Where Are the Women? Slow West

Where Are the Women? Slow West

The only woman with any significant presence in this film is not a character: she’s a goal for the male protagonist.


Is there a manic pixie dream girl? [why this matters]


Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [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 anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

The woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? She’s one of a band of outlaws in the Old West, which I initially thought was pretty cool. But the only thing we see her do (in the one scene she appears in) is mother a pair of young orphans the gang picks up.


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

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

BOTTOM LINE: The only woman with any significant presence in this film is not a character: she’s a goal for the male protagonist, a physical proximity for him to achieve and a romantic object for him to possess. Her presence is more conceptual than actual, something a man thinks and talks about rather than having much to do with what she thinks or wants or does.

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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Slow West! 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 Slow West.

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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Sat, Jun 27, 2015 1:48pm

I disagree a little bit. I think Rose’s character is something of a subversion of the trope of the woman as a goal. To Jay, she’s his lost love, but even in the flashbacks, it’s clear that she doesn’t feel the same way about him, and she even resents his suggestion that she doesn’t have any better choices (she kicks him out). Jay completely misses this, but it’s there. In the final act, we see that Rose has her own lover (who appears to be more an equal for Rose than Jay). Then she shoots him, and despite this, the film stays with her until she kills all the baddies. She rescues herself without any real help from anyone; arguably, Jay did her more harm than good with his foolishness. I don’t think the film is feminist by any means, but I don’t think Rose was purely just an object to be pursued.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  D
Sun, Jun 28, 2015 7:26pm

Once again, though,we have a movie that is supposedly about defying tropes about women that isn’t about a woman. Rose is not a character her: she is a pawn of the filmmaker. If the filmmaker wanted to defy tropes about women, why not tell a story about her, instead of about a man’s mistaken beliefs about her?

Sat, Jun 27, 2015 9:02pm

agreed with the bellow comment – Rose was not just an object to be persued – all the male characters brought violence and mayhem to Roses door, then we’re knocked out of the action immediately, leaving Rose to fight for herself. This was far far from a damsel in distress movie, Rose is the real hero here

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  John
Sun, Jun 28, 2015 7:24pm

I didn’t say it was a damsel in distress movie. But she’s still not a character. Even if she’s defying a trope, the movie is not about her in any way.