By Vianey Olivares
Cinematography is undoubtedly one of the best forms of artistic expression. The seventh art has allowed us to enjoy great love stories, dramas, tales of friendship, and valor. Unfortunately, many of them have had a high degree of misogynistic content that past generations have let slide—but we shouldn’t.
Though we can acknowledge many of these are amazing otherwise, here are the 13 most misogynistic films of all time.
Michael Corleone is supposed to be a man for whom family means everything. However, the way he treats his own wife, Kay, proves otherwise. He constantly underestimates and patronizes her, and as time passes, he seems to value less what he at first admired most in her. In the end, she becomes a submissive wife to fit the mold of what the movies depicted as “Italian mothers.” There was no redeeming or empowering feature for female characters in The Godfather.
Though many considered this one of the best romantic movies of all time, in which a millionaire falls in love with a prostitute, we must take into account the fact that he always saw Vivian as an object that could be bought—even after he falls in love with her.
Sex And The City
Though often taken as an example of female empowerment, Sex And The City is, in fact, quite the opposite—both the show and the film franchise. Carrie is willing to do and change everything to keep Big by her side, which is all the more clear when it looked as if she was no longer willing to give her failed marriage a second chance, but does it anyway, only to be hurt once more big Mr. Big’s selfishness in the sequel.
The favorite film of all the vintage souls out there, Grease is riddled with sexism in basically every scene. Danny is as misogynistic as they come, and Sandy ends up changing who she is just to be with him. Though Danny seemed willing to cave at some point, he chose to let Sandy keep her newfound bad-girl demeanor rather than become the man he knew she deserved.
The James Bond franchise
The best secret agent in the world is also the protagonist to one of the most sexist franchises in history. Each of its movies could easily make the list on their own, as there’s no way to defend the demeaning role of the so-called “Bond girls” that are a signature feature of every film. In the end, Bond girls are put in the movie to be objectified—not nice at all.
50 Shades of Grey
Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey could seem like the perfect couple without any taboo in what sex is concerned. However, their relationship is intrinsically asymmetrical, as he’s depicted dominating her at every single level.
This movie is certainly a fan favorite and has long been a kind of cult film with many good things going for it. However, upon closer inspection, we find a corny story that ultimately perpetuates the message that “when a woman says no, it means yes.” I mean, just look at the early scenes in the film: the way he first gets a date is by being a creepy and stubborn dude who won’t take “no” for an answer. To depict that as a successful love story certainly sends the wrong idea to all men. Because even if within the film everything turns out alright, in reality, women would feel harassed in that kind of scenario.
Though we can understand that the protagonist(s) have personality issues and severe psycho-pathologies, the unnamed narrator is gratuitously horrible toward Marla—even when the story doesn’t benefit from it. He treats her like trash, and in his narration, he refers to her in terrible ways. Not cool.
500 Days of Summer
This film is wonderful on the surface, and it’s deliberately narrated through Tom’s perspective. The whole bias is so well depicted, though, that audiences often miss that the one with behavior problems was mostly he. To this date, Summer remains among the most hated and misunderstood female characters in film.
The Little Mermaid
A 16-year-old mermaid sacrifices everything to get a pair of legs in order to live above the surface with a man whom she saw only once before in her life—and she didn’t even speak with him! What’s worse, this is actually a children’s movie.
Though Elvira leaves at the end, she spends the whole film being horribly mistreated by Tony, who considers her merely another pretty object with which to decorate his mansion. He ultimately measures her worth depending on whether or not she can be a mother. I mean, it’s fine if a film features a misogynistic character, as long as it doesn’t romanticize him and his behaviors.
Laurie Strode is the main target of the serial killer known as Mike Myers. As such, Jamie Lee Curtis’ character is the Scream Queen par excellence, but it’s incredibly annoying that she doesn’t even try to defend herself at all throughout the story—and when she finally stands up for herself, Doctor Loomis comes in and rescues her. Fortunately, the franchise fixed this situation in its latest version, which came out in 2018.
High School Musical
Though the plot appears to be about a group of high school kids, the character around whom everything revolves is Troy. The movie features rather weak female characters throughout, and they all end up having to adapt to Troy in one way or another—which thus portrays women entirely as subordinate to men. This by itself could be forgivable for a ’50s film, but not for one made during the 21st century.
You’re probably in denial right now and convinced that we are overreacting. But if you take off the nostalgia glasses and take a close look at the realities of these plots, you’ll find that they depict several unacceptable behaviors as ultimately admirable—or even rewardable. We can’t do anything to change these films, and won’t stop loving them altogether. But it’s good to be aware of the issues and expect better in the future.
Translated by Oliver G. Alvar
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