March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a day where people of all backgrounds, cultures, and races can come together and celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
Here’s a quick history of how this day got started. In 1908, fifteen thousand women marched through New York City, protesting unequal pay and demanding voting rights. In August 1910, one hundred delegates from over seventeen countries met in Copenhagen at the International Conference of Working Women. There, Clara Zetkin proposed a day each year where women all over the world would simultaneously press for their demands. A year later on March 19th, more than one million people from across Europe came together to demand that women be given the right to vote and hold public office and to end sexual discrimination in the workplace.
The day continued to be observed in a variety of countries (with the March 8th date solidified by 1914) with women campaigning against World War I, marching for women’s suffrage, and in Russia even staging a massive factory walkout that helped usher in the downfall of the czar. The United Nations recognized the day officially in 1976.
So what does International’s Women’s Day have to do with horror? Though IWD stands for many things and has continued to change and adapt over the years, at the core it is both a celebration of the achievements of women and a day to protest inequity and raise awareness. Ladies of Horror Fiction was also founded on these two principles.
As avid readers who love the genre, we found it demoralizing to head to the horror section of the bookstore and only see a few names on the shelf, basically all of them white men. Perhaps you have run up against the mindset that women just aren’t interested in horror—that they don’t read it, watch it, write it, direct it—when the truth is that horror has not only historically been an outlet where women can explore creatively but one where they were often the majority consumers as well.
Genre fiction, and especially horror, is a place where we can safely explore and confront our fears. On the page and on the screen we can see women come up against all kinds of issues and come out the other side. They may be covered in blood, sure, and certainly transformed, but that fight for survival represents women facing all kinds of issues from misogyny and racism and transphobia to questioning societally dictated femininity to exploring and normalizing women’s “issues” such as menstruation and childbirth.
There is so much more to explore in horror, and it is our mission every day to highlight how diverse and wonderful the creators of the genre truly are. So Happy International Women’s Day, and here’s to all the women who paved the way and all those who continue to create and fight.
Toni is one of our LOHF Admins. Toni hosts the Ladies of Horror Fiction podcast, manages our guest posts, and oversees community outreach and communications for the LOHF team.
Audra and her horror hound, Ouija, help manage the Ladies of Horror Fiction Instagram page. When not ghost hunting or rollerskating, she also contributes articles and helps maintain the website.