By the end of the first chapter of Amanda Knox's memoir Waiting to Be Heard, she got her first vibrator, flew to Italy, had sex with a stranger she met on a train, smoked weed, and got herpes. She's, like, cool. Or at the very least she was normal. So, so normal. And if being a young woman having fun while exploring her independence and sexuality is a crime, then we're all guilty.
Knox's book is probably the most prominent story of slut-shaming since The Scarlet Letter, but so much more important and shocking since: 1.) It's true; and 2.) This shit didn't happen 400 years ago in an intolerant Puritan village. It happened this century on a global stage, where she was vilified in the same tabloids that giddily cover the "fabulousness" of the Sex and the City movies.
It's an engaging read, and if her roommate Meredith Kercher had never been murdered, Knox's tale could've easily been made into a breezy, chick lit beach read: one naive girl's steamy romp through Italy as she discovers just who she is, one mistake at a time (the cover art would probably be an open backpack with bras and maps falling out of it, set against a pink backdrop). She gets one of those bunny vibrators, smokes joints with her roommates, finds a job at a bar, and has three one-night stands in as many months before meeting a guy she really likes. Any blunders with the language or cultural differences would've been depicted as humorous yet endearing gaffes.
Instead, all of those things were used to paint Knox as a sex-craved, druggie slob, satanic psychopathic murderer. It is so fucking crazy how there was literally no evidence connecting her to the crime—other than her coerced confession (during which she was smacked and hit in the head and denied use of the bathroom) and botched forensic testing of an incriminating substance that later turned out to be rye bread—and that Rudy Guede the guy who actually viciously raped and murdered Kercher (his DNA and bloody hand and shoe print were found at the crime scene and inside Kercher's body) got a lesser sentence than Knox because he cooperated with the prosecution by testifying against her. Her case was based on her behavior, much of which was lied about or embellished. (There were no cartwheels! She didn't buy a G-string and camisole after the murder! She bought briefs with a cartoon cow on them because she wasn't allowed in her home, now a crime scene.)
Yet, people still question her innocence and her acquittal was reversed. Reading her book and learning how poorly she was treated by the Italian law enforcement and legal system and about the routine sexual harassment she endured in prison from her jailers because of her slutty reputation, it's infuriating. Especially when she candidly discusses the kind of "character" evidence that helped convict her, and you realize just how much you relate to it. If your weed-smoking, housekeeping, dorkiness and sex life were put on trial, how would you come across?
From her book, here's a list of reasons we are Amanda Knox.
1.) She's a nerd.
I was the quirky kid who hung out with the sulky manga-readers, the ostracized gay kids, and the theater geeks.
2.) She's serious about her munchies.
After we smoked pot we would choose a food category—burgers, pizza, gyros, whatever—and wander around the neighborhood until we found what we considered the best in its class.
3.) She has good friends.
Funny, irreverent Brett brought me a small, pink, bunny-shaped vibrator.
4.) She owns her sexuality.
I left for Italy having decided I needed to change that. For me, sex was emotional, and I didn't want it to be anymore—I hated feeling dependent on anyone else. I wanted sex to be about empowerment and pleasure, not about, Does this person like me? Will he still like me tomorrow?
Casual sex was, for my generation, simply what you did.
5.) She's a lot of fun.
We shared a joint and then, high and giggly, we went to his hotel room. I'd just turned twenty. This was my first bona fide one-night stand.
6.) She's a pothead.
I don't smoke cigarettes, but I'll share a joint.
Around our house, marijuana was as common as pasta.
"Do you like marijuana?" I blurted.
We chilled out in the common room and smoked a joint while I played Beatles songs on the guitar for an hour or so.
The marijuana was starting to kick in. "You know what makes me laugh?" I asked. "Making faces. See." I crossed my eyes and puffed out my cheeks.
7.) She's less than a master in the art of seduction, but gets laid anyway.
We made faces until we collided into a kiss. Then we had sex.
8.) She caught an STD from an Italian stallion.
I broke out with a gigantic cold sore on my top lip that Dolly and I figured must be oral herpes—from Cristiano.
9.) As a progressive, independent, feminist-y girl, people naturally thought she was lezzie.
[I]n high school I had been unpopular as well, because the people in my school thought I was a lesbian.
10.) She accidentally leaves swirl stains.
The only awkward interaction we had was when Meredith gently explained the limitations of Italian plumbing .Her face a little strainged with embarrassment, she approached me in my room and said, "Amanda, I'm sorry to bring this up with you. I don't know if you've noticed, but with our toilets, you really need to use the brush every time."
11.) Her gallows humor.
"I'm starving. And I'd really like to say that I could kill for a pizza but it just doesn't seem right."
12.) How she combines 1, 2, 4, 5, 6.
I read a chapter in Harry Potter. We watched a movie. We cooked dinner. We smoked a joint. Raffaele and I had sex. And then I went to sleep.