Thoughts on portrayal of women in horror films

I’ve always had a hard time deciphering how, and why do the people seem to view horror flicks or novels with distaste – as if they were the cheaper, less appealing genre when compared to sappy romantic movies that are just repeating cliches. What irks me more is when many question my inclination to watch thriller films – it seems to be a ubiquitous practice to which people stereotype my being female equivalent to my hating on anything remotely scary (doesn’t this say much about how women ARE STILL PERCEIVED AS DAMSELS-IN-DISTRESS??)

But this post is not just about being aggravated every time someone asks what I like watching – it’s fundamentally about how female characters are portrayed in the many horror flicks I’ve watched. As a awfully devoted fan of horror flicks, I am ashamed to say that there was not one woman that came across as memorable – not because they had mediocre acting skills, but because the scripts are misogynistic. Simply put, women are characterized as promiscuous, easy girls who are more-or-less made into ‘sluts’ that sleep around – thus somehow the director believed it would be morally acceptable to make them rape victims of the antagonist, as well as the first batch of people who would be executed in brutal methodologies (trust me, you would not want to go into it); as if their sexuality is a sin, as if their virginity is the key for survival, as if they simply deserved death if they wanted casual sex. Surely it sounds despicable and pretty much getting a ‘ew, gross’ or a ‘that only happens in the past slasher films’ from you, but I assure you, from Jaws to any classics – it will not only feature females running around for flashing their hourglass figures, but also feature docile damsels in distress that pose as the ‘final girl’.

In the eyes of a debater and an avid public speaker for female rights – I find it revolting that only with virginity, naivety and presumably good looks, you are able to survive a ominous murderer’s chase – completely incredible in real life. As much as I adore courageous female characters like Sarah Carter in The Descent – many many more of the females in the horror film industry are rendered as sex objects and a projecting of the 1940’s stereotype of females being timid, shy creatures who need men to protect them from all evil.

Haplessly, it is not just the potential female victims who are given stereotyped personalities – but the rare few of female antagonists of the film as well. Many films that feature female murderers often compose the female’s intentions/motives purely for romantic interests: If we are quoting Cat People in its 1942/1982 version – Irena Dubrovna is just a poor woman whose husband decided to cheat on her, and to exert revenge – she threatens her husband’s lover rather than calling it quits. Furthermore, her actions amplifies the message that the wrongdoer is the lover rather than her husband, who cheated and became disloyal. Besides, in the industry, many of the villains in the flicks are predominantly male and exert power over females – in many occurrences, females are just abused by them to demonstrate the ‘strength’ of the villains.

Most of you would probably be deterred by now – not just due to the horrifying nature of thrillers itself, but for the obstinate and unaltered state of female portrayal. Needless to say, this doesn’t only apply to the horror genre – but to the entirety of the film industry. As much as I adore the tension, the drama and the enigma – it is time to bid goodbye to misogyny in thriller flicks.




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