Carrie, a horror film released in 1976 and based on the book by Stephen King, follows an unpopular teenage girl, played by Sissy Spacek as she develops supernatural powers. In this film, Carrie experiences her first period. This leads to total humiliation at school and shame from her fanatically religious mother at home.
Prom Queen Caper
When Carrie’s bullies are sent to detention, they create a plan to punish Carrie. This plan, to rig the election and help Carrie become prom queen, leads to a famous horror movie scene. The bullies kill pigs and collect their blood. The plan is to pour onto Carrie when she is on stage receiving her prom queen crown. At the same time, Carrie is discovering her powers of telekinesis. After the embarrassment caused by the pigs blood, Carrie’s powers take over. She kills many of the prom’s attendees in a horrifying scene taking place in the school gymnasium.
When Carrie returns home, her mother admits that her pregnancy with Carrie was the result of marital rape. She attempts to kill Carrie because she believes that Carrie is a witch, a daughter of sin. However, Carrie is too powerful for this attempt on her life and her frightening powers are once again used, this time to kill her mother and destroy their home. Carrie loses her own life in the violence.
On the surface, Carrie is a very peculiar film that seems to be based around the horrors of a young girl’s first period. Her mother even tells Carrie that periods are a result of sin. So, is this film just a sexist attack on women, implying that when girls reach puberty they become monsters? Are Carrie’s powers a result of her mood swings? No, not really.
I think that the story of Carrie is a story at odds with those sexist beliefs and the idea that periods are humiliating and that women go crazy when they get them. I think that Carrie is a feminist icon. She literally kills the people that bully her and she proves that people should respect her. If they don’t, she will go all telekinetic on you. Carrie shows that girls becoming women is empowering not humiliating. Carrie suffers and dies not because of her “curse” but because of the sexism she is confronted with.
There isn’t an explanation for why Carrie might have developed her powers, other than the fact that she gets her period. However, correlation doesn’t equal causation. I think that Carrie develops her powers because she needs them to defend herself and to prove that everything that was said about her and everything that was being done to her was incredibly wrong. If those kids were willing to collect pigs’ blood just to shame her, who knows what else they would have been willing to do.
Carrie is a story about misogyny, and Carrie is a feminist icon. I mean, she literally killed the patriarchy.