An article by David Barnett in yesterday's The Guardian shed light on one magazine's lack of acknowledgment given to women in the horror field. SFX Magazine, a veteran SF/fantasy UK mag, recently published a special horror-themed edition (SFX Collection: Horror), which included a "beefy 14-page news section, oodles of in-depth new features, and six great free gifts," but no women. In the article, Horror's Hidden Treasure's, 34 directors, screenwriters and authors were asked to name underappreciated cult horror that deserved more recognition, but no women were polled.

Ironically, this oversight comes during Women in Horror Month -- a time set aside to raise awareness and give more love to the ladies. It also follows a previous oversight five months earlier when the British Fantasy Society omitted women from a collection of interviews with horror writers. SFX at least managed to commemorate Black History Month with a feature on Blaxploitation horror. So, what's going on with the industry folks on the other side of the pond that things like this keep happening?

Editor Ian Berriman's editorial reads: "You see, some people think horror is a limited one-dimensional genre, but I don't see it that way. Horror is a broad church. It encompasses everything from the classy chillers produced by Val Lewton through to the likes of Saw and Hostel. It comes in an almost infinite variety of forms, and I love nearly every single one of them." Do you Ian?

As Barnett suggests in his post, any list is going to be subjective and personally, I have a hard time imagining a magazine like SFX would have done this intentionally, but that's exactly the point. SFX is one of the most successful and longest-running mags on the market, which makes this an incredible oversight on their part. That this omission also comes from a group writing about science fiction and fantasy, other genres where females are underrepresented, also seems curious.

Add to this something like the stigma of the Paranormal Romance genre being associated with women only and shunned by an overwhelming number of people in the horror community. This crosses the likes of Stephenie Meyer (yes, the series that sparkles), Charlaine Harris (True Blood/The Southern Vampire Mysteries) and Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter) immediately off many people's list. And yet, these women are all best selling authors. While it may not be a genre to my or your liking, it is a growing sub-genre linked to horror and sci-fi, which uses some legitimate horror/sci-fi themes. So before we stir the argument that this is a romance genre only, look at the large number of horror/sci-fi film titles that also contain romantic themes, including classics like Dracula or Solaris. Bottom line is, as soon as we start to make rules about something like this, there are a dozen ways to contradict them.

Women are underrepresented in several areas of horror, especially the screenwriting and director ranks, so it seems to me that this isn't just an oversight -- it's also just the reality of the situation. I don't think anyone expects something like the Horror's Hidden Treasure's article to be a 50 - 50 split, but women do have a stronger presence in the genre than ever before and their voices and contributions are well worth mentioning.
categories Features, Movies, Horror