Women on film ‘should not’ have powerful jobs apart from in law, says feminist icon Caitlin Moran

Avatar photo

By Katie King on

And only if they are “sexy lawyers” at that


Author, columnist and feminist icon Caitlin Moran says female film characters “should not” have jobs that carry status or power, then singles out lawyers as the only exception.

Writing for The Times on Saturday in the wake of the United States’ shock election result, 41-year-old Moran speculates whether “part of the problem” with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was this:

We just didn’t know her story. It confused us.

This, she states, is partly down to how women are portrayed on our film and television screens: not as characters who face “hard slogs” and “difficult decisions”, but as persons in “winsome employment”. Moran — who herself co-wrote Channel 4 comedy series Raised by Wolves — went on to say men’s jobs (such as “spying” and “ruling”) are plot drivers, whereas women’s are:

[J]ust a line, in a script. They’re the answer to the question: ‘I dunno — what do women do?’ Answer: something lovely.

Having listed examples of these “adorable jobs” (wedding organisers, yoga teachers, PAs, cake shop owners, etc), columnist Moran (pictured below) then takes the unexpected step of suggesting lawyers are “the only exception to this rule”, and therefore do have the unusual privilege of being portrayed on film by female actors.


A nod to improving gender equality in the legal profession? We’re not quite so sure, given Moran’s next caveat:

Women on film can be lawyers — working hard, changing the world — but only on the understanding that the main reason for being a female lawyer is to wear very tight, expensive pencil skirts, drink coffee and have hot, illicit sex with a handsome rival lawyer in a room full of files. And not being older than 36.

Moran gives no opinion on whether famous on-screen lawyers Elle Woods (Legally Blonde), Rachel Zane (Suits) and Alicia Florrick (The Good Wife) meet these criteria, but does seemingly conclude former lawyer Clinton does not. The presidential hopeful’s story, Moran said, “would never have made it to the outline stage” and is still, therefore, “untold”.