What Does Wonder Woman’s World Without Men Mean?

Wonder Woman

“She’s so strong,” the little girl seated next to me at a Brooklyn screening of “Wonder Woman” kept repeating to her mother…

Legions of women I know took daughters, nieces, nephews, mentees or simply went in droves, some of them to women-only screenings — and walked out of theaters with a strange feeling of ferociousness.

So says Jessica Bennett of the New York Times.

I had thought Wonder Woman was just another action flick. But there is so much more.

Men and Ares, god of war 

Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) was raised among Amazons who lived on a paradisiacal island, sans men.

A Paradise without men?

Men aren’t bad. In the current film Allied spy Steve Trevor is a good guy. The screenplay, the comics, and Wonder Woman, herself, were all conceived by men. They can’t be all bad 🙂

So what must this manless Shangri-La represent?

According to legend Zeus created Diana to defeat Ares, god of war.

Symbol of Ares, god of war, and symbol of Men

Our symbol for “man” is the symbol for Ares. And Diana Prince was named for the goddess Diana, a protector of women.

Perhaps this set up represents domination culture versus partnership culture.

The modern legend of Wonder Woman was born of World War II. Nazi Germany was all about domination: whites over people of color, “Aryan” whites over other whites, straight over gay, abled over disabled, men over women… Germany’s dominance over other nations was meant to create this new world.

So here, “man” seems to represent war… patriarchy… domination mentality.

Some renditions find Diana leaving the Amazons to enter not the world of men, but the Patriarch’s World — where she is charged with bringing peace.

Wonder Woman’s partnership

Wonder Woman is not about women defeating and dominating men. She is about uniting us.

Diana’s romantic relationships with men symbolize unity. But her personality also unites feminine and masculine.

Unlike most superheroes she’s not trying to work out a Messiah complex, she just wants to function freely in the world and to help out, as one film reviewer pointed out. It’s more “power with” than “power over.”

Diana is a peace-lover who fights when she must. She is both muscular and graceful. She is powerful and strong-willed but also nurturing and compassionate.

Wonder Woman is in touch with her whole humanity. She is a whole person.

And that’s what makes her so wonder-ful.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on June 9, 2017, in feminism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 82 Comments.

  1. It;s funny, because I was just about to ask you if you’ve seen Wonder Woman or plan to see it. I guess the director is a woman and she had a different take on it like you wrote here. Yeah from what I read it might have touched on kind of like Moana the partnership aspect vs domination culture. On the Conan O’brien show, he had the woman direction and she was talking about the film and she wanted it to be different and what women would like too. She brought up how instead of just dominating or beating down people, Wonder Woman’s character was one who didn’t want conflict or like that messiah syndrome like you said, but can fight or will if and when she has to. And also interesting point is there’s a scene I guess where the amazonian women are fighting with Wonder woman and She chose a great diversity for these women.

    It’s probably because it’s a female director but like Conan Obrien said, how he said they were all diverse and beautiful. That it could have went the cookie cutter, model women chosen for the other amazon women. But the female director said she wanted to show and have women who look like they can kick ass and you know show the beauty in the various looks and physiques women have. The women she had were top athletes from around the world. Some Chris wolf woman who is like a top women’s weight lifter, another a female boxer, another woman very good kicker boxer, a horse rider, etc. Women in various shapes and builds and looks, but beautiful in different ways and strong, kick ass athletes.

    • Thanks for bringing all this up. I just read some movie reviews and some background on the Wonder Woman character, which is where this post comes from. I’m planning to see the film tomorrow. Maybe I will write more later and bring up some of your points. 😃

  2. “Wonder Woman is in touch with her whole humanity. She is a whole person.”

    Because being a spectacularly beautiful woman, adding 8kg of muscle just for a movie, running around in her underwear, a god from an all-female lesbian island, bouncing bullets from her wrists, and fighting with a sword like a man, is the perfect role model for every well balanced little girl.

    Meanwhile, when boys play with swords or guns or weapons, the feminists are up in arms that masculine socialisation from an early age is allegedly linked with violence and patriarchy world wide, which feminists link with U.S. hegemony, sexism and racism.

    But if you have a vagina… it’s all good.

    • Ah, but you somehow missed the other side. Wonder woman is not the aggressor she is the defender. And in a world like ours we need defense.

      And as I wrote:

      “Unlike most superheroes she’s not trying to work out a Messiah complex, she just wants to function freely in the world and to help out, as one film reviewer pointed out. It’s more “power with” than “power over.”

      “Diana is a peace-lover who fights when she must. She is both muscular and graceful. She is powerful and strong-willed but also nurturing and compassionate.”

      Feminist would be very pleased if boys were taught to be like this too.

      • A lot of the reviews, especially feminist reviews, are giving Wonder Women the benefit of the doubt that they wouldn’t give a male super hero.

        She left Themyscira to kill Ares and stop all the wars. She wants to save the world. I would call that a Messiah complex.

        She attacked the Germans defending the town. Taking back a town isn’t the same as defending it. She hunted and killed General Ludendorff. I would consider both actions aggressive not defensive.

        I loved the movie. I just think Wonder Women is being put on a pedestal just because she is a female. If a male hero acted in the same way in the same situation he would be consider aggressive and not a whole person.

