Teenage me was one of those girls who used to think feminism was a bad word. I didn’t like other girls, because I bought into the idea that they were all catty, mean and probably talking shit behind your back. It didn’t help that I had dealt with some intense bullying and slut shaming by girls I considered close friends after being raped. In my head, if women were getting the short end of the stick in society, it wasn’t society. It was the fact that women were petty and spiteful.
Junior year of high school two things happened to make me step back and reevaluate my life. One of these was an amazing history teacher named Mr. Berry who forced us to critically think and not just take what we were told by books and adults at face value. In introducing me to the extensive history of the Women’s Rights Movement, he made me realize that women are, yes, sometimes spiteful and mean. They are also bad ass and amazing. I was still convinced that I was a girl who wasn’t like other girls though.
The second thing that happened that year was the release of the Craft.
The Craft, for those that are somehow unaware, is a movie about four girls who come together to create a powerful coven of witches. There are lessons about forcing what you want and ultimate power ultimately corrupts. It was the rare horror movie that put women front and center, with men serving little more purpose than a supporting cast.
More than anything, for me, it’s a movie about sisterhood and how much stronger we are when we work together. It’s also a movie about owning your personal feminine power unapologetically. As someone who had been distancing myself from all I saw as feminine in myself it was a revelation. When they do end up fighting, it’s not over anything as paltry as a boy. It’s over the power to control the world around them.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that in some ways it’s a flawed example of feminism in pop culture. What starts as a sisterhood degenerates into a mindset of uniformity of thought being necessary (to the point of attempting to kill the one that doesn’t go along). I now see that Nancy was always only interested in personal gain with Rochelle and Bonnie sycophantically following along. I can excuse this even now though. If their coven had survived the growing pains of being granted ultimate power, I can’t help but feel like they would have grown up to be their own Witches of Eastwick (probably without the babies though).
For all its flaws, the Craft made me open my eyes and start looking for the supportiveness in other girls. It made me start to build other women up instead of tearing them down by assuming they were catty at first meeting. It made me examine the idea of Girl Power and what it means. Pop culture has always been a lens of self discovery for me and the Craft is perhaps one of the biggest cornerstones of that.
(February is Women in Horror Month. I wanted to write this piece as the perfect example of where women and horror intersect and create awesome moments. Please check out #WiHM8 for more amazing women in the horror community.)