Whorror

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I've noticed something.  Perhaps you have, too.  Women aren't treated very nicely in horror.  They're the first ones killed, the last ones saved, the ones most brutalized... and the ones portrayed as the most stupid.

 

Now, yes, I know this always isn't the case, because, well, because sometimes women aren't in a horror story (see The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - although you could say a little girl was brutalized in the story).

 

Jack Ketchum's horror novel, The Girl Next Door, is a prime example of the abuse of woman in horror fiction.  It is a 16 year old girl who is brutally tortured.  It is also a crazy aunt who orchestrates the torture.  What is it that makes the abuse of woman so appealing (or perhaps so horrifying)?

 

I tried to discover the answer to this through Sigmund Freud's "The Uncanny."  In it, Freud states that one of the fears of mankind is castration (he relates this through the uncanny trope of losing an eye or dismemberment).  Is this fear portrayed through the mutilation of female genitalia in such pieces as The Girl Next Door?  Possibly, but I'm not sure.  Let's look further.

 

Oftentimes, the women who suffer the most are either promiscuous or sexually innocent.  Is, then, sexuality (blatant or latent) the reason women must suffer?  Meg was the latter in Ketchum's story.  In David Cronenberg's The Brood, when Nola thinks her husband has taken up with another woman (Candace's teacher), Nola bashes that woman's head in.

 

My assertion is that in the horror genre woman are brutalized and poorly represented because of the power of their sexuality, whether it is used or not.  Women are punished for this sexuality.  They are either punished because they use it (and offend others) or don't use it (and offend others).

2 Comments

Mike Arnzen said:

You're making a great point -- there's a horror film critic named Carol Clover who fully agrees and probes into the masculinist fears and anxieties that lurk in a lot of horror films. Same ideas apply to fiction. It's a very 'male' genre, and a lot of these issues come to the surface, 'among men.'


[I have to double-check, but did you post on the discussion boards about this book yet?]

Then why do women love the genre so much? I can't understand that. Entertainment Weekly said that the movie Jennifer's Body flopped because women don't like Megan Fox and wouldn't pay to see her. If women buy more movie tickets to horror films than men, why is it still a male genre.

I did post on the prompt about if GND should have been taught.
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