Something happened to me today, and it took me a while to process my feelings. It was an emotional event, and I wasn’t quite sure why, because all we did was go see a movie.
Except it wasn’t just a movie. It was Wonder Woman.
From the second that young Diana is mimicking the movement of the amazons training below her, I had tears in my eyes. I looked at my partner and said “There’s our girl.” He knew exactly what I meant and smiled, squeezing my hand. He frequently laughs at me (with love) because I am admittedly a crybaby when it comes to on-screen emotions; I feel those emotions as much as the characters do. This time, though, the tears ran down my cheeks for an entirely different reason.
Growing up, the only role models I had were dolls and cartoons that made me feel bad about myself, and brothers who always reminded me that I would never measure up to the standard required to play with them.
Sure, we had Wonder Woman; she has been around for ages; we even had She-Ra! But the Wonder Woman I grew up with–while she was close–was not the kick-ass, take-no-prisoners, bow-before-no-man Wonder Woman that I saw today. Lynda Carter paved the way for Gal Gadot, and all others who came before and will come after her. Women have slowly (oh my gawd too slowly) been gaining representation in the superhero realm, and I am over-the-top emotional about it.
My partner and I have been talking a lot lately about what it means to be a feminist, and what it is like to be a woman in today’s world. Things got a little heated when he tried to tell me that interrupting me was not about equality, and I accused him of mansplaining, but that is for another post–he is about as feminist as a man can be, and even still he knows how far he still has to go.
Now that we have a daughter, understanding this gamut of being a woman means even more to him, and finding (and being!) a good, positive, non-mansplaining, feminist role model for her is so important.
Wonder Woman gave me that today. It gave me a woman in a lead role, supported by men; it gave me a glimpse into what screen equality can do for an under-served audience, and it made me feel like finally someone was listening. That at long last, someone had heard our cries for real and true representation, and delivered not only Diana, but an entire race of women capable of kicking ass and taking names.
I stayed away from all things Wonder Woman until I had a chance to see it myself, and after reading through the posts on social media I know more than I did a few hours ago that this movie will make more of an impact than the writer could ever have imagined. What this movie, this silly, little superhero movie, has done and will continue to do for women is make us feel heard and seen. We have someone listening, and now we have representation. Many will comment that we had it already with Daisy Ridley’s Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I say yes….but we have just begun.
Our “sudden” (in quotes, because it’s female on-screen presence is NOT sudden–it’s just suddenly representing women the way we actually want to be represented!) representation is a game-changer. Hollywood, and the world, will see how powerful women can be when we open our wallets to teach ourselves and our daughters a thing or two about fierceness, feminism, and being a strong and powerful woman in a “man’s” world.
It is such a small step, such a subtle nod in the right direction on the grand scheme of female Hollywood presence and strong, female, on-screen role models, but at the same time it raises a huge HUZZAH from women everywhere. The fact that it beat the pants off the every other movie at its opening-weekend box office means that women can, will, and DID come out in droves for fair representation. Wonder Woman changed us; it changed our outlook, and it added a great deal of hope for our daughters’ futures–it certainly did for me.
My daughter is only four, and she is a princess-dress-wearing, hot-wheels-driving slayer of dragons and a force to be reckoned with. When she is a little older, we will watch it together (for those of you contemplating taking your girls, it does contain violence). In the mean time, we teach her all about her own superpowers.
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman had already stolen the show in Batman vs. Superman, and now she has a platform of her own. I can’t wait to see what she does next.