Why Do We Need Women in Horror Recognition Month?
At times, I look on the acronym WiHM and it seems like a catchphrase, something the community tosses about in January and focuses on in February, but then forgets in the first few weeks of March. Technically it’s not a bad thing, just an observation.
With the focus on the ladies in the month of February, there is heightened sense of visibility, something that likely would not have been achieved any other way. But does that visibility actually gain us anything? Why does there need to be a month set aside to shine the light on the work of women?
I can only speak from my own perspective and it all stems back to my formative years. Some of my literary loves started with recommendations. Who gave me those recommendations? Librarians. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Conner, Mrs. Maher and Mrs. Street were invaluable to me in many ways, but their education in horror and science fiction was lacking at times. Sure they knew the ‘greats’—King, Poe, Lovecraft, Bradbury—but that’s where their knowledge ended. Not that I blame them, despite the fact a librarian should know it all, there is such a thing as taste and preference.
In fact, I can remember picking up a Christopher Pike book in elementary school and having Mr. Conner tell me it wasn’t for me, stating it was a little too gory for my mind. Looking back now, I’m not sure if he was saying that because I was a girl, or because I was only in Grade 4. Little did he know I’d been devouring Stephen King since Grade 3 and could definitely handle the subject matter contained between the covers of Scavenger Hunt. I signed it out anyway and then asked him to bring in more by Pike in the coming months (I already knew he wasn’t going to bring in King, despite having been asked more than once). He did, but I think he did it begrudgingly.
If I were to pause to question why he was less than thrilled to satisfy my demands for decent horror reads, I’d say it had a lot to do with what he felt I should be reading. I was constantly pressed with Roald Dahl, Charlotte and Emily Bronte and Lucy Maud Montgomery, and there’s nothing wrong with any of those choices, but they weren’t what I was interested in reading.
And if reading’s not fun, you’re less likely to do it. If I hadn’t been persistent in searching out those books and authors, (keep in mind the internet really wasn’t readily available back in the mid-to-late 80s the way it is now) I would never have found them.
So what bearing does all of this have on Women in Horror Recognition Month? Well it helps to answer the question of why we need it. Sure, it’s a great way to highlight the work of women in the creative industries, but it also serves as a reminder that the minds of young girls need to be kept open. That reading is a good thing, a beneficial thing to the growth of a young mind. And that horror, while not for everyone, has a place. If we don’t help to highlight the works of today, they’ll be forgotten and not introduced to the generations of tomorrow. That’s why we need WiHM—for the women who will come after us.
Julianne Snow is the author of the Days with the Undead series and Glimpses of the Undead. She is the founder of Zombieholics Anonymous and the Co-Owner and Publicist at Sirens Call Publications. Writing in the realms of speculative fiction, Julianne has roots that go deep into horror and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. With pieces of short fiction in various publications, Julianne always has a few surprises up her sleeves.
You can find out more about Julianne at: The FlipSide of Julianne.
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