Why We Love to Hate ‘Trainwreck’ Women

Many thanks to Sirin Kale and BROADLY for publishing my conversation with Sady Doyle about society’s punitive impulse, morality dramas, and impossible standards of femininity.

Why We Love to Hate ‘Trainwreck’ Women: In honor of the reissue of Sady Doyle’s “Trainwreck,” Knox talks with Doyle about why we “wreck people because they are women.”

The same habit of mind that seeks to punish derailed celebrities and project evil onto political opponents and public figures also leads to wrongful convictions like mine. It encourages judgment by projection and popularity, and it obstructs our ability to evaluate context and objective evidence.

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25 Responses to Why We Love to Hate ‘Trainwreck’ Women

  1. Tom Zupancic says:

    Okay, trainwreck has a common meaning. Trainwreck women, got it. But all sorts of trainwrecks beyond their control affect women. The common theme would appear to be that nobody in particular appears to actually care about the women affected. So, on a tangential note allow me to offer this moving piece by Kate Rusby; Life in a paper boat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68Wsq0BVm9g

    A boat made of paper, it set sail with me
    And O, how I’ve grown weary
    That boat of shame it took me, now I’m far from free
    And O won’t you stay near me?

    Hope it blowed eternal
    There upon the promised land
    Will it wither now or will I feel my feet upon the sand?

    This bundle that I carry is worth more to me than life
    And O, how I’ve grown weary
    There’s only me to hold her now that I’m no more a wife
    And O won’t you stay near me?

    Hope it blowed eternal
    There upon the promised land
    Will it wither now or will I feel my feet upon the sand?

    An ancient land I’ve left behind, in ruins now lies she
    And O, how I’ve grown weary
    I must spell a new life now with walls to keep her free
    And O won’t you stay near me?

    Hope it blowed eternal
    There upon the promised land
    Will it wither now or will I feel my feet upon the sand?

    My heart is in my hand now we are on the open sea
    And O, how I’ve grown weary
    Thank God, she won’t remember this, whatever it may be
    And O won’t you stay near me?

    The orange sun was burning on the boat where we all stand
    And hope it blowed eternal there upon the promised land
    Will it whither now or will I feel my feet upon the sand?

  2. Tom Mininger says:

    McKee’s comparison of myth vs. fiction resonates with me:

    How are women supposed to behave according to myth? How does fiction allow us to envision different possibilities?

  3. just-a-guy-out-for-a-walk says:

    Strawberries and Cream, by j.a.g.o.f.

    “Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: “Wouldn’t you like to have that?”” Dale Carnegie. How to Win Friends and Influence People

    This quote is such an elegant portrait of the Platinum Rule.

    As I considered weighing in with all these other feminist who posted here, albeit “we” are most likely males about twice your age which is a comment in itself, I couldn’t figure out who the blond was pictured next to you. So at this juncture and with the brain I have there is one salient question I wondered about. Was the lack of early explanation of who that blond was pictured next to you your narrative or not. Was that something editorially beyond your control or does my web browser just suck. Because it didn’t originally display the photo caption for some reason. Does it really matter if that was part of the authors intended narrative? And does my observation of two mug shots side by side matter. Buy natures choice I’m a direct person. When it comes to indirectness I’ve had to learn how to do that. Ask most any ten year old for verification.

    In this light I thought an input of the conflicts between the Golden Rule and the Platinum Rule could shed some light on why I would ask that and the central question of the title beyond the titled narrative. I’ve been studying these so called rules for decades as a recreational pursuit, so for once I might have something tangible to volunteer that didn’t feel compulsory and felt more like a recreation.

    Simply put…
    Golden Rule: treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
    Platinum Rule: treat others using a presumption of how others would like to be treated.

    There’s a work out there that I was introduced to long ago titled under the heading of the Platinum Rule. It breaks out in surprisingly accurate ways how to dissect the fish’s static emotional style, broken out into either 4 or 16 identifiable sorts, none are more right or wrong then any other, their just different natural styles. To further this it generates a predictable observation of how those styles will change and what to do about it, if said fish were to be subject to a trauma whether benign or not such as being overtly lied to or about. The scary part for me has been that it’s a relatively simple formula then say being able to quote PI out to the ten billionth and it’s usually more true then it isn’t. It works well and is productive as long as the fisherman brings 16 different kinds of bait to maximize an efficiency. So I recommend it to anybody who wants to know how to know thy customer’s weakness whether it be aquatic or not. For me it’s been applied to know better which hooks to swim by so not to become food.

