The role of women in horror movies has been quite a controversial issue in history. There have been many criticisms of the genre, from the way women are presented, to the explicit violence against them, and the ongoing sexual objectification.
Don’t get us wrong – not all horror movies sexualise and promote violence towards women – think horror masterpieces like The Sixth Sense (1999) – a must-watch. But in some horror films, the line between a strong female character (whether she be a victim or a killer), and a female character who is unnecessarily sexually objectified, is blurred.
In different sub-genres (thrillers, slashers, supernatural, paranormal…), women are often cast for the purposes of screaming and disrobing, using trashy and hyper-sexualized imagery which is clearly intended to please the male viewer: think Prom Night (2008).
Often, these horror movies make it a fine line between pleasure and pain – the world of horror beholds many images of women drenched in blood or restrained by ropes and bindings (obviously meant to be sexy).Women are rarely seen as equal to men in horror films, nearly always victimised. These films more than often like to ensure their female characters are seen naked or half-clothed, because it hints at vulnerability, making women the submissive victims, whereas the men are the dominant.
A great example of sexualising women in horror movies can be seen in classic vampire movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). In these films, themes of lust and love are mixed with horror as vampires are aroused by beautiful women but only aim to drink their blood. In most Dracula movies, women are depicted as defenceless objects of predatory male lust.
There are many great horror films out there which have succeeded in the box office without needing to sexualise and objectify women to attract a wider audience. Do you think the hyper-sexualisation and objectification of women is simply unnecessary in the horror genre?
Let us know what you think in the comments down below!
– S x