Write a 4-5 page feminist critique of a contemporary mainstream film or TV show. This assignment has nothing to do with your own political stance; objecting consider the facts, then interpret the facts.

Example of Format:

  • Intro: general tension and thesis  (tension:will stem from some aspect of patriarchy in the contemporary movie/tv series; thesis:what is author saying about tension) resolution/ lack of resolution? Character transgress/submit?
  • Body: integrate feminist theory with literary denies (organize narrative/plot)
  • conclusion:

using specific, strong, precise verbs and an active voice

What’s a Feminist Critique?

— Feminist criticism is concerned with the ways in which literature, film, and other cultural productions reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women.

This school of theory considers how aspects of our culture are inherently patriarchal (male dominated). Feminist critique strives to expose the explicit and implicit androcentric or misogynist attitudes present in a text. It examines the text’s ultimate message regarding gender and considers the subtle gender-coded messages embedded in the text. 

A feminist critique may uncover an ultimately feminist or pro-woman message; more frequently, it uncovers and unpacks the ways in which a text is anti-feminist. 

Common Space in Feminist Theories

  1. women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically; patriarchal ideology is the primary means by which they are kept so.
  2. In every domain where patriarchy begins, woman is Other: she is marginalized, defined only by her difference from male norms and values.
  3. All of western (Anglo-European) civilization is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideology; for example, in the biblical portrayal of Eve as the origin of sin and death in the world
  4. While biology determines our sex (male or female), culture determines our gender (masculine or feminine)
  5. All feminist activity, including feminist theory and literary criticism, has as its ultimate goal to change the world by promoting gender equality
  6. Gender issues play a part in every aspect of human production and experience, including the production and experience of literature, whether we are consciously aware of these issues or not

Questions to consider:

  • how is the relationship between men and women portrayed?
  • what are the power relationships between men and women (or characters assuming male/female roles)?
  • how are male and female roles defined?
  • what constitutes masculinity and femininity?
  • how do characters embody these traits?
  • do characters take on traits from opposite genders? how so? how does this change others’ reactions to them?
  • what does the work reveal about the operations (economically, politically, socially, or psychologically) of patriarchy?
  • what does the work imply about the possibilities of sisterhood as a mode of resisting patriarchy?
  • what does the work say about women’s creativity?
  • what does the history of the work’s reception by the public and by the critics tell us about the operation of patriarchy?
  • what role the work play in terms of women’s literary history and literary tradition?

Feminist Terms:


  • “bothering”
  • false consciousness
  • traditional gender roles (patriarchal masculinity/femininity)
  • lots of binaries (rational vs. irrational, dominating vs. submissive….)
  • verbs for female: transgress/ subvert/ deny or succumb/ submit/conform
  • what happens to patriarchy: Entrenched or destabilized? reinforced? by whom?

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