The Act of Rape Used Against Women in Horror

By Emily Kissinger//

When it comes to horror movies, an audience is under the conscious notion that nothing is off-limits. But within the subconscious part of the mind, there are acts believed to be entirely taboo. They get under your skin and sit there for days after the credits roll. The issue, however, is when these taboos are forced into the light so many times the shock begins to wear off and the audience becomes apathetic to them. 

This forced desensitization is precisely what’s happened to the act of rape within the horror genre. It seems like it’s almost expected now when a violent act happens to women, rape is the first thing to come to mind. It’s not enough for her to be tortured, murdered, or trapped with some ancient curse. Horror, as an industry, has decided the worst thing a woman can go through is her sexual/personal agency being destroyed; yet it’s not vile enough to refuse to show it. As a non-male audience member, you can’t escape being forced to witness the fetishization of your violation. 

Horror and rape get so close together because horror writers want to get into the shittiest part of the human psyche, and rape is one of the worst things a human being can experience. The Evil Dead comes to mind and is particularly horrific when you realize the demon-possessed tree assault results in the woman, Cheryl, becoming ‘evil’ therefore ‘tainted’. If that’s not a clear yet disgusting enough example of how men’s opinion of rape survivors can paint any media I don’t know what is. Because so many horror writers come to the exact same conclusion it’s lost the ability to be horrifying. Horror has been made into a tool of rape culture. The gratuitousness of largely male writers’ fascination with subjecting women to a fate very few of them will ever understand (and hopefully never experience) takes away any weight it once had. It becomes useless torture porn and maintains an apathy to violence against women within not only horror but all the genres it crawls its way into.

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