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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Unfriended

Where Are the Women? Unfriended

More than one girl in an ensemble plus a female villain are good things. But the most prominent of the girls is treated in a retrograde, gendered way.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +10

+10
Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +10

+10
Is there a female villain or antagonist? [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: -5

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -10

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

The film features an extended sequence of slut-shaming, in which a teen girl is castigating for having had sex, but not the teen boy she had sex with, and this is the fulcrum upon which the plot hinges. Her behavior — but not his — is treated as something so terrible as to be world-shattering.

TOTAL SCORE: +0

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: More than one girl in a horror-movie ensemble of teens plus a female villain are good things. But the most prominent of the girls is treated in a pretty retrograde, gendered, double standard-fueled way, and mostly wipes out the positives.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Unfriended! 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 Unfriended.

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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