    I’m clearly more of a Golden Rule kind of guy and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t really that way by nature’s choice, even though I received instructions that seemed logical and right and was easy to learn even for a ten year old type. The Platinum Rule was different because it had a learning curve to it and I can’t deny that it has it’s merits and viabilities. But it’s never been for me in the same way it is for many people. I can clearly see how the Golden and the Platinum can be useful in a commingling and coordination. But in practice too often or in a bad stretch these two rules have shared custody. And at it’s worse the Platinum Rule needs to vilify the other one to maximize it’s efficiency. As Carnegie relates every object to human, from the 1st person narrative, the fish, to the strawberries and cream, there’s one thing that isn’t and that’s the bait. The worm or grasshopper are tools to be traded, less human then even the cream on the strawberries.

    Grasshopper… (a seventies TV reference intended in a tenuous jest), so much of this involuntary notoriety if not all of it that you have been forced to endure has been the Platinum Rule in your face. Just beginning to somewhat consider the probability of the gross receipts that your name has generated beyond your direct permission or benefit, is a number that as intangible as it is to calculate, is a number that might justify to begin maybe thinking about sort of implying that it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to justify using the word “big”. A reality that sinks in once one validates your 100% innocents that was violated in an efficient application of the Platinum Rule in all it’s glorious maxim.

    Like I said, I’m a Golden Rule kind of guy. And I can successfully apply both without conflict. The thing about the Golden Rule is that anybody can do it with very little training or mathematical skills, from 10 year olds to 100 years olds, dumb or smart, rich or poor. Even evil people can give it a whorl occasionally on one of their days off. It can’t really be abused and it’s application is fundamentally about prevention. Prevention of your thing was an abundance that history should demonstrate was ignored.

    So how do I say why you are 100% innocent in a tweet that communicates enough information that might convince or lead some wayward that way?

    “Amanda said “see you later” to her boss. Her boss heard “see you later” from Amanda. There was agreement of what it meant proven by tortuous documentation of each later. The ease-droppers heard something else. They got lucky and uncovered the imminent plan. Because “see you later” is a literal phrase in common Italian vernacular owing to the differing verb-noun-subject ordering of that language. And they proved the wrong interpretation happened in many different ways in a rushed zest. Never underestimate how efficient a prediction can be when a government embraces the Platinum Rule and tosses the Golden one in the trash. Documentation of this is available on Amanda’s arrest document. The wrong “see you later” interpretation was the predicate of her arrest.”

    Oh crap… it’s a tweet too long. I’m just no damn good at being young. But it was I… who got that flashing 12:00 off my parents VCR. They were so proud of my technological mastery. So forms my uninvited interest to try to add to the effort of figuring out a way to get that flashing 12:00 off your thing. Because ultimately isn’t such a thing just a matter of reading the simpler parts of an instruction manual.

    So this is my homage to photo of the blond. Without that photo this request for cyberspace would probably be written differently. Your thing could have been different, you could have been a blond. Who knows how that would have changed the outcome. In my most prejudicial experience, if you had been a redhead I think that you’d still be in Italy, subjected to too much ridicule or too much admiration.

    Eye to eye was real. One PSTD survivor to another. To the throng, thinking this crisis was more then Gidget Goes To Italy, your very wrong.

    Now that fits into a tweet, old school.

    • Tom Zupancic says:


      Just-a-quick-comment to start… Perhaps Broadly simply assumed that people reading the article would immediately recognize ‘the blond’?

      “Was the lack of early explanation of who that blond was pictured next to you your narrative or not.” Or, does this admission of ignorance simply describe you and me? (probably).

      Agreed, perhaps Carl Jung’s theories could be factored in; 4 personality types; 16 Myers-Briggs type indicators… (Turns out the test scored me as ‘ENTP’. ‘The Visionary’. Extroverted Intuition with Introverted Thinking). Go figure.

      And yes, Grasshopper, I know Kung Fu. Innocent. Innocence…

      I too am ‘a Golden Rule’ kind of guy, and it is good that you posted this. The discussion thread here began by being about hating trainwreck women. You have properly redirected it to the problem of hating the innocent.

      • just-a-guy-out-for-a-walk says:

        Thanks for reminding me why I’m still doing this to myself. That crack about 100% innocent was like a Freudian slip. Some vague repressed memory of why I volunteered what I could in the first place four years ago.

        From 11 years old to 40 my career was in the working end of the business of print journalism. I have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of how those sausages are made, hence the inquiry about publishing something that was still wiggling.

    • just-a-guy-out-for-a-walk says:

      A few days back I was goaded into posting this and in that haste I may have presented some erroneous statements. The quote… “Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms.”, should read…

      “Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms or strawberries and coconut cream.”


      After some reflection I have decided to offer this sincere apology.

