Be Wonder Woman — Your Way

Wonder Woman (2017)

Why would watching warriors prepare for battle evoke tears of deep emotion?

How could a cartoon character be transformative?

I puzzled over those questions when friends and movie reviewers, alike, shared their experience of Wonder Woman.

It made no sense.

I’ve seen plenty of battles and felt mostly bored: chaotic fighting, and you know who will win anyway.

Wonder Woman is transformative?! I read her comics as a kid… no transformation.

Curious, I went to see the film.

And… as Amazon warrior women practiced their skills tears well up.


I hope no one sees me crying.

I feel ridiculous and embarrassed. Yet oddly moved.

The films ends with powerful blasts of Wonder Woman.

I feel strangely powerful — more powerful than I’ve ever felt.

And tears well again.

What happened?

I’ve been puzzled by my reaction ever since.

The tears came as the warriors moved into slow motion.

Did the pause slow my mind and make me see something that nonstop fighting would have hidden?

In the slow-mo shots I saw strength, power, confidence, capability and grace.

I saw it all against a world that calls women — my kind — the weaker sex, the second sex, bitches and hoes. A world where reactionary forces fight to keep women slut-shamed, barefoot, pregnant and dependent.

Strength, power, confidence, capability and grace. Women who know who they are.

We are so much more than we know.

I’m reminded of a quote by Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.

These women own their power.

I doubt I’ll be lifting war tanks anytime soon. But I saw confidence and power in myself and my kind that I had not seen before.

The message?

Be Wonder Woman — your way.

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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 14, 2017, in feminism, psychology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. Last year, when I was sitting in the theatre watching Wonder Woman 1984, my husband did not come with me. I watched the movie alone, and there were only three people in the theatre because of the covid pandemic. It is the first time I have watched a film about a heroine by myself. The beginning of the movie was very touching. I saw the weakness and strength of women at the same time in young Diana. The power of women, the determination of women to win, and women’s endurance make me think that if women do not need to have children and have the same physical strength as men, what are the essential differences between women and men? We are no different. There are so few movies about heroines that I feel very moved when I see the image of the heroine. But when I watched movies about male heroes, I didn’t feel this kind of excitement. Because they are so common, and I think our films still need more heroines in this era. Whether in film or real life, the power of women should be seen.

    • For some reason wonder woman movies are the only ones that move me. I’ve seen other movies with female leads like black widow, but there’s just something about wonder woman that touches me in a way that others don’t.

  2. I couldn’t agree more about the feelings expressed in this post. I remember feeling so empowered and confident after watching Wonder Woman in theaters. All those women portrayed in the film and in the battle scene were undoubtedly confident in their abilities and opinions with no fear of judgement. This movie gave us females so much hope. The reason watching this movie brings up so many emotions is because it’s like watching women in a new light. It is rare to see women being represented as soldiers, strong and brave, and to see this on the big screen was a truly significant moment. This is how I have wanted to see women presented on screen for the longest time, not just for the accompaniment of a man or for show. Additionally, seeing not only one woman as a soldier, but an army of women soldiers was moving. This is unheard of and to see it visually was amazing.

  3. I’ve been fortunate to view the film Wonder Woman twice in theatres, and what I found so refreshing about the motion picture was how powerful and graceful they showed the protagonist to be. Reflecting in retrospect, I suppose what makes this film so atypical is how it’s normalized for us as a society to see males take on these roles. These roles being the typical brave protagonist who experiences the formulaic hero’s cycle throughout the film. Take for example Luke Skywalker or Superman; they hear the hero’s calling, receive the training or life lessons they need and finally defeat the boss in the end. In both of these films, women are regulated to the role of the damsel in distress. And in the typical Hollywood production, the women must absolutely fit the ‘accepted’ standards of beauty.
    Although the film Wonder Woman does indeed follow the typical hero’s cycle, I think the fact that they tastefully showed a woman conquering these stations in the hero’s cycle that makes us as viewers recognize her awesomeness in its entirety. We’ve been so conditioned to accept the typical male heroin in superhero films; when a female is leading and dominating in almost all scenes, it jolts our consciousness into recognizing the anomaly.
    As Wonder Woman’s character progresses throughout the film she learns to recognize her weaknesses and works to grow from her experiences. This, I feel is what makes the film thematically so great. It humanizes her and shows that she isn’t without flaws. But to be able to see her spiritually grow as she takes on ‘man’s war’ shows us as viewers how we can all prove to be confident, strong and graceful in our own way.