        What does Captain America have to do to be considered a whole person?

      • Show his nurturing, compassionate side.

        Maybe he does but feminists just don’t know if they (we) don’t watch it.

      • Maybe women and men see compassion and nurturing in different ways. I think Captain America ordering the cops to use underground tunnels and keep civilians off the street is an act of compassion.

        I don’t remember Wonder Women doing anything nurturing. That’s not to say she didn’t, I just don’t remember or didn’t recognize the act as nurturing.

      • Well I could see how male superheroes could be nurturing. I haven’t watched enough of their movies to know.

        Wonder Woman talks about how badly she feels for a community that has been harmed (bombed maybe– I can’t remember what it was). The others wanted to Move on and she refused to. Also, just leaving her idyllic Island to try to prevent war because she cares.

  3. I cannot wait to see this movie here in Melbourne. In my youth I loved watching Wonder Woman with Linda Carter.

  4. ‘The screenplay, the comics, and Wonder Woman, herself, were all conceived by men. They can’t be all bad.’- It must really hurt to admit that. Excruciating agony.

    • Ha ha ha !!!!! 😆

      But given the limited opportunities women have had it’s not surprising that women haven’t been so involved in creating this. But a very good thing that men have! 😇

      Sounds like the female director did have a big say in how the screenplay was created for this film. But then, women do you have more opportunities to have a say these days. 😀

      • In a sense, yes, but the story was basically laid in stone: Marvel/DC usually release an animated version of coming blockblusters 3-5yrs in advance as an animation movie to guage feedback, and this time was no different (Wonder Woman 2009). But hey, if women need to feel great by cloaking themselves in someone else’s (a man) glory… be my guest. As I alluded to before, I am an ironclad supporter of ‘real feminism’, which led me to declare war against your army (The Standing Dicks Conflict) a week ago; I also have a wonder woman post in the queue(pt4), coming soon, and so looking forward to blowing your house down. All summer long, all in good fun, of course. Buckle up.

      • Well a lot of people expected this Wonder Woman (2017) to be like the other Marvel movies — which is why I wasn’t interested in seeing it myself, until I started hearing reviews. From what I have heard this one is a lot different from the rest so I plan to see it this weekend.

        Otherwise, I’m not entirely sure what you’re talking about but feminism is on the side of uniting what we call* “feminine” and “masculine” in partnership both within ourselves and within the world.

        From time to time I see anti-feminists posing as feminists while spouting misandry in order to work against the cause of equality.

        —-
        * Ideas of “feminine” and “masculine” vary by culture.

      • As promised; the (first) battle is raging. Dirty, dirty, dirty.
        Title: And You Wonder Why.

  5. I saw the movie this past weekend with my wife and son… Really enjoyed it and highly recommend it!!!

    With regards to the history of Wonder Woman, there is a very good book, “The Secret History of Wonder Woman” by Jill Lepore. In the book, Ms. Lepore details the life of Wonder Woman’s creator, and it seems he was a devout feminist, believed in female domination, yearned for a matriarchal world, and lived together with his wife and mistress. After his death, his wife continued to cohabit with the mistress.

    • Yeah, I read that he was a feminist and thought about including that. But I ended up focusing on what the world without men might mean. (One idea per blog post.) And if “A world without men” means what I think it does I can see how he would believe a female-dominant world would be better. But that would only make sense if you have a hard time getting outside of a domination mentality, which often happens when you live in a domination culture like patriarchy.

      Feminists today are proposing something different: partnership culture. And you can see that in the ways Wonder Woman symbolically brings masculine and feminine together.

      • Forgot to mention that Wonder Woman’s creator also believed in female superiority…

      • Did you catch this part of my response:

        And if “A world without men” means what I think it does I can see how he would believe a female-dominant world would be better. But that would only make sense if you have a hard time getting outside of a domination mentality, which often happens when you live in a domination culture like patriarchy.

        Feminists today are proposing something different: partnership culture. And you can see that in the ways Wonder Woman symbolically brings masculine and feminine together.

      • A feminist man in an open relationship and having a mistress. It’s not a contradiction because obviously his wife didn’t mind since they all lived together and most likely especially considering how his wife and mistress continued to live together after his death, suggested they both weren’t sharing him. But there was attraction amongst them all, and the women bisexual. Anyway, I know the story of wonder woman a little about the island and the other amazon women and the peace and stuff. Unfortunately, probably because of the guy who created the story of wonder woman and his belief of a matriarchal world being better. That he naturally created it that way. So unfortunately, Wonder woman probably more so from the classic but just the fact there is an island of just women and the war going on is men and the symbol like you said. The story and this movie insinuates that men are the war makers over women and a female superior or female only world would be peaceful or more peaceful than male only or male run world.

        “Men aren’t bad. In the current film Allied spy Steve Trevor is a good guy. The screenplay, the comics, and Wonder Woman, herself, were all conceived by men. They can’t be all bad 🙂”

        Well that doesn’t say much if some men are good ha.It is bothersome that even if not literally, that man is to represent “war” and tied in to associate with domination. But it sounds like the film has relation to moana with partnership vs domination. Though it seems like the bad men in the film are too “corrupted” by domination that they don’t have any good part inside to restore unlike maui who had some , but was a good guy deep inside.

