Women in Horror – Support and Inclusion

February 27, 2014 at 3:49 am (horror, writing) (, , , , , )

In amongst the many sites and blog posts celebrating women in horror in February, you’ll hear the odd grumbling about how having such a month is unfair or existing only for the sake of self-promotion. In some cases, it’s more than just a begrudging aside but instead a loud and hostile attack denouncing Women in Horror month. Every time I see these vicious reactions, I consider it exactly the reason to continue celebrating horror of the female persuasion. And rather than acknowledging the ignorant, I think it best to counter with a positive message, loud and clear.

The fact that the question as to whether or not women can write “good horror” continues to float around the industry, and you never hear the same question directed at men based on their gender, suggests that we need to make extra effort to let women know that despite the naysayers out there, the horror genre can be receptive to female contributions. As participants within the genre, it is our responsibility to encourage female readers and writers (and film-makers, actresses, poets, etc.) to join in on the genre if so inclined. I see it as my own personal responsibility to try to counter the negativity and bias that exists out there.

When I speak of bias, I’m not just speaking based on what I’ve heard or read from others, but on personal experiences. I fight hard to get the opportunity to share my stories, as do all newer writers. I’ve had some small successes, and I usually get good feedback, but I can provide a few examples where I felt the sting of discrimination. Some of it was unintentional, people actually saying “Wow – what a great story! I didn’t expect something like that from a woman.” It wasn’t intended to be negative in anyway, but it certainly showed the prejudice that existed before giving my writing a chance. In another case, I’ve had a submission editor tell me they didn’t like my story because it used patois, only to use a male writer’s tale rife with the same supposedly disliked patois not long after that rejection. Was it because I was a woman, or because the other writer had name recognition, or some other reason altogether for that factor that made my story unacceptable to be forgivable in the other story? I’ll never know. The possibility that my gender might be part of the reason will always be there – and it shouldn’t be.

I’ve chosen to ignore the bad out there, shrug off any prejudice, intentional or otherwise, and use Women in Horror month to support both established and fledgeling female horror writers. I’ll continue to do so when the opportunity arises throughout the year, not just in February. If someone else out there with a bug up their butt about this issue wants to criticize me for it, let them go right ahead.

I’m going to do it anyway.

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2 Comments

  1. rarehorror said,

    Sad that such negative and prejudiced attitudes still exist, despite the many, many women who write (or have written in the case of those that have passed away) or contribute to excellent horror and genre fiction, like editor Anne Vandermeer, Shirley Jackson, Caitlin R Kiernan, Karin Tidbeck, and on and on and on.
    As you say: ignore the bad, shrug it off, and support.

  2. chantellyb said,

    But according to Caitlin R. Kiernan, she doesn’t write horror and gets tired of telling people that. You have to wonder where that reluctance of being called a “horror writer” stems from. She doesn’t say she isn’t an SF or fantasy writer. I think its unfortunate because considering all the awards she has won for her work (including a Bram Stoker award) she would serve as a good example for women interested in participating in the horror genre and anyone looking at working cross-genre the way she does. Instead, she’s one more public figure who may serve to dissuade this.

    Not that I ever aspire to her level of success, but if I had her credentials, I would try to use it to encourage other women to write in male-dominated genres, not disassociate myself from them.

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