Just a few weeks ago I wrote about the dismay of two female professors at Columbia wringing their hands in the Wall Street Journal over the fact that in the movie Boyhood, the boy’s older sister, a strong, even overbearing character at the film’s beginning, fades into the background as the movie progresses and focuses more intensely on Mason’s coming-of-age struggles. Well, that’s why the movie is titled Boyhood, not Girlhood!

Now comes Gabrielle Moss writing for Slate. She’s upset about the parts written for Sienna Miller as Navy sharpshooter Chris Kyle’s wife, Taya, in American Sniper and for Keira Knightley as genius-cryptographer Alan Turing’s code-breaking sidekick (and briefly fiancée until Turing realized he was gay) Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game. Moss’s beef is that these two female characters, although supposedly displaying uppity feminist traits at the movies’ beginnings (Clarke is a math whiz, and Taya gives her future husband some lip when the two first meet in a bar), they quickly melt down into “reactresses,” as Moss calls them, whose main job in their respective films is to be supportive of the male leads. Moss writes:

We’ve seen a flood of supporting roles designed to be played by high-profile actresses in high-profile films, written to suggest that the characters possess depth and a vaguely feminist sense of liberation—qualities that never seem to interfere with the character’s ability to neatly slide into the same old “concerned girlfriend/wife/confidante” role….. But the reactress isn’t engineered as a kind of male fantasy. She’s a Hollywood fantasy: a character designed to fit squarely into the age-old prestige drama formula while giving the impression that she’s somehow new.

There’s an obvious problem with this analysis, of course.

It’s that in real life the two women actually were the “concerned” wives, girlfriends, and confidantes of the larger-than-life men they spent their time with. Both American Sniper and Imitation Game are biopics, which means that they have to stick reasonably close to the actual bios of the men they purport to be about. What—was American Sniper supposed to make Taya divorce Chris when the going got rough and then drive across the country with a feisty gal-pal as in Thelma and Louise?

What Moss is really complaining about–and what Columbia professors Sharon Marcus and Anne Skomorowsky were really complaining about with respect to Boyhood—is that all three movies are movies about men. They focus on their male heroes because men and what they do are the center of all three stories. Clarke was helpful, but it was Turing in the end who cracked the Enigma code. It was Chris Kyle, not Taya Kyle, who returned again and again to harm’s way to try to save his fellow servicemen in a brutal war they all scarcely understood. Those are the stories.

Moss essentially wants Hollywood to have made completely different movies that would focus on women and their problems, presumably with a feminist message about strength and independence. Hollywood does make some of those movies, but there’s a snag: men don’t really enjoy watching movies about women and their problems, and Hollywood wants men to buy tickets to its product. So it looks for powerful stories—as in American Sniper—that resonate with both sexes.

And news flash for Gabrielle Moss: There’s a big new film out right now that’s all about women and their problems, and also about one woman’s feistiness, power, and most compelling and intimate fantasies. It’s called Fifty Shades of Grey. No “reactresses” in that one!