      • I was just teasing with that paragraph. You have all these men writing a story where some Paradisiacal place is woman-only. But clearly even if you look at the story line and the creators it doesn’t make sense to say that all men are bad. So the woman-only Island must mean something else. And the symbol for the work God is the same as the symbol for men, Plus the story coming out of World War II. And we tend to stereotype aggressors… dominators… war as all revolving around men. (Interestingly all of this comes from men, Men having more control over language historically.) It seems to me that in this case the male is symbolic of war. So it’s not flesh and blood men that are the problem but war that is the problem.

        “Though it seems like the bad men in the film are too “corrupted” by domination that they don’t have any good part inside to restore unlike maui who had some , but was a good guy deep inside.”

        That makes sense.

  6. She was wonderful, and so was the beautiful island where she comes from. It did inspire me to think of my best self, the self I could or would be had I grown up there.

  7. Well a lot of people expected this Wonder Woman (2017) to be like the other Marvel movies — which is why I wasn’t interested in seeing it myself, until I started hearing reviews. From what I have heard this one is a lot different from the rest so I plan to see it this weekend.”

    I was never a person that involved with super heroes as a kid except for watching cartoons, but I never followed comic books and such and my friends don’t either. But as you see with the popularity of super hero films, many people who never followed comics and such still enjoy super hero movies. A lot of the one,s atleast from marvel have been good. So I’m wondering why you avoid or don’t care for them or is that usually a genre that I suspect many women don’t care for , though the popularity suggests many women like them too. I never knew what guardians of the galaxy was, but it on dvd last year and it was good and funny moments. Dr Strange had quite a cool visual effect and pretty good. Logan was different in the that it was less super hero movie and like more a humanity story to it. Logan is the name of Wolverine. Hugh Jackman played him well for many years and Logan was the finale to the wolverine series as I’m sure Hugh Jackman wanted to move on from his super hero role and probably because his contract is up with marvel.

    • Looks like a few other action movies are thoughtful too.

      • Yes. Well Dr Strange was interesting in the sense this was not a man who wanted to be a hero or wanted to fight. He was forced into this realm where he needed to, to save the unvierse or atleast us people who live in the dimension we live in. Dr Strange is human being, a brilliant, but cocky surgeon. There actually is twist to this in the sense, it’s like he was “maui” but gained moana characteristics as the movie progressed. He was a gifted surgeon, and very intelligent, gifted, brilliant man, But he was kind of a dick, like in the relationship with the woman he was with. He put his work ahead of the people he was involved. Things kind of revolved around him. He was cocky, and at one point in the movie he was driving his ( I don’t remember the car) his flashy supped up Corvette I think down a curvy road.

        It started down pouring and he lost control of his car and got in a horrible car accident. He was in the IU where numerous surgeries done and lucky for him he survived, but his hands and wrist were messed up beyond repair. So he lost the steadyness in his hands needed to continue doing surgery. So like Maui with the staff, he lost his “gift” his pride and enjoy and purpose because he couldn’t be a surgeon anymore.Atleast for him his pride did help people, but he was conceited in the beginning. To fast forward meets this monky like lady, when trying to get back his ability through some ancient ritual. As he gets pulled in this realm, he was taught humility and purpose and his use to save others. So like maui there was some good there, he just had to have a purpose beyond himself and drop his ego. But as the movie progresses he became more of a devolped character that helps the universe and our dimension and grew.

      • And in Logan. This story is far in the future where most of the mutants have died off. He and professor X and another guys are the few left. There are children mutants, but “corruption of humans again” The children were taken in shelters and used by corrupt people run by federal govt to basically have this child mutants grow up and brain washed and taught to be killing machines, which would make the countries army formidable. Logan, Wolverine), who has lost all the people he’s cared about, especially jean grey, who he loved and had a relationship with, he had to kill her. Because her powers were manipulated and her great powers were out of control and she was going to wipe out everyone, and him being a self healer (immortal then) was only one that could prevent. So in the future he’s basically an alcoholic, depressed with no purpose, kind of drifting through life now. That wanted to show him vulnerable so his power is waning or immortality and self healing power waning. He gets hurt not physically and it might be metaphorical too.

        But the girl who escapes is one of the mutants in the shelter. The woman taking care of him was a guardian and contacted him that he needs to help this girl as people are after this woman and the girl (the corrupt federal govt). He didn’t believe or seemed indifferent about helping girl even though Professor X told him and was evident the girl was his daughter. She was a wolverine too. Ironically he was mad because his close friend and his life had turmoil from being involved helping this girl (his daughter he didn’t know he had) which his friend mutants died in the process from him changing his mind and risking his life to save the girl and the children mutants the Govt was after and helping then cross this border called “Eden” where they would be safe. He was upset and didn;t want anything to do with the girl, yet the girl and all this gave him purpose again, beyond himself, to save his mutant race basically, you can’t have a bigger purpose than that. So even though it risked his life, it kind “of saved him again” from his nihilism life he was living before that. He became “fighting for” at the end.

      • I don’t know enough about this story to really comment on it but if you would like to write something up it seems like it would be interesting to put on my blog, if you’re interested.

