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The lack of scary female clowns in pop culture oppresses men, a Reddit Men’s Ranter contends

John Wayne Gacy as Pogo the Clown: Why do we think of scary clowns as male?

By David Futrelle

In my travels through the manosphere, I regularly discover new ways in which men are oppressed by the evil gynocracy. They are mostly extremely dumb, but the one I found today is somehow even dumber than that.

Poking around in the Men’s Rants subreddit — a smaller and somewhat angrier offshoot of the Men’s Rights subreddit — I ran across a dude who’s mad that there aren’t enough scary female clowns in pop culture to balance out all the male ones. This lack of “scary female clowns in media,” toddfan420 sniffs, is “a massive layer of anti-male culture affecting us subconciously” by, presumably, making us think that all men are scary clowns, or something.

“It’s so trendy to be ‘scared of clowns,'” he continues,

But if there are no female scary clowns in media, than we cant rule out that this may be creating anti-male fear.

If a woman dressed as a clown and sat at a playground, people would bring their kids up to her. But imagine a huge dude clown just sitting at a playground…

I don’t doubt you, but that might have less to do with the scariness of Pennywise the Clown than with the fact that 95 percent of child abductions by strangers are carried out by men?

Tell me a huge part of scary clowns is not their maleness.

Well, some of it clearly is — and as I mentioned before it’s likely this is the result of the fact that men are, statistically speaking, more dangerous, more violent, more scary than women, and far, far more likely to commit violent crimes. I mean, it’s a lot more complicated than that, and I’m sure someone could write a dissertation or two on toxic masculinity and the rise of the scary male clown, but I don’t think the discrimination going on here is against men.

Nah, it’s against women, who generally don’t get the plum roles as villians in horror movies or in any other genre. Most heroes in movies are male; most villains are male. Still, there are some tremendous female villains in film history, and at least one of them is a clown. I believe her name is Harley Quinn.

If you google ‘scary woman clown,’ It’s all just Harley Quinn stuff. Women get to be sexy, while men have to be objects of fear.

Women “get” to be sexy? Female characters are expected to be sexy, even when they’re also supposed to be scary. And it isn’t feminists insisting that Harley Quinn has to be a sex object. Indeed, when Margot Robbie demanded that producers of Harley Quin: Birds of Prey ratchet down her character’s sexiness and ratchet up her scariness, male nerds lost their shit and boycotted the film, cursing feminists for intruding on “their” pop culture bailiwick. Because that’s the kind of clowns they are.

So in conclusion,

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Ohlmann
Ohlmann
8 months ago

@Paireon : you did not even scratch the surface. In that series of game, King Arthur is a women, who somehow got Mordred (a woman of course) with Morgan le Fay (still a woman). Any additional explantion would make it even worse.

The Frankeinstein Monster is a woman too. And Attila too.

They did their work to try to pull out historical heroes who are women to begin with, but the amount of historical sex change is rather amusing.

That being said, a lot of characters in it are various shade of horrific, and a lot are actual monsters who don’t look horrific until you see them in action and/or learn about all that they did. Most of the earlier games are marketed as pornographic, but you would play them for the horror game part, both because the sexy part are underwhelming and because the terrifying part are genuinely terrifying.

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

@Paireon

I didn’t spot any anti-trans message at the time; if anything, I kinda interpreted Buffalo Bill as a kind of bizarre misogynist who was simultaneously hateful and dehumanising towards women (referring to his latest victim as “it”) yet envious of them due to either their appearance or being able to do things he, as a man, couldn’t without being looked down on.

The anti trans* message consists of a few parts. First, there is part of one of the movies where it is stated that Bill applied for and was denied vaginoplasty, suggesting that Bill is a trans* woman. Next, the idea of misogynistic men jealous of women who dehumanize them is a stereotype of trans* women (which is why TERFs often claim that trans* women are the worst misogynists). And the idea of trans* women as killers or of stealing bodies of cis women is another stereotype.

I can see how modern cis audiences might not notice it, but there is a definite coding and stereotyping issue.

