You are not the only one.
In the words of My Favorite Murder, “stay sexy and don’t get murdered.”
The rise in popularity of the True Crime genre has become a way for women to ease their anxieties, while also maintaining a shield of fantasy, because you can always just.. turn it off.
Just like that the story has stopped and you can resume your daily life, where hopefully you’re not getting stalked and abducted by a local serial killer.
The crime audience appears to be overwhelmingly female. No surprise there. Listening to true crime podcasts affirms a lot of our [women’s] experiences that we’ve been gaslit about and oftentimes provides us with tips and tricks for staying alive and avoiding gender based violence.
For example, never taking the same route home from work every single day in order to switch it up just in case someone has been watching you and following you. Or never sit in your unlocked car in a parking lot or parking garage. My favorite, that has yet to happen to me is, if you come out from a store and find something placed on the hood of your car, don’t try to remove it. Just get into your car immediately and drive to the nearest police station.
These are some of the lessons I’ve learned from Crime Junkies, Dateline and TikTok.
It’s almost mundane for women to hear these stories because not only is the genre heavily saturated now, but we also hear of these tragedies happening, or experience them on some level all too often.
Not only that, but we’re taught from a very young age to expect gender based violence.
For me, I’ve found that listening to Crime Junkies and watching all the Netflix documentaries has been validating in some way. It validates my preexisting thoughts, that the world IS a cruel place, that you shouldn’t trust any man and that you have to be hyper-vigilant at all times to stay alive.
According to Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the hosts of My Favorite Murder, and now authors, they claim the problem is, “little girls are taught to be polite, to smile pretty and sit up straight, to be nice and accommodating. And then those little girls turn into grown-ass women who’ve spent years being polite to the detriment of their own wants, needs and safety.”
All that for the sake of men’s feelings.
The reason men might think it’s odd of us to listen to the gruesome details of a murder case to relax and unwind, is because they would never think to do that. They are not the target audience. But if they were to step into the realm of true crime, and put themselves in our shoes, they’d be forced to confront the tragic truth: that women constantly live in fear for their lives simply due to their sex.
We don’t always know what an unhinged man looks like, the same way no one suspected Ted Bundy to be a literal serial killer. I’ll carry the weight of the responsibility because I’d rather take safety precautions myself than rely on someone else, the burden shouldn’t always be on us to be on the lookout for our potential captor.
It doesn’t always matter who you are or what you look like, or even if you are polite. There have been cases of girls who have been polite, said no and kept walking, just to get followed to their car and killed simply because they declined the offer. So even when the answer of “no” and ignoring these men isn’t enough, what are we supposed to do?
We risk ourselves by engaging with them and ignoring them, so we need a backup plan regardless of our response.
The point is that it can be anyone, at any time. Nothing proves that to us more than the women in these stories that get shared through podcasts and entertainment TV.