Sad to report, the problem of genre misogyny appears to be well and truly out of the sci-fi ghetto and stalking the halls of the horror community. And this as the 6th Annual Women in Horror Month (WiHM) kicks off for 2015. And the unhappy occasion is an anti-woman rant by a certain well-known horror writer, as reported on Mercedes M. Yardley’s blog.
“Well, I’m mad,” her statement runs:
I’m not trying to be inciting or hysterical. But I am angry.
A “fellow” horror writer lambasted a dear friend and amazing woman for doing book signings while in costume and…I’m not quite sure what else. Being a woman? He said women were especially bad at trying to grab attention (“claiming” we’re horror writers when we aren’t) and most of us are hags anyway.
That’s right. Most of us are hags.
I’m sorry, but how did appearance even manage to worm its way into this conversation? This author has one book out and a second releasing soon. Yet he has the authority to decide who is really a horror writer and who isn’t? And bringing physical appearance into it is exceptionally personal. He doesn’t like the way most of us look? Next time I’ll be careful to wear a helmet while signing so I don’t offend readers. I thought writing was about the *writing* but apparently I was wrong!
Last year’s WiHM ran into similar issues, with the extraordinary statement by one horror publisher that the WiHM 2014 logo was a sideways vagina dentata with a huge clitoris. Some commentators mildy hinted at the time that such behavior showed exactly why WiHM was needed. This year, there isn’t any ambiguity at all. “This is Exactly Why We Need ‘Women In Horror Month,’ You Jerk,” declares Mercedes M. Yardley’s headline.
At this point at least, Mercedes M. Yardley isn’t naming names, not least because it’s the target’s call, and because her child has cancer (yeah: stay classy, misogynist creeps). I’ll report the offender’s name with great pleasure if it does come to light, though. I’d really welcome the chance to judge the original screed on its merits too – but I don’t doubt it would be as nasty as it sounds.
Meanwhile, Yardley continues: “This isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a constant thing. February is Women in Horror month precisely because of things like this. Women are often shunted to the back or otherwise demeaned in this genre.”
Last time I checked, horror as a genre was not supposed to be about the fears and anxieties of some very insecure guys. I hope WiHM can continue to help prove that to me. Because frankly, this behavior stinks worse than any morass of festering brain-dead zombies shambling together within high and very narrow ghetto walls.