20/21. Wonder Woman

Listen to Wonder Woman Part 1 here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/20-wonder-woman-part-1
Listen to Wonder Woman Part 2 here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/21-wonder-woman-part-2

Nikki and Sher host a podparty and invite some illustrious guests to this episode: Dr. Angela Bratton (professor of anthropology), Aspasia Luster, and Meloni Wall. We discuss feminism, role reversals, sexuality, and historical gender politics.

What we’ve posted here is not so much notes as it is a list of potential discussion questions for our panel of guests, but we thought it might be useful for some, so enjoy!

Some Historical Context on Wonder Woman

Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, was created in 1941. At the outset, she comes onto the scene as a New Woman type, a warrior for truth and an enemy of the Patriarchy. But the feminist icon breaks down upon closer inspection, and not even terribly scrutinous closer inspection. She joins the team as a secretary (a normative and unremarkable job for a woman at the time) which is an utter waste of Wonder Woman’s talents, unless I’m completely misunderstanding the role of a secretary. And she still has lots of feminine sex appeal. The creator himself described her as having “all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” Good AND beautiful, y’all. What a catch.

1941 is two years into WWII, and there was a lot of anxiety about the girls taking all the jobs (and performing adequately (shocking!)) while the boys were off at war. Wonder Woman, early Wonder Woman anyway, feels like a compromise. She’s an intelligent, strong, capable woman, but she still knows her place and defers power to the men. This version of her tries to do triple-duty – calming the men re-entering the workforce as well as acknowledging the women for stepping up, and then kindly reminding them to step back down.

Wonder Woman has since been co-opted by feminists and evolved into a symbol of female strength and independence. She’s not perfect, but neither are we.

Discussion Questions

  • How were each of us first introduced to Wonder Woman, or how did we become aware of her?
  • In the opening monologue, Diana references mankind instead of humankind. In such a feminism-aware movie, is it possible that this is an oversight, or is this subtext, as the early 20th century was still very much male-centric? Similarly, Hippolyta uses the same phrasing when telling young Diana the story about the Amazons’ origins, and Ares as well when explaining to Diana how he doesn’t need to take control of men to turn them to violence.
  • Who got teary-eyed during the battle scenes? An article from The Mercury News states that this is because the movie took these warriors seriously – this army of trained, effective, career soldiers was given as much respect as any male-driven battle scene instead of being treated as getting this one part out of the way to set up the backstory. Does this ring true for your own emotional reaction?
  • A lot has been said about the use of real lady athletes for the Amazon army. What does it say that this casting decision, which makes so much practical sense, is being hailed as such a feminist act?
  • What do you feel about the presence of the love story between Diana and Steve? Did it get in the way of the story, or was it important to Diana’s exploration of the world of men?
    • In a scene that we assume leads to sex, did you like that we didn’t see Diana sexualized, or are you disappointed we didn’t see her claiming her sexuality? Were there any other issues with this scene?
  • My favorite part of the movie is that Diana is fierce, strong, passionate, righteous, and determined – she’s a warrior and a protector, but she’s STILL A WOMAN. And well respected by her male associates, to boot. So many female superheroes or action stars are just male personalities transplanted into female bodies. Do you think this can be a symbol of uniting feminism and shedding the habits of woman-on-woman criticism and judgement?
  • Wonder Woman was directed by a lady-person, the inimitable Patty Jenkins. Do you feel the same movie would have had the same impact if directed by a man?
  • If you have seen Justice League, how do you feel the dynamic played out, with WW the sole lady amongst three male colleagues?
    • How are we feeling about the changes to the Amazons outfits in Justice League?
  • There is a veritable coterie of villains in this movie (Dr. Maru, General Ludendorf, The War, Ares). Each one works in concert with the others to create opportunities for mayhem and wrongness. Diana works against evil not by playing by the rules of war, but by seeking and the root cause (she believes) and destroying it. Can this be seen as a metaphor for the smashing of the patriarchy?
  • Can we talk about men being necessary for procreation but not pleasure? Thoughts?

Favorite Quote: “I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.” – Diana Prince

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

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