PREFACE: I wrote an entire manifesto over the course of the last three days about Women In Horror Month and my wonderful darling fucking computer must have hated it
Because it randomly deleted and cannot be retrieved. I spend a lot of time pounding the wall and even shed some tears over the loss but just as women have been given numerous setbacks through out history I won’t let this one stop me from re-writing as much as I can remember.
FEBRUARY 2010: 1st Annual Women In Horror Recognition Month Manifesto version 1.5
(1.0 would be inaccurate as it was eaten by the monster in my laptop)
You may have seen my manic clogging up of your Facebook/Twitter/Myspace pages with a proposal for “FEBRUARY AS WOMEN IN HORROR RECOGNITION MONTH: February has 28 days so it seems appropriate PASS IT ON.” I posted it originally as just that- a proposal. That is no longer the case. Instead I am fucking claiming it. As a woman I have spent most of my life afraid to claim space for myself in the world. Building this website is about confronting that and from my impression I am so far from alone in this. It is not un-common for a lot of woman living in our openly patriarchal society to feel the burdens of their gender on a daily basis. Examples: Walking outside alone at night with the constant fear of attack, still being paid less for equal work, reproductive rights constantly threatened, body image self esteem massacres in women’s magazines/popular media, etc etc. So who’s to say I need some outside source to grant me their godly permission to claim February as WOMEN IN HORROR RECOGNITION MONTH? Easy: I don’t. Just like I didn’t need someone’s permission to start Ax Wound ‘Zine I don’t need anyone to grant the creation of this much needed month. So, in the spirit of punk rock DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and a little sprinkle of blood saturated glitter I officially claim February 2010 the first annual WOMEN IN HORROR RECOGNITION MONTH. If I have to celebrate by myself so be it but I really hope to have the support of horror fans of all genders! Now let’s get into the nitty-fucking-gritty about why this is necessary and how you can bring this alive from the dark cold underground where it lays dormant and waiting for us to animate.
The awesome feminist group Guerrilla Girls have a poster that reads: “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? Less than 3% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 83% of the nudes are female.” If you look at the Oscars 94 % of the writing awards have gone to men and Best Director has never been awarded to a woman. Not to mention people of color getting only 3% of acting awards.
Women are seen as a novelty item in horror. We are bloody babes and soon-to-be gut piles in peril. We are “horror chicks of the month”: almost every site dedicated to women in horror is about what they look like and how hot they are. I used to love the term “Scream Queen” but it no longer has any empowerment left. The Scream Queen ain’t no Final Girl; (and the Final Girl needs a serious make-over but we will get to that later). Even awesome production companies that I grew up on like TROMA Entertainment feature Tromettes; Women who have a very specific body type and promote the company the way a hooters girls promotes the chain restaurant. (This is nothing against you if you have or are Tromette, this is just a mere example of women’s current place in the horror world we can keep the Tromette but bring her up to date!). Women have to face body image issues all over the place in our culture, why must we also experience it in our favorite genre? Why do women have to be celebrated as strictly Tits & Ass & Blood. Why can’t we be recognized as “Scream Queens” who scream out with our artistic and creative abilities; qualities other then how we look. I mean, shit, a lot of Women love horror in very personal and passionate ways and are not wanting to be “Horror Babe of the Month.” We are writers, directors, producers, artists, eery musicians, creepy doll makers, FX artists. We are audience!
How often do you hear or some from these women? If you are not deep in the underground with publications like Ax Wound, Pretty/Scary, Chainsaw Mafia, etc you might not even know women are out there doing these things. Through doing Ax Wound I have met so many talented female horror writers/artists/filmmakers whose names aren’t even on the horror mainstream/b movie radar. We are dormant zombies who must rise up and take up space, push people out of the way, and say LOOK AT MY BRAINS!!!!!!
This is not to say we can’t have sexy horror babes but lets also just think about what “Sexy” means and whom we are allowing to defines sexy.
