Where Are the Women? Carol

Where Are the Women? Carol

A story about two women trying to carve out places for themselves in the world? This is perhaps the very definition of a feminist film.


Is there a female protagonist? [why this matters]


[no significant representation of women in authority]


Is there a female character with significant screen time who bares her breasts (but doesn’t appear fully nude)? [why this matters]


Is there a female character whose primary goal is romantic (to get married, enter into a longterm relationship with a man, etc)? [why this matters]
Is the object or potential object of her affection and attraction a woman or women? [why this matters]
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]
Is he rebuked for it, either directly (by a character onscreen) or indirectly (by how it is depicted)? [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 story is overtly about the price that women pay for defying the restrictions placed upon them by men and by the culture at large, and what it takes to be brave in the face of this.


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

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes (Phyllis Nagy) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: A story about two women trying to carve out places for themselves in a world that refuses to acknowledge their needs as valid is perhaps the very definition of a feminist film. That it is also a story of their romance is a bonus: mainstream films about lesbians are extraordinarily rare.

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 Carol! 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 Carol.

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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Fri, Jan 15, 2016 9:36pm

And it manages not to be all male-gazey like Blue is the Warmest Colour. Hurrah!

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  RogerBW
Sat, Jan 16, 2016 1:39pm

Absolutely not!

Of course, Todd Haynes is gay. I bet that makes a huge difference.