified by the superstitions of the prosecutor and other law enforcment people.

      The investigation was a joke. Can you believe they left Kercher’s blood-soaked sweater at the bottom of a clothes hamper for 46 days before it was discovered?

  4. Boo Radly says:

    Could one call it primordial misogyny – unhinged by fear – primordial feelings are very strong and seem to come from the part of people’s character that is ancient and animal-like:

    Our descent seems to have hit warp speed globally – return to full blown cave mentality. I had no idea there was no evidence in this case. The Kercher family has my sympathy for their terrible loss. And then the Knox family was brutalized too.

    BB – thanks for bringing all these details to light, I always look forward to your input on crime. There was so much interest in this case – one wonders how it could have gone so wrong. Justice is hard to find.

  5. Allison says:

    Hey – sorry late to the party as usual….

    I haven’t read the linked article yet – but it would be interesting if it mentions Magnini’s prosecution of a very famous serial murder case in Italy years ago – Il Mostro. There is a Wiki entry for it and a very good true crime book written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs – “The Monster of Florence”.

    Basically this Magnini guy pulled out all the same ridiculous reasoning to go after the wrong guy. They never did find the real killer – who killed 16 people.

    • paper doll says:

      Very interesting: this pulling shit out of your ass instead of gathering and looking at the evidence. Fits in with the current austerity program nicely . Who needs investigators?! Guilt or innocence is not important it seems…just who is easy and in the head lights . Someone must answer for the crime…but it need not be person who did it

  6. paper doll says:

    Terrific post…it’s for all the reasons you stated and also the fact Italy must bow to us in most matters , but they can whale on this US female to show they are not subservient to America! (particularly since they are ) Thank god she’s out. But since someone else was convicted for this crime in ’08, WTF took so long? …because as you pointed out , her crime was something else again besides the muder of the poor roomate

    Authorities passed the names of seven men to reporters from the British tabloid pack, who printed it. Soon thereafter, Knox was told the doctor was mistaken and she didn’t have AIDS

    utter bastards

    • Gregory says:

      That is certainly as bad as it gets. That is paramount to psychological warfare. To tell someone they have an incurable and lethal disease is as low as low gets.

  7. Branjor says:

    This struck me as an odd statement:

    but most of all she was a victim of fear and hatred of the feminine.

    She wasn’t a victim of fear and hatred of “the feminine.” “Femininity” is a male invention brutally projected onto and imposed on females for the benefit of males. It has nothing whatsoever to do with femaleness. As such, men love “femininity” (when displayed by women, not men). What they fear and hate is femaleness itself, out of the control of men, and thus seen by them as scary and “evil.” That is what they call a “witch.”