“A Woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
“I just want to say to women, ‘Be yourself – it’s the inner beauty that counts. You are your own best friend, the key to your own happiness, and as soon as you understand that – and it takes a few heartbreaks – you can be happy.’” ~ Cherie Lunghi
“No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men.” ~ Muhammad Ali Jinnah
My husband and I went to see Wonder Woman this past weekend. It’s been out three weeks, so we thought the theatre might be fairly empty since we go to the movie on a Sunday mornings when most people are in church. However, this time the theatre was almost completely full. Granted it was Father’s Day, but I think the crowd had more to do with the movie, than the holiday.
There are movies that I like because they are good fun, or they have a message that makes you feel good after you’ve seen it. Then there are movies that have universal themes, ones that goe beyond the special effects, the story and characters. Wonder Woman is that kind of movie. I’d like to tell you why I think so.
But first I have to share a bit of serendipity. I’m doing research for the sequel novel to The Space Between Time. Both Jenna in the present and Morgan in the past, are fighting for women’s rights. Because of the complex themes, I’ve been doing some research. The book I’m currently reading is A Brief History of Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice. by Jack Holland. I had just started reading the book the day before going to see Wonder Woman. The section I was reading was about what the author thought were the origins of misogyny. He says in the Western world it was ancient Greece, in the eighth century BC when the writer Hesiod wrote a poem about Pandora. In the poem he states that man was created before women, sound familiar and against nature, and that men were completely happy until Zeus decides to punish man for complicated reasons which involve Prometheus sharing the secret of fire with them. I’ll interrupt myself here to state, I’ve never liked most of the Greek gods, especially Zeus. To me he displays the worst of male qualities. But to continue, Zeus creates women as a temping but evil thing to punish man for having the gall to think they deserved better than to live like wild animals. Pandora is beautiful, but evil as she is the one who opens the box that unleashes evil into the world. I always thought that the hidden theme to that story was that man messed up the world and not wanting to take the blame, created the story about Pandora. “Yes, let’s blame women for the evil in the world.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, woman can be just as evil as men. In fact, in the movie there is an evil woman, Dr. Maru, who creates mustard gas. (In reality is was created by a colleague of Albert Einstein.) But, she’s a wounded woman. Her face has been disfigured, we don’t know how or by whom. Later we discover that the inspiration for the mustard gas formula was whispered to her by Ares, the real antagonist of the story.
The mythology of the movie doesn’t mention Pandora, what it does do is show us a community of confident, strong, capable, intelligent, compassionate women who live together in peace. They don’t always agree, but when they don’t they listen to each other, discuss and work things out.
When Steve Trevor arrives followed by German WW I seamen, they fight and defeat the men, but though they acknowledge the help Steve gave during the battle, they also use the lasso to get to the truth of the situation from him. It seems that they don’t hate men, but they’ve had enough experience to know that they need to be wary. So the old, battle of the sexes theme is a part of the movie, but the way Steve and Diana relate to each other is not combative.
That’s another thing I love about the movie. It shows the way women are treated without beating the audience over the head with it. The island of Themyscira, where the Amazons live, is hidden from the world in which the rest of humanity lives. So, when Diana decides to go with Steve back to his world to find and defeat Ares, god of war, she is puzzled by the way the men treat her. They ignore her advice about battle plans, they treat her as if she’s invisible. They talk over her and tell her she can’t be involved in their plans.
And there is the central relationship between Diana and Steve Trevor. She asks him questions about the way things work in his world that he has trouble answering. Her questions make him think in a new way. He sees her battle skills, but has been indoctrinated that women are to be protected. At one point he says to her, “I can’t let you do this,” to which she replies, “What I do is not up to you.” They also have discussions about honor, and doing the right thing. Both have a strong desire to make the world a better place. At one point Steve says, “My father said, ‘When you see there’s something wrong with the world, you can do nothing or something.’ And I’ve already tried nothing, so I’m doing something.” At another point Diana says, “I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.” Because they share similar values, they find a deep connection with each other.
I know that in the recent past there have been lots of strong women characters on TV, in movies, and books. They’re not all perfect, they have flaws but most of them have a strong honor code. Love is extremely important to them. That’s a good thing. We need strong women role models. I hope to see more of this kind of entertainment. Not all strong women need to be warriors like Diana, but they do need to stand up for themselves and for what’s right.
Once at a Comicon conference, Joss Whedon, who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and other stories with fascinating women, was asked why he wrote such strong women characters. His answer says it all, “Because you’re still asking me that question.” We have a long way to go before men and women enjoy equality.
If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman I highly recommend it because it says that hope and love are what will save our future.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a paranormal, historical, time travel novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and at most other fine ebook stores. It will soon be available for kindle and print-on-demand on Amazon.