I Wonder. Woman?
I was invited to see the new movie release Wonder Woman last weekend. Admittedly I have dabbled in having favorites in the superhero genre. The movie started at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. I worked until 5:00 but I told myself I would go to the gym and then rush home to shower so that I could make it. I pulled into my driveway about eight minutes late of what would have been ideal to make the transformation. What did I do? I parked my car in the garage and shut the door.
“What about the movie?” my Dad asked.
“I’m late. Too hard to make it.”
My dad glanced at the clock and shrugged, knowing that arriving on time was not completely impossible.
I sank into the couch with a bowl of cereal. Had I wanted to go to the movie at all? I watched the romantic comedy television series “Lois and Clark” when I was in high school and I shared television privileges with my brother so I also viewed my share of X-Men. Interest wasn’t out of the question. Still, upon further reflection, the reality was that I had never followed up on the invitation, never indicated that I really wanted to go but might be late, nor asked how I might find the group if I was late. I had not laid any ground work at all. Why? Women I respect idolize the Wonder Woman character. I was familiar with the feminist undertones of the character’s creation and her journey back to reclaim that beginning. Even after the reviews in the paper and “likes” on Facebook, why was I not ecstatic to see this movie? My hesitation felt a bit like the conversation held around why women should or shouldn’t have backed Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid (something I did) because she was a woman.
I wondered and wondered and wondered. But when I decided to post this, it was because of just that. That is the problem after all, the “wonder” part. It makes her unreal and the exception instead of the many unnamed just as worthy. Wonder Woman is an Amazon with supernatural powers and magical weapons. I don’t know anyone with those things. What exactly is Wonder Woman’s struggle? She can fight sure, but so can the Dr. Temperance Brennan character on bones. When Wonder Woman fights, she knows she can win. The characters in several of the books listed below, both historical and fictional, don’t win battles. They just take punches hoping that the next one won’t cause fatal damage.
I might rent the movie at some point, but I couldn’t make the extra effort on a Friday night to join in a cinematic celebration billed as an achievement. "Here. You have your female superhero. Stop complaining," someone was saying. Wonder Woman feels like a conciliation prize, not a victory. Only real women can achieve those. Real people. Real living creatures with force of will. The book list for this summer’s reading is selected based upon that constant interrogation of assumption, but not by groups, by the individuals themselves. Am I? Am I not? The strength of the weave in these narratives is its own Lasso of Truth.
THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
I am White. But I lived in Guatemala for ten years, and I connect to Star’s description of how restricting it is to not live as your whole self in equal parts in front of each of the audiences in your life.
COYOTE AMERICA by Dan Flores
I am Human(e). But I live in a rural place, and I connect to the at any cost for the common good justification for the cruel eradication of a living creature who uses the land differently.
MALINCHE, POCAHONTAS, AND SACAGAWEA: INDIAN WOMEN AS CULTURAL INTERMEDIARIES AND NATIONAL SYMBOLS by Rebecca Kay Jager Ph.D.
I am a Woman. But I have felt both more than and less than the social constructs that create my gender’s silhouette, and I connect both lack of definition in one’s role and a misunderstanding of that role in a particular context so that I was either the exception or the disappointment.
AUDACITY by Melanie Crowder
I am Jewish. But I was not raised observing traditions, and I connect to the disconnect of Jewishness, what others require of you, or what you require of yourself.