  4. I really like the wonder women movie. I think that the actress, Gal Gadot, acts very well and is a perfect cast for wonder women. Not only does she can show how graceful, powerful and determined women can be, but she also raises a bar that even if you are women, you can pursue your goals in a world with patriarchy in place. However, I do think that the plot for this movie is not well constructed. I am not able to find the relationship between the god of war and the modern world. I do think they need to improve the storyline for this movie though. I know that seeing women as a main character and male as a supporting character is something new for people. Some may not support this idea, but I am totally fine with it. I even think that it is better this way. At least, we do not have the same old boring kind of movie dominated by males alone.

  5. Sarah Leverton

    I had a very similar experience as you when I saw Wonder Woman in theaters. When it was announced that DC would be releasing a Wonder Woman movie I was immediately excited and at the same time apprehensive. Wonder Woman is a strong female superhero I resonate with from my childhood, so I was excited to see her on the big screen. Yet, I was apprehensive they would transform her from the strong Amazonian women to society’s stereotypical female image as the “weaker sex.” While I don’t think they got it perfect, I definitely walked away with the same feeling as you. “I feel strangely powerful — more powerful than I’ve ever felt.” As I watched the movie unfold, I saw Amazon warrior women taking care of themselves and each other, not needing men. I found it beautiful to see them work together and love each other, not competing against each other for attention or tearing each other down, something I think society teaches us to do. In Wonder Woman’s character, they showed that women could be pretty, strong, loving, nurturing, a leader and emotional all in one. It doesn’t have to be one or the other; we are complex individuals with many characteristics. I have noticed that slowly more movie, and tv show stories are being centered around a strong lead female character(s). In addition to Wonder Woman, Katniss in Hunger Games, Rey in Star Wars the Force Awakens, several women in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, several women in the HBO Series Big Little Lies, just to name a few. They are portrayed as women in stressful or dire situations standing against the odds and overcoming them through their own merits. Seeing these being released and being successful makes me happy and hopeful. The entertainment industry tends to mimic what is happening in society, so for me, I see this influx of strong female characters as evidence that the real world’s image and expectation of women are shifting in the right direction. We still have a long way to go though, and we can’t give up.

    • I’m glad to see all of these strong women in the media. I’ve been watching Homeland and they have a woman president elect.

      I hope that this will have an effect on us such that we won’t put up with attempts to limit women’s rights, as the right wing has been trying to sneak in for years now. And now with control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court… Scary. We really need role models like Wonder Woman, and the empowering effect she has on our brains.

  6. Deborah Prock

    I have not seen the movie Wonder Woman but I did grow up watching Linda Carter play her and reading the comics of Wonder Woman. I also love the movies that I saw with Amazon women when I was young. I loved that these women were strong and proud of that strength. I have always admired strong women while at the same time I was always jealous of them. I came from a poor family life as a child and it took me awhile to realize that I have had that strength inside of me for all these years. By then it was too late to change my past. So, I did the next best thing. I could make my future my strength by being strong myself and raise my 2 daughters to be strong women. This way they won’t make the same mistakes that I did and they will carry my legacy on. What more can you ask for.

  7. I had a similar experience when I went to watch Wonder Woman — twice because it was that good. It wasn’t what I expected since you usually see women through the male gaze in movies. When you realize there’s a woman behind the camera, so many things make more sense. There are no lingering shots on the women’s bodies, they aren’t overtly sexualized, even the male characters are supportive and do not feel the need to show their masculinity when Diana does something heroic. Instead, they support her and act as her backup.

    It is not often we see a woman who is unapologetic about her strength and still innocent. The fact that they spent so much time showing us her home, with all the strong women, made me like the movie even more. We are not used to seeing such strong women, especially so many of them in one movie, and I couldn’t have been happier for the children who are going to grow up with such an amazing role model.

