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maryann johanson | takeaway only

Where Are the Women? Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Where Are the Women? Star Wars The Force Awakens

A new generation of fans will now grow up comfortable with the notion that a young woman can be a badass pilot and a great engineer who longs for adventure. NO SPOILERS!


Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male 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 she nonwhite? [why this matters]
More than one (of any race)? [why this matters]

Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]

Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]
More than one? [why this matters]


[no issues]


[no issues]


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: This is not the Star Wars of our childhoods. Leia is far from the only woman in the galaxy this time around. She’s still here, and an even more potent figure of authority than she once was, but importantly, there are women to be seen all over the place here, as pilots and soldiers on both sides of the new good-versus-evil political situation, and there’s a female alien (performed via motion-capture by a black woman) who fills a Yoda-esque role. Best of all, the female coprotagonist is this new series’ Luke Skywalker, which means a whole new generation of young fans will grow up comfortable with the notion that a young woman can be a kickass pilot, an awesome mechanical engineer, and a lonely, messed-up kid from the sticks who longs for adventure, and gets to have it. This is huge.

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

Click here for the ranking of 2015’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Star Wars: The Force Awakens! 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 Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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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