  4. Kaare says:

    We should always think about the premises of our judgement.

  5. Tom Zupancic says:


    Let me suggest that it might be useful for you to add a link to the top level menu on your blog where you feature your own work such as the contributions you have made to Broadly; ie. a link at the top of the page.

    “Published Work”, or something along those lines. You have been quite active as a writer. Your blog would appear to be a useful site to describe your work. (I presume that copyright issues would be addressed by providing links to the actual publishers).

    Just a notion…

    • Amanda says:

      That’s a great idea. Thanks, Tom!

      • Tom Zupancic says:


        Obviously, their is no requirement that such a link include everything. ‘Selected work’ makes sense. Thus you could initiate such a link by selecting certain articles, with the potential to expand the collection over time.

      • Brian says:

        Amanda, have you given up writing for the West Seattle Herald? I never see anything posted anymore.

        • Tom Zupancic says:


          I can’t speak for Amanda here but it would appear that her writing career has moved on. That said, she wrote some really great stuff for the West Seattle Herald about the arts. That article about being photographed… the plays… dance… music…

          I agree, some ‘early works’ deserve to get included in ‘selected work’.

          • Brian says:

            Tom, thanks for the insight. Is Amanda writing at all now, or devoting full time to making speeches and appearances?

            And, have there been decisions by the European Court of Human Justice, or on the question of compensation for her false arrest/improper incarceration?

            I’m posing the questions to you since Amanda does not seem to be inclined to respond on the blog anymore.

          • Amanda says:

            I’m writing. Just working on some longer form stuff that won’t come out for a while.

  6. Jack Friend says:

    One of the things I always tried to make clear as I commented on Amanda’s blog over the years was that I never viewed my commenting, etc, as some indication that I “knew” Amanda. Amanda is as much a stranger to me today as she was 20 years ago. Many persons over-personalize these cases and demonize Amanda and worship victims due to something missing in their own lives. Demonizing Amanda or someone else fills a void and makes them feel relevant.

    My concern stemmed from the fact if as an individual you do not raise a voice to what you feel is an injustice, you cannot expect others to do the same for you. I have a daughter who at 22 just graduated college and is struggling to find a job because she is shy. Had she been in Amanda’s shoes in Italy, I would have feared for her as she would not handle well being interrogated by experienced police. We come together in a society to form a social contract and if I don’t speak out to the abuse of the Knox’s daughter I should not expect any concern for mine. Thus the social contract would be meaningless.

    Parents who lose a child will often support organizations such as the March of Dimes, etc. as giving back to others who have experienced such loss helps ease the pain of what they have gone through. I am happy to see that Amanda has continued to speak out for those who may be wrongly convicted as she knows this topic as only someone who has gone through it can and can be of the best service to others who are going through this pain. Her public presence represents hope. I will say that I admire and respect Amanda for standing up and speaking out as it represents courage. For me, I think it took a pretty strong ass person to create this blog and be willing to subject herself to the hate of those who love it for sport.

    As a male, I admire female strength, the strength I saw in my own mother that I see in persons such as Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, Mattie Rogers,Amanda Knox, and my favorite tennis player, Dominika Cibulkova, who at 5-2 hits with the best of them. John McEnroe was criticized for saying Serena could not beat the top 700 male players. To me that is not the real question. 700 represents a minute sample of the male population meaning some 2.5 billion men, me included, are not going to beat Serena. At age 50, I can bench press 350 pounds. If I compare myself to competitive power lifters it is no competition, however, if I compare myself to the public at large it becomes a solid achievement at my age.

    As to this article I agree that we need to work on correcting our double standard with regard to gender, especially as it relates to sex. The biological fact is if women did not also enjoy sex, the human race would not last long on the earth.

    As a husband I have learned one thing over the years that has led to a happy marriage. Initially my pre-conceived notions led me to try to solve my wife’s problems when she had issues at work, with friends, etc. I ultimately learned that my wife both did not want me or need me to solve her problems. She just wanted me to listen and that has made all the difference. In a marriage their are areas where the husband is stronger and areas where the wife is stronger, it is what makes a happy partnership.

    Lastly, do not look to politicians to solve these problems, they will not and cannot. We most solve them by rejecting the double standard and it starts in our daily lives with the women we live with and interact with.

    • just-a-guy-out-for-a-walk says:

      I volunteered to be demonized and the funny part is, is that I didn’t get any bites. I don’t know what to think about that except that I guess I’m no damn good at it. It wasn’t for the lack of trying.

