Adnan Syed Has Already Become a Sex Symbol, Unfortunately

The man has been out of prison for four days, and his friend Rabia Chaudry is getting lots of "who's your friend?" messages.

Adnan Syed Has Already Become a Sex Symbol, Unfortunately
Photo:Barbara Haddock Taylor (AP)

Throngs of allies, online and in person, were excited to welcome Adnan Syed back back from prison this week when he was released after two decades of being incarcerated for a murder he may not have committed. There were also, according to a tweet from his childhood friend and advocate, Rabia Chaudry, a lot of “very thirsty” ladies amongst those supporters.

My initial reaction is to tsk tsk these horny women for inquiring about a man who is still on house arrest for the next month. What is their plan? Wave to him from his lawn? At the same time, who am I to shame people trying to spit some game at a man released from prison? Being horny and inquisitive is not a crime.

Plus, women lusting after, dating, and marrying imprisoned men is nothing new. Kenneth Bianchi and both Menendez brothers married women who they met via writing letters while they were locked up. Bianchi’s wife even pursued Ted Bundy, before moving on to target the “Hillside Strangler.” These were men who definitely, absolutely committed the crimes they were convicted of, which can’t be said for Syed. There’s a whole ass book called Women Who Love Men Who Kill: 35 True Stories of Prison Passion. An old article in the Guardian described the timeless appeal of such relationships: They “retain the intoxicating elements present in every romance” and “need never move beyond this courting stage” or “translate to the ordinariness of sex and marriage.”

I think Syed’s allure is partially that projected and protected fantasy of desiring someone locked away. What’s more is that there is substantial evidence suggesting that he didn’t commit his crime. That’s not only good for him and for whomever he may partner with one day, but it adds to the predilection some people have to defend a partner who has been wronged. It’s that “us against the world” mentality that doesn’t entirely take into account that the “us” includes a hit podcast. If some of the interested parties have been loyal supporters in Syed’s case since Serial premiered, the crush includes almost a decade of championing him. That’s plenty of time to build a parasocial relationship with someone.

As for why women are messaging Chaudry about his availability? That I don’t know for sure, though I have some guesses: For one, she’s a vocal supporter and close friend of Syed, their best chance of getting close to him; she’s also written about his love life in the past.

While Syed was in prison, Chaudry kept a blog “Split the Moon,” in which she detailed her friend’s case and life. In the fall of 2015, she posted about speaking with Syed’s ex-wife, a woman he married and divorced while in prison. Chaudry referred to her as “K,” and while Chaudry doesn’t know why K and Syed split, she knows that K “still loves him and would marry him again when he gets home.” If this is still the case, ladies, it’s time to pack your bags. After her conversation with K, Chaudry gushingly decided that Syed has“a heart of gold in ways I never imagined.” So I wouldn’t say Chaudry isn’t fanning the flames.

Chaudry has positioned herself as the leading expert on Syed’s romantic life, enough so that she knows he is not interested in hooking up (I don’t blame him — there’s a lot for him to catch up on, like all of Succession). But there’s no use in asking her anymore about it—she’s closed that door. My advice to jilted potential suitors is use some of that pent-up energy to help free other wrongfully convicted inmates.

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