Why I think females are better suited to lycanthropy than males
“I casually added a footnote that read: ‘Generally speaking, werewolves in popular culture are male creatures. Notable exceptions include…’
And I listed a couple of examples of female werewolves.
Then I added a couple more.
Then a few more.
Then a few more.
When the footnote took up an entire side of A4, my PhD supervisor sat me down and said: ‘Hannah, you have to do something about the female werewolves.’ This was the point when I realised that female werewolves are much, much more than a footnote.” – Dr. Hannah Priest
It makes me really happy to know that I’m not the only person who has spent a lot of time thinking about female werewolves. The concept of females being physically better suited to lycanthropy than males is something that came to me a few years ago. I can’t remember the exact circumstances now, I may or may not have been rereading Bitten for about the third time. The thought that got the ball rolling was that the female body is literally designed by nature to be able to handle sudden extreme changes – i.e. carrying and giving birth to offspring. In my mind that ability equates to females being physically more likely to handle and maybe even thrive with the extreme, monthly, full-body metamorphosis that comes with being a werewolf. I couldn’t think why no one else had made that connection and why I had never read a book, or even heard of one, where that was the case for women. After thinking about that I came across Claire de Lune which I still haven’t read properly, but from what I’ve read of it and about it it seems to be in that vein, pack of all female werewolves where the lycanthropy is passed down matrilineally.
It’s not just the physical transformation aspect that I think makes females better suited to being werewolves than males. I know pop culture has come to see the werewolf as kind of the ultimate in untamed masculinity which of course presents a problem for the female werewolf, because we as females are told by pop culture and society that it’s wrong for us to be masculine. Traditional werewolves are super hairy, super angry, and super violent, the antithesis of what society says a woman should want to be. So the female werewolf seems to have become tied up in those traditional gender roles. It’s interesting that in a lot of cases female werewolf transformations have been used as metaphors for puberty and menstruation. My friend Mel (not the one who’s hosting this wonderful event) shared a fact with me, thanks to those oh so delightful PMS hormones that time of the month is actually when a woman actually acts more traditionally masculine (unfortunately neither of us can find the original source where she pulled this info from, boo!) – so it’s not that we’re being crazy, it’s that we’re being male and that’s bad. I however think completely differently. Thanks to our regular hormone fluctuations females would be a lot more adaptable to dichotomy of the wolf/human nature.
Females are badasses and we’re used to dealing with shit, we’re used to fighting for our rights and sticking up for ourselves. We’re used to being the outsiders, just like werewolves. Pop culture loves the alpha male, especially the alpha male werewolf, but not every werewolf can be an alpha, and they shouldn’t be. Think about those matriarchal societies we’ve seen over the years in pop culture, most recently for example Diana and the Amazons from this summer’s Wonder Woman – now imagine if instead of Amazonian warriors those women were a pack of werewolves? They’d be way cooler, and way more formidable than a pack of male werewolves, at least they would be in my mind. There’s even folklore out there to back up the idea of females as werewolves.
I think female werewolves deserve a lot bigger share of the spotlight than they get. And I want to see diversity among them, I don’t want all the female werewolves to be infertile because of the changes, or be super masculine because they’re lycanthropes or they’re surrounded by dudes. Every woman is different so why shouldn’t every female werewolf be?