  8. And we tend to stereotype aggressors… dominators… war as all revolving around men. (Interestingly all of this comes from men, Men having more control over language historically.) It seems to me that in this case the male is symbolic of war. ”

    Yeah but stereotypes are not good. I wonder if men associating and writing this with association of male and war together is part self reflection of history and their gender’s relation to it.

    “But clearly even if you look at the story line and the creators it doesn’t make sense to say that all men are bad”

    Yeah, but doesn’t have to be all men are bad. Just the assertion that more men are bad than women is not good. I wonder if the defensiveness of men to feminists maybe more so conservatives can in relation to the similar thing in your other post about women not needing men. You know like when you’re pride and want to be proud of yourself, your family, your race, your gender. How people can be proud but don’t want to think of the faults of their own personality, their own family, their own flaws that can be glaring. People don’t want to acknowledge if there’s a problem and something they are related to is the cause of or part of the problems or feel others feel that or it’s there, but just not said. The fact that it was written by men or some men, seems an inner acknowledgment that their own sex has caused throughout history.

    And I think there has been enough hypothetical theories or it’s been played up in the past and still might. Not from feminists you know, but when people play with the theory of women run world or only women, the stereotype brought up is it would be peaceful or more so. And feminists of the past, I thought did believe a matriarchal society or it seemed implied lead by women instead would be a better run world. I hear it too for liberal stuff where many feel the world would be less war hungry and greed and partnership if most of the leaders of our countries were run by women. It’s good to have more women leaders, but not when the implication is that women are morally superior and better leaders or would be less conflict and peaceful with women leading than men. I wonder if that’s acknowledged without being admitted by men, and internalized, thus defensiveness stories that imply female run societies being more peaceful and better than male run societies.

    • I think a lot of your points can be summarized in the sentence “Yeah, but doesn’t have to be all men are bad. Just the assertion that more men are bad than women is not good.”

      I hope you didn’t take the comment about “clearly men aren’t all bad” as a suggestion that a lot of men are bad or most men are bad. It was just teasing.

      Some feminists have thought the world would be better run if women were running it. Some have thought so out of will believe that Women are just better and others have thought so because of the way women are socialized. I think that if people were socialized more like girls and women in our society are — to not be domineering and aggressive and status-oriented, but to be more caring and nurturing for instance — that the world would be better run.

      • I hope you didn’t take the comment about “clearly men aren’t all bad” as a suggestion that a lot of men are bad or most men are bad. It was just teasing.”

        Yeah I know you didn’t mean most men or that a lot of men are bad. But just more men being more criminal and/or people feeling men have something in that that can make the inherently more violent. The argument is testosterone and perhaps there is some difference. But I’d like to think it’s not that big of a difference between men and women and the exaggeration is how men are socialized compared to women. I don’t know. But I do think it’s damaging,for boys and men to hear or deep down acknowledge that many of the general population even some older generation feminists or women and they don’t even have to be like anti-men, but just feel women generally are less violent than men because of nurturing instincts and such. Well some guys will just feel, that just the double edged sword and the balance of what male aggression has helped in primitive times with fending off wild animals or protecting women and kids or this assertiveness as far as inventions, etc. Though the invention thing is just because women were not allowed to be inventive or held back, not because women aren’t or weren’t as capable as men with inventions or technology and such.

      • Yeah. I don’t believe that men are worse than women or more criminal inherently. I think that we train boys to be tough and disconnected from their emotions in a way that is harming to themselves and to others. Women are trained to be more passive and weak. It’s not inherent. It’s just that we could do better raising our girls and boys.

  9. O this comment feed! Real feminism vs fake feminism? I find these divisions not only dull but a waste of time, and part of the dualistic thinking that has brought us to where we are now. Any hoo 😊 the movie looks fun and interesting – like you,I thought it was just another stereotypical superhero movie with a woman in the lead role instead of man, but maybe there’s more to it than that 😊

    • “Real feminism vs fake feminism? I find these divisions not only dull but a waste of time, and part of the dualistic thinking that has brought us to where we are now.”

      Yeah, and perpetrated by anti-feminists posing as feminists for the very reason you cite: “part of the dualistic thinking that has brought us to where we are now.”

  10. I wanted to say that, it seems like the movie itself like you said implies union of feminine and masculine and the good male figures goes a path of female empowerment without being against men.And what helped, is I read a review that brings up how her love interest which was not like other female characters. Where she just was charmed easily, but it came from chris pine’s character being such a remarkable man that diana became romantically attracted to him. And apparently one of the main corrupt people in the film and villain is a woman. So it seems like the director and view was about the downfall of humanity is hierarchal ways and corruption, with a bad female character and some good men in the film showing it’s not gender, but mindset and culture. And wonder woman’s approach, the partnership is the way needed to heal the world and fix problems.

  11. denise m mamaril

    wonder women is every little girls dream to meet that lady to me she is just a character in the movie that sweeps down and tries to rescue things and people. I was never a person that involved with super heroes as a kid except for watching cartoons, but I never followed comic books and such and my friends don’t either. But as you see with the popularity of super hero films, many people who never followed comics and such still enjoy super hero movies. A lot of the one,s at least from marvel have been good. So I’m wondering why you avoid or don’t care for them or is that usually a genre that I suspect many women don’t care for , though the popularity suggests many women like them too. I never knew what guardians of the galaxy was, but it on dvd last year and it was good and funny moments. . .

