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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Mistress America

Where Are the Women? Mistress America

Two major female characters, both flawed and complicated people, on a journey of self-discovery that has nothing to do with romance or having babies.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +25

+25
Is there a female protagonist? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +5

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]


+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]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -13

-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]


-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children*? (*in this case, an adult child) [why this matters]


-3
Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: 0

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

No.

TOTAL SCORE: +17

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

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes, one of two credited (Greta Gerwig) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: Two major female characters, both flawed and complicated people, on a journey of self-discovery that has nothing to do with romance or having babies. This would score even better if two female supporting characters weren’t solely defined as a mother and a girlfriend. But this is still a hugely positive step in the right direction. More movies like this one would naturally obviate the problem of women being primarily defined as adjuncts to men or children.


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

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

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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