No matter how long I thought, I just couldn't think of a good way to start this, so I'll just get into it. Where are all the female werewolves? Not something I noticed until recently, but of all the commonly done monsters, that must be the one with the least females. Even in the rare cases of female werewolves they never seem to be important characters, or even characters we are supposed to like. Off the top of my head the only example of a female werewolf protagonist I can remember is from the Ginger snaps movies.
Is it a sexist issue? Of the more established monsters in our culture, werewolves must be the most primal in their power. Is that type of unbridled strength something we simply have a hard time attaching to women? You could argue we don't lack female characters that are strong mythical creatures, the most common perhaps being vampires, but while they are strong their strength is very different. They are cold. Not just physically but emotionally. There is an elegance attached to vampires, right down to the almost sensual way they kill (sucking on people's necks) werewolves are all about raw power. They don't go through a seduction scene before killing you, they jump out of the bushes and rip you to shreds. A werewolf character's power is a much stronger focal point of their myth. It's not bogged down by any link to their humanity, neither mentally nor physically. Their strength has no ifs or buts, it just is. I think Primal is the best word for it, and it seems that still in this day and age we can hardly comprehend a woman having such animalistic power. If you asked a large group of people to picture a man being emotionally extreme and a woman beng emotionally extreme they would probably picture the man screaming and the woman crying. A werewolf is your pure animal instincts, no holds barred, to hunt, fight and eat. But switch that from a male to a female and it seems hollywood changes those instincts to hunt (for love) fight (for a bargain on your shopping trip) and eat (a calorie controlled diet so you don't get fat). Are ingrained stereotypes about women that, if they were ever true certainly aren't anymore, keeping people from being able to see us as werewolves?
Does the severe lack of female werewolves also have something to do with the prioritisation of sexualising 'strong' women? These days almost every writer/director seems much more concerned with their heroine being considered hot than considered tough, so it's easy to see them wanting to skip past the big hairy monsters that are werewolves. It would be pretty damn hard to sexualise them. It's easy to make a monster like a vampire sexy, they're elegant, eternally youthful and really want to suck on you, and unsurprisingly our culture has no shortage of female vamps. Werewolves lose their sexy human forms, sprout all-over hair and are fuelled by primal instincts. Not as easy to sexualise. It seems like that is connected to the point about power. Like it makes it easier to accept strong women if they're sexy, because that way their first priority is still serving men, by attempting to appeal to them often at the detriment of their supposed mission. For example the many fictional women who enter battles in no armour (it would cover the boobs!) or brave harsh environments in micro shorts. That could only hold them back from their goal, so some can avoid being intimidated by her strength by perceiving that her most important instinct is still pleasing men. A message not really possible to send with a big hairy beast.
So, how about the times a female werewolf does mange to sneak into a story? Well, it's often not exactly a victory. The rare times I have encountered them they often take the dog connection too literally by being total bitches. They are there for us to dislike. Their strength is kept from overstepping bounds by having them be thoroughly unlikeable. Either that or attempting to separate them from their femininity in some way (often both). One example is Leah from Twilight, a character I hesitate to mention as not only have I ranted about her in the past, but I don't want my anti-Twilight status seeming to colour my opinion, but the fact is she's a relevant example. The only female werewolf/wolf-shifter-thing in the books, and one whose attitude I've heard many fans insult. So she already fits into our disliked point. She also inexplicably cannot have children (something Meyer seems to connect heavily with the women in her story and see as a priority). To make it possible to attach this female to primal werewolf power what has to be done? Step one take away a piece of her femininity, so she's more far removed from women and therefor easier to see as strong, step two make the fans dislike her (secret step three: make her attempts to prove she's as strong and valuable as the male werewolves result in a screw up, just to make sure it's perfectly clear a woman shouldn't be trying for this style of strength)
Even a fantasy show known for it's strong women and willingness to look at gender roles, Buffy the vampire slayer, went the more traditional route of not only making it's resident werewolf a male, but having the only female werewolf shown, a one episode character named Veruca, be a villainous horny woman trying to steal Oz away from his girlfriend. She was barely a villain, more a bitch who happened to be a werewolf. Her motivation wasn't gaining power, saving the day or even simply eating people. It was getting Oz to dump his girlfriend and go out with her instead.
So, what do you think about our lack of likeable, non useless female werewolves? And does anyone have a recommendation for a good story featuring one? (book, movie, comic book, anything would be good)