One major criticism of Hemlock Grove is its apparent misogyny. Feminism and feminists are repeatedly derided. A teenager dies in childbirth. Young, sexually active women die right and left. Disposable women all over. A major character rapes an acquaintance on camera and remains the star. It’s a hard position to take, considering, but I’ve been thinking about it, and I don’t know if Hemlock Grove really is misogynistic in the classic sense.
Hear me out:
For all its apparent sins against women, there are still complex female characters who relate to one another and progress the plot. There more females than men, even, and they are more interesting characters. What’s more, almost every female character is equally sexual as their male counterparts, but this is never permitted to become their primary character point. One of the most interesting characters is a female prostitute who never comes to harm. There is a teenage unwed mother who not only has sex but initiates and enjoys it, and doesn’t die directly due to her actions. This brings me to my second point: the series does take the horror-genre “kill the slut” convention and run with it– but all the hostility lumped onto women for their sexual activity comes from other women.
No male punishes any female for their sexuality, a subversion of the genre, but women still are not safe. Olivia acts through men to harm other women, killing one daughter and having another raped, which (we could interpret) occasioned her son raping another girl. Then there’s teenage slut-shaming, which the girls father asks them to please stop. Letha’s mother verbally assaults her daughter in public for morning-sickness puking. The angelic Letha expresses surprise that “slutty” Ashley Valentine has a soul. This is in contrast to her father, who counsels her never to feel bad about consenting to sex, or feel bad about having sex. Then when (spoiler, even if it’s months old) Christina bites other girl’s vaginas out of them, it’s still all women.
Even if it’s misogynistic, I appreciate Hemlock Grove confirming that misogyny isn’t the sole domain of men.