The Wonder Woman film has been lauded as a shining example of feminism. I disagree.
According to Wikipedia, “Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes.” I find this definition a bit thin. I would more refer to it as a class struggle, as women try to shake off restrictions built on misogyny and the reluctance of men in general to accept that women can have the same potential to contribute to civilization as can men; they just need the opportunity. That they are barred and blockaded from these opportunities is, to me, the essence of the feminist struggle.
If you haven’t see the film, beware:
However, Princess Diana does not really fit into this struggle. Born into a world where there are no men, there has never been any male oppression and women, as they say, rule. Every Amazon is judged strictly on their merits. Even when Diana’s mother tries to block her training, she finally relents and Diana is allowed to fulfill her true purpose. The meritocracy of Themyscira is a rather Utopian ideal that I found a little improbable; women are people and I would expect more power struggles and class strife than what we saw in the movie.
Diana, having been raised as a princess, never has to worry about any class conflicts. Born a warrior and trained in all of the martial arts, she is reared as a contender; her sex doesn’t matter here. When she enters the “real world”, her refusal to accept being marginalized is part of her nature. Her triumphs on the battlefield are part of her training. She never had to fight for the right to be a warrior; she is one by discipline and heritage. Again, there was never any need for her to overcome any discrimination, as she never really encounters any. Most of her problems with being in the “real world” result from her needing to hide her power, rather than trying to come into it.
There is one other little detail, though, that derails the whole notion of feminism here and that is that Diana is not a woman. That’s right, she is not even human. She is a demigod, as distinctly divergent from humanity as, say, Superman. Yes, she is a female and identifies as such, but she is removed from humanity and cannot feel the conflict and oppression that real women feel. She never felt the fear of rape or harassment that women feel every day. She doesn’t worry about birth control or how to juggle a job with children and a husband. She doesn’t see her hopes and dreams being smothered by a system of male dominance that permeates every molecule of modern society, in every part of the world. No matter how much legislation is passed, not matter how we clamor about how far we’ve come, this is still the norm. The recent disclosures of a pandemic of inappropriate behavior from men in power that have been going on for years illustrates just how far we have to go.
If Harvey Weinstein or Trump tried to grope Dian, she wouldn’t fear for her career; she’d probably cause multiple fractures and contusions.
Growing up reading comic books, Wonder Woman was always one of my favorites and since then, I’ve always enjoyed seeing ass-kicking women. Dark Angel, River Tam, the Black Widow, etc., I have always found them as entertaining and inspiring as much as any male hero and often more so. However, as feminist icons, they are lacking in real world issues. Being strong enough to bend bars or defeat Greek gods can be uplifting, but women need to understand how to recognize and exploit their own strengths. That is how they will succeed.
And men need to fucking grow up.