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.
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.