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5 Reasons Why TRAINWRECK *Is* A Feminist Movie

I’m yet to see Trainwreck out here in the boonies, unfortunately (though I can’t wait!) … So when Bang2writer Matthew Kane got in touch and said he wanted to wade into the current furore over whether the movie is feminist or not, I said GO FOR IT! Enjoy …


I rise to defend Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow against charges of crimes against feminism in Trainwreck, the new film she wrote and he directed.

These scurrilous accusations are due to nothing other than the mistaken belief that feminism has a problem with women choosing a committed relationship over meaningless sex.

Here are 5 reasons why Trainwreck IS feminist:

1) A Woman Can Make the Same Mistakes as a Man

In Trainwreck, Amy Schumer plays a magazine reporter who, emotionally scarred by her unfaithful dick of a father, buries her emotions with booze, drugs, and one-night stands.

Now, what are you thinking? That these are empowering choices of a healthy person? That there’d be nothing wrong with that if the character were a man? That this character is only a “trainwreck” because she’s a woman? And that makes this anti-feminist?

Please. This is a character with a serious flaw, brought on by old wounds. That’s what movies are usually about. She makes bad choices — the same kind of bad choices that we’ve seen male characters make in response to their old wounds. MORE3 Reasons Why LEGALLY BLONDE Is Like, The Best Characterisation Totally, Ever

2) Amy’s Choices Aren’t Bad Because She’s a Woman

Trainwreck does not make the case that the choices Amy Schumer’s character, Amy Townsend, makes are bad because she’s a woman. Nobody says it. Nobody even implies it. If you infer that, you’re not responding to the movie, you’re responding to the societal context in which you’re viewing the movie.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think Trainwreck informs that larger discussion in society. The fact that people would infer that her behavior is being condemned because she’s a woman is important to discuss. But that is not the point-of-view of the movie. MORE: 6 Reasons Sweden’s Bechdel Cinema Rating Idea Is A (Well Meaning) Mistake


3) Amy Has as Much Freedom as a Man to Make Bad Choices

The movie does not make the case that it is wrong for a woman, or a man for that matter, to “sow some wild oats”, as they used to say, before settling down. The movie is about a specific character whose choices are unhealthy for her.

What is feminist about Trainwreck is that Amy Townsend has the freedom to make those choices, as unhealthy as they may be. And she is not condemned for them, certainly not condemned for being a woman making those choices. MORE: 5 Reasons “Missing” Female Characters Might Not Actually Be Missing After All (Plus What Writers Can Do Instead)

4) If It Were Gender Swapped, Trainwreck Still Works

Here’s a thought experiment to prove the point. Let’s bend the film. Gender swap every single character. Does the story still make sense? Let’s see.

Now we have a male magazine writer, emotionally scarred by an unfaithful, selfish mother, who buries his emotions in booze, drugs, and one-night stands. Make sense? Sure. He falls for a hot-shot female doctor. OK? OK.

We can buy that story. It would work. It wouldn’t be quite as effective because telling it from a woman’s point of view is not only fresher, not only does it speak more intensely to the female movie-goers who are the primary target of this genre, but even for male movie-goers, experiencing this story through a woman’s eyes is more emotionally involving, because we haven’t seen it as much. MORE: The 1 Gender Swap That Could Make ALL THE DIFFERENCE In Your Story

5) Trainwreck Brings an Important Female Perspective to Male Movie-goers

And this is a wonderful thing that feminism is enabling artistically. Men and women aren’t identical and feminism doesn’t claim we are. Pre-feminism, this story could not get told. I would not get a chance to get inside a woman’s head and understand how burying her emotions this way would affect her.

And it is different. Men have experience going back to the dawn of time coping with our wounds by burying our emotions. Women have been conditioned for just as long to cope with emotional wounds by letting it all out. It is fascinating and moving to see a character struggle, and fail, and then get back up again, in the face of a situation she was never prepared for. MORE: Your Audience: Who Is Your Script FOR?


What This Means for Movies

The changes in our society brought about by feminism are one of several reasons why the romantic comedy has needed to be reinvented. Feminism gives women choices that subvert many of the conventions of the genre.

Trainwreck refreshingly tackles that head-on, showing how falling in love has changed but love itself has not in today’s society. Well, at least in New York City.

And if you want to write a movie where a woman gets to sleep around without being a trainwreck, go right ahead. There’s nothing wrong with that, either.


BIO: @matthewkane is pending trial on attempted screenwriting and possession of software with the intent to write a novel.

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4 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why TRAINWRECK *Is* A Feminist Movie”

  1. I agree with your position and I’m glad to see a rational take on this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t quite agree that your position represents what modern feminism has become.

    As anyone on the net is surely aware, the modern face of feminism is an aggressive, vitriolic, victimhood echo chamber. Far from being about empowering women, it seems to be more about creating a system where women are stood on pedestals and handed everything they want – the exact opposite of what most of us consider empowerment.

    However, lest I come across as a crazy, I suggest watching some videos by Christina Hoff Sommers, self proclaimed moderate feminist. She tells how the radical, and most vocal, feminists even protest her talks on campuses, and of the atmosphere of fear that professors now live under, lest one of their students decide to wield the career-ending dagger of feminism, like they did against Nobel laureate Tim Hunt.

    1. What you’re surely describing there Edwin is extremism – the vast majority of feminists are moderate in my experience and every bit as aggrieved by the shrieking echo chamber that is the likes of Twitter. I know I am. Those extremists call me “a bad feminist” – and my answer is GOOD.

  2. I don’t know what’s worse, a movie with Amy Schumer who the MSM is hellbent on us loving, or reading an article by a man opining on feminism. For starters, feminism isn’t about women acting like men and it isn’t about women being as good as men. At it’s true core is the belief that women are better than men; that we women are the higher beings. [The song says, “I am woman hear me roar” – that’s hear me roar, not, watch me whore.] To say that a woman, who makes the same mistakes and bad choices as a man, is showing herself equal to men and being a good little feminist by mimicking men is crap and nonsense. Women who make bad choices that are more typically male in nature are an embarrassment. We’re supposed to be better than that. By our very nature, we are monogamous. The poorest choice most women make is with the same damn man over and over again. And when they can’t stand themselves for that they’re more likely to drown their sorrows in nachos followed by an ice cream chaser than downing a bottle of hard liquor,

    1. Speak for yourself: plenty of women aren’t monogamous – and really, why should they be? If multiple partners doesn’t make men “whores”, then it shouldn’t label women as such. Feminism is *just* this, as defined by the dictionary:

      feminism ˈfɛmɪnɪz(ə)m/ noun
      the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

      Nothing in there about women as “higher beings” or somehow having to live to a perceived “higher standard” where the bar changes according to whomever is judging whom. (The definition also doesn’t say that a man can’t write about feminism, be a feminist, OR that movies starring women who make bad choices is somehow an insult to women, but that’s by the by).

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