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Sunday, February 04, 2007

In Defense of Wonder Woman...

I have something to say. Something that is, as of this very moment, a very very important thing to say.

I love Wonder Woman. Princess Diana. Diana of Themyscira. Diana Prince. Whatever you want to call her. I just love Wonder Woman.

This is, admittedly, prompted by my friend Flidget's essay here. While I agree with her that Power Girl DEFINITELY deserves a movie. A Power Girl movie positively couldn't lose, in my opinion. I simply can't agree with her position on Wonder Woman.

Flidget has some really good points of course. Diana is from a society of all women. She is immortal. And yes, there is nothing "feminist" about the fact that she's never had to face the challenges that women have to face here in the real world. She's never had to deal with an overpowering legacy, and when she came to the Patriarch's World, she already had more than enough confidence that the disapproval and discouragement of people of our society could never phase her. She was invited to the Justice League. She didn't have to fight for their respect. She never had to prove herself to anyone who met her.

And that's ultimately her appeal to me.

Because Princess Diana of Themyscira never really had to truly fight for anything in her life until she came to Man's World. She could have had everything she could want on Themyscira. Pain, suffering, disrespect is meaningless there. No one told her she couldn't do anything that she set her mind toward. (Except possibly leave.) No one told her she wasn't strong enough or smart enough. She had family. Friends. The adoration of an entire island, for whom she was the only child in centuries.

And she gave all that up. To come here. To try to make a difference.

She had no idea what she'd face in the Man's World. And I'm not just talking about villains and monsters. She didn't know what our culture was really like. She didn't know about all the conditioning that young women in our culture face from childhood about what is really feminine and what isn't. She certainly wasn't prepared for the disapproval and discouragement of our male-oriented society.

But it didn't matter. Diana came and people stared. Diana talked and people listened. Diana punched and people punched back. She stood tall and strong and unyielding, rather than moving aside for people, and people moved aside for her.

The point of Diana, from Marston to the modern day, is that she is Diana. She will always be Diana. And there isn't anything anyone else can do about that.

She's been accused of being a bondage fetishist's toy because she was always tied up. This ignores the fact that she always breaks free. Because nothing can hold her

So why is she an icon to so many?

I think it's because she shows us that ultimately those invisible factors of disapproval and discouragement do not matter unless we let it. That the only reason we are restrained is because we haven't yet realized that we CAN break free. The conditioning that cages us isn't something inherent to being a woman. It's something we've been taught, drilled into our heads, and it is the ONLY thing that really holds us back.

The only difference between Diana and any other heroine in the DCU, than any other woman alive, is that she doesn't know. She doesn't know that she's not supposed to be what she is. Thus she, and we, have limitless potential.

If we can stand up like Diana and keep walking, our eyes on our goals. If we do not deign to notice the pressures and boundaries that hinder us. Then they're nothing.
They can't stop us. They can't stop anyone!

Power Girl is wonderful inspiration for the fight that feminists face every day of their lives. But Diana is the goal. She's what we're ultimately fighting for. A day that our daughters never have to know a feminist struggle just to be themselves.

12 Comments:

  • At February 04, 2007 4:32 AM, Anonymous Loren said…

    Watch the pilot episode of the Wonder Woman television show. I love that episode, not only because it's an origin episode, but because Lynda Carter does such a wonderful job of portraying everything you just said about Wonder Woman. What was wonderful (no pun intended...okay...maybe) was that she didn't take any of the guff sitting down. She knows she doesn't have to be what men or society in general tell her she should be and, in fact, is amused by the fact that they think they can outsmart her.

     
  • At February 04, 2007 5:20 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I love the pilot episode! Lynda Carter was absolutely perfect.

    I think my favorite part was how she dealt with that treacherous ring-master guy. She was just so amused and utterly unconcerned. :-)

     
  • At February 04, 2007 7:58 AM, Blogger Elayne said…

    "A Power Girl movie positively couldn't lose, in my opinion."

