Honestly y’all, why are we even surprised that a man named John Wayne (Bobbitt) went and got his dick sliced off for raping someone. He got everything he deserved, and frankly, I think he deserves even more punishment given the details of the incredibly terrifying shit he did to all the women in his life, and not just to his ex-wife Lorena Bobbitt. Executive produced by Jordan Peele, Amazon’s Lorena is an incredulous and sobering four-part docuseries on the headline that took the 24 hour news cycle and tabloid journalism by storm in the mid-90s. Lorena was dubbed as this jealous, fiery Latina woman who dared to wield a knife to her husband’s penis, while John was praised among men and women alike as a poor, poor victim.
When most of the figures in this documentary think back to what happened, they dismiss the very serious context of the penis-cutting with giggles and laughter, focusing on the what-the-fuck-ness of the dismemberment. It’s easy to laugh at it too along with them - the shot of Lorena laughing about where she threw the severed dick had me cackling. But the women in the doc make clear that he must’ve done something seriously wrong to her for her to have done this to him. And THAT is the primary focus of this documentary. It sheds light on Lorena’s perspective on all of this, especially because at the time of the trials, the only perspective the news and media cared about was John’s.
I don’t know what it is about living in 2019 as a woman that’s making me personally tired of true crime documentaries that focus on a woman that was assaulted - maybe because it’s too close to reality that it’s hard to look at those cases from a distanced viewpoint as I’m able to do with other kinds of true crime. But Lorena, and the director Joshua Rofé, does something extremely smart and poignant in the second episode of the series - they include Lorena’s entire uncut testimony from her trial. It’s one of the most uncomfortable scenes to watch, but also the most important. You can visibly see her pull all her courage to utter her words, in between ragged breaths and almost tears. She fidgets in her seat, as she is forced to mentally relive and verbally recall the trauma inflicted upon her, the terrifying trauma that literally caused her to cut off her husband’s dick, in front of the entire court room and the entire world.
At the time of this event, this story obviously came and went almost like the many celebrity scandals of today. It was flanked by the L.A. Riots in 1992 and the O.J. Simpson case in 1995. I think these arguably ‘bigger’ cases overshadowed the scale of just how terrible Lorena’s case also was, especially given how it is now in the year of 2019 that we’re scratching the surface on gender-based violence on a national level. The docuseries makes it clear that the only people who really cared about the seriousness of Lorena’s trauma, and the domestic violence she experienced, were feminist women. In many ways, I think the same would be true if this were to happen today.
Some of the most surprising parts of the docuseries for me was actually John Wayne’s life after the dick chop - he went on to be heralded by the likes of Howard Stern, went into the equivalent of a witness protection program for god knows what reason, underwent penis lengthening, starred in a bunch of pornos, and continued to assault many more women. The doc brings in another woman who John assaulted, and her story is so heartbreaking to hear, as she tearfully recalls the extreme violence John inflicted on her. To think that this man is now just living his life in freedom, and literally owning and shooting guns, with a Trump license plate now, is altogether terrifying, shocking, and upsettingly unsurprising.