Feminine, But Not Feminist

I have always been, and always will be, a supporter of feminism. Those that are portrayed in films and television series, especially. Veronica Mars, Sydney Bristow, and duh, Buffy Summers. When I first heard about Ginger Snaps, I looked up the film online. It had really good reviews, and a lot of people were saying that it’s very well-crafted in terms of its use of the whole werewolf thing for female sexuality and puberty, so I decided to give it a shot. To say that Ginger Snaps is your typical run-of-the-mill horror story would not do it justice, yet to say that the film as a feminist masterpiece is a bit far-fetched.

I don’t think the film really brought anything new to the table. Sure, it used lycanthropy as a metaphor for Ginger’s puberty, but it all stops there. Yes, it’s witty. Yes, it’s smart. But what happens in the end? Just the same body-fearing and sexuality-fearing mindset that the people from all over the world already have today. Human sexuality has always been a staple of the horror genre. Hell, it’s what gave rise to the slew of horror movie “rules” that the Scream quadrilogy and Cabin in the Woods basically revolved around and tried subverting. The rules are pretty simple: you have sex for fun, you get punished, and then you die. The virginal Final Girl almost always seems to survive. I don’t really know where this whole sexuality thing started, but somehow, it’s always there. In the film, basically, what we get is more or less the same: Ginger unwillingly becomes a werewolf. Ginger initially doesn’t know what’s happening to her, but then she begins to get the hang of it and even starts enjoying it. Ginger starts doing even more self-destructive behavior, all in the name of fun. Ginger is offered a solution–a way out of her predicament: to become human again–which she denies. Ginger gets punished, and then she dies. 

You see, she didn’t even choose to be who she is. No teenager is given that choice. Now I remember a quote from Buffy (yes, I somehow always seem to find a way to weave Buffy into things): The big moments are gonna come, can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.I think this is applicable to the film, not only for Ginger, but for her sister Bridget as well. Okay, so Ginger got bit by a werewolf. That’s done. The event paved way to two roads for both characters. Should Ginger embrace her new-found lycanthropy, her “womanhood”, or should she choose to remain what she was before? Should Bridget just accept the fact that her sister is “growing up”, or should she find a way to get her sister human again? Both characters choose their own paths, and these both inevitably lead to Ginger’s death by the end of the film. 

For me, the use of lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty is one of the best things I have seen the horror genre do. It’s a very refreshing take on the whole werewolf thing. There was superb acting all around, thanks to the two leads (who were also the two evil step-sisters in Another Cinderella Story–they still kick ass in that one). However, why a lot of people pass this movie off as something that is feminist is completely beyond me. Just because a work of fiction has kick-ass girls in it as lead characters doesn’t necessarily mean it’s feminist. It might just be feminine.



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