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The wonder women arrive

  • Published at 06:12 pm June 8th, 2017
The wonder women arrive

Wonder Woman has finally roared onto the silver screen, and looks great for a 75-year-old Amazonian princess.

The $150 million Warner Bros movie is adeptly directed by Patty Jenkins, proving that a female director without big-budget movie experience can successfully execute the superhero franchise.

Although the studio took a risk in making the film, it has already earned over $100 million and is projected to be a massive box-office success.

This was a great movie, not only portraying female empowerment, but also the cause to fight on despite horrendous odds.

Beautifully directed and choreographed, the movie stars Gal Gadot who vivaciously brings to life the mythical story of the Amazonian princess as she blends into a man’s world, navigating the pitfalls of sexism and boldly charting a new course for humankind. It was entertaining, and laced with humour and grand-scale fights.

The Amazonian Princess is the daughter of Zeus, king of the Greek gods, and Queen Hippolyta, who rules the Island of Themyscira. This island, free of men, is where she was raised and trained in combat.

Upon sailing outside the island, Wonder Woman keeps on fighting, be it in World War I, which was labeled the War to End All Wars (how did that turn out for us?), political patriarchy, or the God of War.

She upholds the truth-and-justice spirit of original superheroes like Superman and, like other superheroes, faces the paradox of bringing peace into the world through massive violence.

The comic-book creator wanted Wonder Woman to reflect America’s values in World War II: A patriot who shields the innocents.

In cinema, she navigates through the complex mores of war and diplomacy with such childlike innocence that she does not come across as condescending or with a superiority complex, despite having the ability to obliterate an entire platoon.

Diana is a righteous princess; one with ethical absolutism, right is right and wrong is wrong, there is no in-between murky water in morality. Wonder Woman dares to ask questions about proper representation in the halls of power, and being a true leader who is in front of the battlefields.

Controversial from the start

However, a superhero, especially a female one, cannot exist in a universe without politics. In 1942, one year after her entry into the world, Wonder Woman was blacklisted by a literature organisation for not being sufficiently dressed. Originally created as a symbol of strong, independent womanhood, she has seen her share of witch-hunts, such as being accused of inciting lesbianism at a congressional hearing.

In 2016, Wonder Woman was briefly an honorary United Nations ambassador for empowerment of women and girls. The honour was short-lived due to vociferous protests for having a pinup girl with impossible body proportions being the symbol of female empowerment.

I do not recall anyone complaining of Superman and his body-hugging outfit, where one can shape out his whole anatomy, being a problematic symbol of hope. In 2017, controversy has been raised over the movie character exposing too much skin, to the actress being an Israeli who served in the Israel Defense Forces. Boycotting this American movie will do nothing to bring peace in the Middle East.

Originally created as a symbol of strong, independent womanhood, she has seen her share of witch-hunts

Gender inequality persists

In the comic book, Wonder Woman once became president of the United States. But in the real world, a woman is yet to be elected POTUS, despite the most qualified candidate among all running in the last election being a woman: Hillary Clinton.

Instead, voters chose a man with no political experience, who remarked: “I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order.” One has to wonder if gender was the qualifying factor in this victory, one where strongman rule was preferred over an intelligent, capable woman.

Where do women stand in the real world? Although the Bangladesh government has been led by the same woman since 2009, it has yet to implement a uniform family law.

During the last election of 2008, the ruling Awami League advocated to rectify discriminatory laws against women’s interests, but even after eight years in power, inheritance laws still disproportionately favour the male heirs.

The UN reasons that these discriminatory laws prevent global food security and sustainable development. When inheritance laws favour men, this increases the vulnerability to poverty and food insecurity for women, as they are left with little or no access to resources and credit, and become fully dependent on men for a secure livelihood. Some women end up staying in abusive relationships just for survival. If Bangladesh had 50% of its parliamentary seats held by women, would this discrimination continue?

Women’s participation in national parliaments stood at 23% in 2016, as cited by the UN. This means that decisions are made without substantive input from women policy-makers or their perspective, neglecting vital needs from the female population.

Case in point, the US vice president and the House Republican Party’s Freedom Caucus held a meeting to discuss the health care bill. This particular group wanted a repeal of maternity care, and not one woman was part of the negotiating team. A photo from March depicts two dozen men discussing an issue that is vital for everyone’s health, and yet only one gender is represented.

In an ideal world, women would be able to get decent jobs, accumulate assets similar to their male counterparts, and influence public policies.

A qualified woman could earn the top governing spot in any nation, despite not having superpowers or a father with a larger-than-life image. I strive towards a world where any qualified woman can become her nation’s chief.

My primary reason for wanting this is for my cousin. I held her as a baby. When she was two, we’d go out strolling together and she used to reach out her tiny hand and say: “Hath dhoro (hold my hand), road crossing.”

As I called to wish her a happy 14th birthday, she answered saying she is visiting Washington, DC, with her school group. She sings traditional Bengali songs, performs classical Indian dance, and remarks how Miley Cyrus is no longer a role model due to her grinding dance moves.

She is quite comfortable being a girl and playing basketball with the boys, sometimes beating them, and sees the world as a challenging playground where even a girl can get the top prize. I want her to hold on to this belief for life.

Tamim Choudhury is a Texas-based Communications Analyst.