Remembering Aileen Wuornos & Keeping Her Strong, Brave Spirit Alive

Feminist Rag Award NEW_Aileen Wuornos

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 are 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 because money is the currency of slavery.  This makes prostitution the most intimate, dangerous, and therefore the most traumatizing kind of slavery.

Dear Aileen:

I think of you often and how you WERE sabotaged and so grossly, grossly failed by society; it sickens and saddens me 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 ‘Dear Dawn’ which documents your letters between eachother during your imprisonment.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Aileen Wuornos, a beautifully humane and intelligent woman who will forever hold a place in my heart for her resilience to 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.  Aileen left this life with dignity, 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 gotta do whatever it takes to survive.  It’s heartbreaking how Aileen’s life played out and then so needlessly, prematurely and tragically ended.

Aileen was a white American woman who at the age of 46 was murdered by death penalty by the state of Florida.  This revengeful punishment was imposed upon her because she killed seven men who violently rented her body for sex.  To really understand this, it must be known that degradation, rape, physical, verbal, mental and sexual torture are all too common an experience 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.

Given the violent reality of prostitution, it’s a wonder Aileen didn’t kill more of her violent johns.  The above quote is CRITICAL in understanding the whole story and says so much — the first guy she killed DID rape and torture her, and the other six BEGAN to.  She endured and thankfully survived Richard Mallory’s assault of her by killing him —-> i.e. self-defense — if not he would’ve killed her, which he told her he would.  After this brutal ordeal and near death experience, Aileen decided no more rape and possible death at the hands of johns, so rather than allowing the next 6 to *complete* their assault of her, she killed them when they BEGAN to. It’s that simple.  But the circus show that goes on in courts doesn’t care; this perspective is too boring and sensical for the legal industry’s drama queens and kings — I’m talking about lawyers whose lives are so empty and boring that they need to sensationalize, dehumanize and make a side show spectacle out of real people’s real lives and real tragedies.  Situations that require much sensitivity and RESPECT.  These lawyers (and media vultures) have no interest in the TRUTH, they’re only interested in finding “evidence” to support their pre-conceived notions of what the Truth is.  “Evidence” that they spin, twist and turn to support what they want to support, not *actual* evidence of facts and circumstances that lay out the reality of whatever tragic situation is on trial.  Watching such lawyers in action in court is very disturbing, it’s as though they’re fulfilling their fantasy of being actors — wannabe actors behaving like they’re on stage in a theater production in front of an audience, rather than professionals with the huge responsibility of using intellect and common sense to explain the people and positions they are representing. Apparently, common sense isn’t so common.

Aileen did change her story and plea a few times, from self-defense to “cold blooded” murder and back to self-defense, I think because she was so drained and traumatized from, and probably confused by how everything was going down legally and in the media, with no end in sight.  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 believe her because it just makes sense when thinking about and putting all the puzzle pieces together.  Tragically, 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 due to luck, which can run out anytime).

When will this dis-eased culture stop blaming victims for being victimized and then courageously doing whatever they gotta do to survive?  Spotlights must be shone upon the forces at play that push the Aileen’s of the world to make the so-called ‘choices’ they do — i.e. child sexual abuse, other forms of abuse, neglect, poverty, homelessness.  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, ripped apart by the media, then murdered by one of the most violent pack of men in existence, the colonist government.

We’re all inching our way closer to death, and I think what matters is not so much when or that we die, but 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.  The death penalty is one such failure — capital “punishment” is just that – punishment – not justice in any shape or form — it is savage, hateful, revenge-fueled murder.

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

To learn more about the realities of prostitution that the mainstream stubbornly refuses to acknowledge and spins lies and smokescreens around to minimize and outright deny its inherent violence and degradation, check out the work of some leading experts on the issue (i.e. survivors of it) that can be found here, here, here and here.

I liked what commenter “nomnomOm” had to say in this article about Aileen:

[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, more so 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 end with this brilliant spoken word piece by the wicked awesome Lydia Lunch, called Why We Murder, which so perfectly fits Aileen’s story:

UPDATE on April 12, 2015:

This article has gotten alot of traffic since its publication so I’ve edited and added some content to better reflect my position on this story, as well as address some points that people have raised.

