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.
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.
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.
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 kicker is this: fans of Wonder Woman are outraged, hands in the air appalled— fist made and roaring for answers. They feel let down by a franchise they felt had served to them a feminist superhero on a silver platter.
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 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.
“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