Ginger Snaps is a coming of age story. It’s about Ginger’s transformation from a girl to a woman through menstruation. The disturbing thing is that her coming of age as a woman is indisputably linked with her transformation from girl to werewolf, from human to monster. This clearly reflected the idea put forward that women are seen as an other.
I think it’s quite clear that women come a far second to men in society. Masculinity and all the traits associated with it are ideals to strive for not only for men, but for women as well. On the other hand, many traits associated with women run opposite to those connected with men, and are considered to be faults – things like emotion, gentleness, and being quiet. In addition to that, women are thought of as closer to Mother Nature and bodies of more mysterious natures. To men (and pop culture and common language/speech perpetuate these), women are seen as being that they’ll never understand, as women are completely different from them. Coupled with the fact that women are forced lower down the social hierarchy because of patriarchy, it’s not a far stretch that women are seen as an other, even though there are few biological difference between males and females, and even though women are just as human as men. Because women are seen as an other, in a way someone/something that many men can’t understand, men strive hard to control women, most effectively (though this is debatable) through sexuality.
The ideal women is chaste, pure (and will quietly follow her man), and this is exemplified by a young girl. It comes of as very disturbing to think about, but being young is the standard of beauty and attractiveness nowadays; the disturbing part is that young girls are fetishized, when they are much too young to be seen that way. On the other hand, the other fetish of our society is the whore. The woman who isn’t pure or chaste, but sleeps around, totally accessible to everyone. It really bothers me because as a woman, you’re either a virgin (a good girl) or a whore. Before you lose your virginity, you’re pure, but after (even if it was a consensual act with a significant other, while both of you are mature, and took all the proper precautions) you’re immediately tainted and ruined. And this one factor about yourself can indicate whether you are good or bad, as if your morality can or should be determined by sex. This virgin/whore dichotomy is pretty solid because of the prescription of the woman as an other.
This whole ideology can be seen in Ginger Snaps. At the beginning Brigette and Ginger are late bloomers, girls who stick to each other and bond through their freakishness. When Ginger starts her menstruation (and becomes a woman) and gets bitten by a werewolf, she slowly turns into a monster herself. Brigette is obviously distressed because Ginger is changing in ways that neither of them expect. Her transformation isn’t merely biological though, her behavior (and sexual behavior), values, companions, dress, almost everything changes into the typical slutty girl, which she used to ridicule. While a certain amount of change is expected during puberty, the changes are exaggerated and terrify more than is reasonable. She becomes associated with the negative traits of being a woman – irrationality, frivolity.) Though Brigette and Sam try to reverse the process, there is no turning back for her. She is fully a vicious monster and a woman.
I feel like rather than trying to reinforce this ideology, the movie is more self-aware than that. We see this when we focus on Brigette. Although her sister has changed, she remains loyal to the sister she knows is in the monster. I think even though the transformation is undeniable, Brigette never gives up on her sister. Instead of rejecting her sister for turning into a bloodthirsty monster, she rejects the wolf because she knows in the wolf, Ginger still lives. Even though at the end Ginger-Wolf seems to be trying to kill her (her! The sister who has always stood beside her!), Brigette never drops the cure. She loves Ginger no matter what. This aspect really made the film for me. Brigette’s love enables her to be brave and stand up against the monster that Ginger is supposed to be and remain a sister to the end.