An Observation

I think I hit on something important with “Wonder Woman”. And something scary:

The reason conservatives don’t see feminist propaganda in this movie, despite the fact that it is being marketed and promoted as feminist propaganda, is that they genuinly don’t see the concept of female warriors as “feminist”.

It’s the pattern I’ve been seeing. People go to the movies expecting feminist propaganda and come out and say “It wasn’t that at all!”

“Well, was the movie lead by a warrior woman who proved she can hack it with the men?”

“Yeah.”

“She was portrayed as a role model for young women? A person to emulate?”

“Yeah.”

But I think I get it. Female warriors were never the problem. Women who kick ass like men were never the problem. This is what modern society has turned into – that we should be cheering on women invading male spaces (again, lest people are tempted to go “She’s just an Amazon, not a real woman!”, Gal Gadot is promoting this movie by literally showing men how to properly beat people up) because the movie talks about other pretty good things and also because it doesn’t bash men outright.

These are our standards now.

Do I think there can be such a thing as a good female superhero movie? Indeed I do. Here’s a good example of how it could work.

And “Wonder Woman” is not that.

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63 Responses to An Observation

  1. Kevin Stuart Lee says:

    Spitballing an idea I’ve kicked around in my head for a spell:

    A female superhero would be able to take down a mundane male crook fairly easily, and mayhaps more gently than a male colleague. Your standard bank robber, carjacker, drug dealer, or convenience store hold-upper stands no chance against a woman with super strength and whose skin can deflect bullets.

    When she goes up against a male supervillain, however, the strength gap reappears. She’d get wrecked in a stand-up fight like the Australian women’s national team did against the U-15 Newcastle Jets – or, more immediately apropos, as the mythical Amazons did whenever they went up against Greek heroes. That’s when the admirable features of Nausicaa you cover in your linked review come into play.

    Disadvantages: The above is simplistically one-to-one, and I don’t know a good metaphysical reason for why superpowers should work that way.
    Advantages: You can have your feminine ass-kicking cake and eat it too.

  2. Jakeithus says:

    Question, again because I’m curious. 2 years ago you were praising Jessica Jones (aka the show literally joking about “Male Tears” on social media). You said it has the opportunity to go full feminist SJW crazy, but it didn’t and were thankful for that. Has your opinion changed that strongly in the time since, because much of what you said about JJ at the time could be said about WW now (I’ve not watched JJ as I feel the progressive themes will grate on me too much).

    What you’re calling into question here is basically unquestioned gospel truth in the comic book industry, that women are as competent fighters as men. I can’t think of a Marvel universe film that doesn’t hold this as true, and quite honestly it bothers me much more when your Black Widows or Peggy Carters are doing their thing than anything I saw in Wonder Woman.

    What can or should one tolerate? Can one defend Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy because you see the same propaganda there? Is WE different because a woman is the main character? Does unrealistic progressive propaganda expand to other areas, such as the case of Black Panther, or is feminism a particular evil that conservatives shouldn’t support?

    • Yes, my opinion has changed. I was wrong about JJ, disastrously and damgerously so. I am trying to fix that error in my thinking, and will not always be wrong.

      I think you know the answer to this. WW is made specifically as feminist peopaganda. She is not just super-fighting, she is literally leading men at arms into battle, and is the main character; the feminism is an integral part of the film, and the whole point if not as shown in the movie, then how it is being represented to the public.

      That said, if you want to make the argument we should be seeing none of those other movies either…be my guest. I’ll listen. But you may not make the point you’re trying to.

      • Jakeithus says:

        Thanks for your answer. It’s interesting seeing your evolution on this matter, so don’t take it as an attack for changing your mind.

        We disagree on the fundamental purpose and value of Wonder Woman, I don’t think we’ll change each other’s minds. I don’t think you can so easily excuse the feminist tropes found in the superhero genre at large while holding WW to the standard you do, but that’s just me.

      • Cane Caldo says:

        @MtC

        Yes, my opinion has changed. I was wrong about JJ, disastrously and damgerously so. I am trying to fix that error in my thinking, and will not always be wrong.

        Yeah!

    • Also, I don’t know yet why Black Panther is an issue. It certainly might be, but what is wrong with the character as designed?

      • Jakeithus says:

        Nothing’s wrong with the character himself, but the identity politics and anti-Western/colonialist messaging built into Wakanda is the ultimate in progressive virtue signaling. Maybe the movie will rise above that like Wonder Woman does, but it’s ripe for an anti-reality progressive message like nothing else in the superhero genre yet. Just my opinion.

      • I think you’re quite right that the movie is certainly ripe to be Marvel’s first full bow to the SJW’s , and I know nothing about the conception of Wakanda or identity politics involved. All I know is that his intro in “Civil War” was extremely effective.

