French-Fried Feminism and why Wonder Women is not A Feminist Superhero

As much as we wanted Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman to be the feminist icon we needed her to be, she remains a superhero on the pages of comic books and now splashed on the silver screen, created by man and—honestly, for man.

In fact, so much so, that the craze to pin the medal of feminism to her red corset seems not only bizarre but alarming. And also, quite frankly, a slap in the face to real women on the front lines fighting for real change. Furthermore, it ignores the recent writer of Wonder Woman (WW), Zach Snyder, and even the groundbreaking director of WW, Patty Jenkins, who on deaf ears have unequivocally stated that Wonder Woman was not designed to be an inspiration for the modern movement towards gender inequality.

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Wonder Woman has a torrid history, but let’s focus on present-day- lest we get too lost in the details of a woman, gagged, and bound in a star banged bikini. In the recent film, Wonder Woman, or Princess Diana finds her way off the island she was sculptured and raised on by an all-female tribe of Amazon warrior women. Incidentally, it is a man who carries her off the island after he and a crew of German soldiers enter her world, unexpectedly. This is where our strong female character first finds herself at the mercy of a male-dominated screen. Despite her impressive fighting skills—she is the offspring of Zeus, and being well read—reading in over 20 languages, she needs her male co-character, Chris Pines (Steve Trevor) to lead her to the “front” or where Diana correctly senses the God of War, or Ares will be at. So, for much of the movie, Wonder Woman follows a small cohort of men, who cannot help but over drool over her good looks, without ever truly taking her seriously as a warrior God. Even Wonder Woman gets exasperated, and toward the end of the film, screams out, “You don’t believe me,” to her male co-character. And she was right, neither he, nor the other male characters believed her, or they would have been following her around instead of risking their lives to end the war.

Ultimately, Steve Trevor dies in a warplane, in his mind, the hero of the movie—despite seeing all of WW’s superhuman powers, and abilities, after he and the other male companions form a side plot to parallel WW’s plot to end the war. It is when WW splits off—finally—from her male friends that she is able to take down the God of War with an impressive show of strength. Is Wonder Woman a decent film? It was, and comic book movies can be fun but this isn’t a movie review.

The important question: Is Wonder Woman a symbol for girls and women? No. She is every man’s wet dream, and given that she was created by a man, would we expect differently? Diana is intelligent but helplessly innocent and dependent on her male companions. She is strong, but sexy first, as is illustrated throughout the film as the male characters show more interest and impression by her physical appearance than they do regarding her physical abilities.

customeproblem

Then there is the costume problem. If you look at Wonder Woman’s Justice league cohorts (who are all male) they are afforded full body suits to fight battles in. Makes sense. War is physical combat, and any amount of protective armor one can wear is beneficial. Wonder woman missed the memo. She comes to battle, alongside suited, and armored male superheroes wearing a corset, and stripper boots. There is nothing wrong with a woman being sexy, but let’s not dilute ourselves. Sexism happens when one sex is subjected to something that the counter sex is not subjected too. In the male superhero films, the male superheroes are not hyper-sexualized, wearing skimpy clothes to a war zone. Can you picture Batman flying over Gotham in just his speedo? This is not to insinuate that male superheroes are not usually attractive. Superheros are, after all, fantasy characters. However, the costumes they wear emphasis their physical strength and power whereas their female counterparts wear costumes that emphasize their sexuality, and their sexual parts, such as their breasts and butts. Male superhero characters are not worthy based on how many women are lusting after them, either. Nor, do they require a throng of females to depend on for guidance, and they sure the hell are taken seriously.

wwwarrior

Zack Synder’s follow up film to Wonder Woman, Justice League, takes the costume problem and makes it a bit messier. The Amazon warriors who fought alongside Diana in Wonder Woman wore costumes designed by a female and though, more revealing than most male superhero costumes, were not as revealing as Synder’s remake. Wonder Woman also had a sexy remake in Justice League with leather pants and a shirt emphasizing bare cleavage.

The truth is clear even in the mob of women sporting plastic lassos, beaming with pride. Wonder Woman was never meant to be a feminist superhero, and she is not a feminist superhero. And no matter how many WW dolls are sold to little girls wondering where they, too, can buy a red corset, nor is the actress who played Wonder Woman a feminist hero. Gal Gadot may be a lovely person. This isn’t a personality review, either. But, she is not a feminist. She is a woman who has adorned the pages of Maxim magazine on several occasions nearly nude. Maxim isn’t just any magazine, either. A founder of Maxim, Sean Thomas, states clearly:

“When we started Maxim we consciously felt that we were leading a fight-back against the excesses of sneering feminism. I believe we have succeeded.”

