Halloween! Let’s celebrate my favorite holiday with a (mostly positive) gender reader!
Writing about horror films and gender.
Andi Zeilser. “The Feminist Power of Female Ghosts.” Bitch Magazine. 12 Sept. 2013.
Zeilser takes a look at some of the tropes about female ghosts in popular horror films:
When you can pause for a moment between waves of stomach-churning heebie-jeebies, you realize that not only are these women sympathetic characters, but they’re all the more terrifying because they have every bit of anger that makes living women sources of fear, but none of the societal restriction.
Holly L. Derr. A Feminist Guide to Horror Movies. Ms. Magazine. 2012-13.
In four, soon to be five, parts!
“Part One: Daddy Knows Best.” October 5, 2012.
“Part Two: It’s Not Just About Vampires.” Oct. 26, 2012.
“Part Three: Worlds Without Patriarchy.” Oct. 31, 2012.
“Part 4”: 1980s Horror Reboots. Oct. 23, 2013. – I like this one the best so far.
Who else is excited about the new Carrie reboot, by the way?
Scary Stories to Read or Listen to in the Dark
Because who doesn’t need a good horror story with feminist themes?
Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The Yellow Wallpaper. 1899. Courtesy of the Library at CUNY.
—-. “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper,” The Forerunner. Oct. 1913.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is possibly my favorite piece of feminist horror literature. The protagonist is a women put on “rest cure” and forbidden to write or work by her doctor-husband. But something is off about the yellow wallpaper in the room–
It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.
A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity–but that would be asking too much of fate!
Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.
Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?
John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.
John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures.
John is a physician, and perhaps–(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)–perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster.
You see he does not believe I am sick!
And what can one do?
Stephanie Burgis. Pseudopod 032: Stitching Time. 6 April 2007.
Read by Mur Lafferty.
In a similar vein, a horror story about the coping methods of isolated farm wives.
We’d heard all the stories when we first arrived in the blazing heat of July, travelling together from Boston. During those welcoming parties, when all the farming families met together and the children played around our feet, older women took us aside.
The winters are long, they whispered to us; watch out. Don’t let your imagination run away from you. Don’t let your husband see, if it does.
Alaya Dawn Johnson. Read by Tina Connolly. PodCastle 194: Their Changing Bodies. 31 January 2012.
For a less scary read, this feminist YA vampire story with a twist made me start laughing in the middle of the street.
Other feminist horror/supernatural suggestions:
- the new Sleepy Hollow TV series, which features two WOC as leads and a diverse cast
- The Little Stranger and Affinity — author Sarah Waters writes amazing historical fiction and queer characters. These are not my favorite of her novels (I’m a sucker for a happy ending) but they are well written and spooky
- Welcome To Night Vale podcast, a surreal Prairie Home Companion in which the radio broadcaster Cecil just straight up declares his love for Carlos the Scientist in episode 1, and I fell in love instantly.
“Sexy Halloween Costumes” with Kristen Schaal. The Daily Show. 22 October 2013.
Brilliant satire from Kristen Schaal on The Daily Show on sexy costumes, and revealing the ultimate sexy costume.
Every year, Take Back Halloween adds new ideas for how to make Halloween costumes of notable women from goddesses to scientists from all cultural backgrounds: Murasaki Shikibu, Josephine Baker, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie and many more. Most of the costumes have instructions on how to find or craft the parts of the costume, and many can be made at low cost and with low technical difficulty. Why be a “sexy pizza” when you can be Sappho?
“We’re a Culture, Not a Costume 2013.” Ohio University Students Teaching About Racism in Society.
Every year, OU’s STARS creates a poster campaign to educate people about racist costumes.
Have a wonderful Halloween, readers! I’ll be back next time with a recap of the bullying and cosplay panel at Geek Girl Con!