|Posted by Marianne Halbert on February 13, 2014 at 8:30 PM|
ncThis has been an exceptional Women in Horror Month for me.
In the fall of 2013 I was asked by an editor to submit a story to their upcoming anthology which would launch in February 2014 to celebrate Women in Horror Month (WiHM). This was the second time I'd been invited to submit to an anthology, and it ended up being my 30th story to be accepted for publication. I was honored, and excited about being a part of the WiHM celebration. I'm a woman. I write horror. What's not to like?
The anthology launched as planned. I was enjoying the usual pleasures that go along with a launch: meeting the co-contributors over Facebook, promoting the anthology, reading all the stories. I was featured in a blog spotlighting Women in Horror. That was a great feeling! February is awesome! I love WiHM!
At some point I saw an (un)official WiHM banner with a photo of a female vampire mouth. Red lips, fangs, a tongue licking a wayward drop of blood. I loved it. It obviously said "Woman". (Female lips.) It clearly said "Horror". (Vampire, fangs, blood). I adopted it as my Facebook Profile Picture for the month of February, because...I love WiHM! This is fun! Then someone posted a link to a Wikipedia page spotlighting Women in Dark Fiction. There were a lot of familiar names. Mary Shelley. The Bronte sisters. Shirley Jackson. And...Marianne Halbert. What? Honestly I was stunned. But also really happy to be included on that list. A lot of my modern day peers were listed too and I was happy to be in good company. Things could not get any better. I love WiHM!!!
Then a not so nice thing happened. A very ugly thing happened. Someone I don't know started an ugly thread. It insulted the photo I was using. It insulted women. It insulted women in horror. I know misogyny exists, but to see it laid out like that, to see that thought process unfolding, frankly was pretty unsettling. I felt attacked. I felt self conscious. I considered changing my profile pic. I wondered if people were really only buying my stories because I have cleavage and girl lips? (OK, that last sentence is sarcasm. The rest, not so much.)
There was a flood of pushback. Other men and women calling this guy out. Some of the comments that stayed with me were along the lines of "I think women wear red lipstick because they think it looks pretty", "How do you pronounce his name? Not sure but I think it's Wan-ker", "Since when did sexy become an invitation to insult?", "These red lips aren't for you. They're for me." One friend (who is more comfortable in his skin that almost anyone I know) posted a photo of himself with red lipstick in a show of solidarity. I am still laughing over that one.
So this blog post isn't about the wanker. I've made 10 new friends in the last 24 hours over this issue. Friends I already had are even more esteemed than before. I know I can hold my own when it comes to writing horror and this is where I belong. And I've kept my red lips. This has been an exceptional Women in Horror Month for me.