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Where Are the Female Monsters?

With the recent release of The Shape of Water, we have been reminded of our love of monsters. But when it comes to them, they are so often male. While female monsters exist, they tend to be either human-coded (think recent vampires) or sexy (think mermaids). But where are the truly terrifying females? The closest I can personally come up with is the Other Mother from Coraline. You may explore the significance of what a female monster would bring to the table.

  • An interesting topic full of potential! I've always personally been fascinated by the idea of monstrosity and subversion, and more often than not, monsters, descended from myths and stories, reflect the fears and concerns of the age. Female monsters in general tend toward either the young and seductive (think Sirens, Medusa) or the old, haggard and mystical (Witches, Hags, Baba Yaga). I think these inclinations are worthy of exploration. Crash Course has an excellent overview of the latter in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OCPQG4bMFs. But most of all I do think its pertinent that there aren't too many contemporary versions of female monsters, and maybe the current social and political climate might play some part in that as well. But i like it! – Matchbox 2 weeks ago
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  • Have you considered perhaps widening the definition of 'monster' to include the monstrous? I've often felt that the most convincing monsters are found within the Far Eastern horror genre, i.e. Korean, Japanese, Pinoy etc. It's surprising how often these monsters are female, insofar as they assume a female human form, possess a human female or give the appearance of being female. The morality issue also seems to differ from western monsters and their actions, whilst often driven by the need for revenge or to avenge some perceived wrong doing, tend to orientated towards the ultimate redemption of the 'monster'. I'd recommend 'Audition' (1999), directed by Takashi Miike, 'The Doll Master' (2004), directed by Jeong Yong-ki and the infamous 'Ring' cycle of films, directed by Hideo Nakata. – Amyus 2 weeks ago
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  • I love this idea! I would also add that female(-coded) monsters are not only sexy, but that their monstrousness generally seems to arise precisely from the extent to which they are sexually attractive and the uninhibited, aggressive way in which they are able to display and pursue their sexual appetites. Female vampires, werewolves, demons, women with vagina dentata and so on seem to be so terrifying because they threaten dominant ideas of acceptable female existence and sexual conduct, namely that of submissiveness, deference and docility. – HangedMaiden 2 weeks ago
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  • Great topic. The egg-laying mama alien in the Alien films is pretty monstrous! – JamesBKelley 2 weeks ago
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  • Interesting topic, especially since I would argue we are conditioned to think of monsters as male from childhood. For example, Sesame Street played host to exclusively male-coded monsters for decades. The rationale was that they couldn't show a female-coded monster with extreme personality traits (e.g., Cookie Monster's obsession with cookies) without drawing the ire of feminist advocates. But I say that's baloney. Female monsters, such as Rosita and Zoe, were eventually added to the cast, but you'll notice they tend to act more human and far less neurotic than their male counterparts. While horror on Sesame is not kosher, male monsters are allowed to be a little scary or strange at times. Females are not. I've noticed some of the same trends in adult media as well. For instance, the "monster" behind the Hound of the Baskervilles was a male, and the hound itself was always referred to with male pronouns. Frankenstein and Dracula? Male again (more human-coded, but still). Werewolves? Overwhelmingly male (the one exception I can think of is Once Upon a Time's Ruby/Red). Aragog? Sauron? Gollum? Basilisks? Male, male, male...ugh, somebody get me some estrogen! And as you mention, if you do see a female monster of any kind, she's often motivated primarily by revenge, or is in a subservient role (see Voldemort's serpent Nagini). I'm with you--give me a female monster who poisons victims or rips their throat out just because hey, it's her idea of a good time! – Stephanie M. 2 weeks ago
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