It is somehow thought that women tolerate the horror genre only because their male partners enjoys it and I would have to say that this couldnt be farther from the truth.
38% of our readers are female and that pretty much dismisses that thought completely.
Women clearly love the genre as much as men and are as equally important to the genre in their contributions. We have three strong female contributors to our site ( Mary, Jamie and Gwen ) who know as much if not more about the horror genre then their male counterparts.
The horror genre is dominated by strong women as well as men but it seems that only women are objectified by the horror genre. Or are they? I both agree and disagree when critics say that the horror genre does nothing but objectify and make victims of women both behind and in front of the camera.
Clearly I am not a woman so I do not speak for them but I think its unfair to women and men to say the genre objectifies part of its audience.
I recently read an excellent paper by Dr Jason Edwards written in 2007 where he makes a valid argument that the horror genre not only objectifies women but is a way for men to get off on it as well. In his paper he states that men prefer to watch horror movies where women are objectified and lack intelligence then films that feature strong characters.
I think he is probably right but that doesnt mean all horror fans think that way. I will admit that I watched and loved movies like I Spit On Your Grave, Last House on the Left and the truly shocking Dead Girl but not for the gore but rather for the outcome. I wanted to see where the films would take me knowing full well that filmmakers generally are using the victimization to build up to a vicious end game of retribution.
The moral message in these films is simple, you sow what you reap and it is not about victimizing women as much as it is about empowering them and driving home a message to the viewer.
I am a fan of horror movies that feature ‘revenge’ and when a filmmaker wraps it in a tightly woven and brutal horror movie whether the victims are female or male is irrelevant to me.
Related Reading: Violent Femmes the Place of Women in Horror
Films with a moral message that use their vicious outcome like MARTYRS, Dead Girl or Surveillance to tell a story of morality are some of my favorites. As much as I love looking at a pretty girl as much as the next guy I am not a fan of horror films that cast their female leads based on great breasts and perfect teeth and focus on nothing but TNA throughout.
The victimization or objectification of a beautiful woman in a horror movie much like intense gore does not make a good horror movie and filmmakers who do not understand this will find an audience, just not with me.
If you look back to the early genre classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Friday the 13th there is no question that women are being objectified. The remake of Friday the 13th got more buzz for the Jullianne Guill sex scene then anything else which really makes Dr Edwards point.
A really hot girl doing soft core who then finds herself impaled by the villain is without question objectification. But tell me that other movie genres don’t do this as well?
Although there is plenty of objectification of women in horror movies there are also a lot of very strong female characters as well.
Probably one of the most obvious filmmakers who has taken a shine in recent years to strong female characters is Neil Marshall. He has done it twice now first with his cave dwelling film franchise The Descent and more recently with Doomsday starring Rhona Mitra.
We do not have to look to hard at past horror movies to find other strong female character. Sigourney Weaver in the ALIEN franchise is one of the strongest women ever portrayed in horror. She did what Space Marines could not when she vanquished the Alien Queen and transitioned from meek survivor to ass kicking saviour.
There is also nothing weak about Kathy Bates in the film adaptation of Stephen Kings MISERY and Aunt Ruth from The Girl Next Door is far from a withering flower as she invokes untold cruelty on the neighbourhood.
Related Reading: 10 Most Terrifying Women in Horror
Frankly for every movie that objectifies women I can find a movie which shows off the power of a woman. I think that Larry Darren said it best on our Facebook page when he wrote
‘ Ass kicking women make the world turn man. Beautiful, powerful what more could a man want’
The horror genre for me is not about objectifying women or torture porn its about delivering an adrenaline rush as horror directors cover topics that other genres are to afraid to.
Frankly those horror filmmakers who do make films that focus entirely on peek-a-boo nudity and cliche carnage are out there but are not on the top of any of my lists.
So yes I agree that many horror movies do objectify women in horror movies but not all of them do and to chalk up the fans of the genre as perverts for that reason is wrong…. especially considering 38% of our community ( and growing ) is female.
Do you feel that the horror genre objectifies women more so than any other genre? I would like to hear your stance especially if you are one of our many female readers.