Recently I was reading online that Jason Voorhees – a fictional character, is considered one of the leading cultural icons of American popular culture. For those of you who don’t know, Jason is a psychotic mass murderer. A cultural icon btw is an object that represents some aspect of the values, norms or ideals perceived to be inherent in a culture, or section of a culture.
Now, I should explain that Mr Mary does like movies like Friday the 13th or Halloween. Why you say ? Well for starters I have had night terrors all my life and I prefer in my waking hours not to see or feel terror or fright. Those things are best left for the night time when silence and an absence of light shield us from the constant need for rationality . The Main reason however I do not like horror movies is I do not like celebrating or laughing at the killing of innocents.
This Genre Of Movies
For this genre of movies there are the Big Three: Freddy Jason and Michael Meyers. One thing they all have in common aside from the fact that they are all unstoppable white male killing machines, is that they kill white women with more tenacity and than the Bubonic Plague did during Medieval times. One cannot ascertain the rank of a cultural icon as a fictional serialkiller without killing tons of women,more specifically white women.
The Portrayal of Women in Movies
I have always been curious as to why women are portrayed the way they are in horror movies. Look what I found here:
Traditionally women are represented in horror films as the damsel in distress and are usually being attacked by the killer because they have committed a sinful act. This idea is supported by the website “bellaonline.com” as they say that “Horror films, and the slasher subgenre, are famous for portraying women as hypersexual damsels in distress who are usually murdered within the first five minutes as punishment for their indiscretions…”. Women are traditionally represented as the victims and men represented as the monster and hero. This was how women used to be treated before women had equal rights to men; so that was how they were portrayed in horror films.
Horror films also tend to follow the same narrative structure of a male killer on the rampage that kills his victims one by one until he is killed by the remaining female victim. This is also supported by the book “Men, Women and Chainsaws” by Carol J Clover “A phychokiller who slashes to death a string of mostly female victims, one by one, until they are subdued or killed, usually by the one girl who has survived.” – Page 21.
Taking a partial negative
I have always asked myself why don’t these guys every in the movies mass murder black women, then I rationalized that that wouldn’t be a horror movie but a tame re-enactment of an episode of American History.
The mistreatment of slaves frequently included rape and the sexual abuse of women. Many slaves were killed as a result of resisting sexual attacks. Others sustained psychological and physical trauma. The sexual abuse of slaves was partially rooted in the patriarchal nature of contemporary Southern culture and its view of women of any race as property After 1662, when Virginia adopted the legal doctrine partus sequitur ventrem, sexual relations between white men and black women were regulated by classifying children of slave mothers as slaves regardless of their father’s race or status. After a few generations, numerous slaves were mixed-race (mulatto) offspring of such unions, although white Southern society abhorred sexual relations between white women and black men as damaging to racial purity.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – Literary Touchstone Classic - Published in 1861, this was one of the first personal narratives by a slave and one of the few written by a woman. Jacobs (1813-97) was a slave in North Carolina and suffered terribly, along with her family, at the hands of a ruthless owner. She made several failed attempts to escape before successfully making her way North, though it took years of hiding and slow progress. Eventually, she was reunited with her children.
Concerning Ms Jacobs
No one believed she wrote her narrative because she was a slave. It was believed that it was written by another white women Lydia Maria Child a white abolitionist. Today, with Jacobs’ authorship authenticated, her dramatic narrative provides new generations with a revealing look at a often-hidden side of slavery: the sexual exploitation of women. The brutalization of black girls and women by white slave-masters, who justified their dehumanizing treatment by viewing them as “sexual savages,” was a daily fact of life under slavery. Stripped, beaten, raped and forced to “breed” more slaves, black women suffered a double burden of slavery because of their sexual vulnerability.
I think these type of cultural icons tell a lot about American culture. Because America is a super power we have never been forced to accept accountability for our actions like for instance Germany was forced to do in an international way with the demilitarization of the nation the creation of East and West Germany, the partitioning of Berlin , the Nuremberg Trails.
Taking a partial negative has really opened up many observations for me. One thing I have noticed is the role that caucasian women have played in Black history. There were many great caucasian women who were abolitionist and it’s kind of sad that no one mentions them. Their story needs to be told.
One thing I have never understood well, I do not know how to say it so ill give you an example. Let me tell you about the Harrison Narcotics Act - a United States federal law that regulated and taxed the production, importation, and distribution of opiates.
In the 1800s opiates and cocaine were mostly unregulated drugs. In the 1890s the Sears & Roebuck catalogue, which was distributed to millions of Americans homes, offered a syringe and a small amount of cocaine for $1.50. At the beginning of the 20th century, cocaine began to be linked to crime. In 1900, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an editorial stating, “Negroes in the South are reported as being addicted to a new form of vice – that of ‘cocaine sniffing’ or the ‘coke habit.’” Some newspapers later claimed cocaine use caused blacks to rape white women and was improving their pistol marksmanship.
