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The Construction Of Amanda Knox As An Other

2502 words - 11 pages

Lupton (1999) likens community to a body with tightly controlled boundaries where behaviour is regulated to maintain order, and anomalies or ambiguities and the crossing of boundaries are perceived as “risky”. Lupton also discusses Mary Douglas’ ideas on the social function of individual perceptions of societal dangers. Douglas (1966) maintained that individuals tend to associate societal harms with conduct that transgresses societal norms, and that this tendency promotes certain social structures, both by imbuing a society’s members with aversions to subversive behaviour and by focusing resentment and blame on those who defy such institutions.

Knox’s construction as an “Other” was mainly established in relation to the femininity, or lack thereof. Media coverage on the Amanda Knox case and the prosecution’s version of events were viewed almost exclusively through the prism of Knox’s looks and sexuality, as well her propensity for masculine behaviour. It has been noted that Knox was not viewed as a college student who may or may not have been involved in the murder of her flatmate, but rather a "demonic, satanic, diabolical she-devil" who was "devoted to lust, drugs and alcohol" (Rizzo, 2011). Lexical choices such as these constructs her as a bad woman, and at the same time highlights the media’s gendered construction of criminals as evident from its differential portrayal of Knox and the other two male suspects.
As Jewkes (2004) notes, “when it comes to reporting of women who commit serious crimes, constructions of deviant sexuality are almost a given”. The sexual nature of Kercher’s murder (Fisher, 2007) allowed the media to highlight Knox’s sexual behaviour, leding legitimacy to claims of the murder being “sex orgy gone wrong”. Knox was constantly referred to as “Foxy Knoxy”, a moniker taken from her MySpace page (Fernandez & Hale, 2007). This had a double effect: not only did Knox’s sexually suggestive behaviour correlate with the “sex attack” (Lawton, 2007), Knox was portrayed to be actively involved in this personal branding. She was stated to have “styled herself Foxy Knoxy” (Dailymail.co.uk, 2007) and “delight[ed] in the nickname Foxy Knoxy” (Mirror.co.uk, 2007), suggesting that she took pleasure in projecting a sexually charged image. This nickname was perpetuated further by references to her as merely “Foxy” (Mansey, 2007; Parry, 2007), indicating a level of intertextuality and an assumption that the reader already had knowledge of her background. This strategy is frequently employed by the media for female criminals (Boyle, 2005) and serves to ‘demystify, erode public confidence [and] reduce humanity’ of the subject (Conboy, 2006). The end result was that Knox’s sexualised image became synonymous with her guilt and deviance.

The media also constantly highlighted Knox’s other transgressions from traditional feminine notions, namely: “monogamy”, “non-aggression, cooperation and chastity” (Jewkes, 2004; Brennan & Vandenberg, 2009)....

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