Lions and tigers and bears are old hat, what we want these days are vampires, werewolves and zombies. All three were human once, all three infected by some agent that has changed them and taken them out of normal society, but the werewolf stands alone in still having life. Vampires and zombies are cold creatures, forever apart from humanity. The werewolf can pass for human and often does, struggling with its bloody secret, fighting to keep its human life and place in society, knowing that inside lies the monster, an animal that will break free, that will have its due. The secret beast within a werewolf is its power and its downfall.
The werewolf is ruled by the moon, the rise and fall of the beast subject to an inevitable, regular cycle. Once a month, the demon breaks free, and everything changes. Sounds familiar? The idea of linking the threat of a woman at the peak of her cycle with that of a werewolf’s monthly rage comes inevitably, and it’s no surprise that so many of our modern female werewolves are angry creatures, ready to use their sudden strength and power to strike back at those who have hurt and humiliated them in the past.
It’s somewhat surprising that the werewolf has traditionally been a male creature, when the waxing and waning of strength and blood is so female. It is women who give birth to new life, who change the world with every child they bring forth. Perhaps it’s a secret envy of that power to change that led to so many stories of the werewolf, the man who changes, the man whose body dances to the rhythm of the moon?
Many traditional western shapeshifter stories painted women who changed into animals as witches, fated to be caught out in their deceit by an injury carried from their animal form to their human form, revealing them as shapeshifters. Even in animal form, these women were rarely wolves, more often they were deer or hares, prey creatures. These women would be shamed and often killed, in their human form, driving home the message that women who stray from their given fate will be found out and punished. Male werewolves die in wolf form, allowed to keep their strength and power, even in death.
It’s hardly surprising that today’s writers are claiming the female werewolf as the essence of power, strong, uninhibited, and with a rare gift. Our werewolf girls and women are as varied as the writers who they spring from, some are kind and dread the escape of the beast within, some are ruled by the moon, others are in control of their inner wolf. They have one thing in common, strength and power, traditionally male attributes, which are being taken by our wolf girls and used for their own purposes. Will they be used for good or evil? We can only watch and wait, and hope for more stories about the wolf girls and their kin.
This article was originally published at http://shewolf-manchester.blogspot.co.uk
Read Jeanette’s story in Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny, published by Hic Dragones.