How Can I Get a Place to Rent on Themyscira?

by Gracie Bucklew

[Note: This column contains spoilers for the movie Wonder Woman]

I guess they’re right — women really are hyper-emotional.

At least I was, along with many other women, while watching Wonder Woman at Ark Lodge Cinemas last week. Watching muscular women jump and fight and engage in brutal combat with each other may seem odd to cry over, but trust me, I was close. I wasn’t sad, don’t get me wrong, I was simply experiencing something amazing.

Hollywood has a long, pitiful history of forgetting women exist in action movies (or in any movies at that), except in the circumstance of sexual conquest, in which the woman is light-skinned, long-legged, straight-haired, conventionally beautiful, and on-hand. She is there as a prop for the super buff super hero when he gets lonely or restless.

She may also appear as the classic damsel in distress, sometimes in conjunction with the aforementioned role of on-tap sex. Here, she is helpless and, usually, hopelessly in love with the super hero who, in the end, valiantly saves her and countless other scared citizens from their terrifying doom.

Wonder Woman smashes these demeaning tropes. Those first several minutes of the film absent of the poisonous presence of men were blissful. Seeing an island populated solely by a race of Olympic God-created warrior women in constant combat training was so invigorating and empowering, and most of all, refreshing.

And don’t even “reverse sexism” this, because reverse oppression is not, and never will be, a thing. I mean we actually had to make a test for this (The Bechdel Test) to measure whether or not, in a fictional piece of work, two women could simply talk to each other for more than a few seconds about anything other than a man. Pretty pathetic, huh? Not surprisingly, Wonder Woman passed this test.

In our world is where Diana, Princess of Themyscira, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, encountered sexism for the first real time. She could not understand the straightjacket-like attire women shoved themselves into to appeal to the male gaze. She was cooed and whistled at by male Londoners on the street.

Men were startled out of speaking when she entered a room where war strategies were being discussed. These men were later unable to wrap their heads around the knowledge that Diana was multilingual. She did not let misogyny discourage her, however.

This movie was quite reminiscent of the Holtzmann fight scene in the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters for me. I was on the brink of jumping out of my seat in the theater during that scene, and the same feeling carried over to many of the fight scenes in Wonder Woman.

The reason for this elation is simple; women were kicking ass without the help or jurisdiction of a man. The slow motion made it even more epic. Arrows were flying, swords were slashing, women were yelling and winning.

At the same time, they were able to feel despair and wail when one of their own had fallen, a raw human display of emotion we are too often deprived of in other action movies. Male heroes are expected to be hard and emotionless, supposedly showing their strength, when all it really does is crush boys’ humanity and perpetuate the patriarchal system which forces this role onto them. Well done director Patty Jenkins.

Wonder Woman is clearly a victory for women, but more specifically, for white women. Having an Ashkenazi Jewish Israelite play the leading role is really cool! But she is still white, or at least seen and used as such by the filmmakers. She is given a white mother and is played as a young girl by a white actress. This is not adequate representation for women of color.

Also, I can’t say I’m surprised, but there is a routine lack of queer characters in action movies that is not deviated from in Wonder Woman. You would think there has got to be some lesbians on Themyscira, an island of women, but hey, my expectations weren’t high in the first place.

In addition, I could have done without another predictable and unnecessary straight love story placed in an action movie. Sure, Diana and Steve’s tragic romance was touching but it did not have a place in a movie showcasing female strength and heroism.

Moreover, I was not thrilled that the only reason Diana was able to break free of Ares’ iron grasp was the sight of her new-found love dying in flight; I was really hoping the filmmakers would have let Wonder Woman be a wonder without the motivation of a man.

So yes, Wonder Woman is a breakthrough film and I’m ecstatic about it. But it is only a toe in the water. Let’s get intersectional Hollywood! I want to see a fat, brown, pansexual trans woman who wears a hijab while battling not only evil but mental illness as well. If we as consumers continue to support and create movies and media that break stereotypes and showcase diversity, I think we’ll be able to eventually get there.

Gracie Bucklew is a musician, artist, Unitarian Universalist, intersectional feminist, and activist and contributes a regular local pop-culture column to the Emerald. She is currently a student at The Center School. She lives on Beacon Hill with one of her moms, and is a lifelong resident of Rainier Beach with her other mom. She loves her friends, cats, and ice cream.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Studios / DC Entertainment 


2 thoughts on “How Can I Get a Place to Rent on Themyscira?”

  1. Does the author’s “intersectional feminism” extend to the women of color Gal Gadot has killed? Can white women empower themselves WITHOUT needing to step on women of color to do so?

    This movie wasn’t made with all women in mind, it’s for the women who can ignore certain atrocities which don’t directly affect them.

    Dear White Feminists,

    FINALLY, a superhero movie for YOU! How marvelous that you finally have a kickass, badass, cisgender, abled bodied, thin, white woman hero to worship on screen. You’ve waited so long, and Warner Brothers has finally given you what you wanted to see.

    Now I know, I’m a salty person and I should be happy that the world FINALLY has Wonder Woman as a film, because when white women succeed, everybody succeeds, amirite? Yeah, no.

    Listen, how was I supposed to suspend my feminisms for a whole two hours and twenty one minutes? I couldn’t. Every single time Diana Prince (aka- Wonder Woman), shed tears on screen over the children dying at the hands of merciless German soldiers during her trip to the end of World War One, I kept whispering, “but Gal, what about the children in Gaza?”

    Yeah, that’s right, y’all think I was just going to let that go unmentioned? I think the fuck not. Your new sexy fave, Gal Gadot is a former Israeli soldier and during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014, she posted a picture on Facebook of her and her daughter praying and wrote the following statement:

    “I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens, especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children…We shall overcome!!! #weareright

    The assault in question was widely condemned and took place between July 8 through Aug. 27. More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed along the Gaza strip along with 66 Israeli soldiers, and seven civilians in Israel. The majority of the Palestinian deaths were civilians including 495 children and 253 women.

    But this isn’t new, Israel maintains a brutal grip on Palestinians and their daily lives. It is a settler colonialist power and feminists who support it are not feminists if they give zero fucks about Palestinian civilians being brutally oppressed on a daily basis.

    This movie wasn’t made with all women in mind, it’s for the women who can ignore certain atrocities which don’t directly affect them. Your children are safe, their bodies aren’t being policed by soldiers, their schools haven’t been bombed, the hospitals they lay in don’t have bullet holes in the walls, their water supplies haven’t been cut, their electricity isn’t regularly shut off by another government.

    So go and enjoy your new feminist film, did you hear it was directed by a woman? How swell.