All month I've been complaining, like I do every January, about what a miserable month it's been for movies. But it's taken a while even for me, Cinema Blend's resident angry feminist, to notice how bad it's been for women. Though women are the leads in the #2-grosssing movie of the year so far (that would be Bride Wars), we've spent most of the month getting chased by maniacs, haunted by ghost children, slashed with knives, abused by our husbands, ignored in movies where we're supposedly the main characters or forced to fall in love with Kevin James.

And it's not getting any better this weekend. Coming up Friday we have a romantic comedy in which career woman Renee Zellweger is punished and mocked for her commitment to her career and high heels (New In Town), a thriller in which Maggie Grace literally does nothing but scream and cry and whimper (Taken), and The Uninvited, a horror movie entirely starring women but still reducing them to evil stepmoms, repressed virgins, and spoiled princesses who are always after the money.

Coming up after that and taking us into February we've got He's Just Not That Into You and Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the less said about those the better. And then, in case it's been too long since you saw nubile teen girls slaughtered in My Bloody Valentine 3D, here comes Friday the 13th, which should spill enough female blood and guts to get us through to March.

I'm tempted to chalk it up to women having better taste, and enough sense not to go to these movies to begin with. Studios focus entirely on appealing to teenage boys this time of year, so why bother developing female characters beyond their breasts? But wait... hold on a second... is that really the way things are going to be? I always figured we were creating a nation of idiots by constantly churning out bottom-of-the-barrel crap this time of year, but it never occurred to me before now that those would also be idiots who would have no concept of women other than as psycho bitches or playthings.

I wish I had a solution for this other than the usual "Let more women make movies, write better female characters, stop letting January be a total crap zone." But with the box office churning along quite nicely and Kevin James somehow reigning as America's biggest movie star, things won't change any time soon. The best I can do is convince you I'm right. Below I tackle all the January releases I've seen (way, way too many of them, trust me) and explain exactly what is completely fucked up about the role of women in these movies. It's one of those things you don't notice until you look for it, but trust me, it's been there all along. Then, to give us all hope for the future, two movies that actually give women personalities, and brains, and the ability to kick ass. Hopefully there will be more coming, but based on everything I know about Hollywood, I wouldn't count on it.

WARNING: There may be spoilers here. But I've done my best to avoid them.

The Offenders

Bride Wars Well, as we all know, all women want nothing more in this life than to get married, and will spend every dollar of their live savings and become completely irrational maniacs as soon as they snare some bling for their finger. They will not listen to their fiances, and treat them essentially as life-size wedding cake toppers. They will abandon lifelong friendships as soon as anyone refuses to acknowledge their every whim and need. They will prey on each others insecurities and overwhelming vanity to get back at one another, and never once think to compromise, or communicate, or act anything other than utterly selfish. And because there's no middle ground between being a doormat and a bulldozing bitch, as soon as women stand up for themselves, their fiances will dump them. Because, you've got to give at least a little credit to Bride Wars-- everyone in the movie is equal-opportunity awful.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop Well first there's Paul's love interest, a completely naive waif 20 years his junior who spends the entire movie needing to be rescued. Because a mall cop on a Segway is precisely who all women need to rescue them. Then there's a single visual gag at the expense of Paul's ex-wife, a Mexican who-- ha ha!-- is also fat. And finally there's an overly long, god-awful and painful fight scene in a Victoria's Secret, where Paul wrestles with an overweight woman who, my God the horror, wanted to buy a thong. How dare she! To punish her, we get endless shots of her belly as her shirt gets pulled up during the fight. Does Paul's belly flab get the same treatment? Of course not.

Notorious We're instructed over and over to love the main character, who deals drugs from his mom's house, abandons the mother of his first child, abuses his girlfriend once she becomes famous, then cheats on his wife repeatedly and threatens to beat her when she complains. Charming.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D There's the endless violence toward women, who are overwhelmingly favored as victims of the serial pickaxe killer, but that's par for the course. Then there's the five-minute scene in which an actress is pursued by the killer, completely nude except for her sky-high heels. And finally there's the lead character, played by Jaime King, who is so dumb she can't figure out whether the killer is her boyfriend or her husband until a ghost shows up to provide the answer. I always thought the "last girl" of a horror movie had to either show some cleavage or some brains to stick around so long; I guess not.

Inkheart The main character is a girl with magical powers, and yet, when it comes to the final climactic battle, she lets her dad do all the fighting. The other female lead is the mom, who is literally mute and tied up for the entire movie-- but she sure looks pretty! Then there's Helen Mirren as the batty grandma, who is ineffectual at everything but criticizing other characters until the end, when she rides in on a charging unicorn. Amazingly, though, this is a world in which Helen Mirren on a unicorn has no effect on the result of the battle, leaving her as useless as ever. Though that might just be due to the movie's terrible script, come to think of it.

New In Town Renee Zellweger loves her career, but what she really ought to love is a hunky man like Harry Connick Jr., tapioca pudding, scrapbooking and cooking. We all know a woman's place isn't in the boardroom anyway.

Taken All pretty white girls who travel to Europe, ever, will be too stupid to avoid being picked up by sex traffickers, and must be rescued by Liam Neeson if they are lucky. Also Maggie Grace acts like teenager by running and skipping a whole lot, but I think that's more bad acting than anything particularly anti-woman.

The Uninvited Let us count the types: The gold-digging stepmom who pretends to love children only because she wants to kill them. The repressed virgin who might be a bit bonkers. The slutty drunk girl who dies early-- maybe as punishment for her sins? Oh and then there's the creepy ghost child which isn't so much a female stereotype as a horror cliche that needs to go away.

But take hope, we still have...

Coraline She's so cool she has blue hair and some kickin' yellow boots, but is also totally unafraid when she's contacted by some ghost children and told of the evil monster that lurks in what she thought was a wonderful fantasy world. When her parents get kidnapped, does she cower or rely on a boy to help out? No way. Coraline is fearless, fashionable, and the best little girl role model we've seen in movies in a while. Coraline comes out February 6.

Silk Spectre II/Laurie Juspeczyk She's not the best of the Watchmen characters, but she holds her own among them, kicking ass when she and Nite Owl bust Rorschach out of jail, and being the only person with the courage to stand up to Dr. Manhattan. Her mom, Silk Spectre I a.k.a. Sally Jupiter, had her moments in the old days, but I'm guessing it's Laurie we'll be rooting for when this movie finally gets its much-anticipated release. Watchmen comes out March 6.

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