    • Yeah I have wondered if the reason the movie had such a big impact on me was partly because we learn so much about her as a person. And that helps to keep from objectifying her too.

  8. Another important thing about Wonder Woman that I believe is worth mentioning is the fact that the movie seemed to be free from the kind of male gaze that often permeates films about female heroines or female superheroes. There is an utter lack of the types of qualities and images that often worm their way into movies about women (especially when those movies are directed by men) – things like unrealistic armor, unrealistic body types, unnecessarily sexual attire or dialogue, voyeuristic film sequences, and a female dependent on a male character to save her. I believe I can attribute this to the film’s female director, Patty Jenkins. One of the reasons that a female viewer may have been moved to tears is because seeing how powerful woman van be when free from the confines of a male society, displayed in a manner free from the male gaze – it forces you to see how if movies depicted women in a more natural, realistic way, you could view yourself and other women in a completely different light. The direction of this film allows women to see and love themselves the way you are, and to encourage other women to do the same. It also shows everyone (especially men) that in real life, women are not props, or sidekicks, or damsels in distress, or victims waiting for a stronger, more well-developed main character to show up and move the plot along. Women have more depth and value than that, and it’s about time that a movie highlighted that fact instead of trying to capitalize on women and their sexuality instead.

    Also, frankly? Wonder Woman was a heck of a lot better a film than Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice – in terms of plot, character development, cinematography, flow, dialogue, and sheer ability to keep the audience captivated. In fact, I loved it so much I’ve watched it in theaters twice! 🙂

  9. I had been nervously anticipating the release of Wonder Woman. I’m not a comic book person at all but I am very interested in the visibility of women in powerful and leading roles. After Ghostbusters released the all women remake last year, I kept hearing snickering comments from upset men who didn’t think it was a proper remake. A day before I saw Wonder Woman, I happened to be the only women in a comic book store, full of men discussing the movie. Although, I tried to ignore it, it was awkward. The comic book worker kept repeating that it definitely wasn’t the best DC movie and that had ever been made and that he had made the mistake of telling the wrong people that and that now he looked like a woman-hater. I quietly thought of all the things I could say and how this conversation would have gone a lot different, had there not been a woman in the store.
    The thing is, the issue isn’t whether or not this the best comic book movie ever made. It’s a stepping stone in the mainstreaming of strong women in leading roles; the visibility of women outside of a happy homemaker role that still exists and that flood little girls eyes. Growing up in the 90’s, women were side characters, princess, villains or little girls. I also teared up seeing these women warriors. They were huge and powerful. I thought of all the little girls who would see this and how it would affect their self-image and possibilities growing up. I admit that I was a little jealous that I hadn’t had this growing up. I watched comic book cartoons growing up and the women were extremely sexualized, seductive evil teases, or sidekicks. It may sound like I’m over reacting about women’s continued roles in the media, but after all, Wonder Woman was introduced to D.C. comics as their secretary who stayed behind during battle to answer the phones. Need more proof? That morning I had turned on my gameboy and played a Super Mario Bros. game, the intro to the game’s story was a letter from Princess Peach, “Dear Mario, Please come to the castle. I’ve a baked a cake for you.”

  10. Society has taught women that our power is unattractive, that only men should have power and strength. Wonder Woman is a movie I wish I had growing up because it would have taught me to never feel ashamed of being strong and confident. Us, women, have been oppressed, and this movie is the first step in altering social norms so that little girls can find power in strength physically and mentally.

  11. Araceli Toscano-Hernandez

    I went to the movie theaters and watched Bay watch and Pirates of the Caribbean before I decided to watch Wonder woman. Why? Simply because I was tired of seeing a sexy woman hero with her only power being her sex appeal.

    I was utterly shocked.

    This movie was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, the unity in these women and the strength they portrayed gave me the chills. Wonder woman was strong, funny, and her love for the human race regardless of what they had done to her family, to me showed strength and perseverance.

    She fought for what she thought was just and didn’t let anyone stop her.

    Perhaps I fell in love with the movie because she is the woman I have always looked for in the history books, but never found. She is the woman that lives within all of us and if we unite the way the amazons did, then it will be impossible for men and women alike, to oppress us.

