Remembering Aileen Wuornos & Keeping Her Strong, Brave Spirit Alive

You sabotaged my ass!  Society, and the cops, and the system!  A raped woman got executed, and was used for books and movies and shit! ( Aileen’s words from source)

Minus books and movie deals, Aileen’s words sound fairly representative of the many, many silenced female voices who are blamed, punished (in all sorts of ways), and killed for being part of the prostituted class, a class that is hardly ever a free or real ‘choice’ for the choosing. 

Dear Aileen:

I think of you often and how you WERE sabotaged and so grossly, grossly failed by society; it sickens and saddens me so deeply.  I didn’t have the pleasure of personally knowing you, but I’ve watched all footage of you and had the privilege of chatting with your best friend Dawn Botkins a while back, who is a most wonderful woman.  I’m so glad you had her in your corner, and I look forward to reading the book documenting your letters between eachother during your imprisonment.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Aileen Wuornos, a beautifully humane woman who will forever hold a place in my heart for her strength and courage in living through the horrific life cards she’d been dealt and that were completely out of her control.  Though life and its many predators victimized her in endless ways, she did not have a victim mentality, and left this life loved and respected by many.  She is a bittersweet inspiration to all women who find ourselves in the face of male violence, showing us that we must do whatever it takes to survive.  It’s bittersweet because of the way her life played out, and how it so needlessly, prematurely and tragically ended.

Aileen was a white American woman who at the age of 46 was murdered via death penalty by the state of Florida.  This punishment was imposed upon her because she killed seven men who rented her body.  To really understand this, it must be known that pain, degradation, rape and sexual torture are the NORM for prostituted girls and women, and the murder of prostitutes is an all too common and chilling reality, so common that it’s non-news (source).  Aileen tried explaining this in court, only to be met with blank stares.  As she said in her initial confession:

I wanted to confess to you that Richard Mallory did violently rape me as I’ve told you. But these others did not. [They] only began to start to.

[underline bold by me].  Given the violent reality of prostitution, it’s a wonder Aileen didn’t kill more men.

Aileen did change her story and plea a few times, from self-defense to ‘cold blooded’ murder and back to self-defense.  In confidence and when she thought documentary cameras weren’t rolling, she told director Nick Broomfield that all the killings were indeed self-defense.  I have no doubt that all seven murders were self-defense, and that the incompetent idiots around her manipulated her into changing her story and plea until she was backed into an impossible corner.  She was grossly failed by opportunists, ignorant and incompetent lawyers and other “experts”, and greedy, fake friends.

Aileen didn’t stumble into this nightmare overnight, no one ever does, and it’s intellectually lazy to think otherwise, or to minimize all the life events that led to the murders.  Her family and virtually the entire wider community failed her ever since she was a child, abandoned, abused and neglected almost every step of the way.  Unsurprisingly, such an un-supported life led to prostitution, which is a very normal path to take for women with similar backgrounds (though not always, women from all walks of life end up in the sex trade; for those of us who haven’t, it’s largely to do with luck, which can run out anytime).

When will this dis-eased culture stop blaming victims for a) being victimized, and then b) courageously doing whatever they gotta do to survive?  Spotlights must be shone upon the forces at play that push people like Aileen to make the so-called ‘choices’ they do (i.e. child sexual abuse, other forms of abuse, neglect, poverty, homelessness).  But more importantly than that, the violence, inhumanity and woman-hatred that spurs men to rent female bodies to rape is the more pressing problem of the sex trade.  The forces behind the DEMAND driving the sex trade begs attention.  Aileen saved her life by murdering seven violent men who paid to rape and abuse her, and who very well could have killed her otherwise.  Instead of understanding her impossible predicament and helping her out of it, she was thrown to the wolves and murdered by one of the most violent pack of men in existence, The Colonist Government.

We must liberate ourselves from this colonial cultural nightmare that we’re all trapped in which has everyone fighting for our lives and fending for ourselves.  It’s wrong, it’s unnatural, and we must reject it in whatever way we are able.  Forming a healthy, respectful tribe may be the first step out of this hell.

