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March 1, 2010
Women in the Paranormal 2010: April SlaughterInterview by Jeff Belanger
April Slaughter is the Co-Founder of the popular Web site ParanormalSource.com. She's also a journalist, a staff writer for TAPS Paramagazine, and author of Ghosthunting Texas. She's been exploring the paranormal for over half of her life.
How did you first get interested in the paranormal?
April Slaughter: The paranormal took an interest in me at age eight, when my family and I moved into a house where activity had already been experienced by the previous owners. I was a very anxious child, so it didn't take much to frighten me. For twelve years, the "people in the basement" commanded my attention, so I decided it would be best to educate myself on what might be happening so that I could face my fears head-on and not be tormented by them. While my family initially teased me a great deal about my ghost stories, they began to have strange experiences of their own when I married and moved away. I'll get a call every now and then from my parents asking my opinion of what is presently happening around them in the house. I've gone from being "imaginative" to really "knowing my stuff" now. It's been a fun and interesting journey, to say the least.
When you co-founded Paranormal Source, did you ever feel like some people in the paranormal treated you or your site differently because you're a woman?
Initially, some people made comments or suggestions that it would be a short-lived project, but I never got the sense that they thought so because I was a woman. Paranormal investigation teams spring up and oftentimes die out within a very short period of time. They might have assumed it would be the same sort of scenario with me. The Paranormal Source has met its fair share of opposition (as I am sure most teams and/or individuals in the field do) but I don't believe it has anything to do with my gender. I have been actively involved in the field for a number of years, so when my husband and I decided to form the non-profit, we had the full support of friends and colleagues.
Do you feel women are fairly portrayed on the various paranormal television shows?
That's a tough question to answer. On one hand, the women I have seen on television come across as very articulate and knowledgeable, so I have definitely been pleased in that regard. On the other hand, I think it is still a fairly male-dominated area of the paranormal, but I do see support for women and their contributions growing all of the time. I am sure that as the years progress, more and more women will find be publicly appreciated for the work they do.
Have you ever encountered a situation during your research where you feel being a woman was an advantage?
In dealing with the public and working on a large number of emotionally-charged cases (especially those involving children), I have found that it's often easier for me to disarm a skeptical or fearful person. The men on my team are more technically geared and analytical, whereas I tend to be a bit more empathetic. This isn't to say that men aren't empathetic as well -- they certainly can be. Everyone I work with is very sincere in their desire to help people better understand the paranormal. I think our balance works, and I am grateful to work alongside my male colleagues.
Have you noticed a shift in leadership roles among paranormal groups in recent years? Are more women taking the helm of groups or is it still male dominated?
I have noticed more and more women in leading positions with investigative teams over the last few years, and I love that! It seems to be pretty evenly divided these days. Now, if we could just get everyone to stop squabbling and actually work together, I think some pretty amazing things could be accomplished.
What unique challenges do women face in the field of paranormal research today?
I think one of the biggest challenges for women in the paranormal today is being taken seriously as researchers. In my own experience, there has been an occasion or two where people or organizations didn't pay much attention to me until after I persisted for a long period of time. I've often had my husband or other male team members contact the same people or organizations, and they've had little to no problem in obtaining their cooperation on their first attempt. I'm not exactly sure why this is, but I have never formally inquired either. Once people get to know me and they learn what I am really about, they are generally very cooperative.
What's the biggest misconception about women who are interested in paranormal research?
First and foremost, it would be the notion that we as women simply "cannot do it." The perception that we don't possess the strength or courage to march into haunted locations and get the job done is absurd. I don't know where that came from exactly, but I suspect it has a lot to do with a sort of Hollywood stereotype. Horror, "slasher," and various paranormal films generally depict women as the victims; those who screamed, ran away, and found some place to hide. Historically, it just doesn't make sense. Millions of women have stood their ground, been highly innovative, and contributed a great deal to their respective causes. The bottom line is that we're not as fragile and fearful as we're often considered to be. Both men and women alike have a lot to offer the field of paranormal research. I think we should all keep in mind that only through cooperation and understanding will we be able to reach the goals we strive to achieve -- discovery and education.
What new projects are you working on?
Over the past couple of years, I have been working a lot with various Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC) devices including the Frank's Box, MiniBox, Radio Shack Hack, and others. I'm working on coordinating several experiments with other 'ghost box' tech users so that I may be able to share the results with those interested in learning more about how to best utilize the technology. I'm also working on several upcoming publishing projects, both within the paranormal genre and without.
April Slaughter's Web site: http://www.paranormalsource.com/