  12. I have not watched this movie yet, however I do understand your logic to this. As I have watched women power movies I feel a strange feeling of being empowered even though I am not physically, mentally, or emotionally strong. I lived through their experience and felt like I was living that experience as well. From a short amount of time after watching a movie I felt like I can be a women like the one in the movie. Independent, strong, sexy, and brave all things that I wasn’t before but I felt because of watching the movie. I know I was nothing like the character but I knew I can be my own independent, strong, sexy, brave women. Each of these characteristics can be my own and little by little as I gain confidence it can grow. But I did not have to be just like the character just to experience and feel like her. How you have described the movie makes me want to watch it just to feel the emotions you have felt through this movie, just to feel the sense of strength, power, confidence, capability, and grace.

  13. Siddharth bhati

    I have read your blogs, though I’m a man but can still sense how much good work you are doing for the women out here. Keep it up 🙂

  14. When I think of warriors preparing for battle it can evoke tears of deep emotion for several reasons. For starters, saying goodbye to your loved ones is often emotionally taxing. Relationships are put on hold and that deep longing they will feel over their separation sets in. Separation is not only taxing for loving couples but also family units, it evokes deep emotion in me when I think of children being torn from their parents and not knowing really if they will return or when.

    Next, I think about different types of warriors going into battle, the ones you see in the real world every day life getting ready to fight for their lives as they receive the tearful news they have cancer. In that moment, they mentally have to wrap their heads around the fact that they are going to have to fight the battle of their lives if they want to survive and be with their loved ones. We also call these people “warriors” because they also are battling for their lives and the people around them are also affected similarly only that they get to see the process which can be equally as emotionally depleting for families. Millions of families are affected by this reality every day and cancer has become the war we fight directly or indirectly but emotionally affected in some way or another at some point in one’s life as we still have not found a peaceful cure.

    Wonder Women is transformative because she is victorious and inspiring to all who have a battle they are fighting in their everyday lives. Whether it is cancer, being separated from loved ones, trying to move up the ladder of a patriarchal society, breaking a glass ceiling, feeling invisible and unheard (as most women feel in everyday situations) she reminds us that we are strong and we need to keep on fighting.

      • Yes inspiration can definitely bring tears to people’s eyes. Nice post by melissa. There must be something deeply psychological or metaphorical to why people cling to super heroes. I think about this, like what super hero movies are so popular. There are so many movies and you’d think they’d be redundant, but people still like them and there’s that demand and I think it’s because something is tapped into with our psyche. The fact that super heroes have been popular with comics and cartoons for a long time and such history especially in America. I think it’s because they represent “hope” and abilities beyond our human limitations and struggles. That dream and fantasy of going beyond your limits and being able to help humanity. Yeah it would seem cool to be a super hero or have the abilities just for how cool it is.

        But I think of all the cruelty and violence and corruption and unfortunately there is so much tragedy. But it’s not because people don’t care, but there’s a helplessness like in regards to ISIS. None of these are quick fixes and do battle such stuff is very dangerous. But then the question becomes, if you could be a super hero, would you do it or want to become one even if it meant taking on the burden of humanity? Being expected to save the day constantly or that pressure? I would still do it, but my way of handling things would not handle every little crime but expose the corruption behind the scenes nobody sees. To fix problems you have to break the divide, liberals, conservatives where it seems the top 1 percent are using distraction tactics, creating war to make $ and more conflicts to help themselves and further hurt others. But things brought up to have people think others are the enemy and voting against their own interests and fightings against others with different beliefs.

      • “There must be something deeply psychological or metaphorical to why people cling to super heroes. I think about this, like what super hero movies are so popular. There are so many movies and you’d think they’d be redundant, but people still like them and there’s that demand and I think it’s because something is tapped into with our psyche. ”

        I guess so. And I’ve never had the experience of being able to identify with the superhero before this movie.

  15. This is another take on Wonder Woman that is well worth reading.

  16. I definitely teared up too, was very moved by it, and hated feeling that way, that it meant that this was a milestone, and depressed that this should be a milestone, but hopeful too that this just opens the gates for more.

