The women you see on SLR—whether survivors of sexual assault, online abuse, or slut-shaming—all have one common denominator: we had our truth taken from us, our identities distorted and vilified. Even though some of our cases may seem extreme, most women have experienced some level of shame, mockery, or abuse due solely to their gender. It’s my hope that sharing stories like these enable us to reclaim the narratives of our own lives, and find comfort in other women’s strength and resilience. I don’t ever want anyone to feel isolated the way I did, and I also know that when we listen to each other’s stories with compassion and context, we also come much closer to actually understanding the truth.
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.
Involuntary manslaughter is when a drunk driver crashes into another vehicle, when a gunman shoots at tin cans in his suburban backyard, when a carnival ride operator fails to ensure that all passengers are strapped in, and as a result an innocent person dies. Encouraging your boyfriend to follow through with his own death wish should not qualify. Carter may not be innocent in a moral or philosophical sense, but she was wrongfully convicted.
Atheism, agnosticism, and secular humanism were not accepted as rehabilitative ideologies by the Villa’s counselors. McKibben says they considered her refusal to acknowledge a higher power as symptomatic of “the alcoholic mind.” As a result, McKibben lived in terror of being sent back to jail. “There was a lot of fear, because if you do one thing wrong, you’re back in jail,” she explained. “If you don’t like the program they send you to, then the other option is jail.”
There is a kind of loyalty I wholeheartedly support: loyalty to our ideals of due process, equal protection under the law, the freedom to speak one’s mind and to vote according to one’s principles. Only in banana republics do political leaders dole out favors to citizens in exchange for their silence and their vote. By holding personal loyalty above all else, Trump and some of his supporters create a political environment where reason and justice hold little sway. He was probably right when he said he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose voters” — that’s what happens when personal loyalty is paramount.
At least initially, Leny* might not have been trying to seduce me, and was actually just in need of someone kind to distract her from her loneliness. This is common. Contrary to what you might guess, many prison relationships aren’t about sex – just like most relationships outside prison.
Women are raised under a different social incentive structure than men, where attitudes of compliance and deference to authority are more encouraged. This finds its most damning realization in the interrogation room, a situation designed to amplify the absolute control and authority of investigators—an experience I know only too well.
The experimenters pull away the partition and Amanda-in-Chris faces Chris-in-Amanda. Holy shit, they each think. They take two steps toward each other, until they are at arm’s length. Chris-in-Amanda stares at Amanda-in-Chris’s chest, and Amanda-in-Chris stares over Chris-in-Amanda’s head. It’s an out-of-body experience, for they are seeing their own bodies from inside a head which is normally outside their own. They are seeing themselves in third person. They touch. Chris-in-Amanda slips his arm (her arm? The pronouns begin to dissolve) around Amanda-in-Chris’s back. They slip into a swing dance position. Chris-in-Amanda leads, something their bodies are used to, but their minds now attempt the opposite. The illusion flickers. The cords from their headsets wrap awkwardly around them. They untangle, pull off the headsets, and hug.
To recognize the suffering of exonerees is to acknowledge that our justice system, and the people who implement it, may perpetrate injustice. It’s easier to believe that wrongful conviction is a distant anomaly, an unfortunate consequence triggered by questionable characters. We blame the wrongfully convicted for seeming suspicious just as we blame rape victims for wearing provocative clothing.