With the release of Twilight and other bullshit films/stories that are meant to appeal to the female audience (wait, sorry, I just puked in my mouth a little…EDIT: Thank you to Melissa Ann Cook who made a good point about why I shouldn’t bash Twilight fans or make them feel stupid. So, Even though I LOATHE it I still respect the wonderful women who like it and don’t want to make them feel bad. Thank you for speaking up Melissa!) I do think though that hollywood is sending a message that women want vampires who sparkle in the sun and girls who can’t make decisions for themselves. But that is just my opinion. I really just fear the onslaught of Chick Flick Horror or as the amazing Rebekah McKendry (one of the only woman who works for Fangoria) refers to it perfectly as: “Lifetime Horror.” There is an interview with Ms. McKendry in the new issue of Ax Wound but here is a sneak peak and one of my questions and her response:
AX WOUND: Why do you think there is a such a lack of womens voices in the horror genre? I worry that movies like Twilight are going to become “chick horror flicks.” As if women don’t want to see gore or view vampires that don’t glisten like gold in the sun. Do you think because of the success of Twilight Hollywood is going to get the impression
women want romantic horror? This concerns me. It’s like the stereotype that women don’t like porn but rather “erotica.”
REBEKAH MCKENDRY: I had a conversation about “chick horror” with one of my academic colleagues when the Sandra Bullock movie Premonition came out a few years back. We called it “Lifetime Horror”, as in it was like a horror movie for the Lifetime or Oxygen networks. These “chick flick” stereotypes have long existed and will no doubt continue for a long while. But I have to hand it to movies like Twilight, in the fact that they also act as a buffer to lead otherwise unsuspecting moviegoers into the world of horror. So many females have discovered a love of horror and vampires through movies like Twilight. It is the training wheels of horror before people get to the hardcore horror.
As much as I like to think that society is advanced and is so gender progressive, the points you give in your question become shining examples that we are not too far from our repressed days. We still hold the notion that if a female is into erotica and romantic vampires, than she has an interesting wild streak. However, if she likes hardcore horror and porn, then she is a heathen slut. I find the latter far more interesting to watch and study! [read full interview in the new issue!]
Speaking of Fangoria: On the website they recently posted an advance review of Jennifer’s Body (written by Diablo Cody) and someone commented with a sadly popular opinion: “I guess this is trying to appeal to more then just a horror audience, teen girls…” Okay HOLD THE FUCK UP. Are people so seriously clueless that they don’t realize teenage girls LOVE horror. I have no hard evidence other then my own experience and talking to tons of girls but teen girls LOVE horror movies. It’s like a rite of passage. We have sleepover parties and raid horror sections like junk food. Teen girls may buy into Twilight and have it be platform to step up to the REAL horror film but many girls have always deeply loved there Jason/Freddy/Michael’s and probably contribute a huge amount of money in rental (and late) fees. Teen girls are not what the media projects them as. Sure, there are plenty of girls and women who fucking HATE horror but there are also plenty of women (myself included) who hate “chick flicks” or any other genre. This is not about saying all girls love horror but that all women in the industry deserve recognition and respect on every creative level. We are not just props like a bin of rubber severed limbs.
Now, back to WOMEN IN HORROR RECOGNITION MONTH.
Every day we should recognize women in horror and bring attention their projects but having our own month works to bring AWARENESS. It helps bring attention to people who may not even realize how marginalized we are as artists in this genre.
In Carol Clovers wonderful book Men, Women, and Chainsaws she writes in her introduction: I want to stress, before I pass on to other matters, that the bias of my book is even more extreme than the bias of the overall horror audience. My interest in the male viewers stake in horror spectatorship is such that I have consigned to virtual invisibility all other members of the audience, despite the fact that their loyalty and engagement can be just as ardent and their stake in the genre just as deserving of attention…”
It is about time we give ourselves this much deserved attention.
I want to double and triple stress that this is not some fucking ego trip for me. This is coming from the bottom of my female horror loving heart. This month is not about me coming up with the idea but about how we can ALL TAKE ACTION to bring AWARENESS to women in the industry. Please help me brainstorm how people can go about this. And you do not need a vagina to take part. Just like with any feminist issue if men don’t get involved NOTHING will change. It takes everyone to make a difference and I’m not separatist. So, men, please take note and help as well.
Here are some submitted thoughts I received from people about why they think WiH Month is important. Please add yours to the comments here and I will update this page and add your quote in this post as they roll in. (If you have a website include the URL and I will link to your site/project along with your quote).