      • Tom Zupancic says:

        just-a-guy-out-for-a-walk, allow me to suggest that you keep trying. ‘I’m no damn good at it’ is perhaps a logical thought, but perhaps not a useful reaction. As a scientist I can see a number of alternative hypotheses. I would suggest that it (whatever it is) is complex. It is not the typing that matters. It is the value and quality of your thinking that counts. Express your ideas.

        I would have written a short note, but I didn’t have the time.

  7. Richard M says:

    I have been busy and had some life changes so I havn’t kept current with your articles but have lately been catching up. You have such a caring attitude for others on this earth it is so refreshing to to read your articles and see your insight into the human condition. It is nice to see you enjoying life so much after the prosecutions you have been through and the fact that all this could easily have been lost to you if your family had not fought so hard for you or things had simply broken a different way. I wonder if Mignini ever vsits your website to see the person you have become. The person he tried so hard to take from the world and lock in prison simply for his own personal ignorance and ambitions. Once the real evidence was discovered in the first week after the murder and Guede surfaced Mignini and everyone else knew without a doubt you were innocent. But then you also wonder how different you would be right now if none of that had ever happened. You would have your intellect and caring instincts allright but would you have the passion? Because of your close call with living a half life in prison your insights come with an authority that few others have. There is no doubt that fate has given you a unique viewpoint of life and no doubt your contributions will be immense.

    • Tom Zupancic says:

      While Sady Doyle explored American culture’s obsession with misogyny in ‘Trainwreck Women’ it would appear that the basic cultural pathology she uncovered is just the tip of the iceberg of a far more pervasive dysfunction in society; the inability of people to recognize, let alone appreciate, the significance of how little they know about people that are different from them… and why that even matters.

      As Richard M explained here, this kind of ignorance drove the hateful and ignorant assault of Giuliano Mignini against you. (How stupid was that?) Talk about ignorant…

      Let me suggest, thoughtful people recognize that there is a problem here. While outrage and scorn are obvious reactions, they do not provide solutions. If smart idealists had it figured out, they would have already told us. While making meaningful progress on these difficult issues is uncertain, it would seem unlikely that constructive, positive change can occur unless somebody stands up for justice.

  8. Tom Zupancic says:


    Regarding this present article and the others you wrote that were published by Broadly, I have to suspect that many are not familiar with this… what… what to call it? A resource? An outlet? A venue? A uniquely enlightened point of view?

    Points of view matter. People should check out Broadly.

  9. Tom Zupancic says:

    Amanda, you are absolutely correct; our society has an arbitrary double standard based on gender … and this is a problem. The current climate; its duplicitous essence; the intrinsic inhuman antagonism to actual human beings… Our behavior as individuals and as a society speaks volumes about who and what we truly believe. It is not very pretty.

    • Tom Zupancic says:

      Just one more comment

      Why hate?

      The polarization of American society appears to have reached a point where hatred has become a fundamental driving force. That is not good.

      How we got here and who is responsible doesn’t really matter; our challenge as a people is what Americans do about it. How we resolve historical injustices, differences and grievances between people, and the many very real and substantive issues we face, is our challenge.

      How we do this matters. It defines who we are and what we believe. What we do now will determine our future.

      • Tom Mininger says:

        Your comment has me thinking about my experience watching O.J.: Made in America. It was a musical chairs of anger. Just when I’d locked my fury onto someone, the music would stop on another target. OJ, police, advocates, whites, blacks, prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, promoters, our insatiable lust for tabloid crap…

        At the end, I sat back exhausted and thought maybe Amanda is right: “Compassion is empowering—it opens the doors to reconciliation. And compassion is just—we only compound injustice when the worst of someone else brings out the worst in us.”

  10. Tom Mininger says:

    It was bizarre back in the early days of your case when you became the scapegoat for the healthy libido of millions of young women. Meanwhile Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was hosting Bunga Bunga parties with underage girls and his TV networks were obsessed with (as one critic put it) scantily clad beauties writhing about. I remember arguing that if sexuality had anything to do with violence, Berlusconi would be a mass murderer.

    I cringed at some of those TV interviews you had with the big “mainstream” networks back in 2013. Just like the tabloids, there was no profit in discussing blood transfer evidence or DNA evidence or Guede’s established break-in modus operandi. The agenda had to be the sexual behavior of a pretty young woman and what does that “mean”. After all the media coverage over the past decade, I’m amazed how many people still don’t know the details of Guede’s 5 week break-in spree, including knives, rocks, 2nd story windows and hanging out in kitchens, leading up to his deadly one. Titillating narrative is more important.

    The Muslim dress and behavior code for women is an overt and conscious expression of control. Western civilization engages in more covert or subconscious shaming methods. There is some common denominator of gynophobia in our genes, as though the sky will fall if women are not contained.

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