The drafters played on fears of “drug-crazed, sex-mad negroes” and made references to Negroes under the influence of drugs murdering whites, degenerate Mexicans smoking marijuana, and “Chinamen” seducing white women with drugs. Dr. Hamilton Wright, testified at a hearing for the Harrison Act. Wright alleged that drugs made blacks uncontrollable, gave them superhuman powers and caused them to rebel against white authority. Dr. Christopher Koch of the State Pharmacy Board of Pennsylvania testified that “Most of the attacks upon the white women of the South are the direct result of a cocaine-crazed Negro brain”.
Before the Act was passed, on February 8, 1914 The New York Times published an article entitled “Negro Cocaine ‘Fiends’ Are New Southern Menace:Murder and Insanity Increasing Among Lower-Class Blacks” by Edward Huntington Williams which reported that Southern sheriffs had increased the caliber of their weapons from .32 to .38 to bring down Negroes under the effect of cocaine.
It is not just black men. Do you remember this:
- 1930, Anti-Filipino riots break out in Watsonville and other California rural communities, in part because of Filipino men having intimate relations with White women which was in violation of the California anti-miscegenation laws enacted during that time.
- 1933, After the Supreme Court of California found in Roldan v. Los Angeles County that existing laws against marriage between white persons and “Mongoloids” did not bar a Filipino man from marrying a white woman, California’s anti-miscegenation law, Civil Code, section 60, was amended to prohibit marriages between white persons and members of the “Malay race” (e.g. Filipinos).
It’s odd if you, as an outsider look closely at American History. It seems that there is that same mentality from olden times which persist: that white women exist to maintain the purity of the race and to
- Be used as an excuse or means to lynch/or riot against minorities
- Be used as fodders for serial killers both fictional and non.
Side Note: Lynching
In Duluth, Minnesota, on June 15, 1920, three young African American traveling circus workers were lynched after having been jailed and accused of having raped a white woman. A physician’s examination subsequently found no evidence of rape or assault. The alleged “motive” and action by a mob were consistent with the “community policing” model. A book titled The Lynchings in Duluth documented the events. Although the rhetoric surrounding lynchings included justifications about protecting white women, the actions basically erupted out attempts to maintain domination in a rapidly changing society and fears of social change. Btw – All across the former Confederacy, blacks who were suspected of crimes against whites—or even “offenses” no greater than failing to step aside for a white man’s car or protesting a lynching—were tortured, hanged and burned to death by the thousands. In a prefatory essay in Without Sanctuary, historian Leon F. Litwack writes that between 1882 and 1968, at least 4,742 African Americans were murdered that way.
Side Note: The ScottsBoro Case
On a cool, spring day in March 1931, two white women hitched a ride on a freight train in Alabama in the hopes of finding work in a neighboring state. When authorities stopped the train some time later, both women, fearing arrest for violating the Mann Act, which prohibited transporting even willing women across state lines for illicit purposes, told police that they had been raped by nine black men who were also scattered along the train. Their accusation caused a furor, and a mob that gathered to lynch the men dispersed only with promises of a speedy trial. Despite little evidence of rape, the men were convicted based on the women’s testimony and sentenced to death. As the case meandered through four separate trials and two supreme court decisions, local whites continued to support the women’s charges, even though one recanted her claim of rape after the second trial. Allegations eventually surfaced that the women were no paragons of virtue. Both had occasionally resorted to prostitution to support themselves and apparently had engaged in sexual relations with unmarried white men in the days before they made their accusations. Nevertheless, in an early articulation of what would come to be rape shield laws, which, in the 1970s, attempted to protect against attacks on the character of a rape victim, white southerners argued that the two women’s sordid sexual past should have no bearing on the case. As one spectator told a reporter, the victim “might be a fallen woman, but by God she is a white woman.” Though the nine accused men eventually won their freedom, the Scottsboro case, as it came to be known, has become the paradigm for all black-on-white rape cases in the twentieth century, in which the accuser’s whiteness overrode any consideration of her gender, sexual history, or class status.
As a heterosexual man I like woman, all shapes, sizes colors, at the end of the day when the lights are off all the meat is medium rare, (pink in the middle). Women’s rights,especially reproductive rights were a big issue in the last election. I feel that the need to suppress women and their rights has deep deep historical roots in American History.
This post came to me in a day dream.I thought about the horror movie genre and I wondered what it would look like if all these famous fictional mass-murderers murder minority women (specifically black women) as much as they do white women in the movies. I think just changing this one aspect brought many things to light which hopefully at one point will be a segway to a serious
Disclaimer: I am of mixed heritage and bear no ill will or violence towards anyone, well I really don’t like people who are close talkers, but that’s something else.