True crime is having a moment right now. O.J.: Made in America won the Academy Award for best documentary, Netflix is the host of many original true crime documentaries and series, and podcasts like Serial and My Favorite Murder continue to top the iTunes charts. Stereotypically, you would think that a topic this grisly would attract more men than women, but this may not be the case. After attending the My Favorite Murder Live show at the Grove in Anaheim this past weekend, it’s clear that women are being empowered by taking control of the true crime fandom.
It’s no secret that women experience more domestic violence than men. According the Bureau of Justice statistics, women are more likely to experience rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault. Women are killed by intimate partners at twice the rate as men, with black women being four times more likely than white women to be killed by an intimate partner. The Bureau of Justice published these findings in 2009, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released figures this year that determined domestic violence is a public health problem. The CDC is now exploring programs to help women who are the most likely to be killed by an intimate partner (who, according their study, are black and indigenous women).
These numbers are scary, and scrolling through Twitter these days is even scarier. It seems that every day there is a new attack on women. Women are not being believed, like Amber Tamblyn. Women are being silenced, like Jemele Hill. Women’s rights to an abortion and free birth control are being attacked by the current administration at an alarmingly ceaseless rate.
It’s no wonder that a lot of women are fascinated by true crime stories.
We have been scared by numbers, news stories, and our moms to be careful because we can be attacked at any time. We are taught to live in constant fear. The adage is the best way to get over a fear is exposing yourself to it, so perhaps the best way to get over our fears of being raped and/or murdered is to learn more about these victims’ experiences.
On the My Favorite Murder podcast, comedian/TV writer Karen Kilgariff and TV host/writer Georgia Hardstark each choose a murder they are intrigued by to discuss that week. Not all of the stories are related to domestic violence, but to hear women discuss heinous crimes in a hilarious yet empathetic way is liberating. Georgia repeatedly says that she hopes that the more she learns about murders, the less likely it will happen to her, and it seems like a lot of women are following this train of thought. Though this isn’t supported by any studies, it still provides a level of comfort. These types of crimes have happened throughout history, and will continue to happen. But if you know more, you can take precautions to prevent it, as much as you can, from happening to you.
One point that is repeated by the hosts is “f*ck politeness.” Women are told to be polite in all situations, including when their spidey senses are telling them to run. This is one of the reasons why women are more likely to be murdered. Another life lesson: lock your doors and windows. This one is a bit more obvious, but hey, haven’t we all accidentally left one of those unlocked, and then came home and assumed a serial killer was in the house? Is that just me?
My Favorite Murder has a devoted fanbase who have dubbed themselves “Murderinos.” There is an enormous main Facebook group of over 160,000 members, and numerous niche subgroups of fans, such the Meowderinos (Murderinos who love cats) and Orange County Fans. Though some topics are gruesome, it turns out that having one shared interest can spark many conversations of other shared interests, which we experienced at the OC meet-up before the live show.
I hesitate to make a sweeping generalization here, so I will limit this to the OC experience: the fans of this podcast are the opposite of toxic masculinity. At the meet-up, about 95% of the crowd there were women. Our conversations ranged from our favorite murderers to Star Wars to the LGBTQ spectrum, and every person was always friendly and respectful. Instead of toxic masculinity, we experienced invigorating femininity. Talking to all of these women about their passions in and outside of true crime energized us for the show. We walked together in groups to the venue and made sure that our group mates got back to their cars safely after the show. It was a sisterhood created in a couple of hours based on, simply, being a part of the Murderino fandom.
Meeting Murderinos restored my faith in feminism, and I do believe that many women could benefit from becoming Murderinos, even if it seems like an unlikely fandom for you to join. Whether you are a lifelong true crime buff or a newbie (as I was), you will find acceptance here. If anything, know that women are in the conductor’s seat of the true crime train, and like the podcast’s catchphrase, they “stay sexy. And don’t get murdered.”
New episodes of My Favorite Murder are released on Mondays and Thursdays and can be downloaded for free from iTunes.
Images via My Favorite Murder Facebook page, My Favorite Murder: Orange County Fans Facebook page, My Favorite Murder website