  3. Zippy says:

    Keep in mind that modernity is a sociopathic understanding of reality. If it had no anchor in reality at all it would immediately self destruct.

    Part of the problem is that the shield maiden is in fact an ancient archetype, notable precisely because she is an exception and very much not a feminine role model for women in general; just as for example the eunuch is an ancient archetype and very much not a masculine role model (yet look at the modern expectation that the ideal man is basically a eunuch).

    The existence of these archetypes combined with “choose whatever you want to be, except the traditional choices are tyrannical” modernity is toxic.

  4. GJ says:

    malcolm:
    I think you’re quite right that the movie is certainly ripe to be Marvel’s first full bow to the SJW’s , and I know nothing about the conception of Wakanda or identity politics involved. All I know is that his intro in “Civil War” was extremely effective.

    Yes, how cinematic, how exciting, how entertaining!

    To quote someone:

    “I never doubted the movie would be great. It looked great in trailers…excellent casting choice… great actor. The dialogue seemed sharp enough. What wasn’t to like about it? That’s why the movie is a propaganda masterpiece, because it has managed to trick conservatives into seeing “just” a fun superhero film “

    • It’s really not the same from what I can see because Black Panther really doesn’t seem to have any sort of leftist agenda baked into his character, as it were, like Wonder Woman, nor does it seem to be marketed to leftists the way WW was marketed to feminists.

      If that ends up being the case, we shall see. It very well might be. But really, stop with the “gotchas”. Either my argument about WW is right or it isn’t.

  5. MishaBurnett says:

    I disagree with your assessment because the Amazons are shown as being other than human. They are not presented as what women should be, or would be if it were not for the patriarchy, they are supernatural creatures. Diana does not call the human women in the film to fight along side her, she leads the men into battle to protect the women. What people read into the film is their own business, but I felt that the message of the film was not at all anti-male.

    • It is not what people read into the film, but how the film is being sold.

      Gal Godot is not showing Conan how to beat people up because she *isn’t* a role model.

      • MishaBurnett says:

        Well, all I saw was the trailers before I saw the film, and I didn’t see Conan in any of them.

      • I DID see WW telling a secretary that being a helpmeet is equal to being a slave, and I saw her leading men into battle with vaguely patriotic colors and a shield just like Captain America, because Women Can Be Cap Too!

      • MishaBurnett says:

        I saw Diana saying “we call that a slave” as a joke about her being from a different culture, myself, particularly since the Amazon culture was clearly Greek influenced and I’m sure that the Queen’s personal staff would be called slaves.

        As far as her leading men into battle, again, she led men into battle, not women. She was functioning as a valkyrie, a muse of combat. Can a woman inspire men to heroic acts? Absolutely. Yes, I saw a lot of parallels to Captain America, too. I expect that was deliberate on the part of the filmmaker.

        For me, though, those parallels served to sharpen the contrast between the character archetypes. Steve Rogers was inspiring because he was everyman–“just a kid from Brooklyn”. He was what every man should aspire to be.

        Diana, though, was a goddess. She represented an ideal, a spirit of virtue, and virtues like Justice, Victory, and Courage are personified as feminine in a great many cultures. She represented “what we’re fighting for” and think that’s a crucial distinction.

      • Yes, you did see the joke that way. You’re sane. But the secretary’s chortling reaction – at least in the trailer – makes it quite clear WW supposedly sees the underlying sexism that the dumb ol’ men don’t care about.

  6. If a misunderstanding is at hand, then that means terms must be defined and clarified for those involved.

    Though it wouldn’t surprise me that the love of warrior women are baked into American soil because our frontier heritage is still pretty fresh. Back then, while the male certainly did his part but he might be away on a cattle drive or tending to a remote part of the ranch and the female needed to be able to defend the homestead against the wild and marauders – so of course a fierce women would be loved and therefore be selected for in the breeding. Go watch old westerns sometime (from back in the days of our parents and grandparents) and ask yourself what really separates it from something like wonder woman. (not joking, it might be more entertaining than you think)

    If anything from a dispassionate metric, the women haven’t changed. But back then the men were far more manly too – if the women were fierce the men were fiercer. Each of them were Hercules able to tame the amazon. It seems today that maybe it’s not the women who changed, but the men.

    If that’s the case then the problem becomes clearer. It’s not the women being lifted up, but the men being torn down that sets off alarm bells for conservative audiences. I haven’t seen WW yet, but if the men in the movie are not torn down… well then the model syncs.

    • That’s an interesting theory! Though I don’t recall a warrior women stereotype ever being common; Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane were a thing, I suppose, but they were a very small part of a very large frontier tradition.