Demonhype
Demonhype
8 months ago

No sexy male clowns?

I give you Dr Rockzo the Rock n Roll clown.

You are welcome. 😈

Oh,wait, i think he was a pervert too, having ruined his career because of his lust for underage girls, so still misandry I guess?

Btw, I so so so want to see some genuinely scary and not sexy female clowns. I would watch the shit outta something like that. Believe me,boys, it doesnt not exist because of lack of interest!

Full Metal Ox
8 months ago

@Autistic Giraffe:

Scariest female villain who comes immediately to my mind? Dolores Umbridge; Voldemort is off the rack from Evil Overlords “R’ Us, but Umbridge has a terrible relatability because everyone knows somebody like that–although most specimens never get the opportunity to tyrannize more than the local PTA or homeowners’ association. (And yes, Umbridge’s particular flavor of saccharine passive-aggressive nastiness is thoroughly gendered.)

@Battering Lamb:
@Surplus to Requirements:

I know of at least one horror film that inverts the Final Girl trope: Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter–wherein a series of demure virginal maidens get drained like so many Capri Sun boxes; the Final Girl is the lusty wench (introduced being pilloried for public dancing) who’s sexually active (specifically with the titular hero; attaching herself to him proved a successful survival strategy.)

Demonhype
Demonhype
8 months ago

@Surplus: I could see that reading of Cabin in the Woods. Another horror movie I think is a good metaphor for the evils of capitalism and how it destroys good people is Would You Rather. Don’t want to spoil it though,since its fairly obscure as far as i know. I did see it on nervous and it may be available for rent on.amazon.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

My favorite horror critique of capitalism is Society. It’s so delightfully bizarre. It really comes for the false notion that a regular person can truly join the elite.

It’s free to stream with an Amazon Prime membership, so go watch it, everyone. Although I should warn, it contains body horror.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
8 months ago

@An Autistic Giraffe:

Azula from Avatar. Nice exception to the norm of female villains not being physical threats, she mopped the floor with the heroes in practically every episode she was in.

That is all kinds of confusing.

1. There has only, so far, been one episode.

2. It has no female villain in it. The women working for RDA that we see can be counted on two fingers, and Grace is on our side from the get-go, and Trudy Chacon quickly decides “I didn’t sign up for this shit” and rebels. Some of the Na’vi are somewhat hostile to Jake early on, but all of them are firmly on our side by the end of the film, and none (male or female) can truly be called a villain.

3. I don’t recall any of the characters being named Azula. If one of the Na’vi women had that name, it was a bit part, not a major character.

4. I don’t recall any of the Na’vi getting into a truly serious physical fight with Jake, regardless.

(If you’re referencing events in the upcoming installments, based on leaked information or something, please don’t. At least not without a spoiler warning.)

Weasel-Rah
Weasel-Rah
8 months ago

Avatar: the Last Airbender.
Not Avatar:Dances With Smurfs.

Weasel-Rah
Weasel-Rah
8 months ago

Avatar :the last air bender. The animated series, not the blue alien film. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth the time investment.

Lainy
Lainy
8 months ago

Surplus

Avatar the last airbender. Not the blue people. Azula is the 14 year old daughter to a Nazi type character who kind of loses her mind and becomes very blood thirsty before a meltdown
Tries to kill her 16 year old abused brother many times. This was a children show

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

I never saw Avatar: The Last Airbender, but the blue people movie was all kinds of racist. It was basically white saviorism distilled. White guy goes to uncolonized planet, joins their society, is accepted as one of them, does their stuff better than them without training. Sound familiar?

Lainy
Lainy
8 months ago

@naglfar

Oh I recommend avatar tbe last airbender and the spin off legend of Korra very highly. When my life gets really low I still watch the whole series of avatar the last airbender because sometimes the only person who can console you is uncle iroh

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

@Lainy
I’ll check it out if I get the chance. Thanks for the recommendation.

Victorious Parasol
8 months ago

Another recommendation for Avatar:TLA.