“Why *shouldn’t* we recognize women in the horror industry?! That’s my question… we’re so commonly ignored by horror coverage: so many horror news websites, for example, also feature ‘boobs of the week!’ and such like. Dull. I think it’d be possible to celebrate women in horror by including men too, so if there’s any fear of it being an exclusive event, I don’t think that’s accurate. Hell, I think it’s worth celebrating the GUYS that women like too! The ones who do us proud!” - Nia Edwards-Behi (Writer)
“It’s just like guitar magazines. 9.9 times out of 10, anytime you see a female on the cover, she’s a model, not a guitarist… Fangoria can start by doing something about the disproportionately small amount of women they have in their hall of fame.” –Andrew Shearer (Gonzoriffic)
“I truly believe some of the best, strongest, and most empowering and challenging roles for women have been written in horror movies. Ripley in the Alien series, Regan in the Exorcist, Ginger in Ginger Snaps… Eli Roth’s Hostel 2 had an impressive display of badass bitches and femme fatales. It was incredibly empowering.
There are numerous women working behind the camera, too, that rarely get the recognition they deserve. Many people praise American Psycho, particularly Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman, but if it wasn’t for their female director, Mary Harron, who spoke up for the film when mobs of enraged feminists protested it, the film would’ve never been made as they feared it would be too controversial. Women deserve recognition for how hard they work in the horror industry and a month that recognizes both their hard work and involvement would be a gore~geous way to thank them for the jobs that they do so well.” Jen Soska (Twisted Twin Productions)
“Because it isn’t just a boy’s game–everybody can play. Woman have made so many awesome contributions to the genre, even its subgenres. As with everything else, women are underestimated and under-represented. So few step up and become seen.A “women in horror month” would be beneficial in the respect that maybe more comments such as, “My favorite horror director is Mary Lambert” or “My favorite horror author is Lucy Snyder” would be common, and it would open new doors for not only the women trying to bring something to the table but for those who would have otherwise not known about the talent at all. It’ll give exposure to (real) talent that deserves it and hopefully it won’t be horror sexpot of the month type of shit. There should be a WiH Month because there needs to be one–a woman shouldn’t “have to” show her tits to gain exposure or fans. So of course I vote yay for a women in horror month. February is a good month for that.”-Mary Goff (horror writer/artist)
“Here are my thoughts on why this is an AWESOME idea:
- Because without women, the horror genre would be severely weakened. Could you imagine a horror film without a strong final girl or a bad ass vixen?
- Because after the countless trends the genre went through trying to revamp itself, femme-made horror (or horror with feminist sensibilities) represents THE unexplored sub genre that may once and for all help horror by injecting fresh blood that will help rejuvenate a genre in need actualization.
- Because we (women) have a right to tell sick & twisted stories!
- Because I want girls to be able to be loud and proud about being a chick who enjoys horror.
- Because I think women who work hard to devote their body of work to the genre should be celebrated.