      • So how are you defining “warrior woman”? And is it that much of a leap from “fierce” or “frontier” woman to warrior?

        As a practical example to calibrate the debate, would you consider Ripley in Aliens or Sarah Conner in any of her movies to be warrior women?

      • Somebody who leads men directly into actual combat is clearly a different thing than looking after your own home in case you are attacked. Is this really disputable?

      • Somebody who leads men directly into actual combat is clearly a different thing than looking after your own home in case you are attacked. Is this really disputable?

        Where did you establish she lead men into combat? Through the post and replies to me you’ve merely used the term warrior woman. There’s nothing inherent in the term “warrior” to denote leadership. After all, the soldiers on the battlefield would be widely considered warriors even if they are leading jack squat. Typically when hearing the term “warrior” people will think of a fighter, even one not involved in a war which would be a technical requirement. In most people’s mind, a Russian woman who picked up a rifle to shoot nazis invading her hometown and a frontier woman shooting marauders would both count as warrior women. Thus the debate. Certainly battle leadership is different – but you never established that as a parameter. It is folly to get upset at an audience for a failure to read your mind.

        Now for fun we can all bring up Deborah and ask if the Bible is feminist literature for those who feel like another 30 years war. 😀

      • I am baffled that gou’re arguing here that a woman in an actual war, in an army, is the same thing as a woman who is forced to defend her home on the frontier with a rifle, if invaders arrive. This is really a debate?

      • It would seem that when I wrote, “Certainly battle leadership is different” would establish that I am not arguing one is the same as another. In the general, no, it is not a debate when one person concedes the point of another. One should take care not to be so argumentative that they can even see their own victories.

      • Then I’m just confused what point you were making at all.

      • *double checks self*
        Well you wrote:

        But I think I get it. Female warriors were never the problem. Women who kick ass like men were never the problem. . . . because it doesn’t bash men outright.

        These are our standards now.

        And I was offering a hypothesis on why this might be.

        I could swear I’ve seen a similar idea floated before about the difference between American & British heroes (tl;dr – america was still recently a frontier, britain has been “settled” for awhile). Likewise I wonder if a similar explanation would explain the divergence of womanly ideals in cultures. American warrior woman vs Japanese Yamato Nadeshiko for an example. Could be fascinating.

        Anyway, I had no idea you were on about one particular thing in regards to the film until you brought it up.

      • You seemed to be disputing something with me. I wasn’t sure what it was.

        In any case, I’ll thank you not to assume my state of mind. I’m perfectly happy to hear that you more or less do agree with me; I’d rather hear that than not. I just wasn’t sure what you were getting at.

      • No dispute intended beyond the standard “hash out a theory” kind and “establish clear definitions.”

      • Cane Caldo says:

        Deborah didn’t lead the armies of Israel, Barak did. Barak was commanded by God to fight, but refused to fight unless Deborah went with him. For that reason, the glory was given to a woman, and kept from Barak.

        4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6 She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. 7 And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” 8 Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9 And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”

        So Deborah wasn’t a leader, she wasn’t a fighter, and men who rely on women to war are shamed.

      • Deborah didn’t lead the armies of Israel, Barak…

        Geez, Cane, becoming as humorless as the feminists huh? Power down the autism dude. #saidAutisticMan

    • MishaBurnett says:

      I didn’t see the men as being torn down at all. As I said in my reply above, I saw Diana inspiring men to be more strong, brave, and just. She didn’t take the battle away from the men, or the men from the battle, instead she motivated them to give their last measure of devotion.

    • Cane Caldo says:

      @natewinchester

      Though it wouldn’t surprise me that the love of warrior women are baked into American soil because our frontier heritage is still pretty fresh. Back then, while the male certainly did his part but he might be away on a cattle drive or tending to a remote part of the ranch and the female needed to be able to defend the homestead against the wild and marauders

      I’ve heard this tale a few times now, and of course I’ve seen the westerns. Can you provide some actual histories to support the idea that men left women alone–not with family, or in a close community, but alone–to face Indians, marauders, etc.? I do not believe it.

  7. GJ says:

    What people read into the film is their own business, but I felt that the message of the film was not at all anti-male.

    Weaponised ambiguity strikes again.

    She was functioning as a valkyrie, a muse of combat.

    If that were so, that focus would remain on the males being inspired, and not the muse itself. Instead, WW is the titular character, focus remains entirely on the ambiguous fleshly-but-not-quite-human character.

    It’s not the women being lifted up, but the men being torn down that sets off alarm bells for conservative audiences. I haven’t seen WW yet, but if the men in the movie are not torn down…

    Surely there’d remain a sizable number of soldiers in the US forces that would regard being led by a woman into battle as massively emasculating?

