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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Monkey Kingdom

Where Are the Women? Monkey Kingdom

The life of a troop of macaques is explored via the travails of a female monkey. And the film is narrated by a woman. These little things have a big impact.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +25

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

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +9

+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]


+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

-10
Does a man (in this case, the alpha male of the troop) police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]
+10
Is he rebuked for it, either directly (by a character onscreen) or indirectly (by how it is depicted)? [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: +34

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Documentaries can be tricky to rate for female representation, and even trickier when the subjects aren’t even human. But here we explore the life of a troop of macaque monkeys via the travails of a female subject, some of which involves her becoming a mother, though that is far from the totality of it. And the film is narrated by a woman, Tina Fey; that’s a position of authority that documentaries typically grant to men. These may seem like little things, but they have a big impact.


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

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

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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