WIHM 2022: Themes in Women’s Horror

Themes in Women’s Horror

by: Patricia Stover


Some of the things that make women’s Horror so terrifying are the themes that are being explored. Let’s look at Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic as one example. Garcia creates a strong, female main character named Noemí who challenges the social norms of 1950s Mexico. This was not only a time, but a place set under strict patriarchal ideals. The setting is a gothic mansion that reflects the dread and oppression that this patriarchal society has inflicted upon its women. Then Garcia presents us with this creepy family who reside in the mansion. The family seems to be made up mostly of men, aside of the mother. We watch them keep her cousin trapped inside this dreadful mansion, oppressed, and terrified. And it seems as if she is losing her mind. She reaches out to her beloved cousin and Noemí arrives at the house only to find that she too begins experiencing psychological distress. However, Noemí believes the house itself may be the cause of her hallucinations. 

Garcia’s mansion is a symbol of oppression and of the psychological damage that has been and still is thrust upon women who are forced to endure life in patriarchal society. Women who are trying to keep it all together under the pressures of what is women’s every-day life. What woman can’t relate to that, right? This theme of oppression, and the mental illness that it produces is strong throughout Garcia’s work. And this is what makes women’s Horror so, damn, good. We see themes that speak to women’s rights and bring light upon their suffrage. These sorts of books are the type of literature that shed light on women’s struggles. It is the sort of literature that challenges the system and calls for change.

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