The horror genre is typically set forward as a genre for men alone. It is somehow thought that women tolerate the horror genre only because their male partners enjoys them. I would have to say that this is the farthest from the truth based on the fact that 38% of our readers are female. Two of our most talented contributors Mary aka DirtyGirl and Jamie Jenkins aka MovieMaven both know more about the genre then I do and are female.
The horror genre is dominated by strong women as well as us males. As far as whether the horror genre objectifies women I have to both agree and disagree. 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 males to get off on women being victimized. In his paper he states that men prefer to watch horror movies where women are objectified and lack intelligence.
I find this plausible but also highly insulting. I will admit that I watched and loved movies like I Spit On Your Grave and the truly shocking Dead Girl but not for the gore but rather for the outcome. I want to see where it goes and when the end game is even more vicious for the instigators of the suffering it brings me great pleasure. I am a fan of justice 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.
I have said it time and time again I do not watch movies for gore and although I look looking at a pretty girl as much as the next its not reason enough for me to see a movie. I am also not a fan of movies that lack substance and are entirely focused on putting as much pain on the screen as they can.
Related Reading: Violent Femmes the Place of Women in Horror
I am mesmerized by films with a moral message and a vicious outcome like MARTYRS, Dead Girl or Surveillance ( which is directed by a woman ). I am also not a fan of horror films that cast their female leads based on great breasts and perfect teeth. Beauty much like gore does not make a good horror movie.
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 which really makes Dr Edwards point to a T. A really hot girl doing soft core porn who then finds herself impaled by the villain.
Although there is plenty of exploitation of women in horror movies there are a lot of very strong female characters in horror as well as female voices within the genre itself. American Psycho, Surveillance and the upcoming American Mary which everyone is buzzing about are brought forward by strong female talents.
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 at the last 10 years to find a strong female character. Sigourney Weaver in the ALIEN franchise made an evolution through the franchise from a victim to one of the strongest women ever portrayed in horror. It was no man that brought down the Alien Queen it took a strong woman to get the job done right where Space Marines could not.
There is nothing weak about Kathy Bates in the film adaptation of Stephen Kings MISERY and Auntie 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 it is about getting an adrenaline rush from filmmakers who dont rely on peek-a-boo nudity and cliche carnage but rather try to up the ante and truly terrify us while telling a great story. 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 then any other genre? I would like to hear your stance expecially if you are one of our many female readers.