When I think of Monsters I picture Dracula, Godzilla, The Boogieman. Although most know these fictional beasts aren’t real, in reality monsters do exist. Aileen Wuornos was a modern day monster. While waiting to be executed for the murders of her 7 victims Aileen would describe her crimes as “killing those men in first degree robbery… They had it right “Serial Killer”, not so much a thrill kill. I was into the robbin biz”(Broomfield). By evaluating Aileen’s tumultuous childhood and adolescence it’s simple to trace the path of destruction into her adulthood, and unfortunate demise. Although it might be easy to simple write Aileen of as simply “difference made flesh, come to dwell among us”(Cohen 7), it’s imparitive to realize Aileen was once a part of this culture, and it was that same culture that classified her a “Monster”.
After watching Biography’s: Aileen Wuornos, a documentary that interviewed friends of Aileen, & Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, a documentary that interviews Aileen in prison after her convictions, it’s apparent Aileen might have been doomed from the start. Aileen Wuornos was born February 29th 1956. Her teen parents Dianne and Leo had already divorced. “Leo was convicted of kidnapping and sodomy of an 8 year old boy and later committed suicide in prison”(Broomfield). Medical records indicated that Leo Pittman suffered from schizophrenia. Although Aileen never met her father researcher suggest “Aileen’s fits of rage, along with her lack of concern for others, reflect those of her biological father”(Arrigo). At 4 Aileen and her brother Keith who was 11 months older were abandoned by their mother. Aileen’s grandparents Lauri & Brenna Wuornos adopted the pair. Aileen’s grandfather Lauri was abusive. He “often told her she was “evil, wicked, worthless”(Arrigo). In an interview Aileen remembered “numerous beatings with the leather straps on her bare buttock. On several occasions, she was required to lay face down, naked, and spread eagle on the bed for her whippings… skin still raw from prior assaults”(Arrigo). Aileen’s friend Dawn knew Brenna her grandmother was passive about the abuse in the house. Brenna was also an alcoholic. Jefferey Cohen states their are certain traits that make a Monster. Cohen says monsters are “born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment- of a time, feeling, and place”(4). With this much disorder around Aileen it’s no wonder she was labeled “Monster”. Research suggest that the people around as in our infancy and adolescence shape the way we will see relationships with ourselves and others in the future. “Attachment theory asserts that the affective bonds formed in close interpersonal relationship between infants/adolescents and their primary caregivers are pivotal to understanding personality development”(Arrigo). With all of that family disorder surrounding Aileen’s childhood she was sent into adolescence with a distorted sense of relationships.
Aileen was sexually active by the time she was 9. Danny Corwell her childhood neighbor would later testify like many other boys in the neighborhood he lost his virginity to Aileen. “She would trade blow jobs for cigarettes”(Broomfield). Danny testified that one day he saw Aileen in a fort “and the door was closed. Keith (biological brother) and Mark (a neighbor) had Aileen in there… she was naked… Keith was having sex with her”(Broomfield). Aileen was engaging in incestuous relations with her brother. Cohen’s theory says “as a vehicle of prohibition, the monster most often arises to enforce the laws of exogamy, both the incest taboo and the decrees against interracial sexual mingling”(Cohen). The choices Aileen was making got her ostracized by not just her family, but her peer at an early age. Another neighbor Jerry Moss who Aileen considered her boyfriend said around other people he “treated her like she was nobody like she was dirt like I didn’t know her… I called her ugly, Bitch, I didn’t want to be seen with her”(Broomfield). Aileen got pregnant at 14 and her grandparents sent her away for a home for unwed mothers. Aileen gave the baby up for adoption. Cohen states “The difficult project of constraining and maintaining gender identities elicit an army of anxious responses throughout culture, producing another impetus teratogenesis. The woman who oversteps the boundaries of her gender role risk becoming a Scylla, Wired Sister, Lilith, Berth Mason, or Gorgon. “Deviant” sexual identity is similarly susceptible to monsterization”(9). While Aileen was learning to navigate the world like all of us, society was already vocalizing their distain for her actions.