Allandrel
Allandrel
8 months ago

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the greatest TV shows ever made. It’s nearly impossible to describe how good it is.

Demonhype
Demonhype
8 months ago

@weirwoodtreehugger:

Omg,I saw that one! Definitely mocks the “someday I’ll be rich and then I’ll get to push my servants down the stairs” mindset. And so much body horror! Those with weak stomachs might not want to enjoy any meals/snacks while watching!

Lainy
Lainy
8 months ago

@naglfar

Might interest you that there is a fan theory that one of the avatars in the show named kioshi was a trans woman because she was quote “the tallest of any avatar and had the largest shoe size of any avatar” plus the warriors in her name are traditional women but they don’t discriminate based on physical sex alone to be come a warrior of hers. It is a kids show and was from the 2000s. Legend of Korra has more same sex relationships. But it was a good show. And it teaches like a base idea of Hinduism

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
8 months ago

Speaking of a female version of the Joker, now seems like a good time to (re)link this:

https://www.everywhereist.com/2019/06/i-tweeted-about-the-joker-being-a-woman-who-was-tired-of-this-shit-and-it-now-feels-auto-biographical/

I’m pretty sure that’s been linked here before, but it’s still a pretty good reinterpretation of the idea.

Hippodameia
Hippodameia
8 months ago

I see Livia’s already been mentioned, so I’ll add The Woman in Black.

When Barnum & Bailey used to run their clown college, the ratio of men to women per class usually averaged eight to one. I couldn’t find any recent figures.

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
8 months ago

Dolores Umbridge is genuinely terrifying because she is 100% real (much like one of the characters in Deep Space 9, whose name I have forgotten – a Bajoran religious leader).

Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
8 months ago

@Redsilk Phoenix—

I do kind of agree, though, with the argument that the essential horror of the Joker is that he’s a white man with a false sense of entitlement that allows him to argue that having “one bad day” was enough to justifies all his subsequent violent crimes, and that changing the character’s race or gender makes for a completely different character.

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
8 months ago

@Fabe, yes, that’s the one!

Singerdog
Singerdog
8 months ago

Stephen King’s Annie Wilkes is a wonderful non-sexualized female villain.

Paireon
Paireon
8 months ago

@Ohlmann – LOL yeah, I know, I’m a big fan of the Fate series, I just didn’t want to make my huge-ass post any bigger. 🙂 I’d class them more as dark urban fantasy than pure horror though, but that’s my take on it (Tsukihime and Garden of Sinners by the same group are closer to horror, I’ll admit). And only the first two Fate games have sex scenes due to being visual novels, but are also infamous among the fandom for how hilariously badly written those scenes are (they were there mainly to help sell the games due to conventional wisdom regarding indie visual novels). The irony being that the rampant genderbending and sexualization came only when Fate works without any explicit sex in them (so as to be accessible to wider audiences) started being released in earnest.

@Naglfar – I can see that now, but to be fair like I said I was still a kid then. I think I haven’t seen the movie since before 9/11 at least anyway. Should probably revisit it when I can (currently trying to watch all of the 3rd season of Castlevania on Netflix). I think one of the problems is that I don’t have that many prejudices to begin with due to always feeling like a stranger in a strange land, so sometimes I have a hard time detecting them in other people/works unless it’s pointed out to me.

@Demonhype – “I do cocaine!” LOL.

Oh, and Avatar The Last Airbender also gets a glowing recommendation from me. Just avoid the M. Night Shyamalan live action movie (just called “The Last Airbender” avoid confusion with Giant Blue Alien Native Cat-Smurfs: Electric Boogaloo) like the plague. The only person I know who liked it has very dubious tastes in movies to say the least (they also liked “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” in a non-ironic way, for crying out loud!).

An Impish Pepper
An Impish Pepper
8 months ago

@Paireon

I went to that character page and checked some dates. There was a McDonald’s ad campaign in Japan that was the catalyst for a NicoNico/YouTube meme back in 2008 or so. It can’t be a coincidence, right…?

