I watched the new Wonder Woman movie some time ago, and I’ve read lots of blog reviews by millennial women. It strikes me how so many of the reviews struggle with ideas of female empowerment and feminism. There seems to be an amazing lack of clarity there, as if there’s no recognizable difference between feminism and something one might call ‘ female-ism’. Is anyone learning about the arts anymore?
The Wonder Woman movie does a good job presenting female empowerment and feminist issues. In the beginning of the story, Diana is a member of a community of women who have been living outside the world of men on a secret island. They engage in combat training as a communal activity with the idea that one day they may need to use their skills to defeat the god of war.
Once a male soldier arrives and Diana decides to leave with him to stop a war, she starts becoming more and more masculine…acting more like a man. This culminates on the World War One battlefield as she singularly penetrates the front lines to free a village, and then goes after the god of war believing that killing him will end the conflict. When defeating him doesn’t change anything she is puzzled, much like millennial women seem to be.
The message that most reviewers appear to miss is why she failed. And the answer seems simple enough to me. She failed because she tried using masculinity to defeat men, and ultimately that is disempowering to women. I learned long ago from women professors that there’s a difference between feminism and ‘female-ism’. While a female may feel temporary empowerment by acting like a man, ultimately she feels disempowered as she loses the feminine within herself.
If you made it this far into this piece—and are an American—I’m surprised. There seems to be this strange idea in the states that a man—even one with a master of arts degree—has no place discussing feminism. This puzzles me because the masculine and feminine are concepts in the arts. Artists study the dichotomy between the two, and try to balance them (either consciously or subconsciously) when creating something. And every human—man or woman—has both aspects within them as well. Typically, men find being masculine easier and women find being feminine easier, but the balancing of these dual aspects of one’s nature is what makes a person mature.
The idea that whatever a woman does constitutes feminism is incorrect, the proper term for that is female-ism. In the arts, the masculine traits are individualism, competition, and energy building to a peak and then collapsing; the feminine traits are community, cooperation, and energy building to a sustainable plateau. In my opinion, our society has veered off so far in one direction that it is nearing collapse. We need to get back to ideas that were more prevalent when I was younger, building a more open and sustainable society.
Call that what you will.