Seducing and then dispatching her rapists (I Spit on Your Grave), tempting horny teenage boys before killing them (Jennifer’s Body), getting even with all the boys who ruined her life in high school by becoming sexy and then killing them (Tamara), having a real-life vagina dentate to defend against male rapists (Teeth), becoming sexy and sexual right before she starts killing men. (Ginger). What do all these storylines have in common? They’ve been touted as feminist because they star a woman who fights and kills her oppressors (see Carol J. Clover’s interviewees in Men, Women, and Chainsaws). Personally though, women being depicted as so powerless that the only way they can fight against their oppressors is by using sex is not my idea of a feminist film.
For some reason, there is an outdated notion that women don’t like horror movies. The truth is, women don’t just like horror—they’ve been making it for decades, and the genre would not be itself today it if it weren’t for the perseverance of women in the industry. Here are three women that made it possible...
The conventional wisdom is that women don’t want to be scared—or enjoy scary movies only insofar as the terror gives them the opportunity to snuggle up to male companions, as Entertainment Weekly pointed out in a 2009 piece. This strikes me as bizarre. Women bleed, after all, regularly and sometimes very heavily. We push human beings out of our bodies. We deal with constant threats to our safety. So it only makes sense that women can portray fear, terror, and gore onscreen in ways only those who’ve experiences it up close and personal can.
But I can’t blame the general public for the assumption that women just don’t make horror films. How would anyone really know, when the films that do exist are routinely ignored and diminished? This disturbing and irresponsible invisibility is why I founded Women in Horror Recognition Month in February 2010—a tradition that will hopefully continue until we are respected, visible, and included as both creators and fans. And right now, I’d like to introduce you to five women among the many who are working hard to be seen and heard in this scarily sexist genre.
You feminist horror fans out there probably already know that The Exorcist is being re-released next week on Blu-Ray and DVD, complete with new special features and an extended director's cut. What you might not know, however, is that your friends at Bitch Media (hi, that's us) have five copies of said DVD that we'll be giving away throughout the month of October as a part of our Horror Show series celebrating feminist horror in pop culture! Read on to find out how to win one of these horror-filled DVDs—if you dare!!!