We’re all inching our way closer to death, and I think what matters is not so much when or that we die but who we are, how we live our lives, and the meaningful relations we have while living.  How we die is so important, and the colonist culture so often grossly fails at making our transition to the Spirit world a peaceful, natural and respectful one.

Much respect and compassion to you Aileen, and the many other, not-so-well-known Aileens of the world.  May you be resting in the peace that was never given you during your short life.

Here is part of a brilliant spoken word piece by Lydia Lunch called Why We Murder which so perfectly fits Aileen’s story:

To learn more about the realities of prostitution that the mainstream stubbornly refuses to acknowledge and spins lies and smokescreens around, check out the work of some leading experts on the issue that can be found here, here, here and here.

Lastly, I liked what commenter “nomnomOm” had to say in this article about Aileen by Jennifer Wright:

[Aileen's] inevitably adopted-out baby was the product of incest on the part of the grandfather who was (violently and alcoholically) raising her. No little girl leaps into sexual proclivities without some prior introduction to it.

As far as I remember, it had been alleged that her brother Keith was also sexually abusive toward her, despite her deep and lasting love for him. His death from (I believe) throat cancer very early left a lasting impression on poor Aileen and likely caused the break in her psyche as she likely felt she had no one left who loved her.

While I think she was ultimately guilty, I find difficulty in holding a very obviously traumatized and mentally ill woman accountable for her actions, and think ill of executing people in such circumstances when no attempt at rehabilitation or cognitive behavioural therapy has been made. [What Aileen needed was more intensive and long-term therapy than cognitive behavioral (CBT) -- CBT is all the supposed "evidence-based" mental health hype these days because it's short and cheap, and unfortunately a bandaid solution at best which rarely touches, solves or heals core problems.]   I believe that we are, as a society, too quick to condemn those who have simply had the worst possible upbringing. There but for the grace of God go I. I DO find myself having sympathy for her, as clearly she had no resources with which to take care of herself, or for anyone else to do it for her. In fact, I doubt she could have trusted anyone else to let her be their burden, thus her reasoning for delving into prostitution in the first place. And while not the safest of professions, it did offer her a sort of financial freedom and the ability to fund her lifestyle and addictions, but certainly not a way out of it all. I’m sure she knew it was illegal and amoral, but likely felt it was an honest living, moreso than, say, robbery.

I’ve always felt that Aileen was ultimately a good person. That she became a victim of circumstance; be it of her own doing, or just the way life worked out for her. Surely, she wasn’t equipped with the tools to be able to solve her own problems, and hadn’t been nurtured in a way where she could have even tried to care about herself. She will always be a tragic figure for me. Just another victim of the American Dream.

I also feel bad for Tyria, who is left behind to carry this dark legacy, and who no doubt bears the shame of it. I hope she has managed to find some peace.

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18 thoughts on “Remembering Aileen Wuornos & Keeping Her Strong, Brave Spirit Alive

  1. Joan says:

    Rest In Peace Aileen Carol Wuornos. (0ctober 9th 2002 – October 9th 2012)
    Today marks the 10 year anniversary of Aileen’s execution.
    Thank you so much, for sharing your thoughts on Aileen. I couldn’t agree more with what
    you have written. Ever since I first learned about Aileen, I have felt a great deal of sympathy
    for her, and everything she went through. So many people don’t understand her.
    I hope she’s in a better place.

  2. Feminist Rag says:

    I hope so too Joan, and I reckon any place is better than this one for the misunderstood people of this world. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Nathalie says:

    Dear Aileen, i hope that you have peace now and that the angels are watching over you. I wish that i could have helped you but it s to late and that hurts inside of me. No one can hurt you anymore and that i m glad. You are my hero,my angel and my light in the dark. I will never forget you! I hope i ll see you in heaven. You don t miss a thing in this world,it s a cold world with so much bad people. Take good care of you Lee,rest in peace,Nathalie D.

