So today, Friday, June 2nd, is the official release of Wonder Woman.
And, from all reports, it is a glorious celebration of the character, and a ‘fantastic comic book movie’. This is good news, considering the much-maligned WB studios has struggled with their DC movies.
This movie, however, is an astounding reversal, and may go down as one of the iconic movies of DC’s entire movie-line (and yes, that includes Superman with Christopher Reeves and Dark Knight with Ledger and Bale). From all reports, it is fun, entertaining, and doesn’t leave the audience wondering “WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST SEE??” like some of the previous movies (Batman v Superman).
But, more than just being a good movie, Wonder Woman is an icon to women, and feminists. So, as an icon, she has an amazing ability to reach people, especially women, in all avenues. Which is a good thing. She is an amazing role-model for women, and was designed specifically to be appealing to women!
Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston. This was a man who was very ahead of his times. He lived with his wife (Elizabeth) and their partner (Olive). He helped influance the creation of the lie detector (Polygraph), which in turn was given to his greatest creation (the magic lasso of truth).
While working in the comic book industry, his wife, Elizabeth, suggested he create a new super hero, a female super hero, who wouldn’t conquer with violence and fisticuffs, like Batman and Superman, but instead would fight with love. And, she insisted, the hero should be a woman.
Wonder Woman was unconventional in the 40’s. She was a liberated, powerful woman, and he based her off of the powerful, liberated women he knew (his wife, his lover, and their friends).
In a 1943 article in The American Scholar he wrote: “Not even girls want to be girls so long as out feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with the strength of Superman, plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”
There were some themes, however, that were unconventional, and a little uncomfortable for the 1940’s. Wonder Woman was an early example of bondage culture in print. She would tie and bind her defeated opponents, and themes of mental and physical submission were frequent in Marston’s writing.
These themes were softened later, but her origins are solidly tied to Marston’s bondage and submission theories. Through his Wonder Woman comics, Marston was trying to induce eroticism in his readers are part of what he referred to as “Sex love training”. He wanted to condition them to becoming more readily accepting of loving submission to loving authorities rather than being so assertive with their own destructive egos.
For male readers of his comics, he wrote that, “Giving them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they’ll be proud to become her willing slave.”
Even the prison/rehabilitation system of Themscryea (aka Paradise Island) was based off of love, and rehabilitation, and not the retributive justice (eye-for-an-eye) America employs. Revenge and punishment is the opposite of what Marston proposed for his Amazons. Instead of punishment, they were sent to “Reform Island” where they were rehabilitated using “transformative justice”, where regret and it’s role in civilization were emphasized. This was typified by his final Wonder Woman story, when Eviless (the Nazi dominatrix) frees the prisoners of Reform Island to help overthrow Themscryea and they instead stop her and restore the Amazons to power.
All of that leads us to the recent Wonder Woman movie, where she is played by Gal Godot.
The new movie is a new, slightly different take on Princess Diana…but where did she come from?
Wonder Woman has changed a lot since the 1940’s. She became a symbol of America and Patriotism in the 70’s (thanks to the lovely Linda Carter), and then into the 90’s and beyond as a modern, strong, independent woman. The less we talk about her being Superman’s girlfriend (and little else) in the 2010’s the better. Let Superman have Lois, and let Wonder Woman have Steve Trevor, or someone. No reason to match up Superman and Wonder Woman, especially since all it did was reduce her to “Superman’s Girlfriend” instead of a hero in her own right.
There is a movie theater in Austin, Texas, called the Alamo Drafthouse. They have made some serious waves with their idea of a ‘women’s only screening’ for Wonder Woman. This theater has been routinely recognized for their different approach to movie-going. In the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales they showed it on a boat. They had a screening of It Comes At Night where they gave the audience gas masks, drove them in a bus into the woods, and showed them the movie. This is a theater known for it’s experience.
When they announced a woman’s only screening of Wonder Woman, some men lost their minds. They called it discrimination, they said it was illegal, and they demanded a “men’s only” screening for the Thor: Ragnarök. In short, they didn’t want to be excluded from seeing the movie. Which is ONE showing, ONE day. All the rest of the showing are open to everyone. It’s just this ONE, SINGLE showing that is reserved for women only.
Fortunately, the Austin Drafthouse Theater Twitter manager knows how to respond to criticism.
But why would men get so upset? It’s not like they’ve been excluded from voting, holding a job, driving, getting an education, or even READING. Women have. Here, in the US, women have delt with all that exclusion for generations.
So why does that matter? because women are still fighting for equality, and an equal share of the social privilege. And men are threatened. Some men must feel that in order for women to be equal, men must, somehow, lose our respective place in society. For women to be equal men must stop trying to be ‘dominant’ and learn to be supportive.
This leads right into the themes of Wonder Women, and might explain when some men are completely threatened by the thought of a strong, independent woman who “don’t need no man.” for her happiness. If women are happy without men, then what will happen to men?
It’s a sign of weakness, fragility, and a very tentative grasp on the nature of reality. Strong women doesn’t mean men are weak, it just means we have to stop pushing them around. Independent women who aren’t forced to rely solely on a man for everything is scary to a man who doesn’t know how to wash his own dishes or do his own laundry. It’s scary to a man who is WEAK and FRAGILE.
Our current Vice President Mike Pence has reported he won’t eat a meal alone with a woman that isn’t his wife (who he refers to as “Momma”). He simply won’t do it. This is a sign that he is weak. It’s an idea he probably got from evangelical preacher Billy Graham in 1948. It was to prevent situations that would “have even the appearance of compromise or suspicion,” Which is fine, if that’s all it is.
But he doesn’t trust himself alone with another woman. He doesn’t trust himself with alcohol, without his wife around. This is weakness, not strength. This is a sign of a man who cannot control himself, and fears the repercussions of his own actions in private. This is not strength.
If we turned the tables, and had a woman who refused to be alone with her male collegues, she could get her job done.
This is male privilege, and an example of fragile, weak men pretending to be strong. These are the men threatened by Wonder Woman, and who are dismayed there will be ONE SINGLE SCREENING where they’re not allowed.
I’m just glad the Austin Alamo Drafthouse added a second “women’s only” screening, because the first one sold out so quickly.
I guess maybe there *IS a demand for women-led movies, and women-starring super hero movies. Strange that the all-male executives of movie production companies didn’t seem to understand that. Or maybe, they were just too weak, and fragile, to admit a woman could be so powerful, strong, and worst, independent.
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