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maryann johanson | self-isolating

Where Are the Women? Vacation

Where Are the Women? Vacation

The only scene in which women are not present to make men feel better about themselves is one in which they make a woman feel worse about herself.


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]


[no significant representation of women in authority]


Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]
Is this a major recurring visual motif? [why this matters]
Does this include gratuitous “booty” shots? [why this matters]


Is femininity used as a joke (ie, a man crossdressing for humorous intent) in passing? [why this matters]

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)



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

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

BOTTOM LINE: A long-suffering yet inexplicably wholly devoted wife, who has no life apart from her family. (We can presume she doesn’t work, because she’s able to leave on a long road trip with no notice at all.) A pretty girl who makes a teenaged boy feel attractive, and isn’t put off by his weird family. A sister who barely says a word, except to indicate that her husband is not as cool as he seems to be, and hence no threat to the male protagonist. The only scene in which women are not present to provide unquestioning support for men, to make them feel better about themselves, is when they are “sexy” sorority girls present to demonstrate that the long-suffering wife is not as cool as she thinks she is. To make her feel worse about herself, that is.

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

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

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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