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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Where Are the Women? Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Movies don’t get much worse than this when it comes to female representation. Women exist here almost solely for what they can do for men sexually.

Warning! Some of the details in the Wildcard may constitute minor spoilers for those not familiar with the story.


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 there a female character with significant screen time who dresses less appropriately for the environment than her male counterparts do? [why this matters]

Is there a scene set in a strip club for no good reason? [why this matters]

Is a woman introduced by the camera crawling up her body (either front or back) from her feet to her head? [why this matters]

Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]
Are one or more either a protagonist or significant supporting character? [why this matters]
Is this a major recurring visual motif? [why this matters]
Does this include breasts bouncing in slo-mo? [why this matters]
Are the breasts bare? [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]

Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [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)

There isn’t a hooker with a heart of gold [why this is a problem], but there is a strip-club cocktail waitress with a heart of gold, which amounts to the same thing. (Though she corrects the male coprotagonist’s misconception about her — he believes she is a stripper — the movie has already sniggered/drooled all over the idea of her as a stripper, so damage done.)
One of the male coprotagonists is constantly delivering sexualized slurs against women — such as “Junior year [of high school] is when the girls become sluts,” meaning that he believes means they will all have sex with him — which are all treated as humorous, good-natured, and simply inevitable behavior and attitudes for a male teen.
A woman is subjected to a uniquely sexualized method of zombification: she is bitten on her genitals in a sequence that begins with her expecting her boyfriend to perform oral sex on her (a zombie takes his place). This is treated as clever and humorous.
The film features a particularly blatant example of a woman being manipulated by the plot to become a trophy given to the male protagonist after he rescues her. She had previously expressed only platonic interest in him (as the best friend of her little brother), and she had a boyfriend who we are given no reason to believe that she didn’t actually genuinely like. (She is barely a character, so we know next to nothing about her except that she is “hot” and that the male protagonist desires her.) The male protagonist gets to kill the zombified boyfriend, but she appears to feel no grief at all regarding his death and instantly transfers her affections to the male protagonist.


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

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes, three of four credited (Carrie Lee Wilson, Emi Mochizuki, Lona Williams)

BOTTOM LINE: Movies don’t get much worse than this when it comes to female representation. Women here are alternately dehumanized objects, literally, as when zombie female bodies become sexualized playthings for teenaged boys; support systems who will physically fight for teenaged boys, be utterly sympathetic and attuned to even their secret desires, and retain impossible gorgeousness even in life-and-death scenarios; and “hot” prizes awarded to teenaged boys, and delighted to be so. Women’s sexuality here is either commodified, ignored, denied, or treated like a joke. In every sense of the concept, women exist here almost solely for what they can do for men sexually and, occasionally, romantically. I am astonished that three of the four credited screenwriters are women, though I suspect that the original version of the script — which also involved Girl Scouts, who do not appear here — was very different.

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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse! 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 Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)

This project was launched by my generous Kickstarter supporters. You can support this work now by:

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where are the women
  • Danielm80

    I’m always curious about “Is femininity used as a joke…?” It could be anything from a guy dressed in drag to “You throw like a girl!” to “You’re a male nurse? Really?” Would it be possible, once in a while, to give examples from the movies?

  • In this case, one part of it involves characters making fun of the *very* pink, *very* “girly” bedroom of the girl that the male protagonist finds attractive.

  • RogerBW

    Well, obviously, when you kill a woman’s boyfriend, you get the woman. After he became a zombie, no really he did.

  • Danielm80

    Thanks and oh dear.

  • Thera Pitts

    The fact that this was written by a woman makes it even sadder. Nothing is more irritating than a woman who hates women.

  • Thera Pitts

    Correction, three women.

  • The original version of the script — the one that was on the Blacklist for a while — was written by two of the credited women. I would love to compare their version to the one that actually ended up on the screen.

  • Yup.

  • Thera Pitts

    Me too, this sounds vile.

  • LaSargenta

    That would be interesting.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Be careful what you wish for, MaryAnn. I’ve read enough bad horror novels written by women — Anne Rice’s Ramses the Damned, for example — that I doubt there will be that much difference.

    However, it would be nice to be proven wrong.

  • Tonio Kruger

    For what it’s worth, I’ve also read a lot of good horror novels written by women but for some reason, those books rarely get made into movies.

  • bronxbee

    anne rice also wrote the awesome Witching Hour… and a few other good scary books. not every one of stephen king’s novels is a winner.

  • Tonio Kruger


    I also liked Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat but for some reason, Ramses the Damned was the first name that came to mind when I thought of bad horror novels by female writers and I remember finding it especially disappointing because of all the potential she showed in her first two horror novels.

    Of course, if I were to list the number of bad horror novels by male writers that I’ve read, I’d probably be here all day.

  • bronxbee

    however, the frankenstein story was also written by a woman… so, there’s good and bad in both sexes in all genres… just that, as previously stated, the ones that women write — good and bad — are rarely produced.

  • Danielm80

    Well, just in the past year or two, we got The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, both excellent. I’ve also heard great things about Goodnight Mommy, co-written and directed by Veronika Franz.

    And I really liked Jennifer’s Body a few years back, but I hear some people disagree with me.

  • J.T. Dawgzone

    Wow, is this the worst score a film has ever gotten?

  • Yes, it is. You can see all the scores at the ongoing ranking for the year.

  • Liam-Luke Williamson

    Not every film is going to have a bunch of women in it you know, and a film is not being sexist or anti-feminist by not including those without a Y Chromosome. The stereotype is that boys are Scouts (because the backwards American Scouting Movement doesn’t let girls in for some bizarre reason: Here in the UK we do because duh), and it’s a light -hearted zomie flick, target audience: Also likely boys/young men. So they show what boys/young men want to see. It’s the same for films that have women as a target audience want to see. So your enemy here isn’t some masculine toxicity or some sh*t. It’s capitalist consumerism. But ya know.

  • Liam-Luke Williamson

    Nothing is more sad than someone who think that gender defines a person, and not their personality or their individuality. Nothing is more sad than the dehumanising of a person, bringing them as a person down to whether that have a penis or a vagina. Just think on that.

  • Yeah, ya know. It’s not like in any of the supporting material for this project — which is linked in the post above — I discussed how not *all* movies need to represent women well, but that it’s a problem when so many of them don’t. But ya know.

    And, ya know, this is a straw man:

    a film is not being sexist or anti-feminist by not including those without a Y Chromosome

    Movies without women in them can end up with a neutral score. The problem with this movie is how the few women who appear in it are treated. Ya know, a target audience of boys and young men is NOT being served well when they’re being told that women are prizes, or compliant sex dolls.

    your enemy here isn’t some masculine toxicity or some sh*t. It’s capitalist consumerism

    Well done for seeing the connection between the two.

  • Please go read some Feminism 101 before you try to talk about it. You’re embarrassing yourself.

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