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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Martian

Where Are the Women? The Martian

This should be the basic model for female representation onscreen: it offers the bare minimum we should accept for the depiction of women in most films.

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: +15

+5
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]
+5
More than one (of any race)? [why this matters]


+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: 0

[no issues]

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: +5

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: This movie should be the basic model for female representation onscreen: it offers the bare minimum we should accept for the depiction of women in any story that is not confined to a male-only space (which includes the vast majority of human history and 99.9999 percent of stories than can be told about people in the world). If there must be a male protagonist (and the protagonist here certainly did not need to be male), then at least there should be multiple women in significant roles who are not defined as adjuncts to men or children, and who hold gender-neutral power and authority within the story. There are three such women here, and two others with smaller but essential roles, and while they don’t have much in the way of character arcs on their own, their support of the male protagonist is not romantic, not sexual, and could have easily been provided by male characters.


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 The Martian! 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 The Martian.

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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