At Limestone Genre Fiction conference in Kingston, Ontario in June we found very interesting takes on seeing the world through a female gaze. Especially in horror fiction. Publisher Sandra Kasturi noted that only 17 per cent of submissions to ChiZine Publications. Yet many women, including middle aged women read Horror. It has always been a bit of a boys network but more women came in during the 90s. There is also a lot of cross genre work going on. Margaret Atwood for example considers some of her work to be Speculative Fiction, for example The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian take on gender relations in a near-future time of subjugated women. Speculative Fiction includes Science Fiction of course.
Whether there is a female gaze or not in a given story, it seems that many contemporary genre novels exemplify what Toronto bookseller Marian Misters has called ‘Domestic Noir’ stories about women in danger, wives escaping domestic violence for example. That said horror films too, often involve the home. Traditionally novels focused on the home environment may seem directed at women or the product of the a female gaze. But as one participant at Limestone commented nothing can scare you better than your own imagination. A safe place that isn’t a safe place is the starting point and why so many mysteries and horror novels involve something happening to the home.