by Amy Davis, November 2016
This is Amy’s final post on her favorite the film genre. Since she has been working with me, I’ve certainly learned a lot about slasher films and the fans that love them.
My thanks to Amy for educating all of us.
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I am a woman who likes horror, but it hasn’t been an easy journey.
As far back as I can remember my interest in the macabre was actively discouraged. Pretty frustrating, I might add, because the interests of my male counterparts, regardless of how off-the-wall they were, were chalked up as “boys will be boys.”
Things haven’t changed much. Society still seems to view the female horror fan as an anomaly. I’ve heard everything from “why?” to “you’re too smart to watch that garbage.” The weird part is the horror community doesn’t bat an eye at me and that’s just the way I like it.
A Fellow Fan
I’m a member at upcominghorrormovies.com and go to horror conventions around the Baltimore-Washington metro area where I live. While, yes, the community is mostly male, they don’t actively encourage or discourage female fans from being there. Because horror films project examples of strong women, the guys have no issue viewing us as equals. Most guys greet me as a fellow fan not a female fan.
My theory is that most females are discouraged from liking horror at a young age and never bother to go past that. And, yes, every now and again you will have a guy that is trying to “meta nerd” by drilling people with obscenely hard questions about crazy obscure things. These questions tend to get harder when a vagina is present in an attempt to weed out the posers.
Fortunately meta nerds constitute a miniscule percentage of the horror population. They want to prove they are bigger fans than anyone else, a sort of self-validation at the expense of others which makes everyone (male and female) uncomfortable.
I can only assume this gender bias stereotype harks back to the assumption that only psychopaths watch horror films and since ladies are less likely to kill anyone, they clearly can’t like the genre at all. The stereotype that horror fans are more likely to kill someone is insane and downright offensive.
Frankly I can’t tell you how many news reports I have read about would be killers where they felt the need to mention what horror films they watched. Each time I react with disgust that they would plan or do such a thing. But then I get furious with the news outlet for trying to imply that this would be killer’s taste in films had something to do with that behavior.
All of the films discussed here are in my personal collection and guess what, I haven’t gone postal nor do I know anyone who has or even considered it. I assume this is because we are smart enough to know that movies aren’t real.
Most horror fans shy away from real life gore. Not so with non-horror fans. Often they check out the news for blood and NASCAR for the crashes.
To those that hold these views I might suggest getting a day pass to a horror convention or going to a midnight showing of an older horror film.
The casual or non-horror fan is welcomed at these events. My husband confesses he wasn’t into horror before we met but took an interest based on my self-defined extreme tastes. Most “hardcore” horror fans we talk to react by asking what he likes and giving him film recommendations.
They do this to make him feel more included in the community which can be very tight knit. From the outside looking in it may be weird to think that people who watch fake violence for fun tend to enjoy helping others, but from my experience this is the case.
There is even a horror-based charity called Scares That Care! It focuses mainly on raising money for sick children with another branch devoted to breast cancer. In fact, the CEO used to direct horror films. This charity shakes a tree that many wouldn’t think of as charitable and leverages a community to give back.
As a woman, the bottom line for me is this: I have never felt objectified by any man in the horror community. Honestly, I experience total gender equality when talking to fellow horror fans.
As mentioned above, they see so many strong women on film that they assume each female is their equal. Since we are all so different and horror is our common thread it stands to reason that our viewing habits nurture this attitude.