Archive for the ‘feminism’ Tag

Childhood Hero

One of my favourite TV shows as a kid was ‘The Bionic Woman’ starring Lindsay Wagner. Jaime Sommers was my hero. She was smart, she was resourceful, she was super-strong, and she generally managed to rescue herself without any help from the men, because if she got locked up somewhere she could just punch her way out. I remember bounding around the play ground in slow motion pretending to be the bionic woman – because in the show (for some reason) whenever super-fast bionic running happened, it was done in slow motion.

I had the bionic woman action figure as a kid. It was one of my favourite toys, and it came with a bag of cool accessories – a wallet full of dollar bills; maps; mission instructions; make-up. All doll-size. When I played with my Jaime Sommers doll I made her jump over the sofa, making that clicking noise that generally indicated she was using her bionic powers.

My husband bought me the box set of The ‘Bionic Woman’ on DVD for Christmas last year, and it features all three complete seasons, plus the four episodes she originally appeared in from ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’. Her first appearance was in a two-part series. She was Steve Austin’s fiancee and a tennis pro, then she gets seriously injured in a skydiving accident, and Steve convinces Oscar Goldman to shell out the millions of dollars needed to bionically rebuild her. All goes well at first, but Jaime’s body rejects the bionics and she dies at the end of the second episode. But when ratings are high enough TV deaths are always reversible, and Jaime Sommers proved so popular, she was brought back from the brink of death and a second two-part episode in ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ has Steve discover that Jaime is still alive. But alas – she’s lost her memory and doesn’t remember being in love with him.

And so from there spun a separate series that ran for three seasons, and I’ve been working my way through them chronologically. There are few things I’ve noticed about watching a show for the second time 40 years later.

Firstly: I watched every episode as a kid, but as young as I was at the time, I enjoyed the action, but I didn’t follow every nuance of the story line. I am re-watching episodes I remember watching when I was six years old, but I realise I was misremembering them.

Secondly: I realise that watching this show sowed the seeds of feminism in me at an early age. Even in the 1970s, in a less politically correct time, Jaime Sommers was a fantastic role model. As already mentioned, she was able to get herself out of pretty much any situation, as the villains always underestimated the strength of this ‘mere woman’. An early episode in season 1 has Jaime take her class of schoolchildren (for the day job she works as a teacher) on a picnic. When the boys refuse to let the girls play softball “because everybody knows girls are no good at sports” Jaime bargains with them that if she can score a home run, the girls get to play. So of course with her bionic arm she hits the ball and it flies for miles, she proves her point and the girls get to play baseball.

But I am also realising, in this retro re-watch, that actually it’s not a very good show. Apart from the appalling seventies fashions (orange and brown wallpaper? How did anyone think that looked good?), we have cardboard cut out villains, wooden acting, and implausible storylines. And then of course there are a few logicistical problems with the whole concept of bionics. Bionics are effectively cybernetics, something that I guess was a fairly new and exciting thing in the seventies. Having two bionic legs and a bionic arm are all well and good, but without a bionic spine, if you try to lift a car you’d do yourself a serious injury! And given the fact that Jaime’s bionic limbs are complete replacement for her biological ones, which got crushed beyond recognition in the skydiving accident, there is absolutely no scarring. There are a couple of episodes in which she wears swim suits, and there is no mark at all to indicate where her real skin ends and her bionic body parts begin.

But as a kid I didn’t think about any of this. I was just enraptured by the show. I found it scary at times. The last episode of season one involves a young girl (played by Kristy McNichol) obsessed with her dead mother, who was apparently accused of being a witch, and spooky things keep happening. I haven’t got to that one yet in my re-watch but I remember being creeped out by it the first time I watched it. I also haven’t got to the episodes featuring the ‘fembots’ – female robots who set out to kill Jaime. But the scenes in which the fembots walk around with no face masks, revealing a pair of staring eyes amongst circuit boards and wires terrified me as a child. I had nightmares for weeks about fembots. Hopefully they won’t creep me out quite so much forty years on.

