Hello and Good Morning, Everyone--
As most of you know, February kicks off Women in Horror Month (WiHM), and over the years, I've worked hard to bring you a blog series that features spotlights on women working in the horror industry, whether that be through art, film, or literature, and then back in 2014, I even wrote a string of memoir pieces about my own experiences in the genre. However this year, I wanted to push myself, and my students, to get out in the community and spread the world and participate in an event that would help benefit women and children in need.
As faculty advisor for The Horror Club at Point Park University, and as a SafeZone Volunteer, my students and I have been talking a lot about the feminist wave that's currently moving throughout the industry (and the world). We've been discussing empowerment, equality, independence, living authentically and un-apologetically, and also talking about the reclamation of words and the character tropes they live in, i.e. the final girl, the witch, etc. Naturally, with all of that said, one of the topics that comes up quite a lot surrounds that women and violence.
Now I've been an advocate for the horror genre for as long as I can remember, and I think it's important that our stories and worlds and monsters exist because they shed light on humanity and all the conflicts and evils that we deal with on a regular basis. Our genre is light and dark, ying and yang, self and shadow, and these movies help us confront our fears, deal with our traumas, and not only learn to survive, but show us that it's possible. For me, it's been a saving grace, and I feel like I'm stronger because of it, not to mention more empathetic. Honestly, horror has taught me how to be a better person, how to love harder, how to care about those in my community, and it's shown me how to step up when I see someone in need of help.
And lately, I've seen a lot of pain.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National News Network (RAINN), "on average there are 433,648 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United states." In fact, every 73 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted, and out of those numbers, "82% of all juvenile victims are female, and 90% of adult rapes are female, [too]."
With those numbers in mind, we wanted to do something big this year--our first year-- for WiHM, and I'm proud and excited to say that we'll be doing a fundraiser all month to benefit Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR), an organization that is "dedicated to assisting victims of sexual abuse and ending sexual violence in our community."
If you're interested in joining us for this cause, there are a lot of different ways to contribute:
- Our fundraiser information can be found here, and we're looking for donations for PAAR to help benefit homeless youth, sexual assault victims, and victims of sex-trafficking. Items we're specifically looking for include: makeup bags, tampons, pads, sanitary wipes, tissues, makeup remover, Band-aids, shampoo, body wash, lotion, lip balm, toothbrushes, deodorant, body wipes, dry shampoo, loofahs, hair ties, and black hair care products (both travel sizes and full). Other items are welcomed, too, such as plain t-shirts and sweaters of all sizes, although we cannot accept anything used, so products must be new.
- If you or someone you know is suffering, both RAINN and PAAR have hotlines and live text-to-chat options to help listen, to help coach, and to help assist you. You can get in touch with RAINN here, and PAAR here, and please know that you're loved and not alone.
- Raising awareness is also hugely important, so never hesitant to share information and resources on your platforms, with friends and family, at your job, etc. We're all in this together.
Note: if you're long distance and want to donate, you can certainly do so! All donations and/or checks (made out to PAAR) can be mailed to:
Point Park University
ATTN: Stephanie M. Wytovich
Center for Student Success
201 Wood Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1984
If you have any questions or concerns about the fundraiser, please be sure to reference our web link, but also don't hesitate to reach out to me directly. In the meantime, cheers to WiHM, and cheers to The Horror Club at Point Park University. You all make me so proud and grateful to be a part of this community.
Stephanie M. Wytovich