I was driving down the road yesterday, and out of nowhere, I had a visceral realization as to why women are obsessed with serial killers.
It’s so simple, really: It’s because the killers are men. Not monsters, not an enigma, not the stuff of make-believe. They are real men who we went to school with and had relationships with. Men we could easily have in our lives right now. And we know that.
Men are the serial killers. Full stop. Mostly white men, but not always. They are married, they are in the workforce, they have served in the armed forces and fought for our country. They are our fathers, our brothers, our husbands. They teach your children, they attend your church. They are men who are loved by women.
I have seen a variety of memes mocking women’s obsession with new serial killer books and movies, particularly “white girls” and they’re the same girls who men want on their knees in front of them worshiping at the alter of their machismo. Women are expected, demanded of even, to revere men, their parades of masculinity, their outbursts, the bad boy. Men love to make fun of women who are obsessed with serial killers, and the real irony here is that we’re obsessed with men and what we know they’re capable of. And it’s by design. We are supposed to play along. We are expected to be aroused by it; because men are.
You’ll hear it from men who don’t want to acknowledge that side of masculinity distance themselves from it. “Oh, real men don’t do that. Those aren’t real men,” followed by some tidy, celebratory spiel about what real men do.
On the contrary; that’s exactly who gives into their violent tendencies and murders women. Real men.
Men don’t want to take credit for this, yet they celebrate, actively or otherwise, the violence of men every day. They a blind eye to the violent behavior of men, or they purposely minimize and/or condone it. It’s a part of our lives from childhood onward, and then they wonder why we’re obsessed with it.
Men will actively anounce their hatred for women and then act as if we’re childish for questioning our safety around them. And then ridicule us for “permitting” that violence in our lives. Because we should have known better.
But of course you wouldn’t harm us. Look at you. Do you even look like a serial killer? We’re just being hysterical now.
I have seen men post over and over and over on social media what heinous things they want to do to women’s bodies; to break them to destroy them, to own them. We see it all the time. Daily if we’re operating with our eyes open. Most of the time, we compartmentalize the treatment we receive from men so that we don’t live in fear, but are we correct in doing so? And do you want us to?
Or do you want us to always be just a little bit afraid of what you are capable of doing to us if we don’t please you. To keep us in line maybe. We shouldn’t dare accuse men of being capable of violence against women…but we should make sure to keep it in the back of our minds in case we do something to anger you. We are acutely aware, due to the size and strength disparity of our species, that we are at risk any time we are alone with you.
Some men don’t like when you say this out loud. It makes them feel bad. I feel bad, too, when I say this out loud but for different reasons. But we both know I’m not wrong.
Men will, under a veil of internet anonymity, tell me how they want to violate my body, to rip it apart and put me in my place. They want to “destroy that pussy.” Men with cartoon characters for faces will make sure to let me know that I better look over my shoulder if I leave the house.
But many men tell me with zero guise of hiding their identity, showing fully who they are, displaying their faces and revealing their names because they don’t care if they are anonymous. They want me to know who they are, and they know that there will be no repercussions for saying these things, and if we’re being honest, there will probably be no repercussions for actually carrying out the actions they are threatening me with. History shows that.
When men rape and murder us, we are blamed for it. We are told to stay inside at night if we expect to stay safe from harm. Men, the ones murdering women, are not asked to stay in at night due to the danger they pose. We are blamed for what we are wearing. Men are not held responsible for their violence that appears to be triggered by a short skirt. How could they be? What did we say to set you off? We really should have known better, huh…
We start out in life hearing that, when men behave badly, when they throw things at us or hit us or trip us, it’s because they like us. Boys will be boys, you know. We are taught to expect violence and to laugh it off. So we do. We live with violence at the hands of men on some level or another in our lives. We sometimes talk about what we’ve endured and still managed to survive as badges of honor.
There are catalogs upon catalogs of pornography dedicated it to the violence men want to commit against women, artistically crafted so that men can pleasure themselves while imagining themselves in these scenarios. This type of pornography is plentiful because the men who seek it out are plentiful. I watch it, too.
And there are mainstream summer blockbusters that celebrate violence against women, that titilate us with women being hunted, snatched up, terrorized, murdered, discarded like garbage. Some of our favorite network television franchises are dedicated to telling us these stories every week. Because women in danger of being snuffed out by men is a sexy story worth telling in a myriad of ways with up close camera shots of women in agony and pleading for their lives. And I watch these shows as well.
We know that men are aroused by women in pain, and maybe, with every serial killer story, we identify with the victim a little bit because we’ve spent so much time with potential killers. We’ve agreed to put ourselves in roleplay situations where we play-act getting roughed up. Sometimes it’s not an act. And sometimes we still like it. And want more. We don’t always know the line. The line moves.
I’ve been in scenarios (plural) that involve casual sex that went beyond just being rough and had me thinking that I might actually be killed. I know from talking to other women that this really isn’t that uncommon. I’ve told people about these scenarios and it quickly becomes more about the risks I took than the bruises I left with. I don’t think many men have this same experience. Not really.
Maybe every time we hear about a new serial killer, we identify with the victim and see them as somebody who wasn’t as lucky as we have been. Thus far. Maybe we remember every time we had to tell a friend who we were out with and where we were supposed to be heading. You know…just in case you didn’t make it home.
This hasn’t stopped me from having sex, it hasn’t stopped me from being intimate with men, risking my life to be alone with them. It hasn’t stopped me from loving them.
Maybe if women weren’t continually conditioned from every side to expect violence from men, and that it’s ultimately our responsibility if we’re subject to it, that violence or the potential of it would be less palatable. Though if you have the audacity suggest that women should consider staying away from men for their own safety, the same people who place the blame on women for the harm they experience at the hands of men tell you that you’re a misandrist, a manhating harpie. I mean you just can’t judge men in this manner. Not all men.
So yeah, I think I know the answer as to why women are fascinated by serial killers and intrigued by all that comes with it. I just don’t think we are ready to hear the answer.