Does ‘The Conjuring’ Hate Women?

Driving back from seeing The Conjuring, my daughter and I tried to guess why Andrew O’Hehir thought it was “woman hating.”

We had watched the horror movie about Catholic ghost hunters because I wanted to know if it qualifies as a “proudly Catholic movie” for our July movie poll (which isn’t the reason for this post, but you can vote here).

We had read the headline of O’Hehir’s Salon magazine piece, “The Conjuring: Right-wing, woman-hating and really scary.” We had read the subtitle: “From its historical lies to its family-values messaging, the sneakiest Christian movie of the year is a real horror.”

But we hadn’t read the article, and having watched the movie had no idea what was “woman-hating” about it.

Does he think the female characters are weak? we asked. No, that wasn’t it ….

[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]


Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Catholic “demonologists” Ed and Lorraine Warren.

The “based on a true story” plot involves two families.

First there is the victim family that buys  a farmhouse in New Hampshire that turns out to be haunted by a demon who (we eventually learn) possesses women and makes them kill their children.

Second is the ghost hunter couple who were involved in The Amityville Horror case that frightened me beyond all reason when I read my big brother’s copy of the book when I was 10. In the movie (I haven’t met and haven’t researched the real people) the couple is made up of the intense oddball Catholic Ed Warren and his sweet but strong clairvoyant wife, Lorraine.

Women in the movie are victims, yes — but they are also aggressors and rescuers.

So what was O’Hehir’s objection? We looked it up when we got home. Here is where he best sums up his point:

“The relentless focus of The Conjuring on married life, Christian baptism and the old-school Latinate mumbo-jumbo of the Catholic Church as essential elements in resisting evil – and on womanhood and especially motherhood as the fount or locus of evil – is just too much to overlook.”

So … he didn’t like the movie because he rejects married life, baptism and Catholic sacramentals. Thanks, O’Hehir, for rejecting my lifestyle. If I lived near you I would picket your office with a “No More Hate!” sign. We can both be thankful I don’t.

But O’Hehir’s indictment of the movie as seeing motherhood as a “fount or locus of evil” is not just wrong, it’s wrong in a way that creeps me out.

In the movie, motherhood is not the “fount” of evil in the movie in any sense. A malevolent spirit takes special pleasure in making mothers kill their children precisely because motherhood is a good thing. And O’Hehir knows it. For him to use the weasel words “fount or locus” is intellectual dishonesty. It’s like calling grandmother’s house a “fount or locus of evil” in Little Red Riding Hood. Or like calling Christmas a “fount or locus of evil” in A Christmas Carol.

I think what really irked O’Hehir was the Ed Warren quote that appeared at the end of the movie:

“The devil exists. God exists. And for us as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.”

Never mind that the quote is a less pithy version of the chorus of Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody.” It set O’Hehir off. Wrote O’Hehir:

Here’s the real ‘true story’ behind The Conjuring: Any time people get worked up about a menace they believe in but can’t actually see – demons, Commies, jihadis, hordes of hoodie-wearing thugs — they’re likely to take it out on the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.

I am sympathetic with the personal history he later reveals, of being descended from a woman who was accused and almost executed in the Salem witch trials, but I flat out don’t understand his point here. Are communists, terrorists, and thugs invisible? In The Conjuring, demons aren’t invisible either. And what is “taken out” on whom in The Conjuring?

But when I read “the weakest and most vulnerable people in society” I naturally think of the unborn – the most defenseless and dependent human beings among us.

That may after all be the reason why The Conjuring is so unsettling to him — and me.

It is horrifying to imagine a world where the devil convinces mothers to kill their children. And for people who have found it necessary to defend abortion, and double-down on their defense, a film that points out just how evil that is must be especially haunting.


Categories:Abortion Culture Marriage

  • Jordan

    So hold on now… I’m not allowed to defend abortion? So let my family get raped and make them keep a child that was involuntarily put inside of them? I’m not allowed to defend abortion when a couple is married/dating and are using condoms, but it accidentally breaks and they can’t afford a child? They’re supposed to give it up and have it raised by a different family other than theirs? Or what about homeless people?? When they have sex, and get pregnant, are they supposed to raise a child in the streets?? And what about teens? Im not talking about 15,16,17,18 year olds, I’m talking about 12,13,14 year olds. Anyone who agrees on abortion has common sense. People don’t do it out the cruelness of their hearts. Its because it’s the right choice. Open your eyes to the world people. And just because I’m not religious, doesn’t mean I don’t have a heart to children. I have 3 little baby sisters. I know how precious a child is. But if it’s aborted, there’s a reason for it.

    • Rachel

      To say “anyone who agrees with abortion has common sense” is simply trying to place yourself in a position where you automatically win the argument simply because you’re denouncing anyone who disagrees with you as stupid, which is a rather typical trait in someone who’s diverting the attention from a brilliantly written article by ranting about something completely off topic.

  • http://facebook tom mcbride

    The one thing that we should have learned from the Cold War was that communists are liars and use the lie to distort and convert the uninformed. Progressives are leftist and share this trait. Instead of arguing with liars it is better to ridicule them (their ideas richly deserve it)discrediting them in the eyes of the public.

  • Julie T.

    Great post, Tom. You mentioned that you haven’t yet researched the actual case upon which this movie is based. I happened to see an interview with Andrea Perren on CBS Saturday today. She is the author of “House of Darkness, House of Light”. She told the hosts it is the second volume of a trilogy and it is based upon her family’s real-life experience of living for ten years in a haunted farmhouse in Rhode Island beginning in 1971. When asked if the film accurately portrayed actual events, she replied it did. You can watch the interview at the program’s Web site.

  • Theresa Goldman

    I believe in everything you say, but why use the ‘hoodie wearing thugs’ in the context with jihadis? It was not necessary to hurt our nation trying to heal from the recent trial in Florida. Yes, I am Catholic, practicing, I believe in the sacraments, in all my Faith stands for, but not that phrase in that context. I hope I misread what you were trying to say. God Bless.

    • Virginia

      The phrase you refer to was a quote from the anti-Catholic O’Hehir. The writer of this article was quoting him to show that his attacks weren’t making any sense. The writer of this article openly disagrees with O’Hehir, and makes it clear that O’Hehir’s comments attacking the Church are false and misleading.

    • Hanna

      “hordes of hooding-wearing thugs” was a quote from the Salon author, O’Hehir, not Hoopes. And yes, it was unnecessary.

  • DR

    The writer from Salon, Andrew O’Hehir, wrote a very anti-Catholic article earlier this year on Alternet.

  • Robert

    This is a great post. I am done talking/arguing/conversing with secular-progressive-leftists.



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