Women Depicted as Less Capable

Table Of Contents

Explanation of Conservative Trope

There are so many cliches with women depicted as less capable than men on screen ranging from being ditsy\ dumb to operating machines, driving or using guns.

Conservative Trope Examples

  • We're the Millers (2013)
    Daughter Casey Mathis and mother Rose O'Reilly both panic when father David Clark disarms a drug dealer trying to kill them all. Scared Casey picks up the gun and treats it like a hot potato and passes it to Rose who is also over the top scared of the gun and also treats it like a hot potato until it accidentally goes off shooting the bad guy in the shoulder. It wounds him just enough for the son Kenny to save the day by knocking out the bad guy with a punch.
  • Skyfall (2012)
    Eve (Naomie Harris) picks up James Bond in a range rover as they follow a bad guy in a car. When her side mirror gets knocked off during the chase, he sarcastically says "that's alright, you weren't using it." And then despite Eve being the driver, James Bond is the one who stops the bad guy's car by grabbing onto the steering wheel and turning it abruptly to force a crash. Bond follows the bad guy with a motorcycle and Eve tails them with the range rover as they end up on top of a train. She has a sniper shot on the bad guy but says it is not "clean." She's ordered to take the shot anyways and accidentally shoots James Bond letting the bad guy get away. When Bond later shows up alive at MI6, he tells Eve that field work is not for everyone which is a hint to the ending when it is revealed that Eve leaves fieldwork to become the new Moneypenny.
    Staff Aside
    You don't often see this the other way around on screen where a woman takes charge over a man depicted as less capable.
  • Knight and Day (2010)
    Cameron Diaz is evading a kill squad with Tom Cruise who gives her a machine gun while he takes out some bad guys. When he returns, she mistakes him for a bad guy and shoots wildly and uncontrollably all over the place luckily managing to miss him.
    Staff Aside
    She does atone later shooting bad guys successfully from a motorcycle, but this scene was overly bad
  • The Hangover (2009) | Women Watch While Men Gamble
    Alan, Phil and Stu all sit down to play blackjack once Alan, who can count cards ala Rain Man, signals them that the deck is in their favor. Jade stands behind Stu and does not play. They make a lot of money quickly with big bets, but eventually the pit boss catches on and they are stopped. Turns out they made enough money to save their buddy Doug, but it would have helped to have a fourth player.
  • Fool's Gold (2008) | Women Acting Ditsy
    Tess gets Gemma to flirt with men on a rival treasure hunting boat in a bikini to distract them so that Finn can investigate their work undetected. She acts overly ditsy & dumb in the scene and yells out when she sees Finn in the water ruining the ruse.
  • Fool's Gold (2008) | Women Portrayed as Dumb
    Gemma has a "revelation" that her father Nigel "unconsciously" named his yacht, Precious Gem, after her. He doesn't correct her and clarifies that he intentionally named it after her upon which she insists again he did it "unconsciously."
  • The Girl Next Door (2004) | Women Acting Ditsy
    Three different adult actresses are depicted as dumb and super over the top ditsy in multiple scenes in contrast to co-star Danielle (Elisha Cuthbert) who is quitting the business.
    Additional Tropes: Women Portrayed as Dumb
  • EuroTrip (2004)
    Cooper jumps into a hot tub uninvited with a lone female student named Candy at their high school graduation party. She yells out "Cooper Harris, you're a pig!" and starts to get out but he is able to convince her to stay by saying "before you go, you might want to clean that off." He gets her to rub her breast repeatedly trying to clean off whatever it is, but apparently it is not working. She's encouraged to take off her bikini top and then rub her breast some more. That still doesn't work so Cooper offers to do it himself at which point her friend shows up and she finally realized Cooper was tricking her. There was not something on her breasts after all. Ha, ha, he got her!
  • Tomcats (2001) | Women Portrayed as Dumb
    Michael (Jerry O'Connell) is $25,500 down at the craps table while trying to impress an attractive woman Amber who, in an overly gratuitous green cocktail dress, rubs the dice on her breasts, blows on them suggestively and flirts with him as he loses. His friend Steve tries to intervene before Michael does a double or nothing bet and convinces him he cannot afford it. Amber, despite obviously being able to hear what was said, throws the dice seemingly unaware Michael wants to stop, and he loses owing the casino $51,000 -- which he doesn't have.
  • Tomcats (2001)
    Kyle gives golf lessons to a woman he's dating who is depicted a ditsy and overly subservient. Michael joins him in the golf cart desperate for his help, and so she is forced to walk the course while they drive. She is not very good and acts and talks very ditsy-like. When her golf club goes flying on a failed swing attempt she says, "That's ok. Keep it. I've got more in the bag" not realizing every club is important and needed. Her next swing she falls over and Kyle, not paying attention, runs over her with his golf cart. She yells out, "I'm ok" and continues to let him treat her badly. She struggles to carry her bag to catch up to them while they ignore her and continue driving. They stop and she crashes into the cart and falls on her back. Undeterred, she continues to try to catch up as they ignore her and continue driving until the scene ends. But, that's not all, the end credits scene she's back for more laughs! And they show her on the same golf course losing her balance and falling down a hill into a pond while calling out to Kyle.
    Staff Aside
    Would they show a heterosexual man acting ditsy struggling with a sport while a woman mistreats him for laughs?
    Other Tropes: Women Acting Ditsy
  • Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
    Debbie (Minnie Driver) is hiding in the bathtub with her father while her hitman love interest played by John Cusack defends them from assassins, and when he checks in on her she hands him the gun he gave her and tells him to "make this work" and he releases the safety and gives the gun back to her.
  • Clueless (1995) | Women are Bad Drivers
    Dionne (Stacey Dash) accidentally turns on the wipers instead of her turn signal, swerves into the other lane as she checks her blind spot and accidentally takes an on-ramp onto the highway because she is so distracted. She panics once on the highway and nearly crashes into numerous cars, motorcycles, and a semi-truck before finally finding an exit and getting off the highway.
    Staff Aside
    Women being depicted as bad drivers is a recurring theme in this movie.
  • Clueless (1995) | Women Acting Ditsy
    A distracted and distraught Cher (Alicia Silverstone) drives well under the speed limit, takes up two lanes, nearly hits a bicyclist, sideswipes a truck, and then parks in the middle of the street to complete her driving test. Even after all of that she still excitedly asks the instructor how she did and is shocked when he tells her she failed and won't be getting her drivers license.
    Staff Aside
    This is obviously played for laughs because it's a teenage comedy, but it perpetuates the trope that teenage girls can't drive well. Can you think of a movie where a teenage boy is depicted driving the same way?
    Additional Tropes: Women are Bad Drivers
  • True Lies (1994)
    During an escape from the terrorists, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) has trouble operating an Uzi machine gun and yells out in panic as she clumsily drops it down the stairs. The gun continues to shoot while bouncing down the stairs though and magically kills several bad guys.