    • I have watched a few and they bore me to death because it’s just a bunch of fighting. And you even know who is going to win so what’s the suspense? I saw WW last weekend I found it really moving. I’ll be writing more later.

  12. I was very curious after watching the movie this past weekend to see if there was any posts about it on this blog. Luckily there was! Without giving away any spoilers, I felt that the role Gal Gadot/Wonder Woman portrayed within the movie was one that was very needed and refreshing in the movie industry; especially when it comes to comic book/fantasy movies. She was empowering throughout the film with her attitude and personality. I found it hilarious during certain scenes that intentionally highlighted the patriarchal rule in our society; men and practically everyone around her except for herself doubted her wit and presence while she innocently did her own thing. Overall, if anyone has not seen this movie, I highly recommend it for not only its empowering symbolism but also its awesome portrayal of a great superhero.

  13. I think that the wonder woman movie showed us what a gender equal movie can really look like. Sure, Diana is the main character but there are plenty of interesting men around her, the movie isn’t arguing that women are better or more peaceful. It’s actually the opposite that they’re trying to say women are just as capable of violence and destruction as men. After I saw it my sister and I were talking about the structural similarities it had to the first captain America movie, the difference being the “captain” role is filled by Diana and the “Peggy Carter” role was filled by Steve Trevor. Though it is worth noting that Trevor did have a lot more involvement with the action than Carter did in her movie.

    • Yeah, the movie isn’t arguing that women are better or more peaceful.

      But what does the island without men represent? (It does happen to be an island without war.)

      So I think the fact that she is fighting Ares, whose symbol is the same as the symbol for “man” is telling. She is fighting against war.

      (I’m not sure if you are misunderstanding me or I am misunderstanding you.)

  14. I haven’t gotten the chance to see the movie yet but I am greatly looking forward to it. I think that Diana represents a great female character with versatile style and a strong character judging by the trailer. I Can’t wait to see the film and notice the humor that is probably going to be relevant to modern society and feminism.

    “Wonder Woman is in touch with her whole humanity. She is a whole person.”

    I think this captures the essence of Wonder Woman and what it portrays a strong female super hero to be and is a very accurate representation of a “whole person”.

  15. Katsuto Matsumoto

    I think that article was very interesting because I consider that it is a very special movie that main hero is a women which is in a hero movie. I like watching movies and watched a lot of movies, but not so much that kind of movies. I don’t think I’m a sexist, but I took notice that I made a bias that men is a strong, so they help people, on the other hand women is a weak so usually they are helped.

    • Well it’s no wonder that you have that bias since you grew up in a culture that makes it seem like women are weak. But movies like this give us an opportunity to rethink.

  16. Unfortunately, Hollywood blockbusters won’t save anyone, and neither will the apparently-universally-lacking NYT opinion columnists. (Although they might get us into another war.)

    I find it worrying that Bennett’s all-too-common strand of pseudofeminism seems to promote a cause with ill-defined enemies and goals, other than a vague jingoistic “feeling” that dovetails nicely into buying tickets to a $149 million-budget action flick. (And don’t forget the sequels. Or the merchandising, which often makes more than the movie itself.) To be fair, it also furthers Bennett’s “brand” as a NYT-type commentator.

    As worrying is that it seems to be mindblowingly self-unaware. Bennett touts people organizing a $7,000 GoFundMe to buy tickets to sit more girls through the blockbuster. Not organizing to further the cause of $15 minimum wage (two thirds of earners are women). Nor organizing to further the cause of tuition-free college that would mean those girls will be able to study whatever they want and actually realize themselves without incurring crippling debt. Nor organizing to protect and expand healthcare, the destroying of which means serious harm to tens millions of people, and exorbitant costs. Not to do something about environmental disaster that will destroy those girls’ planet. Nor to prevent nuclear war, which is a very real threat that isn’t talked about (precisely because people in the corporate media do such a poor job). To quote more interesting work of Orwell, which Bennett sophomorically quotes in her piece without sense of irony, “there are certain things that it simply wouldn’t do to say.”

    Not to prevent war, but to fall right into the patriarchal warrior mentality, and glorify of all things _physical strength_—the one thing men clearly have over women, and the one thing we really don’t need right now.

    Bennett’s Orwell quote is just sad; Prof. Platt’s Nazi context is fitting: this triumph of meaningless propaganda exploited to get conformity and distraction from real issues, where “freedom” is passively watching some superhero movie and herding together in some non-specific, confused state, surely has Goebbels, in his grave, turning and pooping his little Nazi pants in excitement and disbelief.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      Here is my response to you:

      Should progressives change the world through hate radio?

      When I cover “Activism” in my introductory course I contrast different activist paths. For instance, right-wingers are prone to hate radio. I warn against progressives doing the same thing.

      So what’s a progressive to do?

      One option– a powerful option–is storytelling.

