Article To reference the scholarly article, click there!
The aspect of gender has played a role in every horror film ever made, but introducing slasher films into the industry brought forth a whole new outlook of gender within the genre. With slasher films people are no longer being killed within the code of film ethics, they are now being ruthlessly murdered on the screen for the audience to see. Because of this, we started to analyze the way people were being murdered, how they were being murdered, what they were being murdered with, and the gender and order of who and how the murders unfold.
Now having a whole semesters worth of gender and horror knowledge, I can say that females murders are pinpointed specifically. In this post we are going to focus on the concept of why men villains HAVE to murder women in the most brutal and symbolic to their personality ways possible. In each slasher film t
here is usually a virgin female character, as well as a transgressive female character. These characters are usually files of each other, and suffer very different deaths, but equally symbolic deaths. In the article above Clover talks about castration anxiety and how it plays a major role in why female deaths are so animalistic. Society assigns men their own list of masculine gender norms, and the second a man does not fit into that category he might be seen as less than in some cases. Men fear this on the regular, they always have, and do to this day. The day society stops telling them they need to be masculine 24/7 is the day we might see a shift in media masculinity, but until then female character will continue to suffer.
“The horror lm’s obsession with blood, par- ticularly the bleeding body of woman, where her body is transformed into the ‘gaping wound’, suggests that castration anxiety is a central concern of the horror lm – par- ticularly the slasher sub-genre. Woman’s body is slashed and mutilated, not only to signify her own castrated state, but also the possibility of castration for the male.” (Petridis, 78). What is it that even makes a man masculine? Society would tell you it is his penis. Men express their masculinity through their sexuality. A male gender norm is being an extremely sexual being. Because of this norm, all men are expected to have sexual desires constantly. If a man for some reason loses his penis or has a malfunction regarding his anatomy he is there for seen as less masculine. And even if people are unaware of his shortcoming, he will himself feel vulnerable and less than a man because of what society forces them to be. We talk about how people create horror films to show what society is scared of, and men are constantly being treated by other, and are worried to seem less masculine or attractive than they should. Showcasing women being killed in gruesome bloody ways subconsciously tells the viewers that that is what men are scared of. Then you might ask, well why not show a man being murdered brutally rather than a woman, since it is men that are scared of this? Because men have some sort of masculine standard to uphold in society, they would NEVER show a mans true weakness on the big screen. They would much rather show it in an abstract way through the murder of a woman. This way they are defining the opposite gender, which society tells them so normally to do, but they are also expressing their deepest fears by doing so.
“The death of a male is swift and seen from a distance or sometimes even happens off screen and is not viewed at all. On the other hand, the killings of women are lmed at a closer range, in more graphic detail, and at greater length (Clover 1992: 35). This distinction between the two sexes is closely connected with the fear of castra- tion by the male audience.” Masculinity is sprinkled all throughout traditional slasher films, more than one might thi
nk, and even in certain female characters. However, it is clear that characters that show any type of characteristic that stands outside of their typical gender norm will be punished for that very reason. For example: The “slut” of every slasher film is slaughtered in the most brutal, and sexualized way. This is because she most likely shows the most masculine traits. Things like, she’s a sexual being, she speaks her mind, she’s rude, she swears, she is provocative, she might smoke and drink. Those are all traits that men are expected to have, not women. Another example: A du
mb male character will dies fairly quickly. Men are supposed to be strong, smart, and innovative. If the male character doesn’t show those traits he will have to be punished. themes like those are in almost every generic slasher film and all of it stems from too much, or lack there of masculinity. Even when men are killed, no matter how much masculinity they are lacking, it is always subtle and off screen. On the other hand when ALL of the women characters are killed it is on screen and either brutal or romanticized (the virgin).
Masculinity in the horror genre stems from a very interesting place, where that place is exactly I’m not so sure, but this was an interesting outlook. I think that certain parts of this argument have merit while I think other parts might be a bit of a stretch, regardless though very interesting to think about.