I am enjoying my trip down memory lane in rewatching this series, and having a slightly more objective take on the impact it had on my childhood – good and bad. As I finish this blog post with the theme tune of ‘The Bionic Woman’ I’d like to open the floor to all of you reading. What TV shows from childhood had an impact on you, and have you ever watched that show in adulthood? If not, would you want to? Or is it better to keep memories of childhood firmly buried in the past, instead of running the risk of shattering one’s illusions by realising that the show you thought was amazing was actually rubbish?

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Sara Paretsky, Shara Summers and Feminism

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I read a great many books – on average, just over one a week.  I have read so many books that I find it impossible to pick out just one favourite.

I do, however, have several favourite authors.  Authors whose books I constantly go back to, and it feels like visiting an old friend.  Books which affect me in such a way I have to choose carefully what I read following them, because everything else will just seem inferior.

One such author is Sara Paretsky.  I discovered her V I Warshawski series in the early 1990s, back when I was first aware of enthusiastically embracing feminism.  It was a revelation.  Here for the first time I encountered a heroine who represented everything I wanted to be.  A fiercely independent woman who was brave, resourceful, unafraid to speak her mind and without need of a man to define her existence.  Single and childless, V I is sarcastic, blunt and able to hold her own in a fight.  I thought then, and still think now, that she is a fantastic role model for young women.

And even in the 21st century, there are few heroines like her.  Sue Grafton has a similar independent minded, single and childless heroine in Kinsey Milhone.   Kathy Reichs, another writer I admire, has a strong woman in Temperance Brennan, but unlike V I Tempe is a mother, and does occasionally need rescuing by men.

Not everyone shares my adoration of V I, as reviews on Goodreads and Amazon testify.  Some readers – among them women, I was surprised to note – find her too unlikeable.  They don’t like her sarcasm and confrontational manner.

I do not deny that my amateur sleuth Shara Summers was inspired by V I Warshawski.  When I set out to write a crime series, I wanted a heroine like V I – someone courageous and independent minded, who was not afraid to speak her mind.  But I wasn’t brave enough to write a police procedural, so I went for an amateur sleuth.  And in many ways Shara is very different from V I.  She’s not as brave.  She’s not the champion of the underdog the way that V I is.  And she does occasionally get rescued by men.  And because I’m just not as good a writer as Sara Paretsky, sometimes I don’t pull off what I’m trying to do.  Maybe Shara just comes across sometimes as being bitchy instead of courageous.

It’s also clear that Shara is not everyone’s cup of tea.  DEATH SCENE racked up 31 rejections before it was published by Lyrical Press.  One of the most common reasons for the book being rejected was the character not being likeable enough to take through a series.

The revelation that not everyone loves V I Warshawski – because I’ve been enthusiastically recommending these books to everyone for the last 20 years – was a bit of a surprise, and I’ve recently been ruminating on that.  V I is sarcastic, snarky, and blunt.  She can be downright rude – especially to arrogant and patronising men.  In the early books, which seem to be set in the early 1980s, V I is unusual in being a woman P I, and she encounters a hostile reaction to this by many people.  Especially men.

Women are not supposed to embody these qualities.  Even in these times, they are generally expected to be soft, caring and nurturing, and I think this is the main reason that women who don’t possess these qualities are regarded with suspicion.  They are considered to be not ‘normal’ women.

I like the fact that V I is snarky, blunt and rude.  But there are some people out there who might say I embody similar qualities.  And the same people who wouldn’t like V I for these qualities probably don’t like me much, either.

I must confess that now I’m the wrong side of 40 I’ve got to a point in life where I don’t really care if people don’t like me for being me.  As a woman gamer, role-player, and horror writer, I’ve encountered a number of men over the years who don’t know what to make of me.  The fact that I’m deliberately childless also causes resentment in certain people – it’s surprising (and depressing) how many people, even in this day and age, who assume that all women want children and any who don’t are instantly labelled as being abnormal and not to be trusted.

