There’s a bit in Wonder Woman that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s the part where she walks towards General Ludendorff at the gala. He see her and starts walking in her direction as if to attack, then surges towards her and grabs her in a kind of dance hold. She’s stunned, frozen. It’s probably the only time in the film where Diana looks afraid.
Because she was attacked, but in a way she’s never encountered before. She’s been trained to handle “honest” attacks, where the attacker makes their intentions clear. But here she is attacked in the way women in this world are so often attacked. It’s an unwanted, unwelcome intrusion, a man putting his hands on her without her consent, intruding into her personal space in an aggressive, obtrusive, threatening manner. But to bystanders, they are simply dancing. She doesn’t know what to do. She’s trained her whole life to deal with honest, open attacks, but faced with the sneaky, faux-polite attack of this kind of man, she’s completely lost.
I thought this was a great moment. It reflects the experiences of so many women so well.
On a side note, I mentioned it to my (male) partner afterward, and he hadn’t even noticed Diana’s reaction in that moment. He’s a great guy and a good, kind person, but his obliviousness to her confusion and fear speaks volumes about the different experiences of men and women in our society.