I also think it’s worth noting the radical differences between male and female responses to this story.  Women overwhelmingly express compassion and understanding for Aileen’s plight, while men overwhelmingly express general disrespect, rage, outrage, childishness, close-mindedness, inhumanity and non-empathy.  Why can’t men wrap their minds or hearts around how different the female experience is and how rape and violence is a brutal reality for females, most especially for more marginalized women and specifically, women in prostitution?  Why do some men take a story of an outcome/symptom of a misogynist culture as a personal attack against them if they are not misogynists?

If you’re a man who is truly respectful of women, then you wouldn’t take this story as a personal attack or see it as a “war path of hate against men” (lol @ the absurdity!) — you would instead express some compassion and understanding, and hopefully, add your voice to the collective outcry of injustice that Aileen’s story incites in any humane person. To equate having compassion for Aileen as misandry and double standard-ism is ridiculous and intellectually lazy.  There is no “hatred of men” expressed in this article.  There IS resistance to misogyny, violence against women, and the gross miscarriage of justice Aileen got.

How men have reacted to this story says a whole lot about them and the dismal state of male and female relations today.  Maybe I’m a naive fool, but I really think that men can do and be better once they shed the ego, immaturity, myopia and frat-boy idiocy that the colonist culture dictates.  This takes a lot of work.  Are you up to it?  Take a step back. Unlearn cruelty.  Open your hearts. Un-mine your minds.  DEcolonize!

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

  1. molly mayhew says:

    Hi, would love to reference this article in an essay of mine on feminity in the media, who is the original author? Thanks, Molly.

  2. Ged says:

    May god rest her troubled soul! We all know it WAS self defence, no matter how many times, cover ups, lies, corruption, degradation, all played their part in her mis-trial. I am a man and truly believe in her word, she was used to make money, a pawn! Its sickening, aileens best option was death, thats why she ‘admitted’ responsibility, it was either death or a lifetime of abuse from guards, dodgy officers, anyone trying to make a quick quid! She chose death coz it was her ONLY realistic option. So sad. Rest in peace! You will have your ‘independance day’ one day! Xxx

  3. Ged says:

    I just feel deeply saddened and feel the need to get her name cleared, she was not a ‘monster’, the people who took advantage of her and her situation are the real Monsters!

  4. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much for writing this piece. I know it was written 5 years ago but I have just recently watched everything I possibly can on this case for the first time since it happened and….your words are the exact way I felt watching each and every piece of footage I saw of her. Society and absolutely EVERYONE in her life had just wrecked her. Even the one person she was every truly in love with or trusted turned on her to capitalize on what she had gone through and done as a result. I’m sickened. Thank you for validating my perspective. I feel outraged for her. Gonna have to write to her in my damn journal and pray to the stars she picks up on the frequency of my message and yours here…..that this realm we live in on earth failed her. This life phase was a wash for her because of the inhumanity on the planet she landed on. Everyone who ever held responsibility for her judged her as soon as she entered the world. Not one person with a derogatory comment can relate to that because they’re too ignorant to see past their own privileged opinion. Thank you again for writing this

    • Kiah says:

      Totally agree with you Ashley, I watched the documentary today and feel so very sad for Aileen, for the abuse and neglect she was shown in her life and for the way she was executed rather than given help for her obvious mental health issues. Rest easy Aileen…

  5. Heidi says:

    I’m glad to find someone that has written something with empathy for this woman.
    Rapists walk free everyday and this woman trying to fix her situation the only way she knew how was killed.
    If anybody had cared enough to help her she wouldn’t have ended up going through everything she did.
    In saying that I do think that by the end of it she was a bit mad and once she started getting revenge for every time she had been abused she couldn’t stop but anyone would be with that amount of trauma, she was incredibly strong and I admire her tenacity throughout her life.
    She had an incredibly hard life and it makes me emotional to think she was never truly loved, I think tyria Moore was a spineless coward for using her , persuading her to continue killing , because she liked spending the money, she never had to lift a finger, poor Aileen gave her everything. She just wanted love.

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