When describing the feminism/representation in Wonder Woman to my family recently, I could only think of one word to encapsulate it: effortless. A lot of issues the mainstream has with modern feminism is it’s blatancy and aggression, which is a stereotype that I don’t personally believe in. But I can understand the resistance to any heavy handed message in a film, especially when it overrides the story. So to see Wonder Woman was very refreshing. I know it can’t always be this simple, but wouldn’t it be great if it could?
I also want to state right here that Wonder Woman is a feminist film. No arguments about it. But that aspect came so organically, and so perfectly in tune with the story and other themes.
What I’m getting at here is that there wasn’t a need for a heavy handed push or even the need to blatantly state the obvious. The fact that Diana was a woman doing these things spoke for itself. It didn’t need to be said or explained or fall into the traps that many “feminist” films have. It’s difficult to articulate how this movie differs as far as representation goes. I don’t know if it was the script, the genius of Patty Jenkins, or the fact that the character has existed for so long.
One moment that struck me was when Diana was crossing No Man’s Land and the soldiers in the opposing trenches were shouting “she’s coming!”. In that moment, I almost expected someone to say, “what is woman doing out here?” or something to that effect. But no one did. Because there was no time. Realistically, who would bother pointing out that “oh god it’s a woman!” when being attacked by someone so powerful?
I think parts of the ease in which the feminism appears comes from the idea of her having no preconceived notions about gender roles. It really negates any of those ridiculous arguments against feminism saying gender roles come from natural or biological instincts. When we take a character that was not raised in our society, or one with literally any gender stereotypes, we see how insane ours are. It also helped that it was set in a time where women had considerably less rights and respect.
Again, it’s hard to put into words. But Wonder Woman, in my opinion, was one of the best examples of female representation in film. Of course, I will note here that it was a perfect example of representation for white women- therefore we still have a long way to go. But for it’s narrowed scope- it accomplished a lot. It made me realize that this was what I’d wanted the entire time. This is what we mean by female led and female directed action movies.