[Horror Cliche] Woman in Distress Sexist or Tired?

You know the trope. The damsel in distress. A trope so old its in ancient lirurature. A trope so pervasive it’s probably in the first oral story ever told.

 A woman, usually a sexualized hot bodied busty, plump ass, and thunder-thighed sex bomb, running for her life. Horror loves it’s damsels. It loves showing and depicting women as the victim of a murderous rampage, of a relentless serial killer, or even some unfathomable horror from the great beyond. But why?

For sexist thrills? Do we enjoy seeing a woman in a state of panic? It certainly gets our attention, as we shout word of caution at the woman, but if we enjoyed it for some sadistic sexist pleasure why would we even bother with the futile task of screaming at the pages or screen? 

Because it’s not about sexist or sexism. It’s not about patriarchal roles. It’s about tension. It’s about using established and recognized relationships as a plot device. Why would anyone risk their life and face a violent murderer if it wasn’t to protect and\or rescue a loved one?

And in horror, it’s the chase. It’s the build of tension, the overpowering sense of dread as death steadily approaches our young and beautiful peer. We want to see her make it to the end, but we doubt that she’ll make the correct choices. Will the blonde bimbo run up the stairs, restricting her access to exits, or will she wise up and run down and head for a weapon? Kitchens are dangerous places for attackers and defenders.

This trope has been done before and before. A classic staple that is much more than a stereotype, but a product of the human condition. We are driven to protect people we care about. Both men and women tend to take more protective roles of their daughters than their sons. Sons are tough and mental to be strong, right?  That’s why the trope works so well with a male AND female audience.

Yes, it’s a trope and a tired one at that, but it works. Look at the top horror films and books! A female protagonist running and fighting for her life is a common thing. 

I don’t believe that it’s because of some patriarchal sexist agenda. I don’t believe that there horror writers and movie makers conspire to put women down by perpetrating certain stereotypes. But some do. Some would have you think having a female chacsterling fall victim to an onslaught of horrors is wrong an misogynistic. That’s dumb. It”s either going to be a male or a female victim, and people tend to gravitate more compassion for female victims. They just do. Is it wrong? Why? How?

In order for horror to work the protagonisthas to be vulnerable. It’s just a fact.

But others say the tropen is tired. I say bullshit. The trope is only derivative if you put no effort into it. Embrace the trope, write from what you KNOW and don’t worry about the critics. Half the time the critics aren’t even the audience anyway! 

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