      Storytelling can be done via art (Picasso’s Guernica — which reveals the horror behind war, a picture painting 1000 words) or the written word like, Nicholas Kristof column in the New York Times, a short story like “The Yellow Wallpaper” or a novel like “The Handmaid’s Tale” — the latter of which has also been reimagined as a TV series and a movie.

      Yes, a movie. Movies can be powerful. I know people who were homophobic before seen films like Philadelphia Story or Brokeback Mountain.

      I was shocked to learn that an action flick like Wonder Woman can have powerful effects, too.

      In hearing people’s personal experiences with Wonder Woman I was both shocked and confused by descriptions of it evoking tears during battle scenes or being “transformative.” That made absolutely no sense to me. But between these tellings and it’s mythical themes I decided to see it myself last weekend.

      Not everyone will shed tears or feel transformed. My husband didn’t. But I did.

      But my husband saw it with very different eyes than I did. I suspect that if you ever saw it you wouldn’t have any more profound response than my husband did.

      I will be writing on my experience of watching this film and post it either Wednesday or Friday, depending on when I get the writing done. Stay tuned.

      You can argue on abstract themes. But you can’t argue with people’s personal experiences of transformation.

      • I probably sounded different to what I meant.

        (And I hope that talk about “hate” isn’t about me… As a wise person once wrote to me, “you can’t argue with people’s personal experiences.” I have nothing but love for you, and even for Jessica Bennett. I _do_ hate injustice, and systems and dynamics that hurt people.)

        And I absolutely _can_ argue about strategy, which is what my comment was about. I think NYT columnists should be writing _very_ differently, and they absolutely constrain what they write about (probably mostly unconsciously) because of effects precisely described by Orwell (and apparently lost on Ms Bennett), and very much related to Nazi propaganda. That has measurable, objective outcomes (the direct flip side of the “power of movies”). Like my mentioned Iraq War.

        And I know action flicks can be potently inspirational. In my essay I mentioned Avatar and Aliens, and I _love_ T2, which I’m embarrassed to admit. (By the way those are all feminist movies, which I didn’t even notice until after loving them. And they also speak of environmentalism and nuclear war.) Your suspicion about the profundity of my response capacity is incorrect: I cried with Philadelphia, and cried with and loved Wild, as I mentioned, which is 100% a woman’s experience film.

        I might yet be moved by that Wondrous Woman™. And by your upcoming article.

        Let’s not make assumptions about each other’s experiences or motivations.

      • I didn’t see you as being hateful at all. Sorry for the confusion. 😦

        Sometimes a blog comment inspires a new blog post and your comment inspired me to write one — as I was writing my response to you — which I called (tentative title) “Should we change the world via hate radio?”

        But that particular point (hate radio) had nothing to do with you. It’s just that I was thinking about a lecture I do on how storytelling transforms lives and how that is one of the things I recommend my students do in terms of social action. And in the lecture I give it’s contrasted against hate radio.

        It was the storytelling of Wonder Woman — not anything about you — which I have never seen as at all hateful.

        Just wanting to spread love, not hate, to one and all. Including you.

  17. I wanted to say at first I question the woman picked as wonder woman. And knowing a woman was a director made it seem more puzzling. The reason being is because though Gal is tall, which an amazon as wonder woman would probably be tall. She looks like a model, so it seemed like a very stereotypical path going with her looks and very lean, slim build. And her being model thing, and a character like wonder woman, you want to feel has the muscle and mass to kick ass. A mean Victoria’s secret models are beautiful, but no one is feeling that they are going to kick anyone’s ass. Butt that’s why I said it was deceiving, because I learned that gal gadot was actually in the Israel military for three years or something and she knows hand to hand combat and trained weapon use. So knowing that, he is a bad ass and makes sense with her handling such scenes and makes the director look better and it makes sense for the choice after knowing that. I saw her on a talk show and she seems like such a charming, sweet, genuine lady too.

    • Well she does look much like Amazons are described as looking. And she looks like the cartoon character.

      I think all of the cartoon characters brought to the movie screen resemble the original character.

  18. I’ve been reading a bunch of good reviews about Wonder Women and it makes me very eager to watch it. It’s cool that Diana can have feminine and masculine characteristics. It sends a message to its viewers that it’s okay to be both. I also love the idea of unity Diana brings between men and women. It makes me feel so inspired to watch it.

  19. (Spoilers!)

    After we left the theatre, I immediately turned to one of my friends and said, “I think I have a new favorite superhero!” Diana is a strong female character who is actually, for once, a character.

    I remember when I first saw Iron Man 2 and was first introduced to Black Widow. She is a physically and mentally strong character, but she’s not the superhero role model I was looking for. Mostly because it’s very obvious that she was written by a man. In one Avengers movie (maybe the second?), Black Widow finally goes into her tragic backstory. She’s closed off and unemotional because she can’t have children. On one hand, it was the first time I had heard of female genital mutilation in a mainstream movie. I commend Marvel for talking about bringing up such a dark topic, although they didn’t talk about it much. Understandably for Marvel (owned by Disney), it was mostly implied. On the other hand, though, there could’ve been any number of better reasons for Black Widow to be the powerful, resourceful, and cunning character that she is. This backstory kind of implies that she is incomplete without the ability to have children; she is a strong warrior because that’s all she can be. Also, she’s a very masculine character. I’d prefer to see a strong female character with feminine traits, to show that femininity and strength are not mutually exclusive.

