On May 23rd, 2014 (my 24th birthday) I was reminded of why I started writing Day of the Woman in the first place. After five years, Day of the Woman has matured to something a bit more refined than what I started when I was eighteen, but my message is still the same. It's scary as hell to be a woman in today's society both on screen and off. Six people were killed and thirteen were injured before the killer took his own life, and it was all because a man felt that women weren't doing what he wanted. This was a blatant act of misogyny and it didn't harm only women, it killed four men who were caught in the cross-hairs. A man was determined to kill women and attacked anyone that could have possibly stopped him. Sounds a lot like someone else we know...
|I need to kill Laurie Strode...and anyone that gets in my way.|
Slasher films have come under fire for decades for its portrayals of female archetypes. Obviously there are exceptions, but the overwhelming majority of these films show male characters attacking female victims, and if a female IS the villain, it's used as a "twist-ending" or isn't revealed until the end of the film. Why?
Films are a reflection on the society they originate from, so in order to dissect the gender inequality of slasher films it's important to look at the way our society views violent men and women. This is a PSA that shows what happens when a man abuses a woman in public vs. when a woman abuses a man in public. If you didn't watch it, the results are exactly what you'd think. When the man puts his hands on a woman, a gaggle of Good Samaritans immediately run to her aid. When the roles are reversed, witnesses laugh at the man being beaten by his girlfriend, and no one intervenes. Why? It all goes back to the idea that women are the weaker sex. When women are villains it’s used as a shock tactic because society thinks it's so ridiculous for a woman to be violent that it comes off as humor. Witnessing the violence in action is laughable, but having the reveal after the violence has ended is horrifying not because it's a woman...but because your preconceived notions were wrong. On the other hand, men are seen as monsters because they’re asserrting their dominance as the stronger sex and they’re punished for losing control. This isn't a "men's rights issue," this is a human issue. If we truly saw women as equals to men, we would intervene when men are being abused and take it just as seriously as we do when women are abused. Equality would help men’s issues just as much as it would help women’s issues. So where does that leave horror?
|What happens when a family lives without any female figureheads?|
All of the major slasher killers, arguably the staples of American horror films, were all bred from complicated relationships with men that were violent to women. Horror puts how screwed up society is under a microscope to show us how all these things (patriarchy, materialism, etc) birth the things of nightmares. Freddy Krueger was "the bastard son of 100 maniacs" when he was conceived from his mother, a nun, who was gang-raped. Michael Myers (if we follow the Rob Zombie origin story and not the ridiculous cult nonsense of HALLOWEEN 6) was raised in a house with an abusive step-father and was brought to believe his mother was a bad person because of her profession. Jason Voorhees was raised by a single-mother who was essentially punished for having a career and not living solely as a mother when those she elected to watch her son let him die. Leatherface was raised in an environment where the patriarchy reigned supreme and his own femininity was the cause for much ridicule from his family. Many people like to dismiss these slashers as just pure evil, but they're not. If we focus on the initial introductions of these characters, (and not the one-liners or ridiculous mythos perpetuated in the sequels) it becomes horrifying to realize that any one of us could become a monster. Forget about the movie magic of Freddy being able to kill us in our dreams, he's still an angry man hell bent on revenge. They're all products of their environment, their mental state, and the societal experiences they were exposed to during the important stages of development. These men were all brought out of a world coated with men showcasing violence towards women, and they continued a pattern. But these horror icons came long before Elliot Rodgers...what does that say about society today?
|Billy Loves Stu. Totally.|
But wait, women always survive in these horror movies! Yeah, but...
|Sweaters in summer? Get out of here.|
|One-liners aside, Freddy is a total creep.|