Why Being a Woman in Horror is a Triumph

TODAY’S BREW: Butter Rum from Target, one of my favorites. (If you have not had Target coffee, well let me just tell you.)

By Julie 

IT’S FEBRURARY, has been for 16 days, and once again I’m ashamed to do this:

“CRAP, IT’S WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH!”

Every year I want to do a GIANT THING for Women in Horror Month and every year I don’t get to it. And isn’t that just a metaphor for women in horror right there? We may be thought of as horror authors but the feat of being a woman in the horror genre isn’t celebrated widely, and at worst we might be considered kind of a pity pick in the Boys’ Club.

But the reason Women in Horror Month gets neglected by ME of all people every year is because of the same reason why women in horror all over the world are viewed as secondary in the genre:

Because we’re women first.

Women who are mothers with so many hats to wear that are all of equal importance that we need more heads to put them on.

We constantly hear about self-care because women forget all the time to take care of themselves, as busy as we are taking care of everyone else. *cue eyeroll by a bunch of men, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE* *and even if there is no eyeroll WE FEEL LIKE IT. We feel like we should be able to handle all of it and that we’re just bitching*

The AMAZING thing about women in horror to me is that we switch gears every second of the day. Every day I go from being kick some frigging ass mental health advocate for both my children, one with anxiety and the other with bipolar disorder and OCD, to doing the family’s laundry, taking care of all my lizards, taking care of my mom who’s alone now, doing the food shopping, the Other Stuff shopping, all three meals, picking the youngest up at school every day, running to therapists’ appointments 4 times a week sometimes, doing homework with two kids who have disorders, running the book fair, teacher conferences, going to the park, spending family time (which I feel the need to make A MAJOR EVENT every day), handling the oddly frequent flat tires and other car issues which had me driving my husband to and from work every day for weeks, running the school store, editing for clients…. The list is neverending and gets switched up all damn day.

Then I sit down after being Mom of the Year and LET’S WRITE ABOUT VISCERA AND THE MOST VILE OF HUMANITY AND MONSTERS AND EVIL.

How does a person just get into that headspace after a day like this? Or more often, DURING the day. I’m usually answering math questions (not my forte), and watching over some thing I’m burning in the oven as I write.

Then let’s talk about promoting my work and the utter failure that is because I just plain don’t have time.

EVERY WOMAN IN HORROR HAS A VARIATION OF THIS. EVERY WOMAN HAS A VARIATION OF THIS.

I shame myself a bit right now, because in my head I’m saying, Well, men have things to do too, and Switching gears and being the world’s greatest caretaker then turning around to be the most gruesome and disturbing imagination the horror community has ever seen is like, not that big of a deal. And I think to myself how I’ve never been treated as a girl in the Boys’ Club, and how being a woman in horror is no different than being a man in horror. I tend to undercut that I have difficulties to overcome because of my gender in this profession. But it’s not true. I do have difficulties that I don’t recognize, that I brush over, that I don’t hear about. And as a strong woman, I’m the one who could have a leg sawed off and say, “I was looking for a way to lose weight and THERE IT IS.”

Put-a-Smile-on-Your-Face-While-You-Nurture-the-World-and-Handle-More-Emotional-Burden-Than-Anyone-Ever-Should-and-Be-Pretty-While-You-Do-It-But-We’ll-Still-Call-You-Fragile-Because-Your-Muscles-Aren’t-Visibly-Monstrous is a mantle women have had to hold for, well, ever. To be groomed into this be pretty and shut up vision that we have seems to by nature work against writing horror. Blood, guts, perversion, disturbing and provocative terror that undercuts the most base moral ground doesn’t really coincide with this:

fifties housewife

To think that this woman might ever have say, cannibalism and zombies on the brain seems implausible. But hell, we came from somewhere, didn’t we?

These days you’ll find me just as often helping a PTA bake sale (and still feeling guilty I don’t do more for them) as I am reading something blood-curdling. The interesting thing about it is that–get ready for it–

WOMEN ARE MORE THAN ONE THING.

We’re capable of being powerful and the best at everything we want to do, especially the things society doesn’t think we can do. I think every woman has a rebel streak somewhere that wants to just goddamn show everyone that she’s a war goddess as she shops at Market Basket. It’s that struggle young mothers have where they lose themselves in being just Mommy. It’s the struggle of the woman who wants to be the perfect wife but has a dark side that shames her. It’s the struggle of the woman who doesn’t think the same way as the other parents at the playground. It’s the struggle of the woman who’ll be the trophy wife regardless of her capabilities. We’re fighters, every one of us. The women who write horror take that struggle and smash it onto paper and smile with a mouthful of teeth at any man who dares to question it.

Write what scares you. Be the monster you want to see. Read horror written by women.

2 thoughts on “Why Being a Woman in Horror is a Triumph

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