I’m rolling out the red carpet for Sara Jayne Townsend who has dropped my blog today to to share a guest post. This is a good one *rubs hands together eagerly* and I can’t wait to hear your opinions! So kick back, enjoy and check out what she has to say!
by Sara Jayne Townsend
Last month was Women in Horror month. For the second year running, I participated in this by running relevant posts on my blog. Last year, I showcased women horror writers. This year, I looked at fictional kick-ass role models of horror (specifically Buffy, Alice from ‘Resident Evil’, Ripley from ‘Alien’ and Sarah Connor from the ‘Terminator’ films).
I think this is an important cause, because we need to raise the profile of women in horror. Women have been writing horror since Mary Shelley penned ‘Frankenstein’. They read horror. There are even well-respected women directing horror films. So why, in the 21st century, is there still a pervading general opinion that women don’t ‘do’ horror? As a woman horror writer I think about this question a lot.
I think part of the problem is the fact that the media will always encourage majority opinion. This is most evident when the Xmas ads get rolled out. If you buy your gifts based on the message the commercials are giving you, you’d assume that the women in your life want make-up kits and romance films, and the men in your life want computer games and science fiction films. Not that I want to rant about this, but anyone who doesn’t know me well enough to know I’d rather have a zombie PS3 game for Xmas than a make-up kit shouldn’t be buying me a gift at all.
I have lived my life in the minority. I’m left-handed, and the world is geared for right-handed people. I live in a country where the two favourite pastimes are eating curry and watching football, and I don’t like either. I am a woman who reads and writes horror. I play video games, and D&D. I don’t have, and have no desire to have, children, and I have little interest in clothes and shoes and hand bags. I am not alone in any of this. The majority of my female friends are horror and sci fi fans, and we talk with enthusiasm about the same TV shows. We also rant collectively about the image of women in the media, and lack of decent female role models.
Things are changing, slowly (hence my recent blog posts about positive fictional female role models in the media), but there’s still a long way to go. And if the media continues to cater to gender preconceptions, things will never change quickly enough.
But change is always slow, if constant. There may always be fewer women writing horror than there are men, but that doesn’t make them any less relevant. The majority opinion isn’t necessarily right – just more popular. And there is something to be said for being part of the elite minority. When your voice is smaller, you just have to shout louder. Eventually people listen.
Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. Her latest book, SOUL SCREAMS is a collection of short horror stories and is available in e-book and print format from Stumar Press (http://stumarpress.webs.com/soulscreams.htm). Learn more about Sara and her writing by visiting her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com).