None of these things matter that much to me these days, but I’m pretty sure that the people that fall into the aforementioned categories are not my target readership.

For the length of time that human beings have existed on this planet, we’ve proved to be depressingly stagnant in moving on with our thinking.  I will go on recommending Sara Paretsky’s books to everyone I have a conversation about crime books with – particularly women.  I would like every young women to read at least one V I Warshawski book.  For every one who comes away thinking, “this is the sort of woman I want to be,” then a battle will be won.

There’s a long way to go before we win the war, though.

Women in Horror #4: Sarah Connor

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

For my fourth and final post on Women in Horror, I’m looking at the heroine of the TERMINATOR films. OK, maybe this is more science fiction than horror, but it’s a series that deals with horror themes. Machines take sentience and try to destroy the human race. The second film opens with apocalyptic scenes of a nuclear blast, an empty playground, machines crushing piles of human skulls in their wake. And it’s the second film I want to focus on, the film in which Sarah Connor becomes a kick-ass heroine.

Sarah Connor
sarahconnor
When we meet Sarah in the first TERMINATOR film, she’s an ordinary American young woman. She works as a waitress, she goes to college, she laments with her flat mate about not being to find Mr Right. And then her life changes when she learns a cybernetic entity from the future is hunting her down, and will not stop until she’s dead. The reason she’s being hunted is not for something she’s done, but something that will happen in the future. When the machines rise up to destroy humanity they almost succeed, but one man leads a band of human survivors to victory. That man, John Connor, is Sarah’s son – the son she hasn’t conceived yet.

Aided by the man that her son sent back in time to help save her – a man who turns out to be the father of her son, conceived the one and only time she sleeps with him (yes, let’s not dwell on that paradox too much lest our brains explode), Sarah manages to escape from the Arnold Schwarzenegger-shaped cyborg, though her rescuer is killed in the process. The end of the film shows her alone and pregnant, driving through Mexico, knowing the Hell of the future that is to come and burdened with the knowledge that the unborn child she carries is the last hope for humanity. That’s got to change a person.

It’s the second film in which Sarah becomes a lean mean fighting machine. Eleven years have passed. Her son John is a hellion, placed in foster care because Sarah has been sectioned. Caught trying to blow up an electronics factory and ranting about the machines that were going to destroy humanity, she was deemed to be mad and locked up in an institution. In her first scene in T2, she is doing arm lifts on bars in her cell room, bulging biceps clearly on show and wearing the expression of a woman who is completely sane and in control of her faculties. Linda Hamilton took her role as Sarah Connor seriously, engaging in a gruelling workout routine before the second film, to demonstrate the hardcore survivor that Sarah had become in the years since the first film. Eventually breaking out of the mental institution with the help of her son and the Arnold Schwarzenegger cyborg who’s now a Good Guy – the cybernetic assassin from the future who’s been sent back to kill John Connor as a child is even more devastating and unstoppable than the first one was – Sarah goes after the electronics engineer who will develop the computer chip that will directly lead to computers gaining sentience – the cataclysm that marks the beginning of the end for humanity. On the way we learn just how tough this woman has become. She has all manner of contacts around the country, stashing weapons and supplies with all of them. And her only motive is to do what it takes to survive – long enough to raise her son to adulthood and ensure he grows into the man who will save humanity. Sarah Connor is a self-taught bad ass. Once she came to terms with her fate (can’t be easy finding out just when and how the world will end, and that you’re going to survive to suffer the aftermath), she set out to learn the skills she would need to survive.

John Connor is presented as the most important human ever to live, because he’s the leader of the human survivors and he takes them into victory. But John would not have become the man he does without Sarah – so in one sense, she’s the most important human in the world. She’s the one that saves humanity, because she turns John into the leader he needs to be.

As far as female role models go, you don’t get much better than that.

Women in Horror #3: Ripley

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

It might have been over 30 years ago, but few films measure up to ALIEN.  A masterful blend of suspense, science fiction and horror, this film about a group of space explorers who encounter a terrifying alien predator still measures up to the test of time and has audiences on the edge of their seat. And its main character is another inspiring  female role model.

