I was scrolling down the feed on Facebook looking for inspiration for this blog post, when I saw a friend’s link to this piece from Bookriot. I had one of those moments of instant recognition that happens when someone says something you weren’t even sure you’d been thinking about but which, when articulated, seems to reveal buried fragments of ideas and convictions you’ve had bubbling beneath the surface all along.
Like the author of “Why I Need a Break from Books about Dead Girls,” I too have been immersed in a lot of narratives that feature dead girls/women lately. Tana French’s hypnotic In the Woods is about the murder of a young ballet dancer and the ensuing investigation. I just finished the second season of The Fall with its charismatic serial killer who targets young brunettes. A manuscript that kept me engaged all weekend featured an unreliable narrator and the violent deaths of several women and a 12-year-old girl.
Now, I read plenty of fiction and nonfiction where women are not murder victims, per se. My recent forays into pleasure reading include The Paying Guests and The Silent Wife in which male protagonists did not, shall we say, fare well. But, it does seem that dead girls/women are a recurring trope in all kinds of storytelling. Of course, the underlying psychological and cultural reasons for this are myriad and complex, but it makes me wonder what it is about killing off females that appeals to a writer’s imagination. Why is it easier to kill the girls? Does it reflect a more misogynistic societal bent? Or is it simply a matter of storytelling convenience (is it easier, for instance, to plot the physical overpowering of a woman by a larger male assailant)?
All I know is that now that this idea has been unearthed for me, I’m going to be paying a lot more attention to the female body count in the books I read and the films/programs I watch.