This discussion is long overdue. What started with the best intentions well over a decade ago has turned into a highly problematic scene that at its “best” excludes and at its worst has become a breeding ground for people to act destructively without accountability or consequence. The whole thing has gone far enough and is now successfully unraveling the very thing it was supposed to protect. The following is what I have unpacked, and I welcome an open and frank discussion to follow because by no means do I have the answers.
First, let’s address why the movement started in the first place. The film industry has historically been a boy’s club and there’s no getting around that. There’s plenty of information out there on the subject so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m not mad but a little research will yield all the results you need. The horror industry, even the micro-budget shot on video segment, is no different. So as to means of correcting that, womxn started working together to raise awareness of one another’s work by way of press coverage, festivals dedicated to films only directed by womxn, and eventually even an entire month dedicated to highlighting womxn in the horror genre. All of that sounds wonderful at first glance and I myself have taken part in many of these things because there’s no harm in supporting underrepresented voices (including your own) right?
Well, for starters that Women in Horror Month happens to land in February which is Black History Month. The excuse of “well I covered womxn of color on my website” really isn’t adequate here. Unless you are dedicating your entire month of coverage to Black womxn in the horror field it’s horseshit that you’re (we’re*, because I have taken advantage of this month) still using up all the proverbial ink to pat ourselves on the back while still, largely, leaving Black womxn in the dust during a month that has been set aside to honor their history. We could easily change the damn month to, I don’t know, March which is set aside for Womxn’s history but we don’t and now we are 11 years deep into co-opting a month that represents something far more important.
The festivals themselves have become, by large, problematic too because first and foremost the films represented oftentimes lack Womxn of color representation. Who is being highlighted? Who is winning the awards? Who is being given the support? Outside of this, we have the issues of gatekeeping, backstabbing, and general un-pleasantries that honestly make some of these events worse than the ones they were trying to counteract.
There is also the issue of not being intersectional in the feminism that we are allegedly upholding. I rarely see any reach out in the “Women in Horror” movement towards our Trans sisters or our Non-Binary folx. They make horror films too and it is high time that we honor that and actively include them. We cannot sit here and talk about our own rights and lack of representation when we are not giving everyone a seat at the table.
Lastly, we need to talk about how we treat each other. There are men out there who may have gone out of their way to harm but we (as womxn) have worked even harder to destroy each other. The amount of lying, gaslighting, and stepping on necks to gain some sort of leverage is disgusting. Seriously. I don’t even have to give specific examples in this piece for you to harken back to a time when you’ve witnessed, been the receiver of or even the one who was dishing out the hate. We look like absolute fools in doing this. All that energy, all that time, all those resources that could have been spent actually carving out our place in this madness and we choose instead to dismantle ourselves.
This letter is harsh. This letter is reflecting skin. The time to simply do better is over; we have to start over completely. We weren’t really there for each other and we have to sit with that and then move forward. This is the part where I can only speak for myself because, until now, I have given you merely what I have observed. I will no longer participate in “Women in Horror”. I will continue to work to uplift Womxn. I will mess up (again) and I will own that, learn from it, and work to change. A beautiful friend of mine once said, “I can’t change my past but I CAN change my shirt”, I’m going to take that to heart. I’m asking those of you who have read this far that if you see yourself in any of this please consider doing the same. This is a call in, not a call out. Much love to you.
- [Open Letter] We Need to Talk About the Women in Horror Movement - July 16, 2020