Ripley

ripleyRumour has it that Ripley was written as a male character. In 1979, when this film came out, no one really took seriously the idea that a woman could be part of a space crew – even in science fiction. Let alone one as resourceful and enterprising as Ellen Ripley. But someone decided, early on in production, that a man would not go back to rescue the ship’s cat, when all the rest of the crew were dead and Ripley, as sole survivor, is trying to get to the escape pod. This was an integral plot point, as the alien gets into the escape pod whilst Ripley is in the ship getting the cat.

Another story goes that all of the characters in ALIEN were deliberately written to be genderless, so that any of them could be equally played by a man or a woman.

Whether or not either of these stories are true, I don’t know, but the fact remains that Ripley is a leading lady who does not shag anyone, doesn’t cook and doesn’t actually do anything different from the men. Except she keeps her head and therefore survives when the rest panic and get killed. In the decidedly misogynist world of Hollywood this is a rarity, even in the 21st century, and at the end of the 1970s it was pretty much unprecedented.

The second film ALIENS goes a step further and explores the concept of Ripley as a woman. Having been in suspended animation following the events of the first film, she awakens to discover that she has been lost in space for decades and that her daughter, left behind on Earth, has grown old and died in her absence. Thus she becomes particularly protective of the young orphan girl, Newt, the only survivor of a colony that has been attacked by the alien. Feeling guilty about not being there to protect her own daughter, Ripley takes on the responsibility of getting Newt out alive. The image attached to this post is one of the best portrayals of Ripley in this context – carrying the girl in one arm, whilst wielding a bad-ass gun in the other. And she has a cracking aim with that gun, even one-handed.

Ripley remains one of the best heroines of both horror and science fiction of all time. It’s rare that actresses are offered such a wonderful role, and it is testament to Sigourney Weaver’s talent that she was able to bring Ripley to life in such a human way.

Women in Horror #2: Alice

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

My second post in my series about kick-ass horror heroines features a marvellous character from a series of films inspired by a computer game.

If you’ve been following my blog a while you’ll know I have a fondness for ‘Resident Evil 4’ (and Leon). The video game franchise became a series of films. These have been met with mixed reviews. Those that don’t like them say they are lacking plot, lacking character development, lacking logic. I’m not quite sure what people expect from a series based on a game, but I always enjoyed them. OK, so they are not exactly intellectually stimulating, but there are days when a girl wants to switch off her brain and just sit on the sofa with wine and chocolate and enjoy some mindless zombie dismemberment.

Alice

aliceFor the live action series of films (there are some CGI animated ones as well), a new character was created who apppears in all the films. Her name is Alice, and on screen she’s played by Milla Jovovich.

Rumour has it that the character was created to be a kind of reverse version of Alice in Wonderland – an Alice in Dystopia. But she is by far the best thing about the Resident Evil films, and she’s a wonderfully kick-ass character. This lady is no damsel in distress. Her weapon of choice is a gun in either hand, fired at the same time. She has incredible aim, she is fast, smart, agile and resourceful. And she pretty much leaves all the men behind.

My favourite scene with Alice comes from “Resident Evil: Afterlife”, and also features Claire Redfield, who is a character from the games series. With the world being over-run by mutating zombies, a small band of survivors (led by Claire – in herself a strong character) encounter Alice, and they are trying to get out of an abandoned building over-run by zombies. They escape through the sewers. The boys have all run away, leaving Claire and Alice to it when the big guy with the giant meat tenderiser (a monster from Resident Evil 5) comes after them. But these two ladies can take care of themselves, as you can see from the attached video. If you’re wondering what’s with all the slow-motion, the films are mimicking the style of the games, because all the cut scenes feature slow-motion action.

Alice is a fabulous action heroine, and a prime example of a female horror icon who gives back as good as she gets. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I definitely want her on my team.