Dawn recalls their peers “would always pick on her or she would pick on them… they always had something horrible to say about her, that’s because she had a baby”(Broomfield). When Aileen’s Grandmother passed Aileen was kicked out of the house by her Grandfather at the age of 15. When Aileen’s childhood is examined by researchers they determine “the inability to bond or form attachment and therefore, to develop empathy for others is often a result of inconsistent or lack of caring”(Arrigo). Aileen had a single story of relationships from childhood. That story was a story of neglect, abuse, and abandonment from the people who were supposed to give her the most love. After Aileen was evicted as a minor she lived in the woods behind her old neighborhood. Dawn says “she would sleep in cars or prostitute at night to keep warm… she would go there (the john’s hotel room) to get showered”(Broomfield). Cohen depicts monsters as “always a displacement, always inhabiting the gap between the time of upheaval that created it and the moment into which it is received, to be born again”(4). In an interview recollecting on her pivotal decision to go to Florida Aileen stated, “the other kids were living in their homes while I was out on the streets, but that’s alright I went to Florida”(Broomfield). Because Aileen had never been taught how to navigate the world she constructed her own guidelines. What other choice did she have?
According to Aileen’s Biography in 1976 Aileen’s brother passed and Aileen moved to Florida to prostitute. When Aileen was 20 she married 70 year old Lewis Fell. “They were only married for 30 days… Lewis filed for divorce after police records showed Fell accused Wuornos of hitting him with his own cane when he stopped giving her spending money”(Biography). Throughout her years in Florida Aileen acquired “minor charges for illegal possession of a firearm, forgery, assault, and robbery”(Biography). Cohan concluded “this refusal to participate in the classificatory “order of things” is true of monsters generally: they are disturbing hybrids who externally incoherent bodies resist attempt to include them in any systematic structuration. And so the monster is dangerous, a form suspended between forms that threatens to smash distinction”(6). Dangerous was understatement for our “She Monster”.
In 1986, Aileen in her own words “became a lesbian and all of it would get me in trouble”(Broomfield). Aileen met Tyria Moore aka Ty, at a bar. The two began an intimate relationship that lasted four years. Ty, In the late 80’s and early 90’s homosexuality wasn’t as political correct as it is now. Cohen writes “too precise laws of nature as set forth by science are gleefully violated in the freakish completion of the monster’s body. A mixed category, the monster resists any classification built on hierarchy or a merely binary demanding instead a “system” allowing polyphony, and resistance to integration”(7). Aileen’s friend Dawn never viewed Aileen as “gay” she said in an interview “their were no gay people no such thing”(Broomfield). Aileen made her own way no matter what anybody thought. According to Tyria “Once I found out about prostituting I did try to stop her because it’s not safe”(Biography). Although Tyria worked, Aileen would prostitute and stole to afford Tyria’s alcoholic habit (Broomfield). Tyria would later turn state witness in exchange for amnesty. Ty recorded Aileen’s and her incriminating jailhouse conversation about the crimes.
Within a years span between 1989 and 1990, Aileen murdered 7 men. She would be pick up by the “John’s”, rob them of their cars, and shoot them with a .22 caliber pistol. Aileen was convicted and of 6 counts murder and 7 counts robbery. Her 6th victim Peter Siems was never found. In Aileen’s trial for first victim Richard Mallory, Aileen gave an chilling account of a “John” who had threatened her life. Aileen testified she had acted in “self defense” against all the victims arguing she “never provoked those men”(Broomfield). She claimed all her victims had attempted raped her. Aileen would later renege her “self defense” testimony and wanted to “set the record straight” telling Nick Broomfield “Richard Mallory was defiantly not self defense, I killed Richard for, he had, I needed his wheels and had the right amount of money to move me and Ty into the apartment”(Broomfield). Although there are countless serial killers in history Aileen might have acquired the title “Monster” according to Rodgers’ Sympathy for the Devil because she was a woman. Rodgers states “Discourse around violent men are much more fluid. These discourses allow men choice, the ability to make rational decisions, albeit ‘wrong’ ones and agency. In contrast, the violent woman is not considered to be an agent in her own fate. She is not considered to be rational and capable of good and bad. She isn’t considered fully human”(59). Yes, Aileen viciously and unapologetically murdered 7 men, however being marked “Monster” because her gender isn’t fair. Eventually Aileen requested to have her state mandated appeals dropped stating she was a “Serial Killer” and requested to be executed. Aileen stated in an interview while waiting to be executed “to me this world is full of evil, and all of us are full of evil one way or another, in whatever we do, we have evil in us, all of us do. My evil just happened to come out from the circumstances of what I was doing hitchhikin, hookin, on the road”(Broomfield). While Aileen accepted her role in society, society marked her as they saw fit “Monster”.
