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The Subject of MurderGender, Exceptionality, and the Modern Killer$
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Lisa Downing

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226003405

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226003689.001.0001

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Serial Killing and the Dissident Woman

Serial Killing and the Dissident Woman

Aileen Wuornos

Chapter:
(p.148) Chapter Six Serial Killing and the Dissident Woman
Source:
The Subject of Murder
Author(s):

Lisa Downing

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226003689.003.0007

This chapter explores ways in which the available discourses of the exceptional murdering subject that have been sketched out so far in this book are a particularly problematic fit in the case of Aileen “Lee” Wuornos, a lesbian prostitute and victim of sexual abuse who killed seven men in Florida between 1989 and 1990. It is examined here how the label of “serial killer” was debated with regard to Wuornos, and how it was at times rejected, and at times adopted as a badge of agency and of selfhood by Wuornos herself who continually sought, like those around her, to make sense of herself through her crimes. Her discourse alternated between assertions that her killings were acts of self-defense and statements that interpret them as a proud bid for recognition via the evocation of the “cold-blooded” serial killer.

Keywords:   recognition, Aileen Wuornos, serial killer, agency, self-defense, sexual abuse

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