    • Zippy says:

      In the movie, super-powered demi-goddess Diana breaks the standoff in No Man’s Land by drawing fire to herself (using her super-shield for protection), giving the men an opportunity to charge the enemy trenches — which they did under the leadership of the leading man, who later tames the shrew. At no point in the movie was she ever in charge or giving orders to men, that I recall. She is basically a super-powered girl-child who is husbanded – so to speak – by the leading man from her childlike perception of things into maturity.

      I think the movie in itself — setting aside the hoopla surrounding it — fails as feminist propaganda.

      • I am sure you’re correct. But the hoopla surrounding it is exactly my point.

      • Look, watch that video in my most recent post. Whether or not you or I or John Wright thinks the movie is intended as feminist propaganda is entirely besides the point, *because it is*. The video is practically a caricature insofar as it makes my point perfectly.

        If you are not reading in feminist propaganda but a feminist is, you are interpreting it incorrectly.

      • Zippy says:

        Malcolm:

        I don’t dispute that it is intended as feminist propaganda. I just think the movie itself fails in that attempt. Even the demi-goddess is basically a child who needs to be guided by a more experienced man.

      • The movie itself might on its own, but it is not on its own. It is not intended to be, even. The advertising, framing, and marketing are part and parcel with it. The fighting shield maiden motif is a form of weaponized ambiguity – the sane read it as the sane should, the SJWs and neutrals who don’t care as much but know what they’re *supposed* to think see something else entirely.

        Whether the movie *could* be interpreted in the way you say is part of why it’s such effective propaganda – taken as a whole, including advertising, marketing, and general framing.

      • Zippy says:

        Malcolm:

        That raises a question I guess.

        Is it possible, in your view, for a movie to be hyped as X propaganda and yet fail to substantively live up to the hype? Is attempted propaganda in a movie or similar work always by definition something which succeeds, or is it the kind of thing that can fail?

        I wouldn’t have a problem with saying that Diana was written as a feminist, just as Dumbledore was written as gay. And I don’t object to – indeed I’ve asserted myself – that the hype surrounding the movie is feminist propaganda and presents the movie itself as feminist propaganda. At issue is only whether or not the movie itself actually succeeds as feminist propaganda. I suppose I can interpret your response as “I don’t care”, which is fair enough but doesn’t address the actual point (other than to express ambivalence about it).

      • First, the Dumbledore thing was different in several ways…but that’s another story.

        Second, I think that for it to fail either the marketing and advertising needa to be horrific (it wasn’t) or the movie needs to be *explicitly* anti-feminist…which, going by responses of watchers, it seems to be ambiguous enough that this is definitely not the case…hence women in tears at battle scenes because of how empowering it is.

      • Zippy says:

        Well, if it is impossible then obviously it didn’t happen. But nevertheless there is something that I mean by my words, which is probably either correct or incorrect.

      • I have no idea what this response is supposed to mean. I answered your question; no need to be a jerk.

      • (Though even in the second example it probably is a bad idea to support or promote the movie, in my view, because it essentially serves as a *vehicle* for propaganda to be – successfully – attached.

        Miyazaki is often called a feminist director by westerners because he likes having competent female characters as leads – or major supporting roles – in his movies, but I think the way his movies are marketed, promoted, and made are much different. I also think that feminist interpretations of his movies rely on a western understanding of feminism that Miyazaki simply isn’t working from – for example Chihiro, in “Spirited Away”, has much more in common with Snow White – in fact, a TON in common – than any modern feminist.

        The only real objection that makes any sort of sense is that you don’t really like females making decisions as leads in movies at all, which I think crosses the line to ridiculous – at least in Japan. The west is working with much different cultural background assumptions.

        Interesting, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” (another Ghibli film) is extraordinarily feminist in a way Miyazaki never was, but I’ll get to that on the Superversive blog eventually, or Castalia.)

      • I also did not say it was impossible; if you want to argue that what I said meant that it was impossible in practice, by all means, do so, but some vague comment maybe or maybe not implying that kind of isn’t moving anything forward.

  8. GJ says:

    From the director:

    “Jenkins defends the impractical footwear. “It’s total wish-fulfillment,” she says, adding that the warriors have flats for heavy fighting. “I, as a woman, want Wonder Woman to be hot as hell, fight badass, and look great at the same time — the same way men want Superman to have huge pecs and an impractically big body. That makes them feel like the hero they want to be. And my hero, in my head, has really long legs.””

    By the way, is it possible for your bishop to ban viewing of such films by the people under him? It would be great if someone could save the laity from themselves.

  9. Did earlier comment post or get eaten by internet?

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