On October 9, 2002 Aileen Wuornos payed the ultimate price for her crimes and was executed. We will never know what Aileen could have become Aileen said in one of her final interviews “if I came from a background of a family that was right on, my mom not dying, my dad not freaking out, if I could do it all over again, if I came from a family that was supportive… everything fiscally stable, everything right, I would have become more than likely an outstanding citizen of America”(Broomfield). Although it would be simple to write Aileen off as “Outside the Beyond”(Cohen), we might want to take a second look at those people. If not it might haunt us later.
Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, Netflicks, Nick Broomfield & Joan Churchill, 2003, https://www.netflix.com/watch/60033282?trackId=13752289&tctx=0%2C0%2C0b8f92f458e53e1b326df1826f6708b16c381dd6%3A679ef683c8c48da78fa8c9fd9216bb701127dc97%2C%2C
This is a documentary about Aileen Wuornos. This film has interviews of Aileen Wuonnos at different stages of her incarceration and days before she was executed. I will use this documentation to give insight into Aileen’s train of thought. I give this a 10 out of 10. Although it’s a popular source they have interviews with Aileen so I’m assuming it’s reliable in getting inside of her head.
“Aileen Wuornos Biography”.The biography.com website, April, 27th 2017.A&E Television. https://www.biography.com/people/aileen-wuornos-11735792
This website has biographies of famous killers. This documentary on Aileen Wuornos has people that actually knew her. I will be using this source to give a background on who Aileen Wuornos is. Although this website is a popular source I give this documentary a 10 out of 10 because I don’t think people who knew her would have given their interview reporters who weren’t trying to get the real story.
Cohen Jeffrey, Monster Culture
This article explains 7 theories of monster culture. Cohen compares monsters from all across times and culture to identify commonalities of monsters. I will use this article to tie scholarly article to why Aileen Wuornos is considered a monster. I hope to use multiple examples from this article in my paper. I give this article a 10 out of 10 in reliability.
Arrigo, Bruce A. and Ayanna Griffin. “ Serial Murder and the Case of Aileen Wuornos: Attachment Theory, Psychopathy, and Predatory Aggression.” Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Vol. 22, no 3, May 2004, pp. 375-393. EBSCO host, don: 10. 1002/bsl.583. http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=1fff0aaf-65b5-48f7-b6c7-9080c37c1b22%40sessionmgr4009
This article talks about Aileen Wuornos in relation Attachment Theory. It also talks about biological markers that may have had a roll in the person she became. I will use this article to talk about how from the start including her childhood and adolescent. I will talk about attachment theory and maybe her psychopathic tendencies. I give this article a 10 out of 10 because I got it from our Library EBSCO host.
Rogers Christine, “Aileen Wuornos: Sympathy for the Devil”, Illuminating the Dark Side, 2012. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/13115055/ewf2ever11811101.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1532213234&Signature=yAAHrm0kpgU%2FeE6XZlRCEI2pJjY%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DIntrospaces_of_Subversion_vs_Ideological.pdf#page=77
This article focuses on Aileen Wuornos and theories behind who she was. This articles say Aileen is combination of a lot of different layers. I will use this article to show why Aileen is a “monster”. I will tie Cohen’s Monster Theory with this peer review research on the real story. I give this article a 10 out of 10. It comes from a scholarly article so I think its legitimate.