The closest I’ve gotten to playing/watching Type-Moon media is Under Night In-Birth, so…

Demonhype
Demonhype
8 months ago

@Paireon:

I’ve been meaning to check that out since i saw the Nostalgia Critic’s review of the Shyamalan movie (he hates it and a big part of explaining why it sucked involved explaining why the original was great). I keep hearing good things about it!

Allandrel
Allandrel
8 months ago

@Lainy

There’s an upcoming comic series from Dark Horse about Avatar Kyoshi, written by the show’s creators, so we may see your theory confirmed.

They’ve had a LOT more freedom from Nickelodeon with the comics than they did with the cartoons – the Legend of Korra sequel comic, Turf Wars, was able to be explicit about same-sex relationships that the cartoon could only strongly indicate, including a much-delayed Big Damn Kiss.

Couch Thing
8 months ago

It all makes sense now! It’s not that most predators are men, it’s just that Stephen King convinced everyone that men in clownsuits are scary! Clearly King is the leader of the misandrist cult out to destroy masculinity and force us all to drink soy lattes.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

Couch Thing,

What about his Woody Allen defense from last week?

Maybe it was to throw clever MRA off his scent and trick them into believing he’s one of them?

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

@WWTH

Maybe it was to throw clever MRA off his scent and trick them into believing he’s one of them?

Clever MRA seems like a bit of an oxymoron.

Battering Lamb
Battering Lamb
8 months ago

Alien‘s Ellen Ripley is revealed to have borne a daughter. She manages to be Final Girl twice. And Sarah Connor gets it on with Kyle Reese the night before squishing The Terminator. So … not always, and not even “always, except for more obscure works”.

@Surplus to Requirement
You’re right, the final girl trope is especially common in the slasher genre of horror, not necessarily horror in general. I should have specified that.

Silence of the Lambs (both the book and the film) try to cover themselves by carefully explaining that Buffalo Bill is not trans, but simply trying to escape his hated identity. They even got his name because he was rejected for GCS for this reason.

@Allandrel
I recently saw Hitchcock’s Psycho for the first time and was surprised at how clearly the film explicitly distinguished Norman Bates from trans folk (though they use an outdated term by our standards). Especially considering the time in which the film was made. How do you feel it compares to Silence in regards to framing etc?

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
8 months ago

This seems vaguely pertinent to the scary clown discussion. Spotify used Pennywise in playlist for kids’ lullabies.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51801683

Valentin
Valentin
8 months ago

There are female killer clowns in ahs cult

Paireon
Paireon
8 months ago

@WWTH:

What about his Woody Allen defense from last week?

King defended Woody Allen? Fuck. Although I’ll wait a bit before
throwing him under the bus – used to be a time I defended Roman Polanski myself (it’s no longer the case).

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meanie
8 months ago

@Paireon,

Not quite. From what I can tell from a fast Google search, the publishing company that was going to publish Woody Allen’s autobiography cancelled the deal after a bunch of people protested it. It was that cancellation King was upset about, not anything else involving Allen.

Allandrel
Allandrel
8 months ago

@Battering Lamb

I haven’t seen psycho in quite some time, but I remember it coming across much better than The Silence of the Lambs in this respect, if only because Norman’s behavior doesn’t play as heavily into trans stereotypes as Buffalo Bill’s did. Though that may well have been an effect of the Hayes Code limiting what Hitchcock could depict.

Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
8 months ago

I’d say Norman was coded as multiple-personality (don’t know if they called it that in 1961, but The Three Faces of Eve had come out four years earlier) rather than trans.

PolymathFather
PolymathFather
8 months ago

Dissociative Identity Disorder (used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder) often gets used as a villain trope while simultaneously crossing into transphobia because it turns out the killer didn’t know they had a woman (or man, whatever the ‘opposite’ of their identity is) living in their head who was also a murderer. Dramatic reveal! There’s so much to unpack from that, and it’s just a cold natcho platter of awful tropes about mental illness, trauma, trans panic (what if I’M SECRETLY TRANS and don’t know it?), trans people being mentally ill and dangerous, people with DID being mentally ill and dangerous, and on and on.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
8 months ago

Is that even possible? Being “secretly trans and don’t know it”, that is. (Aside from knowing you’re something-unusual but not knowing the name for it, of course.)

