There are red lip pictures all over Facebook. Want to know why?
A week or so ago, the Horror authors I know were in a fizz. A man aligning himself with the genre felt qualified to speak out several times about his opinion that Women in Horror Month was counter productive. I watched the post on Scott Lefabvre’s page, personal not business page (Burnt Offering Books), complete with a graphic of a set of vampire lips and a fully labeled textbook diagram of a vagina. The post was about sexualizing the emblem of Women in Horror Month and how the mouth looked like vagina dentata. I saw it degrade from what could have been an intellectual discussion on the topic to name calling and condescension. I then watched as many authors from the genre called him out on this post in blog posts and on their own posts on Facebook. My only contribution to the conversation in the comments of both was that I own a mouth and a vagina and had not seen a connection. And I waited for a couple days. I unfriended, quietly but I did not block. I was carefully considering whether or not to refriend, because Scott had published an interview with me and I had been internet friends with him prior to this situation. I make my opinions not because of crowd mentality but because of my own personal experiences. I respect everyone’s right to opinions. And I do not have to agree with them. And i am okay with that. So I let it sit.
Someone else’s post brought the topic up again. I stated my confusion at the comparison and Scott then invited me to discuss the post with him. I moved the discussion to the thread that it had originally come from and began. Now, before I say anything FROM the conversation, I am going to actually link the WHOLE thread Here. It is a LONG READ, just as a warning.
I tried. I tried SO hard to have an intelligent conversation about the topic.
I asked about Scott’s connection of the mouth and the vagina. His response was to ask me on a public page whether I have ever ‘performed oral sex on a man’
I refused to answer this and I will continue to maintain that that is an inappropriate question. I can not, in the realm of civilized conversation ever imagine asking a question like that to even my BEST friend on a public forum, let alone someone I have never actually met. And it was not in the form of, “think about this…” It was outright asked of me. He was illustrating his point about why he made the connection, it seems, between a painted mouth with fangs and a vagina. I then pointed out all of the non sexual uses for mouths. Eating, talking, etc. When I see a vampire mouth where she is licking the blood from the corner of her mouth, my immediate thought is that she just ate.
Here is a hint for anyone: When talking about equality for women, repeating the phrase “I love women” is condescending. When two women are having a discussion, or an argument or whatever, the words “You’re both pretty” is condescending. Even if you are joking to release the tension. My looks were not at all in any realm of the conversation. I never brought up my appearance. It weakens the conversation. It irritates the hell out of me. When a LARGE group of people refuses to be associated with you because of things you have said, then the problem may be what was said or how it was said and not that the large group of people is wrong in their assessment. If you are not what they say or you didn’t mean it the way it came out, fine. But saying everyone else has a problem not you is a rather strange outlook. I am not calling names. I won’t. I am human and I make mistakes, but I am not mean hearted.
The end of the comment conversation descended into a squabbling of semantics, where nothing was actually being discussed but a whole lot was said.
And you can quote as many books as you would like to about feminism in any realm, but the playing field is not level for women in the horror genre. When people are no longer saying that they would rather read male horror writers than female horror writers as a rule but unsupported by any experience, there will be equality. When women don’t resort to initials as first names so they can get more chances, there will be equality.
I have not seen, personally, any posts on my page that reference Women in Horror month as a way to sell books for themselves. Maybe I am lucky in the group of friends that I have on my page. All I have seen is friends mentioning the works of other authors to read. I have two friends that tagged me on a post they made on the first of the month with other women in horror. I am flattered to be included. I have seen a community that has held up others, not their own work to show it to the world. Women in Horror month is not a reverse of sexism, to the exclusion of men. It is a light on the often overlooked talent that is out there. It is about raising awareness and removing boundaries. It is not about downplaying men. It is about showing a complete look at the genre.
And I have to say that I think that if ANYONE should be protesting Women in Horror Month, it should not be anyone that already has a leg up in the industry because of gender. My biggest problem with the month is that it need exist. But we do need it. I LOVE the month. Not because I am a woman in the genre, because honestly I don’t necessarily feel like I have earned a spot in Horror yet. But because it is an attempt to change the perception. It is a start. I hate that it is needed in any capacity. I would feel the same about a “Men in Romance” month. The cards are stacked. I hope this is a beginning of an unstacking.