It’s February. The month of love. And Bloody-Disgusting wants to celebrate romance, kisses, and Katherine Heigl — no, screw that. It’s February. The month to actively show massive amounts of appreciation for Women in Horror. In case you’re unaware, for the past five years, February has been deemed Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM). Most of us don’t need a month (or reason) to celebrate our favorite women in horror, but this extremely estrogen-fueled month gives us an excuse to revel in the fairest species creating gruesome, terrifying, and horrifically beautiful art.
WiHM Founder, Hannah Forman, decided such a month should be set in place after becoming engrossed in feminist studies during college, while at the same time indulging a deep passion for horror and slasher films—leading to feelings of feminist guilt and discomfort. Loving these films yet understanding why they were problematic sparked an internal conflict for Hannah. She felt guilty. It wasn’t until she discovered Carol Clover, author of Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film that Hannah was able to reconcile these two passions. Loving horror and fighting for women’s rights didn’t have to be oil and water.
Although she initially faced a few disgruntled consumers, the cause gets stronger each year, bringing in new advocates and fans in droves. Two of WiHM’s biggest advocates are those sexy albeit crazy twisted twins, literally The Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska. Best known for their unapologetic attitude toward horror, and female-driven genre films Dead Hooker in a Trunk and the recent cult success American Mary.
Back in 2010, the inaugural year of WiHM, the Soska Sisters were struggling to get their first film Dead Hooker the attention it deserved. After being introduced to Hannah and forming an instantaneous bond, they were immediately on board with the idea to spend an entire month celebrating women in horror.
“I firmly believe that there is the family you are born with and the family you find in life that you were always meant to. Because of that, we were involved with WiHM from the very beginning and it was the first time our film was played at Nia Edwards-Behi’s GHOULS ON FILM Festival.” Jen Soska tells BD.
It’s clear that WiHM isn’t just about watching female driven horror movies and reading Agatha Christie or Mary Shelley, it’s a way to find that family Jen speaks of, engage with women and men alike who share a love and appreciation for females in the genre.
But it’s quite possible that the most important aspect of WiHM is recognizing those females who have shaped the genre into what it has become today. Sylvia tells BD it’s not just about recognizing women who’ve pioneered the genre but also those who are shaping modern cinema in the present “and encouraging those who will be the future of women in the industry.” While Jen agrees with her sister, she adds another very important point. “[WiHM is crucial] to promote equality that does NOT mean any unfounded sexism towards men as there are many men that are wonderful feminists and supporters of women.”
Some of you may be rolling your eyes, thinking that a whole month to celebrate women in horror is superfluous. Maybe you think it goes against feminism or promotes females in an unflattering light. But for many women working in such a male dominated field—this month is another step toward complete equality in the horror genre.
Sylvia remembers earlier days when she was spoken down to and degraded based on her gender. “The outlandish, unspeakable disrespect and unnecessary struggles really opened my eyes to what unacceptable behaviour is still going on. I will always speak out against it. It’s ridiculous in this day and age not to have equal treatment in the working world in any industry.”
Jen points out that sexism is still a big enough problem in the genre that we tend to turn a blind eye to it, we think, it’s expected, so why fight it? “It’s almost become so common that people say stupid shit like, ‘You’re a woman in this business, you just have to get used to it.’ Fuck that and anyone who believes it.” Jen tells BD.
WiHM is not only a lesson in sexism but also a form of education to many who love the genre but are unaware of the strong female involvement (outside of big-breasted chicks running from psychos and machetes in underwear and heels). Jen says, “Before WiHM, even though I consider myself a feminist indeed, I had no idea about [the] women that shaped this industry like Alice Guy, Dorothy Arzner, and numerous others.”
Take the opportunity that this month provides to educate yourself not only on women in horror filmography but also female horror authors, artists, and everything in between. Throw your own female-driven film fest, select a female-authored horror book for your book club, support independent female artists with a taste for the macabre. And possibly MOST importantly… donate blood!
“It’s an event that goes hand-in-hand with horror that can give back and literally save lives.” Sylvia tells BD. Jen adds, “I’ve always wanted to see the horror community support blood donation. It seemed like a no brainer and I wanted WiHM to have a cause to give to. [A cause] that would take guts—as many of us do not care for needles. Donating blood is just about the most selfless thing someone can do. It’s truly being a hero and there is no substitute for blood.”
So go on and celebrate! Check out the website and look for WiHM events in your area. “This year I am so especially excited about the diverse locations [of WiHM events], USA, Canada, Australia, Portugal, Scotland, and beyond. There is a thriving amount of blogs, podcasts, and other media being generated about women in all areas of the horror arts,” says Hannah.
Happy Women in Horror Recognition Month!
Editorial by – Bree Ogden