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maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

Where Are the Women? War Room

Where Are the Women? War Room

Mega points for a black woman protagonist. But minus more for her story, which is about her learning to be submissive in her marriage to an abusive man.


Is there a female protagonist? [why this matters]
Is she nonwhite? [why this matters]


[no significant representation of women in authority]


[no issues]


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 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)

This is, at its core, a story about a Christian woman’s duty to be submissive as a wife. If things are going wrong in your marriage, if your husband is doing immoral or even illegal things, if he is neglectful and even abusive, a proper lady doesn’t get angry at him or express any dissatisfaction to him. Better a lady should be nice and sweet and unquestioningly supportive and continue to love and even respect her husband, even if he does nothing of the kind in return. Meanwhile, a good wife prays to God, and God will magically turn her man into a model husband. This is not, needless to say, a pro-woman message. It is virulently and dangerously antiwoman, which even God-fearing Christians should see: they, of all people, should know best that God doesn’t answer even all of their prayers.


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 film gets mega points for its black woman protagonist… and then loses all of them and more for telling a story about her in which she learns that the best way to save her marriage — which is her only concern here — is to be meek and submissive even in the face of her husband’s secrecy, emotional abuse, and other offenses against their relationship. A female-centered movie that is all about how women should take no realistic action to improve their lives is not the sort of female-centered movie we need.

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

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

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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