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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Song of the Sea


Adventure is for boys. What do even powerful and magical girls get to do? Merely inspire a boy on his adventure with their goodness or their badness.


Could the protagonist have been female without significantly impacting the film as a whole? (for a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

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

Is there a woman who is kidnapped (either onscreen or off) whose kidnap motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]


[no issues]


Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]

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 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: Adventure is for boys. What’s for girls (and women)? They get to inspire a boy on his adventure with their goodness, their badness, their need to be protected, their need to be rescued. Even if the girls are powerful and magical! Poor girls.

Click here for the ranking of 2014’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Song of the Sea! 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.) Check out my rating of Song of the Sea.

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

  • bronxbee

    which is too bad because celtic faerie and folk tales are full of powerful women doing great things.

  • Yup. Might be nice if they got their own story. No reason *this* story couldn’t have been about the one who is an object here.

  • James

    Agree with most of this except the down score for the protagonist could be a female, because if he was a girl he’d have been the selkie.

  • LaSargenta

    (1) He could have been a girl and still just been a human sister.
    (2) There are male selkies…so it isn’t like only the female children of a selkie inherit it.

  • Why couldn’t the selkie sister be the protagonist? That’s what I was thinking of. Surely her journey is a lot more interesting than her brother’s! Or why couldn’t there have been an older sister to the selkie younger sister?

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