What are moms, even.
Half of human beings are women, but far fewer than half of protagonists in top-grossing films are female. However! A thought that has occurred to some Hollywood geniuses is, Women: Maybe we should put them in our films? And sometimes those films do well at the box office, if not better!
However, one funny *effect* is that, often, filmmakers and screenwriters will feature a woman in their movie but then have everything in her life almost exclusively revolve around men. In 2016, we’ve seen women who were driven to a bizarre degree by weird relationships with their boyfriends, their dads, a male deity, or — for one sad mom — her superhero son and his awful friends. It sometimes seems as if the imagination is only big enough to accommodate one central female character, and anything more (say, a relationship with her mom or a friendly female teapot) would be distracting, even unbelievable.
Without further ado, here are eight female characters from major motion pictures and the male characters who had an outsize impact on their behaviors and fates! (Major spoilers for movies and the logic of patriarchy.)
1. Aurora, Passengers
Release date: Dec. 21, 2016
Men who shape her fate: Her dad, her kidnapper-boyfriend
How they mess with her: Aurora’s dad, who died when she was a teenager, was a writer, a war correspondent, a bold and sometimes reckless man of the world. Aurora, played by Jennifer Lawrence, spends her whole life trying to live up to his legacy, which is why she ends up on a spaceship headed to a space colony. It’s on the spaceship that another man, Jim (Chris Pratt), sees her in hibernation and decides he wants to wake her up so they can have sex. Jim ruins everything Aurora had planned for her life, but she is ultimately okay with it.
2. Jyn, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Release date: Dec. 16, 2016
Men who shape her fate: Her dad, her adoptive dad
How they mess with her: Jyn (Felicity Jones) has a dad who has been building an incredibly dangerous weapon for the Galactic Empire, which — as we all know — is basically pure evil. Because of his work, he was abducted, Jyn’s mom Lyra was murdered, and little Jyn was raised by a bonus father figure, with whom she also has issues! Jyn spends much of her energy and time confronting her complex relationship with each dad: First she gets into a big argument with her stand-in father, who raised her but then abandoned her when she was still a youth; then she tries to reunite with her biological father all the while trying to convince a bunch of people that he’s not pure evil. Eventually, she dies — because she’s developed principles, but also to finish what her father started.
3. Carol, Office Christmas Party
Release date: Dec. 9, 2016
Men who shape her fate: Her dad, her brother
How they mess with her: Carol (Jennifer Aniston) is a hardworking, competent executive who works at her late father’s firm, but he always gave more attention to her brother, even though she’s extremely smart and accomplished. As a result, Carol is a textbook resentful bitch. For some reason, her incompetent brother and his enabling co-worker are the heroes of this movie, and she’s the antagonist for most of it. So the thing that makes her the antagonist is that she’s good at her job? What will filmmakers think of next!
Glen Wilson / Paramount Pictures