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- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, January 30, 2017

Women in Horror Month

Hey, everybody!  It's almost February, and that means it's almost one of my favorite celebrations of the year: Women in Horror Month.  For the whole month I'm going to shut up and introduce you to some of the best women acting, writing, directing, and publishing in my favorite genre.

Now, a couple of questions perennially surround WiHM, and I'm not going to pretend like they don't exist.  So here are some of my thought on the matter.  If you feel differently, or, hell, even the same, I don't care, chime in below in the comments.

1.)  Do you think women write with their breasts and/or vaginas?

No, I don't.  Women can write as well in every subgenre of horror as men, and men can write as well in every subgenre as women.  Body parts and bodily functions play no role in writing skill.  And while I understand that singling people out because of their sex and/or gender (no, they're not the same thing) can be a dark road to discrimination, failing to acknowledge that society treats members of the various different sexes and genders (yes, there are more than two) differently is a road to myopia and a form of dismissal.

2.)  Doesn't having a Women in Horror Month just perpetuate tokenism and the idea that women shouldn't be involved in horror?

I don't think so, at least, not in 2017.  I was fortunate enough to come into the genre at a time when many of my peers and best friends were women, and didn't seem to suffer sales-wise from that fact.  But I'm also a student (admittedly a very elementary-level one) of the genre's history, and I know that wasn't always the case.  When Mary Shelley arguably invented the horror genre two hundred years ago, FRANKENSTEIN was dismissed by critics very explicitly because of the Victorian notion that women shouldn't write novels.  That was an ominous foot to start off on.  And as recently as ten, fifteen years ago horror was still not considered a seemly place for women.  Take a look at how many of the authors from last year's WiHM still go by just their initials.  That's a throwback to an era when publishers assumed men wouldn't buy books by know, women like Joanne Rowling.  We're not talking about the '30s or even the '50s here.  We're talking about the '90s and '00s.  So while horror seems to have come to a place where men and women have equal seats at the table, it wasn't that long ago - within almost all of our lifetimes - that the exact opposite was true.  I'd say WiHM is trying to celebrate that relatively recent change, and ensure that it's cemented into the public consciousness.

3.)  Wouldn't it be better to just treat every month like Authors in Horror Month, and to hell with what's between their legs?

I think I do.  I've never gone back and counted, but I'd wager in all the interviews I've done over the years, men and women are probably equally represented.  I don't tend to think about gender when I'm inviting someone onto the blog.  However, I'm also in my early thirties, and I've been part of the horror community for about three years.  There are a lot of people not a whole lot older than me who literally lived their whole lives watching horror function as an old boys network.  (Or "Buddy System" as it's almost universally never been called.)  I don't think that being of a certain age or a certain generation makes you inherently biased.  But I do think that it may take active semaphore on the part of younger people to signal to older people that things have changed.  I don't think male Baby Boomer authors are all sitting around twirling their moustaches going, "Fucking dames trying to horn in on our territory!"  But they may be surprised to learn that things have changed.  They may even be happy about it.  Maybe the old guard is saying, "Oh, good, look how far we've come!"  And if, in a few years, the idea of a Women in Horror Month seems so laughably outdated we have no more need for it, then great.

4.)  Isn't this just another self-congratulatory PC bullshit waste of time?

Maybe.  I know it's all the rage lately to be anti-political correctness, but I've also noticed that a lot of people seem to use "I know it isn't PC to say this..." as a preamble for some horrible misogynistic and/or racist remark.  Sure, there are issues with PC culture, but if you look at political correctness as some kind of straitjacket that is preventing you from being your true, racist, sexist self, then you are just a bad person.  So, no, I don't think WiHM is bad because it's PC.  It may be self-congratulatory.  It may be masturbatory.  It may be the fruit of all those SJWs I keep hearing about because no one ever actually admits to being one.  It may even be...problematic.  Certainly it's problematic, and every time I bring it up with a female author, we have a mini recap of this blog post.  But the way I look at it, if the absolute worst possible outcome of WiHM is that you hear about a bunch of horror professionals you never heard about before...then the whole thing is a net gain.  That's why I do it.


  1. Great thought! As I am a fledgling in the Horror Writer's market, I don't think I have to worry much about the "old school" way of thinking, even though I am a bit older than... well, not dirt, but close.
    I have been trying to glean ideas and styles to use as a sort of template, and it includes as many women as men. I don't pay attention to the gender of the writer, but to the words written. Isn't that how one is supposed to read? :D

    1. Yup, that's exactly how you're supposed to do it, John. :)


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