Considering that Supernatural is a show that’s basically drenched in white toxic masculinity, it actually has some really awesome, kick-butt female characters, and because the fans demanded it, it looks like they’re getting their own spinoff show, Wayward Sisters . The recent backdoor pilot, though, apparently brought along its share of tired tropes centering men, especially the ever popular one of using a woman’s death, mutilation, or violation as a plot device and motivation for a male character to do his (usually violent and heroic) thing, according to The Mary Sue . This trope actually is common enough that it has a name: “Women in Refrigerators”. Before I even knew what it was called, I LOATHED this trope, which is the basis for pretty much everything that happens in The Crow. In this case, the women who were “fridged” also got to embody another trope: that of the black woman willing to carry on to support the talents of a white main character. On a show that’s supposed to celebrate women, and even had some diversity in its casting, a woman of color was killed off to advance the plot, for the Winchester brothers. In addition to representation in casting, I’m thinking some diversity in screenwriters is in order.
This trope is so tired and so vomit-inducing that someone has finally created an award to be given to a thriller that manages to get through its plot to the end without a women getting beaten, stalked, killed, raped, or sexually exploited, called the Staunch Prize. I can’t think of too many candidates that will qualify. Even my favorite tough-woman detective, V.I. Warshawski (yes, I’m old), gets beaten and stalked. You go after the bad guys, you fight injustice, and chances are there’s going to be some kind of violence or threat in your future. These days, all you have to do is tweet something someone doesn’t like to have death threats shower down on you. So I don’t know how many entrants the sponsor of the prize will actually find, but it says a lot that she is so damn tired of reading about violence against women used as a plot device that she would actually shell out hard, cold, cash to read a suspenseful book that doesn’t have it. We are not plot devices, and those of you writing horror who don’t already know this should know that leaning on women in refrigerators to drive your plot is lazy and disrespectful.
As you are thinking about and reading about women in horror this month (or writing about women in your own horror fiction) consider this: there are many, many, women writers and women writers of color who are writing horror fiction and poetry, from Linda Addison to Nnedi Okorafor, and including many who are unknown. I challenge you to seek them out this month and see what women, and especially women of color, are creating to scare the hell out of us.