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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Where Are the Women? suggested scoring criteria [updated]

Mon Nov 17 2014: This is the form I propose to use to rank and rate films on their representation of women. See completed samples for Interstellar, Nightcrawler, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and The Maze Runner. (These pages are not behind the paywall and won’t count against your weekly pageview limits.)

Please donate to my Kickstarter to support this as a regular feature for part or all of 2015.

Positive scores will be shown in green, negative scores in red. Questions that don’t apply to a particular film will be grayed out, and a score of zero shown. (The sole exception is the final question about all-male environments; the standard score of zero is meant to show a neutrality toward such stories. I don’t intend to unfairly punish films that could legitimately be told only in such situations.) Scores shown here are what I propose to apply to each question.

I have tried to find a reasonable balance between acknowledging that there are some stories to be told that do not feature a significant representation of girls and women and stories that unfairly exclude them. Please add any suggestions for changes or additions to this list (criteria as well as scores) in comments.

Mon Dec 08 2014: Some significant additions. Please keep your suggestions coming!



+25
Is there a female protagonist?
+5
Is she nonwhite?

-10
Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist)

+10
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)
+2
Is she nonwhite?
-5
Is she the only woman in an otherwise all-male ensemble?

+5
Is there a female character with significant screen time in a position of authority?
+2
Is she nonwhite?
+5
More than one (of any race)?

-5
Is there a female character with significant screen time who dresses less appropriately for the environment than her male counterparts do?
-5
More than one?

-5
Is there a female character with significant screen time who bares her breasts?
-5
More than one?

-10
Is there a female character with significant screen time who appears fully nude?
-10
More than one?
+8
Does a man appear fully nude?
+8
More than one?

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority?
+1
More than one?

-1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time who dresses less appropriately for the environment than her male counterparts do?
-1
More than one?

-1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time who bares her breasts?
-1
More than one?

-10
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time who appears fully nude?
-10
More than one?

-10
Are women consistently more nude or otherwise more exposed than the male characters?

-10
Is there a scene set in a strip club for no good reason?

-5
Is femininity used as a joke (ie, a man crossdressing for humorous intent) in passing?
-20
In a way essential to the movie?

-5
Is a woman introduced ass-first?

-5
Is a woman or women (who aren’t even insignificant characters) used as decorative objects/set dressing?
-5
Does this include breasts bouncing in slo-mo?
-5
Are the breasts bare?
+10
Is there a female villain or antagonist?
-20
Is her villainy/badness defined primarily by her gender (ie, is it related to motherhood, or is it of a sexual nature)?

+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man?
+2
More than one?

-5
Is there a female character whose primary goal is romantic (to get married, enter into a longterm relationship with a man, etc)?
+6
Is the object or potential object of her affection and attraction a woman or women?

-5
Is there a female character whose primary goal is to become a mother?

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men?

-10
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency?

-10
Is there a female character who is sexually manipulated or abused by a male protagonist as a way to advance his story?

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

-5
Is there a woman who is kidnapped (either onscreen or off) whose kidnap motivates a male protagonist?
-5
Is there a woman who dies (either onscreen or off) whose death motivates a male protagonist?
-5
Is there a woman who is raped (either onscreen or off) whose rape motivates a male protagonist?
-10
Is there a woman who is (two out of three) kidnapped and/or raped and/or murdered (either onscreen or off) whose fate motivates a male protagonist?
-15
Is there a woman who is kidnapped, raped, and murdered (either onscreen or off) whose death motivates a male protagonist?

-5
Is a woman paired romantically with a man old enough to be her father?
-10
Or even her grandfather?

-10
Is there a woman who is mostly pretty awesome and perfect who is present to support a man improving himself?

-10
Is there a manic pixie dream girl?

-10
Is there a hooker with a heart of gold?

-3
Is a dead mother mentioned?
+3
Is a dead father also mentioned?

0
Does the film take place in a primarily all-male environment (ie, prison, historical military)?
-10
Did it need to? (points deducted if not)

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


SCORE: 0

BOTTOM LINE: [some brief comments here]

Read my review: [link]


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where are the women
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