Most sexist films of the ’00s

// 5 March 2008

Radar has narrowed down what it says are the most misogynist films of this century.

Frankly, I would have trouble picking just one a year.

(Via AfterEllen)

Comments From You

Sam Rickman // Posted 5 March 2008 at 12:59 pm

Are the terms sexist and misogynist interchangeable now? There are a lot of good posts on thefword about the perpetuation of negative male stereotypes (which is rife in Hollywood), not to mention other issues which probably fall under the umbrella of sexism, like heteronormativity and transphobia.

chem_fem // Posted 5 March 2008 at 2:40 pm

Umm, Where was Black Snake Moan!?!

Jane // Posted 5 March 2008 at 3:22 pm

What about I Robot? Bridget Moynihan plays a ‘scientist’ (We know she’s a scientist because she carries a clipboard, wears a white coat and thinks too much). Then she becomes a proper woman who runs around after Will Smith, looking pouty and shouting ‘Be careful!’ Oh and being a scientist, she’s ‘cold’ and ‘unfeeling’ and only becomes a ‘real’ woman when she ignores her brain and taps into her ’emotions’ . . . .oh God pass the sick bucket . . . .

Jane // Posted 5 March 2008 at 3:48 pm

And who could forget SWEET HOME ALABAMA where Reece Witherspoon finds that fulfillment doesn’t lie in having a great career, money and independence in New York but in being married to a redneck cretin with a hairy chest and a tight tee shirt.


BECAUSE I SAY SO where Diane Keaton dangles her grown-up daughter in front of men to save her from the horrors of being (whisper who dares) single. Pimping laughs aplenty in yet another example of a film where Diane Keaton appears to think that flapping her arms about and shrieking makes up for a pisspoor script.

I could go on . . . . . .

Hannah // Posted 5 March 2008 at 3:54 pm

I’m amazed they came up with so few, I could have easily added a dozen more to that list.

All the ‘Fast And The Furious’ series would have been a good addition – they look like the worst kind of hip hop videos.

Good to see Sin City on there though, not only a rubbish film but jaw-droppingly offensive too.

kyle // Posted 5 March 2008 at 6:17 pm

I’m thinking of films that are sexist in a different way, like the film, 300.

In this film, there is one image of masculinity–violent, aggressive, dominating, ruthless, steroid-infused, controlling masculinity. Films like this fuel misogyny, not by bashing women outright, but by promoting a single and arguably harmful version of masculinity–one that is harmful to both men and to women. Films like this show men what a “real man” is, but perhaps more importantly, they show men what a “real man” is not. It is largely a performance of violent masculinity that reinforces the kind of violent masculinity in our culture.

And of course, the film was incredibly racist.

Damon // Posted 5 March 2008 at 8:35 pm

In defence of Sin City:

I viewed the film more as a warning against how things might turn out. If we’re not careful, society might end up like Sin City. For that reason, I considered Sin City to be an excellent portrayal of a near-future dystopia.

Jess McCabe // Posted 5 March 2008 at 10:08 pm

I think I have to call time on any more discussion about Sin City – we ran a review back in 2005, and we are still getting comments now – I can’t help but think everything can be usefully said about the film has already been said. Unless you can’t find your viewpoint here, let’s move on.

Mistaken // Posted 6 March 2008 at 12:25 pm

I just came back from a special presentation on Disney’s upcoming movies 2008-2010. What disturbed me me most was not the the sexism in the upcoming titles (after all a poster image of Toy Story 3 doesn’t really upset), but the complete lack of women at all. Pixar will have two more titles – Wall-e and Up, and as all Pixar previous 8 titles, the main characters are men (Wall-e is a robot – but a male one none the less) .

In “The Game Plan”, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a successful bachelor sportstar who all of a sudden becomes a single parent to a little girl – enter hilarious scenes when man is full-time parent.

In G-force, we get to see a set of guinea pigs and as they were all introduced a slide of “Juarez”, the female of the group was shown, because of course there can only ever be one female in the group.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. It’s not all bad though, in 2010 “Princess and the Frog” will premiere – with Disney’s first black princess. The presenter forgot to mention that little fact though. And come on, for a Disney film to have a female lead – does it have to be as a princess? Oh no I forgot, they are releasing “shopaholic” too.

