I did the thing you always do when you get on facebook: I looked for people with my name.
There are no real people who have my [blog alias] name [Jane Doe.] I shouldn’t be surprised: I don’t have my name. My name is a placeholder for anonymous women.
For me, it’s a name that frees me to say what I want about dating jackassery. Apparently, in other contexts, it’s a name for much more dire circumstances.
So I did a google image search for my name and I found the faces of unidentified, mutilated, murdered women.
This Jane Doe lived for a day after the attack, but was badly hurt and never spoke. She also never got the chance to tell anyone her name.
This Jane Doe was found in a canal with stab wounds in her chest and back
This Jane Doe was eight years old when she was decapitated.
This Jane Doe was reconstructed from skeletal remains found in Wisconsin.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; the name is a placeholder for the anonymous, after all, and who is more anonymous than a murdered woman? And of course photographs like this will appear — should appear — if I look for images of Jane Doe. These women deserve to be named, remembered, and their families deserve to know what happened to them.
But then, what am I to make of this Jane Doe? [graphic image of a mutilated female body]
According to the advertisement, this Jane is “a life-size female autopsy prop with ‘Y’ cut in chest and stomach with fake staples. Warning! The prop has nipples showing. Please ask for none if you so desire.”
So you can get this Jane’s nipples removed if they disturb you? That’s the part that’s disturbing? Her nipples?
I did an image search for John Doe and found: an aging punk star from X and an actor who played John Doe in a movie.
Perhaps it’s odd coincidence that an image search for Jane Doe gets photographs of unidentified murdered women and an image search for John Doe gets rugged, square jawed men, both of whom have “real” names in addition to their their “John Doe” stage names.
I don’t know if there are more unidentified murdered female bodies out there than unidentified murdered male bodies. I do know there are more photos of them when I do this search.
This hardly counts as data. Google searches usually just reflect what people click on when they do a similar search, and maybe people just like to click on mutilated, anonymous murdered women and handsome, square-jawed men.
The question remains, however: where are the John Does? If I scroll a little, I do find this: [tasteful image of a sketch, in pencil or ink, of a male face with three variations]
This John Doe died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His image was reconstructed from skeletal remains.
This John Doe constructed thirty false identities. When he was finally caught, he was called “John Doe” because authorities couldn’t figure out his real name.
I don’t know what to make of this. I initially just thought it would be funny to put up “Jane Doe” images on my facebook, since I can’t put up photos of myself. I didn’t expect to find that I mostly share my name with women lost to history and to justice. I didn’t expect my male counterparts would be musicians or movie stars or grifters or suicides. I’m glad I have a real name to go with my assumed one. I’m glad that I’m not really Jane Doe (even more, I’m glad I’m not *a* Jane Doe). I wish my mutilated female body never figured into anybody’s fantasy, and I wish no one ever thought it was ok to offer to remove my nipples if they should become more offensive than a mutilated woman toy…