  17. Tanya Hanhauser

    I have been waiting for this movie to come out since the moment I sat in the theatre watching the slightly less awesome Batman Vs Superman. I grew up with Linda Carter as my wonder-woman, and also soaked up as much wonder-woman comics as I could online, at the library, local comic shops. Wonder Woman has always been such an inspiration for myself growing up as a tomboy surrounded by girly girls. These comics show sides to wonder woman that changed who I was as a person and I’ll add links to some of my favorites at the bottom of this response. As for the new movie, I was floored by the scene of amazons vs germans, the skill and ferocity grabbed my heart and solidified how strong women can be. There is a scene later that should be addressed as well, Wonder Woman charging into no man’s land because she wasn’t gonna waste time. She was ready to take on a barrage of bullets and explosives because she had to save lives. She wasn’t going to cower away from danger when she knew she had to do what’s right. This movie made me feel so strong and ready to take on all the obstacles that had previously weighed me down. I

    Some Wonder woman Comic pieces that I adore:(Hopefully the links continue to work!)

    Gay Marriage –

    Animal Poaching –

  18. The movie Wonder Woman, or even watching films like the Avengers or X men, where women are active roles as well makes us women feel powerful for some reason. Even though the film is incredibly unrealistic, we cannot use our forearms to shield bullets or climb up a 20 story building, but for some reason seeing a woman character do it lights a fire in myself. I think this is because I imagine myself in her shoes. I see myself as one who can do anything. When I see other women such as Wonder Woman do incredible things, it makes me want to do incredible things as well.

    • One movie reviewer said, “No wonder men have so much confidence!” given how many superhero movies there are.

      • True, but also why many men perhaps act that way, but it’s a facade. And why so many men either commit suicide or do dangerous stupid things, because they feel they have to live up to these masculine super hero ideals too. So it cuts both ways unfortunately.

      • I can totally see how it could work both ways. Men feeling empowered by the superheroes. Or feeling inadequate by comparison. And then doing dumb stuff to prove something.

        I think it’s partly because for men it’s so common that it’s become an expectation they feel they have to live up to. For women it’s a new way of seeing that they haven’t thought of before. They live in a world of low expectations for themselves — and then this opens their eyes.

  19. I definitely can relate although I didn’t feel teary but rather felt very empowered! I’ve watched the cartoons and didn’t really like it but when I heard and saw the preview for wonder woman I felt the need to watch it. I couldn’t wait to watch and after watching it I felt so empowered in a way. I feel that most movies always have guys as the heroes but with this movie is actually a woman and especially the amazon women standing together and fighting side by side, I felt in a way this made me feel powerful and connected it to our society today. I feel that if we women stand together and fight side by side we’d be able to change some things here in our society.

  20. Another excellent post, and moving. It reminds me of the time some years ago when I discovered my unknown soft spot–with music.

    I was listening to music as I was typing on the computer when Karen Marie Garrett’s “Tally’s Lullaby” began playing. I’ve always enjoyed music, especially soothing music, but was never overly fond of piano music. Yet this song, accompanied by a cello (which I’ve always liked), was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes.

    It was stunning to me even as tears rolled down my cheeks. I recall laughing at myself, but kept crying. It was the only song that ever affected me that way. I ordered the album in which the song was recorded, but for a few weeks, I couldn’t play it without reviving the emotion.

    It may not have that effect on you, but I think you will like it.

    • That is lovely. Sometimes it’s obvious to me why I’ve become emotional and other times not so much. And then it’s interesting to try to figure out why the emotional reaction? Hopefully we learn something from our reactions.

  21. Even boys can be Wonder Woman… Loved the linked article on BBC!!!

  22. When watching the Wonder Women movie and seeing the Amazon Warriors fight against the German men on the beach I too was in awe as they fought. I remember thinking “Dang these are some bad-ass women” and loving that they were so strong, courageous, and confident. Females are too often portrayed in such a domestic way that this was a great change in pace, partially because yes it is Wonder Woman, she is a superhero so of course she is going to be just as strong if not stronger than her male counterparts in the movie. But after the movie was finished I told my friends “Hell yeah, girl power, she was such a bad-ass it was awesome” and they agreed (both the females and males). But all women can be some sort of form of Wonder Woman in their own way and they should, embrace the strong, confident, and courageous side of themselves.

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