My Feminist Side of Horror Panel in Austin Overview

I'd like to thank the MENSA board for asking me to lead a horror-themed panel. Naturally, I chose to speak about feminism and horror. This was a nerve-inducing event for me because it's far from leading a panel at a horror convention. These are all guests of a higher intelligence that go through complicated testing in order to join. Though I felt I was out of my depth, I had a room full of eager attendees who remained interactive and I couldn't be happier with the welcoming outcome. The certificate I received warmed my heart and I never felt so connected with fellow lovers of cinema.

My power point presentation may have been bare but here's the break down:

I opened with a breakdown of female characters, starting with our final girls; Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne King, Heather Langenkamp, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Marilyn Burns, Olivia Hussey, Jessica Harper, and Kristen Connelly. Then I moved onto the sexualized victims, a trope that features women as evil and conniving. These women are portrayed as using their sexuality to manipulate men, making it seem as if her strongest power is her sexual power where the men are then allowed to objectify these women.

Case in point:

  • Natasha Henstridge - Species
  • Megan Fox - Jennifer's Body
  • Salma Hayek - From Dusk till Dawn
  • Aaliyah - Queen of the Damned
  • Amanda Donohoe - Lair of the White Worm. 
Moving on the traumatized victim, often times we get a heroine who seeks revenge for her tormentors. In many cases, she lets the hatred consume her and she becomes far more horrifying than her attacker.

Rape-Revenge Sub-Genre Stars:

  • Camille Keaton - I Spit on Your Grave
  • Katherine Isabelle - American Mary
  • Zoe Lund - Ms. 45
  • Christina Lindbergt - Thriller: A Cruel Picture
  • Karen Austin - The Ladies Club
  • Linda Blair - Savage Streets
  • Claire Wren - Steel and Lace
  • Uma Thurman - Kill Bill
  • Leslie Lee - Axe

The Promiscuous Friend: The final girl has that one friend who is often killed following or mid-coitus:
  • Pj Soles - Halloween
  • Amanda Wyess - Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Rose McGowan - Scream
  • Marta Kober - Friday the 13th 2
  • Deborah Voorhees - Friday the 13th: New Beginning

Please send me your list of unimaginable female characters but keep in mind, it's okay to hate certain characters.

*Awaits a parade of GFY male presence*

I kept my vagina dentata discussion brief because as mentioned above, this was not your basic horror convention so I opted to avoid offensive material as much as possible while getting my point across.

If you keep up with my Geek Juice column then you know that this is a deeply personal subject matter for me.

 Here's a brief list of strong female black characters, we really do need to see more:

  • Pam Grier - Blackula
  • Lisa Bonet - Angel Heart
  • Alexa Woods - Predator
  • Naomie Harris - 28 Days Later
  • Jada Pinkett Smith - Demon Knight
  • Anything starring Monique Dupree

  • Dee Wallace
  • Jill Larson
  • Lin Shaye
  • Barbara Crampton
  • Patricia Quinn
  • Linnea Quigley
  • Meg Foster

As most of you know, this industry is lacking when it comes to credible female directors. However, there are many names that have slipped through the cracks and they're making a come back. I've been screaming a few of these names for years:

  • Doris Wishman
  • Katt Shea
  • Jen and Sylvia Soska
  • Jennifer Lynch
  • Jennifer Kent
  • Mary Harron
  • Kathryn Bigelow
  • Amy Holden Jones
  • Antonio Bird
  • Kei Fujiwara
  • Jovanka Vuckovic
  • Lizzy Borden
  • Deborah Brock
  • Holly Dale
  • Roberta Findlay
  • Jackie Kong
  • Mary Lambert
  • Shannon Lark
  • Barbara Peeters
  • Rachel Talalay

We were running out of time but I was able to fit in a few questions from the audience and I do have a video of the event lying around that I can pick through in case you guys want a closer look. Thanks again to the organization for having me and I was so happy to converse with an intellectual bunch.

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