    That’s where Diana comes in. As you said, she’s masculine and feminine. She is constantly concerned with the wellbeing of others, and has incredibly strong social and emotional skills. Although she is an outsider and struggles to understand a world entirely new to her, she expresses her strong social skills by speaking her mind and confronting others when she sees fit. She demonstrates her emotional skills in every choice she makes throughout the movie. For example, she sees civilians suffering as they attempt to flee their hometown, and points that out to her group. The men, accustomed to this tragedy, tell her there’s nothing she can do and force her to move on. Instead, she decides to take on a seemingly impossible battle because she feels so strongly for these victims. Also, she is incredibly physically powerful. She is a warrior for the Amazons, and is constantly concerned with her ability to fight. When trying on new clothing, she rips her dresses trying to test her range of motion. Eventually, she ends up with a masculine outfit (the only outfit she felt she could fight in). Additionally, her masculine and feminine traits work together in her final battle. As with most action movies, the hero is pummeled to near defeat, but then they find a second wind (or third, fourth, etc.), and win the battle. Diana is able to find her second and third winds by channeling her emotion into her fight. When she is first devastated by Steve’s death, she allows her rage to take over. Ares is pleased to see her give in to anger, which probably says something about Ares as a representative of the patriarchy. Then, when she remembers Steve’s final words, she calms down. She uses her feelings of love and desire for peace to motivate her offensive attacks, and only then is she finally able to defeat Ares.

  20. I recently watched this movie and agree with everything you said in your blog post and how the movie empowers women without bringing men down. This film had great diversity on how it relates to feminism and how there can be good male figures in movies while still involving equality. This film is a great example of a film involving equality in both female and male perspectives.

  21. I haven’t seen the movie yet, which I know I will be seeing soon. But every woman I know who had come out of the movie DID feel a sense of empowerment that had never been felt before. All action/superhero movies that this world is used to revolves around strong men. The men always end up saving the women. However, with this movie, the roles switched. My friends had kept mentioning how weird it was for a women to be saving a man, because we never see such a thing! Its quite amazing seeing the way women feel coming out of this movie. Women are starting to know what it feels like to share the power.

    • And there is something else about it that I’m trying to put my finger on that makes it more empowering than other Women who play superheroes. Because I have seen women superheroes before without it having the same effect on me.

      More later.

  22. Yeah. I don’t believe that men are worse than women or more criminal inherently. I think that we train boys to be tough and disconnected from their emotions in a way that is harming to themselves and to others. Women are trained to be more passive and weak. It’s not inherent. It’s just that we could do better raising our girls and boys.”

    Yeah, I know you don’t, but it does seem a lot of people do, which includes perhaps many women. And while you say and believes feminists like you don’t believe that. There probably are regular feminists, not radical one’s who think men are inherently more violent too. True some can be from people anti-,men or maybe from misandrist women or one’s against men. But I don’t believe that has to be the case. I’m sure there are plenty of women who don’t feel men are horrible or worse like in the exaggerated way it is across the world. But who in a matter of fact way, believe men are biologically governed because of testosterone to be more violent or predisposed to it compared to women and it’s just a fact, that’s all. Which is still not good.

  23. Yeah. I don’t believe that men are worse than women or more criminal inherently. I think that we train boys to be tough and disconnected from their emotions in a way that is harming to themselves and to others. Women are trained to be more passive and weak. It’s not inherent. It’s just that we could do better raising our girls and boys.”

    I wanted to add this, because my mind contemplated such world or if that happened hypothetically. I know it seems funny since it’s a fake scenario, but it’s natural to be curious about how different things could play out. I changed my mind a little or if there is a scenario where women (only women world, and say able to reproduce and stay reproducing from being able to copy or clone sperm in a lab) could be violent or not that different from how things are generally around the earth. I believe if there was something that could set up cultures to be hierarchal even if just only women left on earth and not simply from moving forward with the hierarchal cultures in place, because that could be reversed to matriarchal by women unless situations bring out reasons for keeping a hierarchal culture or moving to it by women. What made me think what could cause this even if there was a world with only women is “work assignment”..

    Fact of the matter in order for an economy and things to run properly, you have to have people working all types of jobs, not just the normal or prestigious ones, but the thankless, dangerous, dirty, nasty, grunt work jobs. In our society the majority of these jobs are done by men, not necessarily because of sexism some could, but for some jobs it’s logical for women to not want to do and men better suited. Jobs where muscle and strength are very beneficary and for the most efficency. The grunt work. Yes I know there are women who work on farms. But I’m talking about jobs that people might not think about, but important. For example, sewage treatment or having to do down in a sewer and some gross work. Coal miners, dirty, bad breathing and very dangerous. That’s almost all men for that occupation.

