Home' LOTL : October 2004 Contents CRIME16
LESBIANS WHO KILL ARE AS MUCH A
CREATION OF THE MEDIA AS THEY ARE OF
SOCIETY, SAYS KATRINA FOX.
In an email discussion with a US cyberpal about Monster,
which won Charlize Theron a best actress Oscar for her
portrayal of multiple murderer Aileen Wuornos, I mentioned that
the film is a real tearjerker. The friend was horrified and said I
should cry not for Wuornos because she was a "very bad
person" but for the seven men she killed who were "average
and decent human beings".
Despite numerous articles, documentaries and this latest
Hollywood production of her life, the image of Wuornos as bad
or not human -- literally a 'monster' -- prevails. While the
acceptable face of lesbianism is espoused by programmes like The
L Word, mainstream media continues to show its bigotry and fear
of women who break the mould of expected female behaviour.
Wuornos killed seven men while working as a prostitute in
Florida. During her trial she claimed all of them either raped or
threatened to rape her and she acted in self-defence. The press
immediately labelled her a lesbian serial killer, based on the fact
that her current lover was female, even though previous
relationships had been with men. Her apparent lack of remorse
for her crimes led to her being demonised and her claims of
self-defence were rejected.
It was a journalist, not police officers, who discovered that
Wuornos's first victim, Richard Mallory, had ser ved 10 years in
prison for violent rape, but this crucial piece of evidence was
ruled inadmissible as it was presented out of time. No top
lawyers came to Wuornos's aid -- she relied on over worked
public defenders to help her. She was found guilty of murder
and spent 12 years on death row before being executed in 2002.
A similar scenario took place in Australia in 1991 in the case
of Tracey Wigginton. In October 1989 Wigginton, her lover
Lisa Ptaschinski and two female friends Kim Jer vis and Tracey
Waugh, lured Edward Baldock into a local park with the
promise of sexual favours. Instead Wigginton stabbed him so
many times that he was virtually decapitated.
During their trial the three other women claimed that
Wigginton was a vampire and craved a large 'feed' of human
blood. Despite a more logical diagnosis of Multiple Personality
Disorder by two prison psychiatrists during the 14 months
before her trial, the media tapped into society's fears of the
supernatural and went to town with 'lesbian vampire' headlines.
A Mental Health Tribunal rejected the MPD diagnosis and
Wigginton was deemed fit to stand trial. She pleaded guilty and
to this date is ser ving a life sentence in Queensland.
Kath Armstrong, spokesperson for Justice Action, a
community based criminal justice organisation in NSW thinks
women like Wuornos and Wigginton are not afforded a fair trial
because they threatened the status quo and were subsequently
misrepresented by the press. "What the media presents is not
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