18 Sexist Rom-Coms

Pretty Woman (1990)

The Comedy: Julia Roberts vehicle, in which the mouthy one plays a prostitute who meets Richard Gere’s moneyed businessman – who saves her from herself.

Why So Sexist? According to the rules of Pretty Woman , all ladies need to be rescued by a man. That’s insult number one. It gets worse. The next rule dictates that all women can be salvaged from prostitution hell with a credit card and a spiffy new wardrobe. We smell a channel five documentary waiting in the wings…

If The Roles Were Reversed: A bumming gigolo gets saved from the pits of self-selling hell when a rich female lawyer buys him a new set of wheels and a Paul Smith shirt. Easy peasy.

Woman Of The Year (1942)

The Comedy: Old fart Sam (Spencer Tracy) marries journalist Tess (Katharine Hepburn), and expects her to do all the work around the house. They fight over it. She loses.

Why So Sexist?
Though it attempts to navigate gender roles and sexual politics, Woman Of The Year resolves things by deciding that Tess can have her own life – so long as she puts breakfast on the table every morning for her man. So much for progression.

If The Roles Were Reversed: A high-flying business woman marries a man she deems fit to be a house husband. But when he takes to the role like a duck to water, she begins to worry.

Leap Year (2010)

The Comedy: Uptight American shrew Anna is so upset when her boyfriend doesn’t propose to her that she hops a flight out to Ireland, where he’s currently conducting business, in order to get down on one knee herself. On the way, she meets an Irish rogue who might just be the perfect man.

Why So Sexist? No, not that women are completely mental (well, not quite), but a mixture of ‘women are desperate to get married’, and ‘women are ruled by their emotions’. Also, there’s a little bit of ‘women do stupid things’ stirred in for good measure.

If The Roles Were Reversed: A man catches a flight to another continent in order to propose to his girlfriend. She dumps him for being too clingy.

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (2003)

The Comedy: Kate Hudson’s journalist wants to write about war and stuff, but is stuck with her ‘How To’ Cosmo column (poor her). She’s tasked with bringing a column to life by dating Matthew McConaughey and doing all the things that women do wrong in a relationship – y’know, to see if she can get rid of him in 10 days.

Why So Sexist? Donald Petrie’s comedy posits that all woman can easily become wily liars without ever arousing suspicion. They’re also devious to the extreme, and experts at deceiving stupid men. Men don’t get off easy, either – they’re either equally illusory lotharios, or total geeks.

If The Roles Were Reversed: A male journalist is hired to write an article titled How To Get A Girl In 10 Steps. He attempts to woo a local waitress. Sadly, she gets the wrong end of the stick and slaps him with a restraining order. The end.

Did You Hear About The Morgans? (2009)

The Comedy: A warring couple on the brink of divorce (Sarah Jessica Parker and an increasingly stringy-looking Hugh Grant) witness a murder and are funnelled into the witness protection programme. Shacked up in a back-end town together, can they learn to get along?

Why So Sexist? Men are cheaters! Get used to it! Also, women don’t like it when men cheat, but they can be easily charmed back if you take away all their gadgets and girly bits and bobs. Boredom – bringing sparring couples together the world over.

If The Roles Were Reversed: A woman cheats on her husband with another woman. He’s surprisingly okay with it.

Bridget Jones Diary (2001)

The Comedy: Poor lovelorn Bridge just wants to find the man of her dreams – but she keeps getting set up with losers who wear Christmas jumpers knitted by their mothers. Will she ever find Mr Right?

Why So Sexist? Whisper it quietly, but women don’t actually have lives – they just sit around obsessing about finding a sexy slab of manhunk to cuddle through the cold winter nights.

If The Roles Were Reversed: See next entry…

(500) Days Of Summer (2009)

The Comedy: Hapless greetings card maker Tom just wants to meet the girl of his dreams, but is sure it will never happen. Then he bumps into Summer, his boss’ new assistant, and knows that she’s the one. Will it all come out smelling of roses?

Why So Sexist? Marc Webb’s flick makes strides in its depiction of a young twentysomething male looking for love, but comes up short with Summer – a manic pixie dream girl who just doesn’t know what she wants. All women are indecisive, see.

If The Roles Were Reversed: See previous entry…

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

The Comedy: Thirty-year-old Toula (Nia Vardalos) is the only woman in her family who isn’t married and setting about becoming a baby factory. Then she falls for a non-Greek man and things get really interesting.

Why So Sexist? Sure, it mixes in issues of cultural and familial expectations/pressures, but most women will have left the cinema after thissun with the message ‘you must get married… NOW!’ screaming in their heads.

If The Roles Were Reversed: Thirty-year-old Bob is the only man in his family not yet married. Instead, he's having the time of his life boozing and cruising. Just like every other 30-year-old in the big city.

The Wedding Planner (2001)

The Comedy: J-Lo dons an earpiece and a mournful expression as the titular wedding guru – always the planner, never the bride. But could all that change when she meets the fit fiancé of her current bride-in-waiting?

Why So Sexist? It’s one of those ‘women live to be a bride’ situations again, with J-Lo so enamoured of the idea that she just has to be a part of every woman’s wedding ever. Also, women can’t have it all – it’s either a career or the perfect man for them, but never both.

If The Roles Were Reversed: A male wedding planner falls for the groom – but will the groom have an epiphany that has him running from the ceremony?

Sex And The City 2 (2010)

The Comedy: Gal pals Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte head off to Abu Dhabi for a little R&R after their runaway train lives have gotten too much for them to handle.

Why So Sexist? Where to begin? Undoing all the stellar work of the TV series, the gals here are painted as shallow and culturally unaware to the point of outright racism. If you’re not wearing a fashion label, you may as well be wearing a bin bag.

If The Roles Were Reversed: Four men go on a trip to Abu Dhabi. When one of them is caught gyrating suggestively in a street while throwing condoms in the air, he's banged up in the clink. And rightly so, stupid sod.