by Phyllis Chesler

Last night, Oxygen aired their program about Florida’s lesbian prostitute serial killer, Aileen Carol Wuornos, for the umpteenth time. This was the first time I watched it and I got to see myself on camera. They successfully covered many points of view as well as the major scandals. However, many of the most important things I said did not make the final cut, for example: about the nature of prostitution;  ineffective counsel; the “dream team” of experts that I’d organized for her trial and whom were never called; and about a woman’s right to kill her rapist or attempted rapist in self-defense. This right belongs to women in prison, married women at home, women who dress like hookers and women who are hookers. I guess the program did not want a radical feminist analysis of these issues to interfere with the prurient, somewhat trashy-glossy spin that such programs are usually like. 

One interviewee emphatically claimed that Wuornos received a fair trial. Not so.  I cried out on camera: “Mistrial!” “An outrage!” An anti-death penalty lawyer kept repeating all the many examples which proved that minimal justice was far from served. I was the one who first told Wuornos’s legal team to look into the past of her first John/victim. They told me: “The dead man is not on trial.” An investigative journalist talked about this important failure in the film. I would love to talk to her.

I have an amazing unpublished manuscript about this case—and about the feminist and lesbian interest in it. I might publish a part of Chapter One—my version of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” and Norman Mailer’s “Executioner’s Song.”