Ohlmann
Ohlmann
8 months ago

@Surplus : if people can be pregnant and not know it, they can be trans and not know it, just suffering without knowing why.

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

@Surplus

Is that even possible? Being “secretly trans and don’t know it”, that is. (Aside from knowing you’re something-unusual but not knowing the name for it, of course.)

Since I was very young I knew I wasn’t a normal child of my assigned at birth gender but I didn’t realize I was trans* until much more recently. I’m not sure if that’s what you mean, since I was questioning my gender for many years before coming to a conclusion. I felt dysphoric but didn’t really have words for it or understand what it meant.

Allandrel
Allandrel
8 months ago

@Naglfar

You’ve mentioned that you’re on the autism spectrum as well. How would you compare becoming aware of being trans to becoming aware of being autistic?

I’m cis but autistic, and I always knew I was different but never know quite how until I got diagnosed at 32.

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

@Allandrel

How would you compare becoming aware of being trans to becoming aware of being autistic?

I can only speak from my own experience but I was diagnosed as autistic when I was 4 years old, so I don’t remember too much about before that. I always did have a sense that mentally I was different (I talked a lot more than most kids my age being the most notable feature). When I was 4 I was told I was autistic, but it took me a bit longer to understand what that meant. However, knowing that I was autistic early did help with a number of things.

Gender was different in that unlike autism, I did not have an early diagnosis, but did feel “different” (I had dysphoria but didn’t know that’s what it was, and I knew I wasn’t a boy but wasn’t sure what I was, or how to phrase it). It took me a lot longer to figure out, but like figuring out that I am autistic, figuring out that I am trans* has explained a lot of things in various aspects of my life.

Allandrel
Allandrel
8 months ago

@Naglfar

Thanks. Your experience with gender does sound rather similar to how I have experienced autism, especially how finally learning about how I was different explaining a lot of things.

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

@Allandrel

especially how finally learning about how I was different explaining a lot of things.

Definitely. So much of my past makes much more sense when examined through the lens of being trans*. The same is true of autism as well technically, but I have known that for most of my life so there wasn’t really a dramatic realization moment.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
8 months ago

How does dysphoria typically manifest?

Naglfar
Naglfar
8 months ago

@Surplus
It’s rather difficult to put in words and it’s different for different people, but for me it was this sense that my body really did not align with what I thought it should and this was distressing me. For example, I didn’t have breasts, so I would avoid getting undressed or being shirtless because I didn’t want to see my chest or genitals. Before I figured out that I was trans*, I simply assumed this was normal until I learned it wasn’t. I also was uncomfortable about being grouped with men or referred to as one because I didn’t think I was one.

It seems that for me and some other folx, dysphoria also amplified with depression. It got a lot worse when I was depressed for other reasons, and part of why it took me so long to understand was that I thought it was simply a form of depression manifesting.

TMI: there was also a sexual component. I didn’t like having sex or masturbating very much because I had to fulfill the “male” role and that stressed me out because of the incongruent with how I felt (the nudity didn’t help either). Still not super into either of those activities, but maybe once I transition more I will begin to feel more comfortable.

Frederic Christie
8 months ago

Regarding Fate: I actually love the Queen Arturia twist (i.e. Arthur is a woman), even though the original game design had a female protagonist with male Arthur. While some of the backstory makes less sense, other things are even more poignant. The Lancelot-Guinevere-Arthur triangle is even better: Arturia knew about the “infidelity” but was actually happy for her best friends, Lancelot couldn’t get over his guilt, and Guinevere was torn between duty and love married to a woman who couldn’t love her. It makes all three people active agents with their own worldview and values.