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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death


Hooray for a female protagonist and a female villain. Boo that their concerns are all wrapped up in motherhood. But hey, at least no one’s naked!


Is there a female protagonist? [why this matters]


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]

Is there a female villain or antagonist? [why this matters]
Is her villainy/badness defined primarily by her gender (ie, is it related to motherhood, or is it of a sexual nature)? [why this matters]


[no issues]


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

Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]
Is a dead father also mentioned? [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)



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

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

BOTTOM LINE: While the protagonist may be female, she is defined primarily by her relationship to the children in her charge, and by her own past experience with pregnancy and motherhood; the ghostly villain is defined primarily by her own experience with motherhood. So, this isn’t as progressive a representation of women as it might be.

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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death! 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 Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death.

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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posted in:
where are the women
  • Martin Lowes

    Plus the bloke is identified as a big cowardy custard in stark contrast to the female protagonist’s steadfast bravery throughout. Gotta be worth an extra point or two no?

  • LaSargenta

    Nah. People are allowed to be complicated…I don’t think this particular complication in the male character would change the representation of the female.

  • Danielm80

    Being braver than a coward doesn’t make a woman more admirable or engaging. It’s like being the world’s tallest midget. But if the coward is cowardly for interesting, complex reasons, that makes the screenwriter more admirable.

  • Why do you think it’s worth an extra point?

    Improving the depiction of women in movies is NOT about making men look bad, or better than men, or anything like that.

  • Danielm80

    Maybe he thinks a movie scorecard works like a football scorecard. That is: If there’s a war between the sexes, there needs to be a winner. I’d rather use a different metaphor, one that doesn’t involve bloodshed. There’s more than enough war in the real world.

  • Robert P

    [blockquote]she is defined primarily by her relationship to the children in her
    charge, and by her own past experience with pregnancy and motherhood[/blockqoute]
    To clarify, are you saying you regard a woman character in a maternal/caretaking role to be an undesirable, inferior representation?

  • Danielm80

    MaryAnn has already answered that question more than once, at great length, here:


    Look under “Gender/Sexuality,” toward the bottom of the page.

  • What Danielm80 said. There are links that explain every single rating criteria. Every single one.

  • Robert P

    No, not being a troll.

    I visit different forums, some use BB code brackets, some use html markup and lost track. But it’s a moot point since I misspelled blockquote in the second tag anyway and there’s no edit function here. But thanks for fixing it.

  • Martin Lowes

    Or maybe it was a whimsical throwaway comment that has been taken too seriously?

  • Martin Lowes

    Big Daddy?

  • Danielm80

    Oh, almost definitely, but there are so many people who think feminists hate all men that I thought the point was worth making.

  • Martin Lowes

    To be completely honest, the principal motivating factor to my comment was wanting to use the phrase ‘cowardy custard’.

  • Danielm80

    Fair enough. I like the term “scalawag,” but I don’t think anyone can get away with using it except for Bill Watterson, and maybe Stephen Sondheim.

    I’d also like to be able to shout, “Let the wild rumpus start!” but I almost never have the opportunity.

  • LaSargenta

    You know, I’ve long wondered if the cowardly version is the pouring custard or the baked custard.

  • Danielm80

    Whichever is a brighter shade of yellow.

  • LaSargenta

    Or is the the one that runs?

    By Ogden Nash

    Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt

    Belinda lived in a little white house,
    With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
    And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
    And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

    Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
    And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
    And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
    But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

    Read the rest: http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~keith/poems/Custard.html

  • There *is* an edit function. But you have to be a logged-in Disqus user to use it, probably.

  • Louisa

    The airman is not a coward. From what he told Eve, he is clearly suffering from PTSD, a condition which was not recognized or understood at the time, at least not by the RAF. Nowadays, we know better, and soldiers suffering from PTSD are recognized as injured heroes, honored all the more for having sustained a form of permanent injury in service of their country. Calling a traumatized veteran a coward is like calling a soldier who got his leg blown off a gimp and suggesting that this makes him morally inferior to civilians with two legs. Not cute, in my opinion.

    Furthermore . . . SPOILERS

    . . . despite his disability, the airman never fails to courageously perform every duty required of him during the course of the screenplay, even when in the throes of a panic attack. The heroine, by contrast, allows her own past traumas and issues to rule her behavior, and spends most of the movie wandering around, brooding, and obsessing over a single child for selfish emotional reasons instead of guarding ALL her young charges, a duty mostly left for the older woman to carry out alone. The screenwriter doesn’t want to make Eve look bad, so he makes sure that nothing bad actually happens to the kids while Eve is off playing Nancy Drew, canoodling with the airman, or moping in graveyards. But I actually still think she looks pretty bad. The airman, not so much.

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