Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]
Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)
The documentary is explicitly about women who are survivors of rape fighting back against the powerful institutions — their universities — that protect rapists and foster an environment where rapists can flourish. While the film does not pretend that men are not raped and do not face injustice in seeking punishment for their rapists (several male survivors are interviewed), this is primarily an issue that impacts women, and even when men are the victims of rape, rape culture is itself about skewed gender expectations promoted by misogyny. Though the words feminist and feminism are never uttered here, this is a hugely feminist film.
As is typical of many talking-head-style documentaries, numerous experts are interviewed on-camera… and the vast majority of them are women. The standard criteria in the Female Agency/Power/Authority section, for which this film earns two points, are meant to note when a film makes at least a token effort to acknowledge women with authority and power. In this case, those two points do not adequately represent the impact of the sheer number of female faces onscreen, which is a notable departure from what we usually see.
IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
BOTTOM LINE: There are so many women onscreen here, unlike what we usually expect from a documentary, that it is refreshing and encouraging. It is perhaps not surprising that most — though not all — of the rape survivors talking about their experiences here are women. But it is surprising that the vast majority of the university administrators, lawyers, alumni, professors, activists, and other experts are also female. Male authorities are a tiny minority here.
NOTE: This is not a “review” of The Hunting Ground! 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 Hunting Ground.