If you have been on a woman-focused site on the internet recently–literally, any site with an aesthetically pleasing layout and vague, non-threatening feminist tone–chances are good that you’ve seen an article or two about the new Wonder Woman movie. Or, to be more specific, you’ve probably been inundated by a deluge of Wonder Woman-related content, because, apparently, that is all that women want to talk about these days. We are all so, so thirsty for that wonderful woman, whose name just so happens to be Wonder Woman!
But, um, could you all just, like, chill for a sec?
Let’s back up. Wonder Woman, if you haven’t heard, is a superhero movie–one that is very good and has also made lots and lots of money–that happens to have been directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, and stars another woman, Gal Gadot. To be clear, this is great. It’s great that a female team has easily outdone most male-led superhero movies by leaps and bounds, both in the overall quality and financial gains, it’s great that male protests of female-only Wonder Woman showings only encouraged more female-only Wonder Woman showings, and it’s super great that little girls will be able to grow up with a full-fledged female superhero to emulate on the playground.
But. The tone surrounding most Wonder Woman coverage has gone from celebratory to adulatory to straight-up hysterical idolatry.
Take, for example, this:
Which was inspired by this:
Is the male gaze real? Yes. Does this movie flout said male gaze? Yes. Is Gal Gadot a regulation hottie who, thigh jiggle notwithstanding, maybe not the example to to use if you are trying to do away with conventional beauty standards? Probably!
And, of course, brings us to my personal favorite–this:
And then…everyone clapped 🙂
Of course, if the price to pay for more woman-helmed movies with strong, Bechdel Test-passing female characters is enduring some contrived dialogue about how the image of slightly jiggling thighs on an otherwise conventionally perfect body advances the feminist cause, I will take that. It’s fine.
But my issue with the cloying, you’ll-love-it-or-else vibe surrounding most Wonder Woman coverage is twofold. First of all, as my coworker Ashley Reese put it, there’s more to feminism than traditionally beautiful women kicking ass in a movie. Plus, on a more personal level, the borderline “Yaaasss kween, Wonder Woman persisted, bitch“ tone that’s present in much of the Wonder Woman coverage is corny as hell. (We deserve this movie! Act like it!)
And, of course, expecting the Wonder Woman movie to be a purely feminist revelation pretty much means that it never actually will be. Many people, such as Christina Cauterucci at Slate, have complained that, after reading the “laudatory” reviews of Wonder Woman, it ended up simply not being feminist enough. Of course it wasn’t. If you’re looking at Wonder Woman through a stringent feminist lens, it is going to be a failure–one movie that, let’s face it, was designed to make money simply cannot effectively contain all of the hopes and wishes of women around the world.
But this is okay. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you have to exclusively do Very Feminist Activities™ all of the time, just as a movie like Wonder Woman–the sheer existence of which is, yes, technically a feminist advancement–doesn’t have to fulfill all the feminist desires that have been projected upon it.
Basically? See Wonder Woman. Or don’t. It’s up to you! Whatever the choice you make may be, you can rest assured that it won’t make you any more or less of a feminist for the rest of your life.
What do you think about the Wonder Woman hysteria? Is it warranted or not? Let us know in the comments!