The awesome born sexy yesterday video is putting that trope on the forefront of everyone’s minds, which is great. Critique away!
I just wanted to point out a few of the ways Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and the writers subvert the worst aspects of the trope.
I’ll try to be as vague as possible but SPOILERS:
1. Diana is not embarrassed by nudity of any kind. Yes, her outfit is revealing. BUT one guess as to who gets naked in this film. Hint: it’s not the person the trope usually applies to.
2. Diana is untouched by a man by virtue of the plot – she’s never even seen one before. But the film makes a point of calling out her knowledge of sex. It even heavily implies that Diana takes charge of her own pleasure, be it via self-pleasure or bisexual/pansexual Diana ftw!
3. Steve is her guide to the outside world, but so is Candy. Steve is her guide to the outside world, but never once is Diana abnormally impressed with his insights or his teaching moments. Ice cream vendor, though? He should be very proud.
4. The born sexy yesterday trope is predicated on the idea that a woman falls in love with the first schlub she sees and worships him. That emphatically does not happen. In fact, it’s a running gag that Steve is trying to convince Diana that he’s above average. Only when he proves it to her – through his kindness and his bravery – does she fall for him.
5. The thing that happens in the middle? Not the “prize” saved for the hero’s reward like it is usually is in the Born Sexy Yesterday trope.
So, yes, Diana is a fish out of water. Yes Gal Gadot is a stunner. But those two elements are not what make born sexy yesterday such an egregious violation of female agency. Wonder Woman does not exist to be taught by a mediocre man who she holds up as god’s gift than for no other reason than that he’s breathing near her.
Instead, she learns and teaches equally in reciprocation with a true partner–aka my favorite feminist fantasy trope.