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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Kingsman: The Secret Service

WATWkingsman

No matter how smart, competent, or ambitious a woman is, her place is in support of a man, or — preferably — as a sexual reward for a job well done.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10

-10
Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: -1

+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]
+2
More than one? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a woman who dies (either onscreen or off) whose death motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -5

-5
Is a woman introduced by the camera crawling up her body (either front or back) from her feet to her head? [why this matters]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -10

-10
Is there a female character who is sexually manipulated or abused by a male protagonist as a way to advance his story? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -20

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

-10
The female sidekick to the villain is mostly pretty awesome and perfect — she could have been the villain herself — and she’s present not only to support him in his evil ways but to be a decorative object for the audience’s (and the villain’s) appreciation.
-10
A supporting female character with a significant and distinctive moral authority is reduced to a sexual object by the protagonist, and for the viewing pleasure of him and the audience.

TOTAL SCORE: -46

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: A couple of female characters among the potential Kingsman recruits cannot make up for the film’s overall attitude toward women: that no matter how smart, competent, or ambitious they are, their place is in support of men, or most properly as their sexual playthings and a reward for a job well done.


Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Kingsman: The Secret Service! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Kingsman: The Secret Service.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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posted in:
where are the women
  • Jozhster

    Kingsman Spoiler Below

    The main female co star beat eggsy in becoming a kingsman so she succeeded not Eggsy.

    One thing I will agree on is that at the end all she did was phone his mum, that was stupid.

  • sally forth

    Thank you for this. I was really bothered by the sexism in this movie and I’m glad I’m not alone. Here is the review I quickly threw up on Flixter before I began my Google search for Kingsman sexism.
    “I thought it was a good action movie overall with an interesting twist on the intelligence vs villain plot line. However, it dragged on too long in certain scenes that should have been edited (a runtime of nearly 2.5 hours is bordering on excessive and self-indulgent.) However, the casting was superb and the acting was quite good.
    My biggest complaint: why the female lead got a complete short shrift. There was so much potential for a female intelligence agent that the movie built up for over two hours that it felt like a slap in the face once she did her one terrifying task she was absent from the triumphant ending; replaced instead by a gratuitous and out-of-context implied “backdoor” sex scene for the male hero. As usual, women represent Evil (Gazelle), Assistant (Roxy) or Sex (Princess Tilde.) Shame on you, Kingsman! You had an awesome opportunity to turn the old sexist Intelligence institution into something fresh, modern and pro-woman; but in the end, the Good Old Boys’ club wins once again. What a disappointment. “

  • Janet

    If the producers had taken out the “princess as a sexual reward” and if the supporting villain character had more backstory or self-centered ambitions, it would have been a pretty fun movie. But, no, the producers took the lazy route and turned them both into sexual objects devoid of any other emotion. What a shame!

  • Tx

    Exactly. I agree: having sex after saving the world?!!! There isn’t meant to be a reward for doing what is right and gentlemanly. And it’s such a letdown that the princess who stands up for her principles against valentine gives cheap sex to the main character. I think both eggsy and the princess are at fault, the princess for flirting, and eggsy giving in to temptation

  • person

    what the hell?

    To put this in context, i think its pretty important to note that Kingsman is a parody (comedy before action) of many spy films, spanning from the Ipcress file to more recent Bond films, and that last scene was poking fun at the scene at the end of TWINE, a bond film that also ends with a sex scene, as many bond films have (Moonraker).

    The important thing to note when you are critiquing works of parody is their historical context, the context from which the parody is born. This film was *obviously* not meant to be a real spy film. It was a comedic parody of the tropes of spy films.

    the person who did this review is obviously not familiar with much in the spy genre. anyone who saw that scene in its proper historical context, knew it was actually making fun of a far more offensive scene from a bond film.

  • I am the person who “did” this review, and I understand the context, thank you very much.

    Calling something a “parody” does not excuse its faults. And one of the major faults of movies that are allegedly sending up misogyny is that they tend to end up as even more offensive examples of misogyny.

  • b

    Women’s role is in support of men? Did this person even watch the movie? The female recruit, who was only the support role not the lead, outperformed ALL the males, including the main character. The main character was a lucky loser, she was competent.

    The main bad female character was equally impressive, and the main villain was useless and needed her to do anything.

    For an action adventure movie, starring a man, and aimed at a male audience, it had strong female roles. This is a movie that should be applauded, not rubbished. For the “perfect (psycho) feminist” movie, it needs to be created by those people. They’ll never get what they want from ordinary people, including the non psycho feminists.

    And the anal scene, well women can have strong roles, and sexual roles. If this was the kind of movie this page seems to think it is, that would have been the only female role. Compare this movie to things like Under Siege.

  • b

    It was a male action adventure movie, that’s why the man was the hero. In female action adventure movies, the female is the hero. Look at Hunger Games. The males were a weak baker who could hide, and some lovesick boy left at home while the heroine went off to war.

  • b

    It’s pretty shallow and lazy to view her as only that, she was the only reason the weak, insipid villain could accomplish anything, that’s more than a sex object or mere support. You are the one devaluing her character, cheapening it.
    As for the “reward”, a situation like that can encourage people to embrace life, often through sex. Rather than a reward, it can just be life affirming. Also, she was in complete control. He jokingly made a remark about a kiss, having had her life saved, and him being attractive, SHE escalated it, completely on her terms. While some people can’t handle a women in a sexual role under any circumstances, this wasn’t the hero grabbing the closest woman and shoving his tongue down her throat, this was a woman stating what she wanted.

  • b

    If the world was brought back from the brink of destruction, nine months later the birth rate would explode. This is an observable phenomena is humans, when we celebrate life we like to do with sex.
    She stood up for her principles, and she stood up for her sexuality. Women are allowed to have sex.

  • Bluejay

    Women’s role is in support of men? Did this person even watch the movie? The female recruit, who was only the support role not the lead

    You do see that you’ve just proven the very point you’re trying to challenge, don’t you?

    [She] outperformed ALL the males, including the main character. The main character was a lucky loser, she was competent.

    So why isn’t she the main character?

    The main bad female character was equally impressive, and the main villain was useless and needed her to do anything.

    Again, you’re proving that women in this film act only in supporting roles to men. If the “bad female” was badass and completely overshadowed her boss, why isn’t SHE the main villain?

    perfect (psycho) feminist

    Your name-calling doesn’t help your argument.

  • Did this person

    This person has a name, and it’s not a secret.

    “perfect (psycho) feminist”

    Your first comment here, and already you’re asking to be banned.

  • It was a male action adventure movie, that’s why the man was the hero.

    Your insight is truly stunning.

  • a situation like that can encourage people to embrace life, often through sex.

    It’s true! That’s why we are overrun with movies in which men are offered up as sexual rewards to women!

    While some people can’t handle a women in a sexual role under any circumstances

    Hilarious.

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