Why My Sons Need Wonder Woman

I finally managed to get to the theatre and check out the new Wonder Woman movie. And boy did I love it. I’m sure there are many people out there ripping it apart for one reason or another (as there always are), but I found it very refreshing, as far as action movies go. I hope there are more films like this coming down the line for me to share with my kiddos as they get older, because boys as well as girls need stories like this:

(VERY MINOR SPOILERS BELOW!)

They need stories where a female lead is unapologetic about the flaws others perceive in her. Diana is naive and ignorant in some ways, but she doesn’t second-guess herself as a result of these gaps in knowledge. She trusts in her principles and skills, even in a world where many try to quiet her and corral her into the norms of ladylike behaviour. When she does question her principles, it’s due to a truly traumatic experience, not the simple pressures of the mainstream society around her. I want my sons to see women and girls as people who have every right to be as self-confident as their male peers – in short, who question themselves when circumstances warrant it, not at the whims of others.

They need stories where environments full of danger and men do not automatically infer the possibility of rape on any woman found in the space. I realized halfway through the film why it felt so different to me, and why it was so empowering – I was simply not afraid that Diana would be raped. In nearly every action movie I’ve seen with a female character, even as a strong lead, the threat of rape is imminent at some point, if not throughout most of, the film. Rape is far too often the main vibe between a woman and her enemies in such stories; even if the lead woman has guns, weapons-training, and brute strength, the possibility is still usually there. The mountain of relief I felt when I realized I did not have to fear this for Diana was, ironically, unsettling: it says so much about gendered violence in media and society that in order for me to feel secure in a female character’s safety, she needs to be literally superhuman, a goddess. I want my boys to experience more narratives where sexual violence is not the default threat against any person with a vagina, and this film was a beautiful respite for that.

wonder woman action

They need stories where a woman is seen as a leader by the men around her, and where they recognize her brilliance and give her due credit for her accomplishments. When Diana crosses no man’s land, soldiers follow in her wake; once they see her capabilities, none of them question her lead. There is one particularly glorious moment in the heat of battle where Steve embraces his supporting role and puts all his energy into orchestrating a move he knows only Diana can make (“Shield!”). Diana may be humble and share credit for saving many lives with her companions, but Steve, the other soldiers, and the civilians all understand and revere her contributions. I want my boys to see men being genuinely appreciative of the talents, gifts, and leadership abilities that the women around them have.

So if you have boys that are old enough for action movies, take them to see Wonder Woman. If yours are too little yet, add it to your list of the “old” movies you’re going to make them watch when they’re ready – I know this one will be on mine.

wonder-woman-final-poster

 

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1 Comment

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