Signed a woman who likes her films dark, raw and bloody”- Maude Michaud (Filmmaker)
“we need a women is horror month for all the girls in fuck-all-nowhere watching the texas chainsaw massacre movies one after the other and loving it, but not imagining in their wildest dreams that there might be some political and artist value and potential in this beloved past time. for all the girls, like me and you and her and her, who have ever surveyed people on whether death by chainsaw or death by axe would be worse (personally i think the axe would be worse). for all of us who are sick of hearing it’s just a “sexist genre” or a “guy’s thing”, who are dreaming of bonding with girls all over the world and claiming horror as our own. afterall, women are covered in blood once a month and most men are fuckin terrified when they go into the bathroom and see the blood in the toilet because they have never seen that much blood in their lives. girls are used to it.” -clementine cannibal (zinester/artist)
“I think it’s finally time for a WOMEN IN HORROR RECOGNITION MONTH to appear in our society and become a long standing tradition. If a black man can be voted president, why can’t we honor the women who give their life’s blood to making the genre what it is? There would be no horror if there were no women. It may currently be a man’s industry, but females are well on their way to claiming their artistic integrity, voice, and interest from the media with an army of screaming females behind them. Both independent and mainstream studios are picking up on this, and horror is about to get a strong, intellectual makeover. We demand equal opportunity murder, equal opportunity filmmaking, and equal opportunity. Period.” -Shannon Lark (Chainsaw Mafia)
“All to often women are overlooked in this genre as just the people to run around screaming with their boobs out and great bait for the villains. I know that many women like myself work hard to better and make it an even more entertaining aspect of cinema for the fans and viewers of the genre; and we deserve just as much recognition as our male counterparts. We are turning what was once a “boys game” into a level playing field and many women are kicking the males’ asses in the meantime. Maybe if more people recognize the quality of films and content that women are producing, we’d have less crap on our televisions.” -Dai Green (writer for HorrorNews.net)
“Awesome, long-overdue idea. I have no major problem with how women are represented in horror films perse (other than the boredom factor from having to sit through the same stereotypes constantly), but I do wish there was more diversity and more input from female filmmakers, writers etc. And as a woman who writes and puts on horror-related events I wish those of us behind the scenes would get more acknowledgment and encouragement so that people would stop thinking it’s “cute” that I’m a girl who likes horror films and start taking me fucking seriously! I, too, am sick of being a novelty, especially when I know there are a ton of us out there.” -Kier-La Janisse
“I’ve been a film critic for horror cinema for over ten years and I think this is a great idea. Women in horror movies/horror fiction definitely deserve recognition. And what would King Kong be without Fay Wray? What would Alien be without Ripley? (well we know what it would be, it’s crap) What would horror be without the great iconic heroines of Alfred Hitchcock, the Vampire femme fatales who became synonymous with Hammer Films, the stunning Barbra Steele, and all the great female antagonists of the Italian Giallo films; or the female heroines of the 1980s slashers who consistently defeated Freddy, Jason, Chucky and the rest. What would horror be without Barbra who annihilated the 50s era horror scream queen, kicked off her heels, saved herself from the monster and was so convincing in Night of the Living Dead. What would horror be without the struggle between good and evil defined in the performance of Linda Blair in The Exorcist? What would horror be without Shirley Jackson and her incredible Haunting of Hill House; which is still probably the greatest and most influential horror novel of the last one hundred years. Who can forget Mary Shelly, Anne Rice, Poppy Z. Brite, Nancy Collins, etc,Horror only stays relevant by staying in tune with the heart-beat of the culture; and horror can only stay relevant by having as many voices from as many different backgrounds and perspectives as possible. To eliminate important female figures or a female audience from horror is to destroy horror. It will doom it to stagnation and irrelevance. So it’s important to celebrate it.” -Jeffery J. Timbrell
“This is a wonderful idea. most importantly it is a symbol of solidarity, an opportunity to create community and open dialogue and reassure us all that we are not alone in our struggle to be heard above the sea of droning, douchebaggy voices that pervades the genre. and maybe someone will write the story they always wanted to, or start fucking around with some latex, or re-watch old films with new eyes and they’ll find a home in this, with us. It is also a good excuse to throw a party. and because we’re pretty.” –Rachael Deacon
WHAT COULD ONE DO DURING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY TO BRING AWARENESS?
(I am going to put my ideas and you can also leave a comment with your ideas & I will add them to the list!)
- Host a local film screening, even if its in your living room with friends, and show movies made by women
- Write a blog post or to a member of the media about a woman in horror who isn’t getting enough attention
- Host a Women Horror Writers Reading at a local bookstore
- NOW ITS YOUR TURN- iv said enough: WHAT MIGHT YOU DO DURING THE MONTH TO BRING AWARENESS TO WOMEN IN THE HORROR INDUSTRY!?
SEND IN YOUR QUOTES and YOUR IDEAS and I WILL ADD THEM TO THIS POST! ALSO, PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD TO PEOPLE WHO MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS BLOG/or re-post on your online website/facebook/etc.
HEARTS & BUTCHER KNIVES,
P.S. THERE WILL BE AN OFFICIAL WEBSITE FOR WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH COMING SOON SO WE CAN KEEP TRACK OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE DOING TO RECOGNIZE WOMEN AND HOW WE CAN SUPPORT EACH OTHER! XXX