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The Equality of Fear: An Analysis of Gender Representation and the Taboo within the Horror Genre

Craig York



The horror genre has always exploited and experimented with the idea of gender, in some cases very controversially. Of course, horror, being a genre designed to shock and highlight the taboo, will always hold an element of controversy, whether it be in the infamous Video Nasties scare of 70s Britain or the alarming 'Tree Rape' scene in The Evil Dead (1981, Sam Raimi), horror has always conflicted with many of society's defined ideals, creating an aura of extreme notoriety and ultimately controversy. This is most likely due to how horror can be used to highlight and satirise taboo, political and social contexts that most of society wish to ignore. However, one of horror's greatest controversies, lies in the themes of Gender and the 'Other', also referred to as the taboo. Examples of these controversies can be seen throughout the genre's history, even into the depths of its origins in folklore.


Although, it is being argued that the attitudes and representation of gender in horror films have changed since its official concept, thanks to the introduction of feminism and queer theory, leading the genre out of the ideals of exploitation and more into the ideals of feminist empowerment, both within television and film. A recent example of this is The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa). The show is a dark horror/comedy, reimagining of the 80's TV series Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996 - 2003, Nell Scovell), based on the comic book series of the same name by series creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. In the series the character of Sabrina is portrayed as a strong, independent idealist, who remains committed to her feminist beliefs, which leads to conflict with not only the taboo practices of her coven, but the misogynistic nature of the coven’s high priest and the devil himself.


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