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Ginger Snaps (2000) & Puberty Politics

Right away, we see these two sisters are pretty disillusioned with life and have a very close bond: together, in this life or the next. A beast of some kind stalks Bailey Downs, eating dogs and leaving them torn/bloody. Both girls, Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald, are outcasts and seek revenge on a bully-this leads to a chance encounter with the beast, who scratches Ginger. Soon after, changes begin: her period (maybe cramps) becomes unbearable, her wound grows fur, and she has hungry urges she needs to satisfy; drugs and sex do nothing. Tearing living things apart consumes her as she delves deeper into her own bloodlust.

Puberty

Everything in this movie is pushed forward by the women-men are backdrops since puberty, for them, is quite a different ballgame. It’s just one of the ways it sucks to have a uterus (the nonbinary/trans aspect unfortunately isn’t depicted in this movie but anyone who has a uterus in general can confirm). Everyone wants puberty to come, with their bodies filling out and awkwardness disappearing, but without the side effects. The werewolf contamination has given Ginger something she lacked: confidence. She loves the new attention to her body but also realizes the double standard: she’s also being objectified and classified by men: “slut/bitch/tease or virgin next door.”

The struggle is very real-the scene where Brigitte stands, daunted by all the feminine products that exist for women is such a real moment. Everything gets very weird, very hormonal and then boom: casual objectification, even at inappropriately young ages by grown men. It’s a lot.

The Wolf Within

“Somethings going on-like, more than you just being female.”-Brigitte

Brigitte and Sam, the guy who accidentally killed the beastly thing, trace it back and realize: full moon + bitten = werewolf. (Brigitte tells him its her turning to protect Ginger’s privacy). Now, Ginger’s puberty appears to be accelerated by her wolfing out. She is ruled by instinct alone and a threat to everyone around her. The wolf brings out several things in Ginger that women aren’t supposed to be: aggressive, selfish, lustful, angry, and terrifying. Ginger is the nightmare incarnation that any patriarchy should fear-and she’ll tear you to “fucking pieces”.

There is a serious difference between the puberty/objectifi­cation of men and women, but a werewolf doesn’t have to play by any rules but her own. We see Ginger get physically violent, not just verbally, the way women are taught to channel their aggression. Its no longer ‘boys will be boys’-more like boys will be chew toys. Outwardly, the men see the ‘sexy’ side of being a werewolf in her shape, in Ginger’s embrace of her animal carnality. The audience sees the truth: crazy, weird, ugly side of the’ puberty-as-werewolf’ allegory.

Though awesome, Ginger’s transformation is not without its casualties (figuratively and literally). Her deep mistrust of men makes her lash out and hurt men who are kind to her sister, like the janitor. There is no pedophilia grooming happening, but she kills him for perceived inappropriate behavior anyway. Kindness, to Ginger, is a tactic to get one’s defenses down. The same fate befalls Sam, who tries to help Brigitte as she infects herself to stop Ginger’s rampage.

Living in Shadow

Arguably, Brigitte lives in Gingers shadow- Ginger is considered prettier by boys (while Brigitte is ignored), is able to stand up fer herself, and binds Brigitte via blood pact. By choosing life over the “ultimate ‘fuck you”’ of deaths, Brigitte chooses herself and leaves Ginger’s shadow. And why not, really? Ginger definitely chose herself. I didn’t see Ginger’s death coming, but it fits this narrative. (Side note: their mom is so ride-or die for them, and I love her. All the adults may be cringe-y, but they are surrounded by a support system of people looking out for them, though they assumed the girls have more normal problems.)

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