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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Spooks: The Greater Good (aka MI-5)

Where Are the Women Spooks The Greater Good

Women hold positions of authority and power and kickassery, and yet they still get reduced to damsels in distress.

Warning! The Wildcard section contains details that may constitute spoilers for those not familiar with the story.


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

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]


Is there a female character (either a protagonist or a supporting character with significant screen time) in a position of authority (politics, law, medicine, etc.)? [why this matters]

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


[no issues]


[no issues]


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

While women appear in roles that would have traditionally been portrayed by men — as spies, politicians, and law-enforcement agents — they are not treated onscreen the same way their male counterparts are. Women’s lives are threatened and taken violently in the course of their work, as men’s are, but with the women, it becomes a matter of suspense and sensationalism: “Look at how she suffers! How badly will she be hurt? Will she be killed? Oh dear oh no, she’s dead!” Meanwhile, with the men, their pain and suffering may be presumed but it is not depicted, not lingered over. This happens not once, not twice, but three times with female characters. The presumption that there is more drama in threatening women is a function of putting women on a pedestal, and is not conducive to the depiction of women as human beings. [why this matters]


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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Oh, so close to getting the representation of women right! They get to hold positions of authority and power and kickassery, but they still get reduced to damsels in distress whose fear and pain are matters of suspense.

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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Spooks: The Greater Good (aka MI-5)! 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 Spooks: The Greater Good (aka MI-5).

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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where are the women

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