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Gender and survival vs. death in slasher films: A content analysis


The content of slasher films was examined, focusing on what portion of the violence is directed toward and committed by women vs. men and the survival rates, the juxtaposition of sex and violence for male and female victims, and differences between male and female survivors vs. nonsurvivors. Five student coders analyzed 56 slasher films (474 victims). Female and male victims were portrayed equally frequently in these films. Male characters were as likely to die as female characters as a result of the attack; however, more female than male characters survived the attacks. The slashers were primarily men. Sexiness was paired with nonsurvival of female victims, whereas male nonsurvivors were portrayed as possessing negative masculine traits. The reinforcement of the good vs. bad woman dichotomy and the portrayed cost of unmitigated extreme masculinity in men in slasher films are discussed.

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The authors wish to thank four coders — June Cline, Susan Malinowski, Camille Mayers, and Misty Sherman — for their work in coding the slasher films.

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Cowan, G., O'Brien, M. Gender and survival vs. death in slasher films: A content analysis. Sex Roles 23, 187–196 (1990).

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  • Survival Rate
  • Social Psychology
  • Content Analysis
  • Male Character
  • Female Character