Women in Horror #1: Buffy

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

February is Women in Horror month, where we officially pay homage to the importance that women play in the horror genre.

This year I am going to be doing a series of posts acknowledging those kick-ass heroines who redefine the role of women in horror.

Buffy

buffyOK, so let’s start at the top. I am a HUGE Buffy fan.There are so many reasons why she is such a great role model. Joss Whedon said that the inspiration for Buffy came from the fact that in the horror films he grew up with, the blonde girl was always the one to creep alone down the corridor and get eaten by the monster. He decided the blonde girl should fight back. So he created his teenage California girl who had superpowers. Who was chosen to kick vampire butt.

There are a thousand reasons why I love Buffy. It’s the only show I will make a point of watching reruns of when they are on. The only show where I can start watching a random episode and know within five minutes not only which series it is, but which episode it it. It has irony. It has real, flawed characters who are affected by the world around them and change from series to series. One of the great things I loved from the beginning was the way it handled adolescence with sensitivity and wry humour. Anyone who’s been a teenager knows the hell that is High School. Every kid has to fight demons in high school. For most of us, those demons are metaphorical. Buffy’s demons just happen to be literal. As well as having to deal with the usual adolescent angst of not being popular, whether she’ll have a date for the dance, getting into trouble with her folks for staying out late, bullies, jocks vs geeks and so on, she also has to save the world from demons, vampires and the occasional apocalypse. And she still manages to graduate from high school (well, after she saves everyone from the ancient snake demon posing as the Mayor).

People who don’t understand my obsession with Buffy have said: “if you like Buffy, you must like Twilight. They’re both about girls in love with a vampire”. If you can’t get the difference, I can’t begin to explain it to you. Just watch this terrific video. Yes, I know I’ve posted it before, but it so proves a point.

Yes, Buffy loves Angel. But at the end of season 2, when she has to kill Angel to save the world, she does it. Even though she loves him. Because a true heroine has that kind of strength of character. And that’s another reason I love Buffy.

Women in Horror – Introduction

February is official Women in Horror month. If you don’t want to click the link and read the official blurb, I have posted the mission statement here.

“Every February, Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.”

A group of fellow writers have come together on AbsoluteWrite to promote WiHM, as we did last year. Here is a list of participating blogs. Not everyone has begun to post yet, but please check out these blogs regularly over the next month to keep up to date with what’s going on.

Diane Dooley
The Girl in the Soap Dish
Glitter and Gore
Smoking Simian Scribbles
The Graveyard
Die Laughing
Johnny Compton
Lizzy’s Dark Fiction
Crunchy Says
Stained Glass in the Night

Last year I promoted several female horror writers. This year, in an attempt to do something different, I’m going to showcase fictional kick-ass heroines of horror. I realise that fictional characters do not completely conform to the WiHM mission statement. However, I think female role models are crucial to young women, and the fictional ones, who know how to stand up for themselves, are just as important as real-life role models. So for the next four weeks I am going to showcase female leads who are no victims. Who do not stand there and scream before getting eaten by the monster. Women who know how to fight back. Women who know how to kick serious butt.

I will be running this series on Wednesdays, cross-posted on the WriteClub blog, so check back on 6 February to meet the first of my kick-ass horror heroines. Oh, and there will be no prizes for guessing who she will be.

That Time Again

At this time of year, I have been known to ruminate upon the festive season (see posts for December 2011 and December 2009). And if you’ve been following this blog you’ll know I am not the world’s biggest fan of Christmas. Yes, there are good things about it. It’s mostly the blatant commercialism I object to – the pressure on people to buy things they can’t afford for people they don’t like.

And there’s the hypocrisy. It’s supposed to be the season of peace and goodwill. It’s not. The number of angry stressed people I have encountered over the last three weeks has been startling, even for London. We might be aiming for peace and goodwill, but since the human race seem biologically inclined to kill each other, we’re not going to achieve it. If we were, we would have gone some way to eliminate war, but from what I can see there are as many conflicts around the globe as there ever were.

