Women in Horror Month: This is Not a Female Horror Writer
By Stephanie M. Wytovich
“If one looks at a thing with the intention of trying to discover what it means, one ends up no longer seeing the thing itself, but thinking of the question that has been raised. The mind sees in two different senses: (1) sees, as with the eyes; and (2) sees a question (no eyes).”- Rene Magritte
Belgian surrealist painter, Rene Magritte is known in the art world for the contradictory and highly philosophical pieces he started creating in the mid to late 1920s after moving to Paris and teaming up with Andre Breton, a major mover and proponent in the surrealist circles. After Breton turned his focus away from Dadaism, and Magritte abandoned his impressionistic style, Surrealism, a movement focusing on meta-messaging, subconscious thought, and paralanguage was not only born, but celebrated…and challenged.
Now some of you may be familiar with the series The Treachery of Images to which Magritte gives new meaning to an otherwise ordinary object and/or context, i.e. his piece, “Ceci n'est pas une pipe" ("This is not a pipe"). As a student of art history and theory, this particular notion of exhibiting an object, and then stripping it of its label was, and remains, a fascinating concept to me, and therefore, is one of the reasons why I decided to title my #WomenInHorrorMonth project “This is Not a Female Horror Writer.”
The picture to my left, that’s me. My name is Stephanie M. Wytovich, and yes, I am a female horror writer. But am I? No, of course not. I mean, if you want to bring my vagina into the conversation, then yes, I guess that’s technically true, but seeing that I don’t write with it, I’m not sure why that would be appropriate.
So let’s rephrase.
I, Stephanie M. Wytovich, am a writer.
I write stories, and novels, and poetry, and sometimes if people aren’t paying attention, I’ll write on the walls of restaurants and maybe even on some stop signs in the country. And again, and I can’t stress this enough, I’m not doing any of that with my vagina.
Having said that, when someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a writer. I don’t say I’m a female writer, and I certainly don’t say I’m a female horror writer, because what does that honestly have to do with anything? The only part of that sentence that matters is that I write. Do you tell people that you’re a male banker or a female professor, or a trans-gender communication specialist?
See? It sounds silly, right?
Our physical gender, or the gender that we identify with, has no bearing on what we do for a living as artists. Maybe thematically it does, and sure, that’s bound to happen on occasion, but I’m not talking shop, and I’m certainly not commenting on craft. I’m talking gender as a pigeonhole for the profession and for the equality within it. Do I think that female horror writers need a month of promotion for their work? Yes, and not just because we’re part of a male-dominated genre. The hard truth is that most male readers only read male authors, and despite knowing that, I won’t write under a different name—not for my dark fiction, and certainly not for my erotica, because in a way, that’s just submitting to the gender issues that are at hand here.
· As a female horror author, I stand by this because there needs to be awareness for the fact that this stereotyping and prejudice is still happening within the genre.
· As a female author, I stand by this because men and women are both writers and neither of us should be classified as such strictly because of our genitals.
· As a female, I stand by this because I believe in gender equality.
--Stephanie M. Wytovich