HWA Celebrates Women in Horror – Part 4

Every day in February the Horror Writers Association observed Women in Horror Month by running a Q&A with an award-winning woman member. Here are the highlights from the final week.

Sandra Kasturi – February 25

Sandra Kasturi in 2000.

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

SK: Women everywhere face more difficulties than their male peers in just about every arena–unless it’s something that is considered “women’s work.” Sadly, those biases continue to exist. Although I did see a funny sketch on Saturday Night Live the other night, where a woman was interviewing actresses who were talking about the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated field like film. Kate McKinnon was playing an ancient actress who calmly (and hilariously) talked about “tickling FDR’s pickle” when she was invited to the White House. Jennifer Aniston talked about being a director, and Kate McKinnon said, “Did your husband sneak in and stand behind a plant and tell you what to do?” And the other actresses talked about current difficulties . . . oh my GOD, I am making this sound so dull. But it was pretty funny. And the point being, I suppose, that while things still suck in many ways, some things have gotten better. We’ve come a long way, baby. (Did I just quote a Virginia Slims ad?) Anyway, it’s good to remember that, when you’re frustrated because yet another table of contents in an anthology is 95% men. I say that, but I don’t want to be coddled and have things handed to me either. Because then it’s meaningless. I look forward to a time when if the ToC is 95% men, no one bats an eye because things are so equal that only the best stories were chosen–and the fact that it was mostly men that one time is no longer statistically meaningful–it’s just random chance. Will that happen in my lifetime? No. So we keep fighting the good fight.

I will say, though, that I’m not a fan of some of this new wave of feminism, which I sometimes find frightening. And sometimes absurd. There seems to be a kind of current climate which suggests that women can do no wrong simply because they are women, and that, of course, is ridiculous. You’re not sacred because you have a vagina. You’re not a good person because you have boobs. Men aren’t wrong simply because they are men. Assholedom is an equal opportunity employer.

Sarah Langan – February 26

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

SL: Yes. We face more difficulty in every field. I’m always reluctant to fill out these interviews during February because it’s also Black History month, and there’s something discomfiting about taking the light from people pulled from cars and shot by cops on a disturbingly regular basis. But time has taught me that women aren’t fairing all that well, either, and it’s exactly my reluctance that defines the insidiousness of problem. I mean, crash test dummies are only tested for the average man, video game avatars are based on male-movements, and when we ladies get sick, the medical books only devise treatments based on trials on men, from symptoms of illness measured only in men. So, we’re not only making less money, but we’re dying more often, too, and unnecessarily.

That’s such a rant, and I know it. But I’m finally feeling like women in horror month makes sense to me and the above is why. Before, I’d always felt like I was being thrown a bone I didn’t need. But (1) what’s wrong with a bone? (2) why says I don’t need it (3) it’ not about me, at all. It’s about women in horror.

Beth Gwinn – February 27

Beth Gwinn

Tell us a little about your Bram Stoker Award-winning work(s). Inspirations? Influences? Anecdotes about the writing or critical reaction?

BG: At the time of creating the book, it took over 10 years to have produced. Being the photographer for Locus helped me to be taken seriously.

Charlee Jacob – February 28

Do you think women in horror face more difficulties than their male peers?

Yes, they say that women can’t even write horror, especially using more graphic elements. I’ve been to conventions and panels, and all the time people would say that women can’t even begin to write extreme horror, because it’s so violent. You also get reactions from people reading the works thinking that women don’t write very good horror: well, some of the biggest writers out there are the women for horror! Women are still stuck in the Victim Category.

What advice would you give to new female authors looking to break into horror?

Don’t use your real name! That was right from the guts! Just kidding, but seriously, most of the time I actually wish to had not let people right away know that I’m a woman, just because of the reactions. The name Charlee helped me in these situations. We’re a bit weird here, in the United States, and elsewhere, but not enough to believe that women could write good horror.

 

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