Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Don’t be this Feminist
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Don’t be this Feminist

Every couple of months I read an article from a feminist man “ally” which does more harm than good. There was the one about writing good women characters that didn’t mention any characters written by women. And today we have Litreactor with a piece on horror, women and feminism which begins with “it’s common that even powerful women in fiction are written by men.”

The ‘essay’ (I use this term loosely) then proceeds to compare Paul Tremblay’s Head Full of Ghosts with Ramona Quimby as some kind of feminist exercise. The writer forgets to mention *any* contemporary women horror authors, instead schooling us on how Tremblay does feminism wrong. And schooling us very poorly since his point of comparison is Ramona Quimby. The essay ends with a reference to Ghostbusters, a movie the author hasn’t even seen. It’s as if the writer just typed “ghosts” in an attempt to do a cheap grab at a new movie and then used whatever book had the word “ghosts” in its title, and since he’s never read anything by a lady writer except for Ramona Quimby, he put the two together in a horrid Frankenstein-like stew.

To say that the essay is insulting, idiotic and limp as a bag of dicks would be accurate, and yet the more insidious point is that this keeps happening. When women are not outright ignored, we get these faux feminist essays by dudes which provide nothing except a byline for some man (it’s always a man).

Therefore I’m going to tell you what would have been a better essay if we wanted to discuss horror, men and women, narrative choices and feminism: Contrasting Experimental Film by Gemma Files with A Head Full of Ghosts. Not only because they are both recent titles, not only because they both have enough critical chops (Files won a Shirley Jackson award for this book just a few weeks ago), but because Files deals with a force which haunts or possesses, while at the same time referencing visual media. A trick A Head Full of Ghosts also pulls, in a way, by discussing reality TV. So both view the screen (small or large) as a source of horror, of phantoms, and try to find a way to exorcise demons (literal, figurative) which permeate the narrative.

There. Now go read Gemma’s book.