True Crime Podcasts Are Rewriting The Narrative Of Victimization

I, like many people, am a huge fan of the true crime and comedy podcast called My Favorite Murder. It’s hosted by two amazingly funny women, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, and they tell really horrific stories about different murders that have happened all around the world.

What’s really unique about the way they discuss these crimes is how they discuss the victims. Instead of mirroring the tone of most media sources when discussing crime, using derogatory language against the women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ community, they discuss them as people.

Karen and Georgia emphasize how these victims deserve life like anyone else. Instead of calling someone a ‘prostitute’, they call them a ‘sex-worker’. They are very careful to talk about who the victim was outside of the crime and to emphasize their importance in the world.

They have taken the victim narrative, the one where the crime is the victim’s fault, and completely turned it around.

While I was watching this week’s material where Karma Chavez discussed how many Black members of the LGBTQ+ community were demonized by the AIDS epidemic, I couldn’t help but think about how Karen and Georgia would discuss the stories Chavez told. It would have mirrored the justice that Chavez gave to those victims.

Karen and Georgia were some of the first true crime podcasters to take this new stance on crime, but they absolutely aren’t the last.

The podcast And That’s Why We Drink with Em Shultz and Christine Scheifer focuses on haunted places and true crime. Em and Christine have taken the same mentality as Georgia and Karen, but they have also focused a lot on the importance of honoring someone’s gender identity. They take extra steps to ensure that they are using someone’s correct pronouns, and continually remind their audience of the importance of respecting pronouns.

Something Was Wrong is a podcast that allows victims to tell stories themselves, with the host, Tiffany Reese, giving the speakers a compassionate, safe place to speak. She joins them in their pain and offers constant reassurance.

One key thing here is that all of these podcasters listen to their audiences, they listen and adjust. If they say something problematic, they hear the voices of their fans and they immediately apologize and continue onward, bettering themselves and their shows.

This wave of understanding and respect seems to be an entirely new thing. As Chavez discussed, the way the victims of the AIDS epidemic were talked about in the media was dehumanizing and delegitimizing.

It’s like a breath of fresh air. By now, I’m so used to hearing victims being respected by their storytellers that it catches me off guard when I hear the bigoted, disrespectful way people or news sources still discuss victims.

Hearing all of these women empowering traditionally disenfranchised groups has really given me a glimpse into what the would could be. It’s given me the scope to be able to spot misogyny, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and more that was hidden just below the surface of our society.

And I think that the more people who listen to rhetoric like theirs, the better the world is going to be. Because they’re setting an amazing example of how to listen, how to respect, and how to become better people.

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