Sugar and Spice, and Running for Your Life
Do you want a piece of candy? We are taught from a young age not to accept candy from strangers. We are taught to be afraid, and for those of us of the female persuasion, there is a lot to fear. At least, so we’re told. The onus is always on us, we have to look out for ourselves, we have to ensure we haven’t put ourselves in a position where bad things happen. We are told the horrors that await us if we make the wrong decision so often that I’m surprised any of us ever leave the comfort of the dark confines of a louver-doored closet.
It is perfectly logical, then, to me that women write horror and that we do a fine job of it. After all, we’re bombarded constantly with just how unsafe we are. For those of us with the imagination and the gumption to write horror, we have a deep dark well to draw from, whether we’re writing about ghosts and demons, or dystopian worlds full of the darkest fare life has to offer. There’s probably even a seeping body or two within that well, just clambering to get out and eat our souls as we type away, oblivious to the danger behind us.
Women have been writing horror for generations, some under the de-gendered “anonymous”, some under male pen names, some with the name given to them by parents. Does that mean they can write horror? Does a lifetime of being spoon-fed fear make us capable of writing in the horror genre alone? I would say no, because there has to be some spark of creativity to even go about the process of writing, there has to be knowledge, imagination, experience, that drives anyone to write. But, all of that feeding surely helps us write in a genre we’re expected to be too timid, too placid to write in.
I don’t think ability to write in any given genre can be based on gender alone. Women can write horror. Men can write romance. Either can write about cars. Ability to write is not based on what we identify as when it comes to gender, it is based on our abilities to tell stories. Some of us are better at erotica, some of us are better at erotic horror; while others may be best at writing white papers that describe the differences between filoviridae and the many categories of influenza. Or even combining all of that to produce a novel on the impact viral agents have on the world and the horrors that these tiny agents have wreaked on life on our planet.
In the end, I don’t believe women can write horror, or that we’re better at writing horror simply because we’re women or that men can do the same based on their gender. I don’t think our offerings to the genre should be discounted, either. It wasn’t that long ago that the notion of females as spree murderers or sadistic creatures was discounted because we are the fairer sex, too gentle and nurturing to perpetrate the crimes that only immoral, degenerate men with their lack of nurturing skills could produce. Now we are willing to admit that women aren’t what we base our expectations on and that sometimes females can beyond men in their propensity for cruelty. The female murderer as the gentle poisoner, removing herself from her crime by feeding her weapon to her victim, is not always the case. It’s the same with writing, women are bringing new life to a genre we’re told we’re too soft for. And, in many cases using the expectations of others as a tool to take the reader well beyond the need to
leave a light on to get to sleep.
About the Author
Miranda Bailey is an expert at multi-tasking and is not afraid to explore new roles. She is a romance author with a penchant for stepping into darker realms, a horror writer with a penchant for pushing the envelope, and lover of staring at walls as plots play through her mind. A traveller on the road of life, eagerly inspecting the odd things she finds along the way, Miranda currently finds herself an American in Portugal, learning about new ghosts, monsters, and demons that may find their way into her future works. She can be found poking globous wobbly things with a stick over on her website or you can find her work on offer at Amazon.