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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Big Short

Where Are the Women? The Big Short

Some of the characters in the all-male based-on-fact ensemble have been fictionalized, so there’s no reason why one of them couldn’t have been a woman.

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: +6

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]
+1
More than one? [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: -5

-5
Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5

-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]

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: -14

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Women are almost entirely absent from this story, beyond a few brief single-scene appearances as figures of limited authority (in which their authority is shown as a sham or as something for men to divert around), as a supportive wife (in a very small role), and as decorative objects (and though the film treats it as a joke that women onscreen are typically depicted as decorative objects, these women are still primarily decorative). The story may be based on fact, but some of the major characters in the all-male main ensemble are composites of real people or almost wholly invented, so there’s no reason at all why at least one of them couldn’t have been written as female.


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 Big Short! 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 Big Short.

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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