  4. Kim says:

    My stomach churns when I see Aileen’s name listed as a “serial killer” alongside names like Ted Bundy, Gary Ridgeway, and John Wayne Gacy. I’ve never believed she did anything but defend herself.

    In my state, we had a similar case. A 14-year-old girl was arrested for the murder of a 50-something man. It came out that he picked her up on our main prostitution “stroll” and took her to a deserted place in the desert. Her family had been brought to the attention of Child Protective Services several times since she was 9 years old. Abuse (sexual and physical), neglect and alcoholism (of child and parents) were all well-known and documented. Yet, she was left in the home. She eventually left and started working the streets. One night, this creep picks her up. She said he got violent, and she fought back. She was caught the next day, still driving his truck. (Criminal mastermind there, of course.)

    She was convicted of 1st degree murder and given life. She was put in our maximum-security adult prison. At 15.

    The children of the creep who picked her up kept going on TV talking about what a “great dad” and “good man” he was, and what a big loss to the world. Sorry, but any human garbage who picks up a child on a well-known prostitution stroll is NOT a “great dad” or a “good man”. He’s a pedophile piece of shit, and no loss to the world.

  5. Feminist Rag says:

    Hi Kim, thanks for your comment, I agree 120% with all of it. I study serial killers and sadists/sociopaths too and they are VERY different from Aileen, definitely different categories, different worlds.

    What a horrible story about that 14 yr old girl in your state, and an all too familiar one. (lol @ her being a criminal mastermind). These kind of stories break my heart and boil my blood and are a constant reminder to me of how deeply dis-eased the colonist patriarchal culture is, and how much work we have to do to heal it. It’s all so overwhelming sometimes, so many broken families passing on their sickness from one generation to the next, failing at protecting and nurturing kids into becoming whole, healthy adults, lather rinse repeat. Speaking the Truth and doing whatever it takes to survive means a lot and serves to put a dent in the lies and smokescreens…plus it constantly amazes me how resilient the human Spirit is…though for fuck sake all this is so unnecessary and preventable.

    I hear you @ the “great dad” / “good man/husband” statements, they are disturbing to hear, especially when the horrific things these so-called good men did is not acknowledged in any way. Though I’m sure there’s some truth to these statements for the people saying them, it’s just too bad they can’t see past themselves. But you’re right, someone that picks up a prostituted child (or woman) is not a good man or great dad, if he was, he would see his daughter/sister/mother/wife in the woman he buys. I also don’t think it’s all or nothing/black & white/good/bad; like XLondonCallGirl says on her blog: some people are mostly good with some bad in them, and some are mostly bad with some good in them. Though this whole good/bad concept is a moral/religious one, I look at it more like dis-ease vs. health, and the dominant culture is so deeply dis-eased….what gives me hope and keeps my fire burning is strong, clear and coherent voices and hearts who Know and Speak the Truth and fight for true freedom and embody the Change we want and need.

    Peace & Respect

  6. K says:

    Angered and saddened by her story and always will be. What a tragic waste of a life at the hands of her environment and society. She needed help not killed, sickens me. Love your article.

    • Feminist Rag says:

      Thanks K. So true, she needed help, not to be murdered! Her life really was a tragic waste, she was so passionate and intelligent, if only she had more people in her corner that saw these things and helped her get a leg up when others tried to endlessly chop her legs off, so to speak. The depth and breadth of hatred, coldness and inhumanity in this world is daunting. But we can’t drown in it. We must rise up, gain strength from eachother, and support the living Aileen’s of the world as well as other sisters and brothers who are suffering under the tyranical thumb of the industrial ruling class!

  7. Becca says:

    R.I.P Aileen, you was a strong woman through it all and are still respected by many, sweet dreams, see you on the other side x

  8. [...] Feminist Rag remembers her fondly as “the beautiful Aileen Wuornos” and calls her “a hero and inspiration to all women in the face of male violence”, quoting Aileen’s own words, “You sabotaged my ass!  Society, and the cops, and the system!  A raped woman got executed, and was used for books and movies and shit!” [...]

