Wonder Woman, Feminism, and the Two Most Important Women in my Life

The word “feminism” seems to be the single most offensive word in the English language if you’re to believe any Internet thread you might find yourself reading. Just bring up that dreaded F-word and the comments will light up with a stream of misogynistic vitriol that makes me wonder who hurt these poor people. Call me crazy, but I was raised to believe in the equality and inclusion of both sexes by my mother, and was told that this belief is called “feminism”. Obviously, silly old me then decided that I must be a feminist, but apparently, all feminists hate men and want to murder anyone with a Y chromosome so they can then dominate the Earth. Strangely, I’ve never met anyone that holds such a belief, clearly I’m running with the wrong crowd.

I proudly call myself a feminist, as does my mother, so our joint excitement for the upcoming Wonder Woman film is palpable to say the least. Wonder Woman is nothing short of an icon, and possibly the most significant contribution to feminism in the history of modern literature. She gave female comic book readers a Superman of their own, someone to relate to and idolise. I do find it outrageous, then, that of the five most popular superheroes of them all (Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and Wolverine), the Amazonian goddess is the only one without their own movie franchise. All she’s gotten so far is the 1970s live action Lynda Carter TV show and an appearance in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The fact that the only mainstream superhero movie to be released with a female lead is 2004’s Catwoman honestly makes me a little sick.

Wonder Woman’s success is important to me and the women in my life, I want my mum to have her hero done justice on the big screen and I want my little sister to have that hero. The happiness I felt when seeing my mum’s reaction to Wonder Woman’s appearance in Dawn of Justice made me realise just how important this movie could be. As she drops down to confront Doomsday, leading the charge while flanked by Batman and Superman and being led by one of the best superhero themes possibly ever, I could hear an audible squeal. Looking over, I was treated to seeing my own mother jumping up and down with glee like a kid on Christmas morning, exclaiming, “Yes! She’s here! She’s my favourite! She’s my favourite! Show them how it’s done!”

Given that my mum is a fan of superhero movies and comic books in general, this was the most invested I’d ever seen her in a single moment from the genre, which is when it clicked for me. She’d never had her Captain America kicking the shit out of Nazis moment, nor had she fully experienced the majesty of Christopher Reeves’s Superman reversing time itself to save Lois Lane. For the first time ever, she was seeing a woman march into battle in a comic book movie, taking on the enemy at the front of the pack and stealing the spotlight from the two figureheads of the medium. It became apparent that it had been too long, the world needed its first Wonder Woman movie.

Then I look to the future generations of women, the age groups populated by people like my sister. In a time where America’s President can freely brag about sexually assaulting women, the empowerment of a female superhero is what young girls need right now. About a month ago, I saw a little girl staring up in awe at the Wonder Woman poster on display at the cinema I work in, a single image of the central character with the word “power” accompanying the title. This small child was being shown that there is indeed a power and a strength in being a woman, that she could grow up to inspire awe in girls her age. This experience stuck with me and put a smile on my face, this is the effect this film can have.

As my sister settles into the middle of the hell that is being a teenager, she is discovering more each day about the history of feminism. She’s learning the valuable lessons of independence and that it’s not okay to be treated as an inferior being because of your sex. The impact of Wonder Woman was felt when she asked me if I could bring home a poster of the film from work for her not long ago. I’d already reserved a poster for myself months in advance, but I knew that she needed it a lot more than I did. For me, it was a poster to have for the sake of having it, another cool design to add to my collection. For my sister, it was a symbol of female empowerment that she could draw her own might from. She’s never read a comic book in her life, and the only superhero movie she likes is the universally accessible Guardians of the Galaxy, so to see her take such an interest in one of my personal favourite characters touched me.

All of this is why I’m frustrated with the publicity that Wonder Woman is receiving. All I seem to see on the Internet is the apparent “lack of marketing” that Warner Bros. are doing for the film. I find this claim to be dubious at best, as I would think that numerous TV spots, posters and giant freaking billboards all over Times Square constitutes as strong marketing. We need to embrace the film for what it has the potential to do for women, and the audience that it can connect with in a way that no other superhero film has. I have full confidence in the success of Wonder Woman, and I frankly don’t care for what anyone has to say about feminist agendas or whatever nonsense that might be spouted. This is a movie that isn’t just long overdue, it’s owed to women the world over.

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