The Horror of Assimilation: Queerness in Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives

In an era where acceptance and assimilation have an increasingly blurred boundary, The Stepford Wives becomes the tragedy of a generation of activists slain by those who call themselves allies. 

Since its publication in 1972, the ubiquity of Ira Levin’s dark satire novel The Stepford Wives has been almost unquestionable. With millions of copies sold, two movie adaptations (one passable, one frankly terrible), and a permanent place in the vernacular with the term ‘Stepford wife’, Levin has inspired a generation of social horror and brought a very real sense of the terror of everyday prejudice into the limelight. With this political niche of horror growing in popularity after the success of 2017’s social horror masterpiece Get Out, we are reminded again and again that the patterns we see in fiction are replicated in society at large. The victims of horror are the victims in reality too. Social horror presents us with a tension marked by very clear social categorisations that are easier for many to ignore in reality: black versus white, men versus women, oppressor versus oppressed. Battle lines in horror are drawn clearly for those who choose to see them, and protagonists are left to deal with the messy in-betweens, the people they love, and the betrayals of trust involved. For those unfamiliar with Levin’s sinister suburb, The Stepford Wives tells the story of Joanna Eberhart, a feminist/photographer/mother/housewife who has moved with her family from a bustling city to the idyllic Stepford, a suburb with unassuming middle-class professionals and their submissive, carbon-copy wives. From the very beginning, it is clear that something is amiss in Stepford, and the novel tells the story of Joanna uncovering a conspiracy against Stepford’s women, coordinated by the men of the town. The novel has been lauded for its prescience, with Levin presenting a world in which perfection is the biggest aberration, where against the backdrop of the rise of second-wave feminism, these Stepford wives are the biggest abnormality, not the feminist protagonist who questions them.

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When You Walk By Night: An Interview with Paul Bridgeman

Take a walk with me to the end of your street, where the lampposts end and the darkness hides dancing, skipping horrors. Waiting for us are a Copy-cat killer who picks the wrong guy to copy. A strange epidemic that is not quite what it seems and has consequences for us all. An ancient Djiin who trades in souls and loves a twist in his deals. A girl plagued by nymphomania who is going through some deep changes. An exclusive, high class brothel with an interesting charging policy. Inter-dimensional horror on a human farm. A collector of cursed books and Objet D’Art, with a very nosey wife. A group of flatmates terrorised by a possessing spirit with murderous intentions and a sweet girl who would do anything for love. Oh! And Vampires. I can see them now. Come on, take my hand they are getting impatient…

When You Walk By Night is the newest book by horror writer and artist, Paul Bridgeman. The book features nine different stories, all with their own twists and turns. GenderTerror was lucky enough to interview Paul about not only his book, but his influences, his art, and why he feels queer horror is important.

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Desperately Seeking Queer Representation

by Santino Hassell

As someone who spends a lot of time on book social media, I commonly see people saying it’s difficult for them to find queer representation in paranormal and horror novels. There are several reasons for that but I tend to think the common obstacles are as follows:

1) Lack of rep in general in mainstream publishing. Even though non-queer people seem to think we’re all taking over because we may now have a queer hero for every twenty hetero heroes… that’s still only one queer hero among a sea of non-queer characters.

2) The queer representation primarily consisting of cis gay male heroes with little room for the rest of the rainbow.

3) I’ve seen many readers and authors alike state “it’s not out there”, and then being shocked when they receive many recommendations for paranormal and horror books featuring queer characters. This could be people assuming there’s *none* out there due to a lack of mainstream marketing for these novels. At the end of the day, readers are consumers and consumers tend to drift to things that are heavily marketed unless they follow social media accounts where they will receive word-of-mouth recommendations.

4) Writers receiving the advice that “those books won’t sell”, and writing less books with a queer cast. It’s a tricky situation because writers do want to make a living, but I can’t help but think the publishing industry sometimes gas lights writers into thinking queer characters aren’t interesting or relatable to non-queer people when, in reality, often those books aren’t marketed the same as books with hetero casts… so it’s not a comparable situation.

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All in Fear: Queer Horror for the Holidays

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All in Fear is a queer horror anthology that features a wide variety of different topics. From vampires, to experiments, to frat houses, All in Fear has something for everyone. Each one of these six stories has a unique and alluring feel to it, drawing the reader into the world of the author. All in Fear: A Collection of Six Horror Tales is available now at OpenInkPress.com.

GenderTerror was lucky to get a small interview with each of the authors, asking them what their inspirations were as well as why queer horror was something that was important to them. Each author’s personal feelings are felt in each story in this small anthology, making it that much more personal and interesting for readers.

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