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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Mustang

Where Are the Women? Mustang

A female protagonist lashes out against a restrictive culture that denies her personhood and her agency simply because she is female. So much awesome.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +25

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

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of women in authority]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children? [why this matters]


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


-10
Does a man 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: +5

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

The film is overtly about how a conservative culture crushes the aspirations of girls, allowing them no outlet for ambition or expression beyond marriage and motherhood… including how the only way women can embody even a tiny bit of power is by perpetuating this stifling culture on the next generation of women.

TOTAL SCORE: +25

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? Yes (Deniz Gamze Ergüven) (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes (Deniz Gamze Ergüven and Alice Winocour) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: A female protagonist surrounded by an array of female cohorts, all of them lashing out in various ways against the restrictive culture that would deny their personhood and their agency simply because they are female? Yes, this is a hugely feminist film, and one that represents women extremely well.


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 Mustang! 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 Mustang.

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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