In May the Huffington Post published an article titled Where Are All The Feminists? Why Amanda Knox's Story Is About More Than Murder. Lisa Marie Basile begins her piece: "Amanda Knox is innocent of murder," before going on to suggest that Knox was targeted only because she was "sexually active and good looking". The reason Basile cares? Because she is "a human and a feminist."
I am also a human and a feminist. I too believe that Knox suffered inexcusably sexist treatment by the media. I also happen to believe that she is unequivocally guilty. As someone who has followed this case for many years, I take offence to the misinformation that riddles Basile's article. Where, Basile wonders as she laments Knox's fate, are all the feminists?
We're right here, Lisa. Basile's implication - that those convinced of Knox's guilt do so because of gender prejudice - is laughable. Not only does it demonstrate astonishing ignorance of the facts of this case, but Basile's entire article is suggestive of the role her own prejudice plays in forming her opinion of guilt or innocence.
Basile is correct that the issue of sexism towards Knox should be addressed. Continually portrayed as a sexual object by the media, the fact that Knox deigned to enjoy casual sex was held up as an indication of her deviancy, and when the press discovered that she kept a vibrator in full view in the bathroom, you could almost hear the collective intake of breath.
The media's unwavering determination to paint Kercher and Knox as Madonna/Whore figures is also troubling. While Knox has been portrayed as manipulative and sadistic, Kercher has become virginal, passive, saint-like. This is unsettling. Would Kercher's death be any less tragic had she shared Knox's penchant for casual sex? Does a woman's sexuality make her guilty? Does her presumed virginity redeem her? Kercher was an innocent victim, regardless of her sexuality; she does not need to be canonised for this murder case to be any more tragic than it already is.
However, as shameful as the prejudiced handling of the "Foxy Knoxy" persona was, it has no bearing on the evidence against her. The vast majority of people who believe Knox is guilty do not figure her sexuality into their reasoning. Her sex life has zero bearing on my belief of her guilt, nor, I doubt, the opinion of the 20+ judges who have found her guilty. Her two convictions have nothing to do with vibrators, Satanism, cartwheels or kisses, but the mountain of evidence against her. Evidence Basile simply ignores.
To claim, "There is no credible evidence" against Knox is absurd. It is actually ludicrous. Basile dismisses 10,000 pages of it as neither credible nor realistic without even acknowledging it, imparting a string of passionate pro-Knox statements that are criminally unsubstantiated.
What Basile misses is the point that were Knox unattractive, let alone a minority or male, she would have a fraction of the support she has. People want to explain the evidence away, or ignore it completely as Basile does, precisely because they don't want to think a nice pretty white girl could commit a crime like this. Basile has conveniently neglected the fact that Knox's femininity and attractiveness have helped her far more than hindered her, because in order to believe Amanda Knox, you have to overlook the following:
Her DNA mixed with Kercher's blood in five spots; Knox's fresh blood, and Kercher's blood, smeared in the bathroom; Sollecito's DNA on Kercher's bra; Knox's DNA on the handle of the murder weapon, Kercher's on the blade; the footprints matching the bare feet of Knox that contain her DNA mixed with Kercher's; the staged crime scene with glass on TOP of the clothes and a near impossible window entry point; Knox's false accusation of her employer; her total lack of alibi and multiple lies; the phone and computer records that prove dishonesty; her utterly implausible account of the morning after the murder; the frantic call she made to her mother in the middle of the night that she "forgets" making; her email home; the witness testimony; the fact Knox knew multiple details about the murder she couldn't possibly have known; the evidence suggesting Kercher's body was moved and the scene staged hours after her death when Rudy Guede, the third person convicted of the murder, was long gone.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of evidence but is just an indication of how embarrassing these "no evidence" claims are. Blind ignorance of the subtleties of this case seems to have spread across a great deal of America like some kind of mental epidemic. What has prompted this trust of Knox, so entirely out of place considering she is a convicted liar and slanderer? Even the 2011 appeal that acquitted her (and was subsequently thrown out by the Supreme Court for being inaccurate, illogical and biased) increased her sentence in this respect. The urge to believe the Italian courts have now twice convicted two young people without evidence is shocking and reeks of xenophobia.
Basile then tries to defend Knox's "false confession": "We should remember that Knox was interrogated for many hours without food or water [and] slapped and screamed at in Italian," she writes sympathetically. What nonsense. It is a fact that Knox's interview was at most two hours long; minimal research would have told Basile that the torturous, lengthy interrogation story was utterly fabricated. So fabricated that her parents face criminal defamation charges for claiming otherwise.
More importantly, this wasn't a false confession now was it; it was the flagrant false accusation of an innocent man. As soon as Knox learned of Sollecito's alibi withdrawal for her (another fact conveniently ignored by her supporters and Basile), out came the finger of blame, the same finger she kept pointed at her employer for over two weeks while he languished in jail. Two weeks. This was not a "false confession" blurted out on impulse: Knox let an innocent man suffer for a fortnight.
Basile gives free pass after free pass to Knox, justifying her lies, excusing her behaviour, dismissing the evidence. Why? Why is Knox's word enough?
She may argue this: "There was no hair, fibre, footprint, shoe print, handprint, palm print, fingerprint, sweat, saliva, DNA of Amanda Knox in the room where Meredith Kercher was killed," as her attorney stated. "That tells you unassailably that she is innocent."
Sounds compelling. That is until you realise that applying that logic to all the evidence, rather than just that which incriminates Knox, presents quite the conundrum:
"There was no hair, fibre, footprint, shoe print, handprint, palm print, fingerprint, sweat, saliva, DNA of Rudy Guede in the blood-stained bathroom where there is the blood and DNA of Knox. That tells you unassailably that Guede did not do the crime alone."
"There was no hair, fibre, footprint, shoe print, handprint, palm print, fingerprint, sweat, saliva, of Knox in the bedroom where she slept...That tells you unassailably that Knox never even lived in the cottage."
Aside from the inaccuracies throughout, what grates most about Basile's piece is the title, the suggestion that feminists have failed Knox. What total short-sightedness; what utter blindness to the sensitivities of this case. Feminists owe Knox nothing and to suggest we do is ignorant and insulting. She had a hard time in the press, yes, but frankly it's not the point. I too have been angered by what the media too often chooses to focus on, but for entirely opposing reasoning: it allows her supporters to deflect the actual issue. It allows them to gloss over the unequivocally incriminating evidence that Amanda Knox either murdered Meredith Kercher herself or, at the very least, played a devastating part.
Her "Foxy Knoxy" status is an irrelevance. No one has "failed" her. She has failed herself, and she fails the Kercher family each and every day she protests her innocence. There is only one female victim here - Meredith Kercher - and how dare Basile allow Knox's PR spin, and her own wilful ignorance, to conceal that.