    Sure it could. Power Girl has ZERO name recognition outside of comic geek circles.

     
  • At February 04, 2007 8:39 AM, Anonymous Thom said…

    Elayne...you just *had* to deflate that one, didn't you? Damn "real world" points. :)

    That said, I think a Power Girl movie could be great if handled by the write creative team.

     
  • At February 04, 2007 11:50 AM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    That's what a movie is for, it can explain her origins - oh, that'd be a touchy spot. Maybe just make it 'What if Superman had been a girl?'

    Anyway just have a good pic of her on the posters and all the teenagers will flock to the movies.

     
  • At February 04, 2007 12:53 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I'm not sure name-recognition would be terribly important in this case.

    Well, Superman would be important. But the whole point of Power Girl is that she's trying to make a name for herself out of his shadow. That could actually work best if even the audience doesn't really know who she is. (Also, heck, it's an origin story)

    Besides, an attractive young woman in THAT costume...name recognition wouldn't be needed to draw geeks into the movie. :-P

     
  • At February 04, 2007 1:14 PM, Blogger Flidget said…

    Heck, a lack of name-recognition didn't stop them making Daredevil or Ghost Rider or Judge Dread.

    More's the pity.

    It also didn't stop them from making Blade and that at least seems to have worked out okay.

     
  • At February 04, 2007 1:50 PM, Blogger Jason said…

    The thing is that Warner would never make a "Power Girl" movie, since they could just change the namet o "Supergirl" and double the Tlikely audience. They'll get the nerds either way, but there's not enough of us to make the type of money they'd be looking for.

     
  • At February 05, 2007 1:19 AM, Blogger Mallet said…

    "She's been accused of being a bondage fetishist's toy because she was always tied up. This ignores the fact that she always breaks free. Because nothing can hold her"

    Or because they just needed to end the story so they could tie her up in more interesting ways next time.

     
  • At February 05, 2007 3:59 AM, Anonymous skullduggery said…

    I will admit I don't have the much exposure to Power Girl (a majority of it came via Justice League Europe).
    At the same time, I don't have a great deal of exposure to Wonder Woman either.
    I know her as an icon (TV show with Lynda Carter and the comic relaunch with George Perez) and a majority of my familarity with her is from the Greg Rucka scripted issues.
    There is something very special about Wonder Woman that Power Girl can't claim.
    There is a nobility of character.
    There is a selflessness.
    Wonder Woman has a mission.
    It isn't a mission about her.
    To me, Power Girl isn't about anyone other than herself (and I don't mean that in a negative away at all). She is trying to figure out who she is and how she fits into everything. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. (I'm not saying she is selfish or self-centered or anything like that -- she just doesn't have the same things weighing on her or the same responsibilities Diana has).
    You can't try to measure her to Wonder Woman because they are so vastly different in who they are and what it is they are trying to accomplish.
    I think they are both GREAT characters ... but I just feel like Diana represents something extra special, and Power Girl, while she is fantastic in her own right, doesn't quite measure up to that same ideal.

     
  • At February 06, 2007 2:17 PM, Blogger Sandicomm said…

    Kalinara, that was a fabulous post. You just articulated all that I love about Wondy--things I didn't even know how to say until now.

     
  • At February 06, 2007 9:49 PM, Anonymous Jonathon Nolan said…

    I'm a guy so shoot me, but to me Wonder Woman wins by default. She is the least unknown, least offensive, least "feel weird to find her attractive as a guy", least obnoxious costume and so on.

    And on a visceral level she has a whiff of "boy, grandma must really have been something back in the day."

    Other than that, she sucks. Just nowhere even close to as much as Supergirl (vile).

    Unless we're talking JLU and other cartoons. WW in the toon is brilliant. Everything's better there.

    I guess I am speaking from the position of the uncaring silent vast majority who no longer read comics at all.

     

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