This magazine has published countless articles encouraging sexual aggression against women, encouraging men to view women as sex objects for their personal use. The magazine also regularly makes fun of feminist and feminist ideals. In one article, they laid out a perverted means of curing a feminist. Such magazines such as Maxim are called Lad mags and in one landmark study conducted by Middlesex University, it was discovered that people could not differentiate between the language used by convicted rapist to describe women and language used in magazines such as Maxim. And on these glossy pages is where we find the American version of a female superhero—one written by a man, who appears for man.

galinmax

 

Cureafeminist

There is a Bottom line here: Women and girls need superheroes and we have them. The problem is we are not embracing them because they do not meet the male gaze, and/or cannot be pigeonholed into the sexist script men and women feel compelled to follow: Women are first measured in worth by their youth and sex appeal. Women need men for love and protection, and thirdly, women need to be sexy, but not sexual. A sexual woman is one to be knocked down for being a “slut.” A few clicks on free internet porn sites serves the portrayal of sexually active women being “punished” in pretty horrendous ways on a digital platter. As porn becomes increasingly sadistic and violent–and that violence is directed towards women, this message becomes more sinister.
In order for a woman in power to be accepted by her male constituents, she simply has to play by the script, as Wonder Woman so eloquently, or tediously did. Think Hillary Clinton. And think of her fate. A woman sidelined by a man who brags about grabbing women by their genitals, because she was a woman with power, and her crime, punishable by American culture: not also attractive, and/or young, and/or helplessly innocent. Of course, Clinton’s inability to take her version of democracy to the White House is more nuanced than just her gender, but let’s be clear, her female gender played/(s) a significant role in how she has been and is treated by the political machine.
Thankfully, despite the fiction, we do have women doing amazing things. We have females in politics and in the legal system fighting for real policy changes, and changing laws. We have female nurses and doctors on the front lines of health care offering respite to the sick and dying. We have mothers, single and partnered, putting in the dogged effort into raising children. And so forth. And you know what? Hell, it is about time we start celebrating these real women and their real-world contributions.

The hijacking of the feminist movement by celebrities taking nude selfies, and calling that feminist work or the artist, Milo Moiré, who allowed random people on the street to touch her genitals, calling her work a fight against rape violence, and fighting sex toys branded as superheroes for women is exactly that, a hijacking. Women buying into this fast-food version of feminism are not only doing a disservice to themselves, but also the young women—looking at us, and dependent on us for real change. Real change happens with real work, and that requires more than women written by men for the sexist script, and for the male gaze. It also requires more of women than chewing on this french-fried version of feminism.
Take a look at some real-life female heroes worth celebrating.
Patricia Medici, a conservation biologist, who has tirelessly worked as a scientist in the lab, but also the jungles of South America to preserve ecosystems for the benefit of life on this planet.
Tammy Duckworth, a US senator from the state of Illinois, and also an Iraq war veteran who lost both of her legs in combat as a fighter pilot. She fights to improve the lives of those with disabilities, and the common American as a no-nonsense democrat.
Sindhutai Sapkal, a social worker in India, also known as “Mother of Orphans,” because she has devoted herself to creating shelters for orphaned children in India. She has won over 250 rewards for her work and dedication to children.
Celebrate real work, real women, and let’s make real progress.
Link to information on study conducted by Middlesex University on lad mags:
“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now.
You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt (I told you not to hold back!), skank.
Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy. I’ve even heard the term “mangina.”
Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally fucked up.” – J. Valenti

 

 

2 thoughts on “French-Fried Feminism and why Wonder Women is not A Feminist Superhero

  1. Wow, great entry! So glad to see more and more people supporting James Cameron and calling out the phonies in Hollywood who’ve been cynically spinning Wonder Woman as some kind of feminist icon or something. I grew up with WW and she was nothing more than a superhero version of Barbie and j.o. material for male comic book readers, nothing more, nothing less. What next? Doing a Barbarella reboot and calling her a feminist icon?

    The worst part about all this isn’t that WW is being propped up as something she never was. It’s that Patty Jenkins and her other cronies feel they also have to prop her up by tearing down true icons like Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley and pretending that other strong female action heroes never existed. It’s more than just pettiness; this is once again the reactionaries in Hollywood using the industry to “weaponize” feminism against women. They’ve been doing this shady crap since time immemorial. Every time a group comes up with a movement to empower itself, Hollywood Reactionaries then hijacks it as a form of weaponization. They did it in the 1980s when they took rap music and transformed it into a medium that preached nihilism and hopelessness to inner city blacks. Now they’re doing it again by teaching young women that it’s feminist to sexually objectify yourself.

    BTW, just like you, I felt I had to write about this as well on my blog. Warning; it’s pretty brutal but I couldn’t hold back. I was just so angry to see everyone dog pile on James Cameron for what he said: https://filmsdeconstructed.wordpress.com/2017/08/26/james-cameron-is-robbing-hollywood-fauxminists-of-their-fake-feminist-icon-and-they-hate-it/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am looking forward to reading your entry. I, too, feel angry about it, and so cannot fault you for being angry.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, too. I come across fabulous female superheroes all the time, in my personal life, in the media spotlight, and even some in fictional form, and I also see these same WHOLE women passed over while a model in a bikini is crowned Mrs. Femisnist of the year–one designed by men, and for men. It’s disgusting.

      A real feminist hero will NOT play by the sexist script and more than likely she won’t be in a string bikini with a FUCK ME look on her face. Plain and simple. And women need real feminist heroes. We have a long way to go, not only locally, but globally, and this feel-good feminism is not paying the bills.

      BTW, that is a really good example you presented in regards to the reshaping of rap music. I never thought of that, but hearing it makes sense. And I agree, again, this french-fried version of feminism is just that–a reshaping to keep the REAL movement down.

      Thanks for stopping by, and sharing, too. I appreciate it. Sometimes I get lonely in little blog corner of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

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