Feminine Fear
a specific kind of Adult Fear, something that is hard for men to watch but terrifying for women.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-06-13 06:01:00 sponsor: HeartOfAnAstronaut (last reply: 2012-11-30 06:19:22)

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A variant of Adult Fear. Some works, although scary to anyone regardless of sex, will have a particular resonance for the female viewer. Men and women alike will be able to enjoy these works regardless, but the work will prey on specifically female fears. Might include some of the following themes:

  • Rape.
  • Birth and pregnancy.
  • Most generic parental examples will belong on Adult Fear rather than this, but some might be specifically about motherhood or post-natal depression and may belong here. I haven't seen We Need to Talk About Kevin or read the book. I feel like it may belong here, but may not.
  • Not being taken seriously, especially in life or death situations.
  • Vulnerability to men, or The Bluebeard trope.
  • In historical works, becoming an old maid was a very real fear as (depending on the era and country) women were unable to hold property or support themselves with their own jobs.

This is NOT about saying that men are unable to empathise with feminine experiences. Men can be extremely empathic and I'm sure that a lot of men have been scared out of their minds by a number of the things I've listed here. I'm also not trying to erase the fact that men can suffer from things such as sexual abuse or domestic abuse from a partner. HOWEVER, I do think that the fear of these things affects women in a particular way.

This also has no bearing on whether or not a work or its creator is (explicitly) feminist, although more exploitative works are probably less likely to consider the female viewer.

  • The film Changeling. This is actually a bad way to start because in all honestly, I have not actually seen it, but I know what happens and it seems the kind of thing I'm describing here: not being taken seriously as a woman.
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is about a very real treatment that doctors would prescribe for women suffering from various mental illnesses such as depression. The "rest cure" involved being stuck in bed for days with minimal contact with outsiders and being banned from anything too energetic like writing or painting. This is obviously kind of an outdated example because the modern woman doesn't have to live in fear of the rest cure but I think it taps into fears of bring ignored and mistrusted.
  • Frankenstein is supposedly an extended metaphor for pregnancy, giving birth and associated fears.
  • Rosemary's Baby combines fears of pregnancy going horribly wrong, and mistrust.
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier deals with The Bluebeard and being in a vulnerable relationship with men.
  • Certain torture scenes in the book version of American Psycho are even worse if you have a vagina. If you've read it, you know what I'm talking about.
  • Sex and the City dealt with some of these. For example, fear of leaving it too late to have children, dealing with unwanted pregnancy.
  • Jane Austen novels often deal with the fear of ending up an old maid. Pride and Prejudice has the Bennet family who have five daughters and no sons and consequently live in fear of losing their home if their father should die.
  • The movie Creep is basically a Slasher Movie based around this trope (the main character is a woman who's being stalked and ends up fleeing into a former illegal abortion clinic). Even more so when a character's strapped to a gynecological examination table.
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