However, I do get a tad more philosophical as I get older. I don’t mind spending time with the older generation at this time of year, even if I don’t agree with their politics. They’re not going to be around forever, and if gathering the family around for Christmas dinner makes them happy, it’s not that much to ask.

Generally I refuse to even think about Christmas until we are well into December, but we’ve had to be unusually organised this year. Hubby was despatched to the US to work for most of December. We had to have conversations before he left about what presents we were buying for who, and many emails were exchanged about this, including links to suitable gifts that could be bought online. Hence, most of it was ordered online and the only hardship I had was carrying various packages home from work via public transport.  Which was infinitely better than having to fight my way through the shops in the West End.

Of course the blatant sexism of Christmas adverts (particularly Asda’s Christmas advert – see my earlier post on sexism for more about this) is still intensely irritating. Every time yet another perfume advert comes on, I want to throw something at the TV. But I like the concept of ‘eating, drinking and making merry’. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to go out for drinks with your friends. And I can accept the fact that this time of year should be a time of feasting and merriment. Christians may disagree, but you can celebrate the festive season without believing in Christ. Most major religions have a time of feasting and celebration round about the winter solstice, and many of our Christmas traditions are pagan in origin, and have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus.

Then there are Christmas songs. I admit to liking Slade and Wizzard’s festive offerings, and of course the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” is wonderful. But my favourite Christmas song ever is Greg Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas”. I think I like it because it’s slightly cynical – a comment on the over-commercialisation of Christmas.  I include the original video.  The quality is bad, but I like the fact that it was filmed in the Middle East in the midst of conflict – a further comment, I think, on the irony of Christmas being about peace and love.

So go out, celebrate, eat and drink and make merry. However you choose to spend the festive season, I wish you happiness.

What Women Want?

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I don’t get political on this blog very often. There are few issues I feel strongly enough about to be bothered to argue, frankly. But there are a few I get emotional about, and one of them seems to have been in the spotlight rather a lot of late.

I consider myself a feminist. I can’t stand the sweeping generalisations that society seems to make about how people should behave based on gender. But this is me: I am a woman, and proud to be so. I don’t know how to fix a car if it goes wrong, and I can’t put up shelves. I also can’t cook, I hate cleaning, I possess no maternal instincts whatsoever, and I have no interest in shoes or handbags. And I categorically do not know how to put up curtains, as I have discovered this week.

But my husband can’t fix the car either. When it goes wrong we take it to the garage. Neither can he put put up shelves. We pay someone to do these odd jobs for us when the need arises. We also pay someone to do the cleaning. He is perhaps a marginally better cook than me. Neither of us likes ironing, so we have an arrangement – he irons his clothes, I iron mine. Generic items like sheets and tea towels do not get ironed at all.

And Hubby hates football. Which is good with me, because so do I.

After thousands of years of evolution, we have arrived at the twenty-first century and rampant sexism still exists. It makes me very sad, because it seems the human race has learned nothing. I would like to draw your attention to this website – the Everyday Sexism Project. Though I admire what this site is trying to do, if I spend too much time on it, I just get depressed.

A lot of women whose blogs I follow have talked about their own experiences of sexual harassment. The fact that so many people have stories to tell makes me very sad. I’m going to draw your attention to two, just because they are recent. Sarah Ellender has recently blogged about sexism, drawing on her own experiences of harassment in the workplace. And earlier this year, Sonya Clark wrote an excellent post about being a girl.

Fortunately for me, I don’t really have any stories of my own to add. I have spent many years being a secretary, working for both male and female bosses. For a long time I preferred female bosses, as I saw too many men who wanted their secretary to either be a glamorous dolly-bird, so he could preen to his colleagues about having the sexiest secretary, or a mother figure who would look after him. Since I am neither a glamour girl nor a mother figure, I tend to be hired by people who just want someone to do the work.

