The “final girl” has attained a certain pop culture celebrity status in the last few years, ironically referred to in films and on TV, and even referenced in songs like “Final Girl” by Chvrches. And writers like Meghan Phillips, in her final girl microfictions, and Cathy Ulrich, in her stories about murdered girls, have also sought to explore the gender and cultural implications of the final girl and the fact or lack of her agency and personhood. I’ve been loving all of this discussion, and how so much of it circles back around and references older final girl tropes from fairy tales and stories.
But I hadn’t seen anything written about final women—about the implications of an older woman, with power, with knowledge, and with the loss of a certain stereotypical desirability—playing that role. How it sort of turns the tables, culturally speaking. Violence against women has so much to do with power, with frustrated desire—and what if those things were missing? What if women’s sheer disgust, the kind of “give no fucks” that comes with age, could be protective? This is a fantasy, too, of course, but I thought it would be fun to play with in fiction—and to be in conversation with Megan and Cathy and all the writers and artists doing really interesting work inverting the tropes of violence against women, giving women a certain power and voice back, giving women a backstory.
Plus, it was just fun to write.
AMBER SPARKS is the author of three short story collections, the most recent of which is And I Do Not Forgive You: Revenges and Other Stories. Her fiction, essays, and criticism have been published widely and she’s currently working on a novel, a book of essays, and yet another short story collection. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Find Amber on Twitter @ambernoelle.