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The Trouble with Aileen Wuornos, Feminism's "First Serial Killer"

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Abstract:

Lesbian prostitute Aileen Wuornos was popularly termed "America's first female serial killer." Between 1989 and 1990, she killed six men, later testifying they had raped or attempted to rape her. By analyzing media coverage of Wuornos' story, I argue that Wuornos' incommensurability with available stories of women who kill illustrates the need to expand the rhetorical resources that make female violence and victimage intelligible. After demonstrating that Wuornos' gender transgressions were disciplined into intelligible terms by understandings of criminality as an already spatial and gendered category, I conclude by discussing the "trouble" Wuornos poses to feminist and queer cultural politics.

Keywords: Aileen Wuornos; Feminism; Gender Transgression; Mobility; Serial Killers

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420701472791

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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