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July 13, 2012

I wouldn’t mind seeing Brave a third time. I think Spouse should see it too.

The theater for Tuesday’s showing was mostly filled; I guesstimated the ratio of females to males was 9:1. Those males I saw were little boys with their mothers.

Today the theater had even more people in it, but the female to male ratio was more like 3:1. This time, I saw fathers with kids, as well as lots of little boys with either parent. (Lots of mothers and daughters, or maybe grandmothers and granddaughters too.) If there were mixed-gender couples, I didn’t see them.

I started wondering just how skewed the female to male ratio was in the movie.

I tallied up characters with names, significant roles, and/or speaking roles. I was surprised to find 4 females and 12 males, which is the inverse of today’s crowd (1:3).

Females: Merida, Elinor, the witch, Maudie.

Males: Fergus, Merida’s 3 little brothers, the 3 clan heads and their 3 firstborn sons, Angus (the horse), and Mor’du (the enchanted bear).

There were loads of other more minor characters, but most of them were men. The only exceptions I can think of are the 2 servingwomen who tried to calm Maudie down.

If you add in the characters from La Luna (since it was part of my viewing experience, twice), all three are male.

Plenty of brawling and (PG-rated) violence in Brave.

So why is this a “chick flick” again?


I was happy to realize the movie passes the Bechdel test with flying colors:

  • Elinor and Merida talk about all sorts of things.
  • Merida and the witch talk about spells, Elinor, fate, and carvings of bears.
  • Merida talks to Maudie about the key.
  • The 2 servingwomen try to talk Maudie down from hysteria, after she sees the bear.

Merida talks to her father about archery, and about Elinor. Elinor and Fergus talk about Merida. Merida talks to her brothers about strategy. (I didn’t realize until I looked up the cast just now that the brothers never talk.) Merida talks to the clan heads and their sons about history and tradition and innovation.

Unlike umpteen movies, books, legends, etc., etc., that center, interminably, on fathers and sons, or conflicts between brothers, the heart of this movie is the relationship between a daughter and her mother.

More like this please!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 20:39

    I saw Brave on Sunday, and I really liked it. However, as the father of two girls, I’d really like to see some stories in which “strong female” doesn’t necessarily equal “girl who does things coded as masculine”. Or, perhaps, a story in which “thing worth doing” immediately equals “a generally male activity”. Or, maybe, a general trend in which the gendered nature of activities is gradually eroded and erased – in which you can be masculine, and ALSO sew, in which you can be feminine and ALSO shoot arrows.

    • July 18, 2012 21:55

      I absolutely agree with you … except that I wouldn’t consider archery a male-only thing. Girls had a unit of archery in gym at my thigh school, just like boys did. I was actually very good at it. Riding horses and climbing rocks/mountains and generally being adventurous are not boys-only activities either.

      I will grant you fighting her father off with a sword (to protect Elinor) is usually male.

      As a fiber artist and sometime weaver, I did have to wonder how either Elinor or Merida created their ‘tapestries’, as they didn’t seem to have looms.

      • July 19, 2012 06:09

        I agree that archery, riding, climbing, etc are not necessarily masculine, but, in the context of the movie, all of those activities are coded as male – “Only the Kings of Old drank the fire water”, etc. I’d like to see a movie in which weaving is the sign of a strong woman – maybe a re-working of The Odyssey.

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