    Ever see the show dirty jobs?. It’s all the grunt work, heavy lifting, dirty, dangerous jobs needed to be done to keep things moving. Roads have to be paved, sewers have to be handled, coals mined,, you name it. So I think about that. Like I’m a man and I sure as hell don’t want to and glad I’m not doing these jobs. I’m pretty sure if men were gone, or it happened in a short span. There would be a great reluctance for doing the jobs nobody wants to do pretty much but has to do. This isn’t a situation women have to deal with because men primarily or majority do these jobs, because men are more expendable and stronger and makes sense. Therefore since these undesirable jobs would have to be done, I wonder if and could imagine these jobs set or the only or main way for women to make a living or income who are coming from a poor upbringing. I could see class-ism with the designation of jobs in accordance to women, which would be a creation of hierarchal set up and things go from there.

    • Guess it depends on culture. Wouldn’t need them in forager societies– our earliest societies. And tech may take nearly all future jobs. We’ll have to have a basic income for all with some incentives to take needed jobs.

      • Well I’m taking about like industrial civilizations. The basic third world countries are very primal. And also makes partnership culture easier it seems in a small society. It seems it can get tricky when it’s broad and economy and technology to it. And yes that’s true with technology, but I’m talking about before that. This technology change isn’t gonna happen until like 50 years from now. So like before then, say hypothetically 5 years from bye there was a malfunction with the Y chromosome causing men to die off and births being all female but sperm could be cloned in a lab.

        If that was a case then it could set up s classism for reasons I explained with job assignments and perhaps cause a divide with wealth and power amongst women and privileged nice jobs and living and shitty jobs and living and hostility and violence that could come from that or conflicts.

      • Still, the most partnership cultures in the world, Those of Scandinavia, Have the happiest people. We certainly have the possibility of moving toward partnership.

  24. Still, the most partnership cultures in the world, Those of Scandinavia, Have the happiest people. We certainly have the possibility of moving toward partnership.”

    Just saying, how that’s where I could see that being possible. Though women might express frustration differrently than men. Well people were happier in sweden until recent times. If things keep up the happiness will change because women will be sex objects like other more patriarchal cultures which will increase rape and leering and such. Which has already increased in sweden and if the other countries don’t learn from what was done wrong it could be the same situation. The swedish men with progressive values and from that culture helped set it up where women can topless sun bath and other stuff and not bothered, but I read there’s been less of that since foreign men not assimilating have made women uncomfortable.

    • Very important for Sweden to keep its egalitarian values.

      Domination cultures tend to be horrible places to live, which is why people constantly try to escape them. But if you take your domination values and inject them into the new egalitarian culture you only create what you fled.

      • Yeah but it doesn’t matter about their values if the foreign men coming in don’t assimilate, or respect these values. My views is the country has to have a “you’re going to assimilate to our values or get out”. Nobody wants to go that route, but you don’t want to see progressive country revert because the liberal officials were too scared to get tough when it might be necessary. Just like in life there’a balance. When you’re too “nice” you can get exploited or pushed over and people know that.

      • Well I know that Sweden is now trying to make sure that immigrants assimilate to their values. Shall see how successful they are.

  25. When I saw this article, it had immediately caught my attention.My little sister kept talking about a movie called Brave. I had heard of it and seen it on many commercials, but never bothered to watch it. After reading this blog however, it peaked my interest. My curiosity got the best of me and I decided to watch the movie, pulling my husband along with me. While watching the movie, I payed close attention to the relationship between Merida and her mother. I also took mental notes on how Merida (symbolizing women) was being forced to act a certain way, dress a certain way, and even forced into finding a husband. Merida has courage. Enough courage to go up against three princes in order to win her own hand and not have to marry one of them. She defies her mother’s rules causing a strain in their relationship. As we see in the movie, after the queen dressed her dughter in a very tight corset, for a split second, seemed regretful. She saw how unhappy her daughter was, but she chose to push that feeling away. Knowing of their female duties. Today, as some women try to rise above the stereotypes and confinements, other women try to put them down.

  26. I don’t get the point is men seeing film as a flop? Maybe because there’s hardly and guys init lmaoo. I thinks it’s about time we have a strong bad ass action female star in films. Little girls need something to look up to not to inspire to be a sidekick like female action heros usualy are. I liked this article a lot. Because they’re no other films out there like this one. Really really makes me want to watch it now, because I was hesitant. Knowing she’s about uniting women and men and all this paradise without men would do great to me ha. I like other movies that have great strong female leaders. Like Brave, Mulan obvi, and others like princess and the frog where the prince falls in love with her and supports her,

    • Me too. There are increasingly empowering films for women. For some reason this one hit me in a way that none of the rest have. I wonder if that’s why it has gotten more pushback from some patriarchal men.

  27. The scene from Wonder Woman which i think best shows the idea of “power with” rather than “power over” is when Wonder Woman is in the trenches with the British forces. She asks why they are sitting in the trenches when the enemy is a couple hundred yards away, across no-mans-land. Without hesitation, she goes over the top of the trench and runs at the German forces. Everyone in the trenches then follows her out. The movie, although a superhero film, focuses more on Wonder woman taking her ideals that come from the amazons and placing those ideals on the rest of the world. She is not like other superheroes which save the day all by themselves. She is able to unite all the good in the world that is already around her and use that to defeat the evil that is trying to take over the world. It is a very refreshing view of the world from the perspective of how we should come together in order to defeat evil rather than wait for one person to come and free us from oppression.

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