  9. Christina says:

    I’m glad there are people out there who do think Aileen was a victim. I honestly think that maybe if her first “victim” hadnt been free to roam the streets after his first rape she might have never been “set off” like she was. So many people failed that woman from childhood and its a shame that people don’t know the real story.

  10. AReyoukddingme says:

    Holy shit you guys are fucking dumb.

  11. Linda says:

    Aileen Wuornos didn’t stand a chance in this world from her sad and tragic beginning to her sad and tragic end. Her life story is one of the saddest I’ve ever heard. If she had been born into a loving and supportive family, it wouldn’t have been like this. She was bright and had great potential that she had no way to realize or carry out. What a terrible waste and a loss, as I believe she had a lot of good that she could have shared, if only she would have had the chance.

    I’ve studied crimes, killers and criminal justice for decades. Aileen Wuornos isn’t a typical case at all. It took her 36 years of living in a hopeless and brutal life to get to the point of retaliating against those who were using and abusing her. All things considered, I’m surprised it took so long.

    Her family failed her and society failed her. I pray that she’s at peace now and in a better place.

    • Feminist Rag says:

      Totally agree. Support is everything, Aileen was never given the chance to shine like the star she was, and yeah, her good shone through and was evident through her essence. Her actions were totally understandable, I’m sure I would do the very same thing, and probably a whole lot more, if I were in her shoes. Its too bad she was in Florida and not a non death penalty state. I am pretty confident that wherever she is, she’s in a better place, because hell is what humans create right here on earth.

  12. Joe says:

    While I totally agree that Aileen had a terrible life; it still cannot be denied that she killed seven men which I fail to understand how she can be ‘the wind beneath our feminist wings’. Is that to say you are condoning the murders of men who were paying for sex, which Aileen was advertising?
    I certainly believe the first court case she should have been acquitted from on the grounds of self defense, that man was a monster but why was the evidence that he had served time not brought forward to the jury? That makes me very angry.
    However the next six were cold blooded murder; she was doing it for the financial gain and this cannot be disputed. Furthermore her girlfriend should have been put on trial too; she totally betrayed Aileen.

    All this aside, Aileen did have a terrible life and right to the end she was exploited by people who were meant to be on her side. This born again christian who adopted her should be ashamed to have so obviously used her.

    • Feminist Rag says:

      Hello Joe, thanks for stopping by.

      I agree with all that you said except for the part about her killing the last 6 men in “cold blood.” Prostitution is paid rape, so that right there is a huge factor to take into consideration; along with the fact that most, if not all prostituted women fantasize about killing the men who pay to fuck them. Why? Because it is paid rape.

      Secondly, Aileen herself admitted to documentarian Nick Broomfield (when she thought the cameras weren’t rolling) that those last 6 murders were all self-defense, but because of her idiot lawyer and parasitic christian “adopted mother/friend”, she didn’t follow through with this defense. I doubt it would have helped though, because she was a woman, and a prostitute, up against the world — two categories the colonist male supremacist culture despises in a human being.

      I agree that her girlfriend Tyria should have been put on trial, but for what? It was all because of her that they busted Aileen. And Tyria was the one pushing Aileen to prostitute with strangers, outside of her ring of (safer) “regulars”, which is what put her in more danger, which made her kill. See, I think at the base of this whole thing, is the fact that most people don’t understand how horrifically violent and terrifying prostitution is. As I said in the post, due to this fact, its a wonder she didn’t kill more than 7 men, because the vast, vast majority of “men” who buy sex, are sadistic woman-haters.

    • Feminist Rag says:

      “Perhaps it was her own trauma that triggered her assumptions and her violent reactions, and that would then lead her to kill six more men over the course of the next year. Yet, despite Wuornos’s apparent mental health problems, her assumptions weren’t totally off-base. In studying the habits of serial killers who prey upon prostituted women and girls, it is clear how disposable these women and girls are seen to be. A Canadian commission found that women in the sex industry are 40 times more likely to be murdered than other women. Another study put the estimate as high as 130 times more likely to be murdered.”

      From this article:

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