Occasionally I get hit on, if I’m in the pub having drinks with female friends, in spite of obvious presence of wedding ring. I do not consider this a compliment, especially since the men in question are generally looking at my chest and not my face. But it has to be said I haven’t gone through life having to constantly fend off unwanted attention, and as a teenager I did not have boyfriends. Boys just weren’t very interested, and in some ways things haven’t changed much. A lot of men appear to find me too intimidating. I do not conform to what society tells us is a model of attractiveness. I do not look like a Bond girl. But I am not fat and I am not ugly, even though it’s taken me all of my life to get to a point where I can accept that. I am intelligent, I am opinionated and I can be brutally blunt, which some people think makes me a bitch. A lot of men don’t know how to deal with that. And there are some people in this world whose opinions are informed by how society dictates men and women should behave. I’m not interested in many of the things women are supposed to be interested in. Some people find that rather disconcerting, which is probably why they think I’m a bit weird.

I grew up in the 1980s, where girls were encouraged to be Superwoman – have a career and a family. Thirty years on, I think we’re going backwards. A lot of young women seem to be interested only in marrying footballers and having babies. I want to yell at them, “Where’s your ambition?” It especially annoys me when women don’t vote. Women had to fight very hard to get the right to vote. We shouldn’t take it for granted.

And now we are approaching the dreaded Festive Season, where sexism appears in abundance. Asda’s offensive ad has already been mentioned in the blog sites I pointed you at earlier. I go crazy at all the ads that assume generic ‘his’ and ‘hers’ gifts – with ‘his’ gifts being video games, and ‘her’ gifts being perfume and make up. The only thing I wanted for my birthday was Resident Evil 6. Which I got, but Hubby – who it has to be said has far better taste when it comes to picking women’s clothes than I do, in spite of being straight – took me out shopping because he thought I should have some new clothes too.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that people think I’m weird. There are plenty of people in my life who value me in spite of my weirdness. But it saddens me that as a race we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. When I was a teenager, I thought I could change the world. Now I’m older, I’m a lot more cynical.

There are a lot of countries in the world where women have a far harder time of it than we do in the West – in some places, daughters are little more than commodities, to be married off to the highest bidder as soon as they puberty. Denied education, denied the right to drive, denied the right to vote.

A few years ago on a trip to Africa, we visited a small village where one particular charity had worked very hard to set up schools, with computers, and were endeavouring to give an education to as many local youngsters as possible. One woman in particular had worked very hard with these children. We encountered a young woman who came to talk to us, to practise her English. She was 18, and in her final year of school. She told us she was in no hurry to have a husband and children. She was going to go to university. She wanted to be a lawyer, and she wanted to help women suffering domestic abuse.

That young woman, who had clearly been inspired by the woman who worked so hard so help the youngsters of that African village, gave me encouragement that maybe things are changing, slowly. But the change is coming rather too slowly, and we’ve still got a long way to go.

Homage to Women in Horror – Part 3

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

And so we come to the final post in my three-part tribute to women horror writers.

Several of my fellow horror hounds over on the AbsoluteWrite forum have also been honouring Women in Horror Month, so this week I’d like to give them a shout-out. Go check out their blogs, because they are all worth a read.

Rhoda Nightingale: Rhoda’s ‘Glitter and Gore’ blog does what it says on the tin, and she has several posts paying tribute to Women in Horror.

Damien Walters Grintalis: Damien has a lot of guest posts for Women in Horror month on her blog, including one from me. Do read the post about Ripley from the ‘Alien’ movies, by Molly Tanzer.  She makes some jolly good points.

Brittany Maresh: On her blog, Brittany has listed the female horror writers who have inspired her at different stages of her life.

Tracy Pittman: Tracey’s ‘Flying With Broken Wings’ blog pays tribute to more female horror writers, and she also explains why she writes horror.

As we come to the end of Women in Horror month, I’m aware that I’ve barely scratched the surface in naming women horror writers, even counting all the links that my fellow Horror Hounds have posted.  We are to be found everywhere, we women in horror, and we are a much larger force than people might think.

Ladies of horror, remember to say it loud:  “I am a woman.  I write horror.  I am proud.”