Ferocious Marys and dark Alessas: the portrayal of religious matriarchies in Silent Hill

Beddows, Amy (2021) Ferocious Marys and dark Alessas: the portrayal of religious matriarchies in Silent Hill. In: Theology and Horror: Explorations of the Dark Religious Imagination. Theology, Religion, and Pop Culture . Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland, pp. 189-208. ISBN 978-1978707986


Theologians have repeatedly drawn attention to the unfavorable portrayal of women in Judeo-Christian texts and practice. Feminist critics have noted that “the norm for women is absence and silence” in ancient religious texts and that when women do appear, they tend to be framed in binary terms as passive devotees or monstrous demons, virginal mothers or seductive whores, innocent lambs, or corrupt sinners (Stanton 1993; Daly 1973). Unsurprisingly, such stereotypical depictions are in line with the patriarchal norms which have long persisted in wider, secular society, which deem women as inferior and subordinate to men (Schur 1984).

Subsequently, there have been calls for alternative theological interpretations which value and empower women (Russell 1985) yet in the absence of such belief systems we have to look outside of existing frameworks for more egalitarian possibilities. This chapter will briefly consider the critical arguments regarding the role of women in religion, primarily Judeo-Christian scripture, and explore the value of alternative representations as a challenge to the dominant power structures in non-secular and secular society. It will do this through particular readings of the multimedia horror franchise Silent Hill, as a critical reflection of the ways that religious belief and practice can embody the social devaluation and control of women.

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