Hi, I’m Jason Voorhees. Most of you know me as the antagonist in the popular Friday the 13th horror film franchise in which I haunt Camp Crystal Lake and butcher hyper-sexualized teenagers.
I’m here today to tell you that my actions were wrong and I’d like to explain why.
In the past, I’ve often seen my filmed adventures as light-hearted romps, morality tales about the dangers of smoking marijuana and having sex at too early an age. But a realization has sliced through me like a machete through a teenager on her prom night: I’ve played a large role in reinforcing and normalizing sexist and misogynistic tropes.
Now, I’m nothing if not an active citizen of the world. I’ve been greatly encouraged by the recent activism shining a light on a culture that takes advantage of women’s bodies.
In my research, I’ve come across some readings on the “the male gaze” in horror movies. In her book, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, feminist film critic Laura Mulvey explains that the male gaze denotes how women are “still tied to [their] place as the bearer of meaning, not the maker of meaning.” She explains that female characters act as symbolic objects to be taken advantage of by both male characters and film viewers.
That really opened the eye holes of my hockey goalie mask and made me angry — and not just because I was drowned in a lake as a child and cursed to exist in a state between life and death.
Now, I don’t normally read manifestos that aren’t scrawled in blood, but I gave Mary Beard’s Women & Power: A Manifesto a chance. In it, she reminds us that, “When it comes to silencing women, Western culture has had thousands of years of practice.” Doesn’t that cut right to the pulsating, bleeding heart of the issue?
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never once asked a female victim why she’s come to Camp Crystal Lake. Possibly as an escape from a high-stress corporate job where men talk over her in board meetings? Or from years and years of being objectified by the male-dominated norms of popular culture? I’ll never know.
I’d also be remissed if I didn’t speak to intersectionality. No, I don’t mean carving a woman into sections by detaching her arms from her torso; I mean analyzing how women of color are silenced. As bell hooks writes, “Masses of people are concerned about violence but resolutely refuse to link that violence to patriarchal thinking or male domination.” As a white, decaying man, I look forward to learning more from authors of color so I can attack the issue of race.
So, with all that said, I am vowing to make some changes. While I am known for my trademark hockey mask, I hope you will support me in taking the mask off toxic masculinity. Thus I promise to represent both men and women equally in my future massacres. I will base these killings not on their sexual impropriety, but on their intellectual vigor and content of character. Additionally, I will refrain from surprising female characters in sheds where they may feel overly pressured into being mutilated. I also plan to sit down with Freddy Krueger and let him know that he is not entitled to the dreamworlds of others, and will form a feminist book club with Michael Myers and Leatherface.
Finally, and perhaps most exciting of all, I’ve been accepted to the Women’s Studies program at Vassar. So the only place I’ll be stalking this fall will be the halls of knowledge!