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When I asked a number of acquaintances to name the female spirits that stand out the most in their minds, two names seemed to prevail. Bloody Mary, that apparition every preteen girl dreads seeing in the mirror during a slumber party game, was the first. The second was, if I may quote one respondent, “The girl in The Ring. For me, the scariest are dark-haired, lurchy, wet women. What does that say?!” What does it say? What both of these answers, as well as many others, say, for one thing, is that female ghosts are particularly scary because the source of the pain that keeps them haunting the living world isn’t supernatural at all, but the result of being all too human.

When you can pause for a moment between waves of stomach-churning heebie-jeebies, you realize that not only are these women sympathetic characters, but they’re all the more terrifying because they have every bit of anger that makes living women sources of fear, but none of the societal restriction.

In this way, ghost stories are often protofeminist tales of women who, if only in death, subvert the assumptions and traditions of women as dutiful wives and mothers, worshipful girlfriends, or obedient children by unleashing a lifetime’s worth of rage and retribution. In the feminist horror zine Ax Wound, Collen Wanglund theorizes that the Asian female ghost is an inherently feminist figure whose very presence is a symbol of how deeply men fear female power. Their vengeance isn’t necessarily aimed at the person who wronged them, and as such it’s as unthinking and randomly destructive as systems of patriarchy.

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- Andi Zeisler, The Feminist Power of Female Ghosts (via apolloniacorleone)

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