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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Straight Outta Compton

Where Are the Women? Straight Outta Compton

Women make only brief appearances, most frequently as anonymous sexual playthings for men, rewards for their success and fame.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of girls/women]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of women in authority]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -40

-5
Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]
-20
Is this a major recurring visual motif? [why this matters]
-5
Does this include breasts bouncing in slo-mo? [why this matters]
-5
Are the breasts bare? [why this matters]
-5
Does this include gratuitous “booty” shots? [why this matters]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -20

-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? [why this matters]


-10
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -5

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

Usually, a movie that doesn’t have women in mind is better off not having any women onscreen at all; you can’t treat women badly if they’re not present. But this film is an exception. In a true story about men who are angry because they are powerless and treated injustly, it is an affront to exclude real incidents of violence one of them committed against women not only because their absence makes a man look better than he might otherwise, but also because such incidents are another example of that power dynamic at work… and here, those angry men are the perpetrators.

TOTAL SCORE: -65

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

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes, one of four credited (Andrea Berloff) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: Women are barely present here, making only brief appearances as angry mothers, devoted wives, or — most frequently — as anonymous sexual playthings for men, rewards for their success and fame.


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

Click here for the ranking of 2015’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Straight Outta Compton! 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 Straight Outta Compton.

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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