Serian // Posted 24 March 2008 at 6:33 pm

Defending 300:

This may be because I enjoyed it but I don’t think that Sparta was that sexist. The Queen plays a very central role-she’s the one who convinces everyone and kills the bad guy. She also speaks out despite being told that this isn’t a woman’s place.

Very early on in the film, we see Leonidas’ mother when his father is just someone he fights with, she’s always there. Leonidas’ son has a very close relationship with his mother-something not shown very much (in teenage literature at least!).

Spartan women are shown in an interesting light. They’re hardly the best portrayal of women around but for that time ( although I’m not too sure about this) they hold a very important role- after all “only Spartan women give birth to real men”). The sex is also from both sides-they are seen as a gift to the men but they are very sexy without being passive, particularly the Queen.

It does say what a real man should be but it seems to be saying that this caused problems (the betrayal).

So, yeah, this might just be me trying to justify the fact that I like it but I thought it didn’t deserve the bashing it got.

Barrett // Posted 27 August 2009 at 6:47 pm

I have noticed the pixar lack of main female characters and only being side characters who do play a part as normally a strong character but still I have never seen a main female character in a pixar film yet. I love pixar but the lack of female characters is remarkable. Miyazaki the most famed anime artist and all of his main characters tend to be strong and brave women or girls.

I cannot name specific films but countless 2000 + films seem to still view the career woman who is strong as cold and distant and overall the audience is left to felt she is being cruel to the main, usually male, character. Many times the female character must leave her profession to pursue a quote better life with the male character who has changed her view and world where before she was just not happy in her life until “he” came along. Few films have women as main characters changing the lives of men directly and then remaining successful, powerful, or dominant. Because tough career women in films or TV are always cold and distant while their male counter parts can have a career AND be heroes and have love.

Deb // Posted 31 August 2009 at 11:53 pm

He’s just not that into you. The ultimate in degrading women. we look like nothing more than pathetic, needy women who cannot function without the attention or love of a man. The only remotely strong female character in that film is scarlett Johansen, which is even worse because she is having an affair with a married man! i thought it was a disgusting portrayal of women today and it angerd me more that it had such a long list of successful female actresses.

Ponder // Posted 13 October 2009 at 7:20 pm

I think the point about 300 fuelling misogyny is quite stretched; it’s one thing to argue that a depiction of a woman choosing a man over work is misogynistic and, yes, male stereotyping CAN lead to female stereotyping… but 300 (for the most part) doesn’t show the so-called uber-men mistreating women (except the villain). If a man decides to pursue a very “physical” life, it doesn’t necessarily lead to misogyny.

On a different subject: How about American Beauty? Janey is passive and whiney, her friend is unpleasant and also a victim in her own insecure way. Caroline has an affair instead on communicating with Lester.

All the women except Ricky’s mother are seen in a very sexualised form, whereas the men’s sexualities are much less explicit.

Cara Hughes // Posted 13 October 2009 at 8:46 pm

I think Katherine Hiegl could easily be voted most sexist actress- even in the short film career that she’s had.

Knocked Up and The Ugly Truth anyone?

Jess McCabe // Posted 13 October 2009 at 8:59 pm

@Cara Hughes Hmmm, not sure I could really agree with you there. Although of course she could in theory have chosen not to do those films, the reality is that it’s really the writers, directors, producers, production houses, etc that are at fault. There are so many people to blame for those movies being sexist (actually I’ve not seen the Ugly Truth, but can easily believe it is really sexist). I’m not sure the person to focus on is the female actor who is in those films, who didn’t after all write them or have much say over the creative direction.

Ange // Posted 24 January 2011 at 4:45 pm

Sexist films are very prevalent but I also think it is something that is deeply ingrained into the conventions of American big-budget film making. I couldn’t help but notice that all (if not most) of the films listed are American. A really great way the exemplify this type of sexism being an American convention is if you watch the Spanish movie, REC (which is super scary, so be warned) and then watch the American remake, Quarantine. It will become painfully obvious how the Spanish film treats the female lead as a “person”, and the American film treats her as a “woman”; hyper-sexualized, not really good at anything in general, only on screen to be someTHING to look at, 2 dimensional, etc, etc…

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