Wonder Woman: A Step Backwards for Feminism

Wonder Woman isn’t a step forward for women; it’s a step backwards.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the entire culture surrounding it, including the contrived all-female screenings, hype about the female director, and hype about the “strength” of the leading lady, reeks of a patronizing and condescending appeal to my feminism. The lead is a woman! The director is a woman! Woman woman woman, vagina vagina vagina, girl power and stuff!

I’m supposed to be excited because the movie outwardly promotes female empowerment (to call it an “unsubtle” effort would be a gross understatement). Right. Because my self-worth depends on Hollywood’s validation and interpretation of empowerment and female competence. Also, apparently I’m so fucking retarded I need Hollywood to beat me over the head with shallow and pretentious “feminist” messages to fully understand the issue.

Strong female leads have not been absent from Hollywood. Anyone remember Ellen Ripley from Alien, Sarah Connor from Terminator,  or “The Bride” from Kill Bill, just to mention a few? These characters, played by Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, and Uma Thurman, for whatever reason, have not remotely garnered the same kind of attention as “feminist” icons. Perhaps this is partly owing to the fact they were powerful, badass people not because they had vaginas, but because they simply happened to be women, unlike the new iteration of Wonder Woman. Alien, Terminator, and Kill Bill did not need all-vagina screenings, a female director, or a superficial marketing campaign to convey that women can get shit done, because the script, plot, and character development spoke for itself and unmistakably communicated female empowerment in a much more compelling and effective, yet underrated and subtle manner.

This is the essence of the issue. Ripley, Connor, and The Bride lead fantastic movies in which having a vagina is incidental, thereby faithfully and gracefully presenting the idea that women are human and equally capable of overcoming insurmountable circumstances. To contrast, Wonder Woman and its entire marketing scheme relies on segregating women as a special class of people and insisting on particularized treatment and accolade on the basis of the lead being a woman. There is nothing less feminist, simple-minded, and frankly, embarrassing than this in 2017.

It’s also notable that Ripley, Connor, and The Bride were normal human women who crushed opponents (be it alien, robot, or human) in a spacesuit, wife beater, and a ninja jumpsuit, respectively. This is to contrast with Wonder Woman, a superhero with perfect hair and special powers prancing around in a corset and miniskirt. I’m not about to knock corsets and miniskirts per se (because they are awesome), but if you think I’m going to unquestioningly accept Wonder Woman as a sign of progress, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

Film critic John Scalzi described Ripley best:

She’s not a sidekick, arm candy, or a damsel to be rescued. Starting with Alien, Ripley was a fully competent member of a crew or ensemble — not always liked and sometimes disrespected, but doing her job all the same. As each film progresses, she comes to the fore and faces challenges head-on — she’s the hero of the piece, in other words […] Ripley isn’t a fantasy version of a woman. Science fiction film is filled with hot kickass women doing impossible things with guns and melee weapons while they spin about like a gymnast in a dryer. As fun as that is to watch, at the end of the day it’s still giving women short shrift, since what they are then are idealized killer fembots rather than actual human beings. Ripley, on the other hand, is pushy, aggressive, rude, injured, suffering from post-traumatic syndrome, not wearing makeup, tired, smart, maternal, angry, empathetic, and determined to save others, even at great cost to herself. All without being a spinny killbot.

Can Wonder Woman top that? When I see the movie, I’ll decide whether it’s actually a good movie, but if it is, it will be despite its attempt at a feminist message, not because of it.

Thoughts on Ignorance as a Cause of Post-Partum Depression

I am not a psychiatrist, a medical specialist, or even a scientist, but I have a sneaking suspicion that post-partum depression, while obviously a complex condition, is rooted at least in part in one phenomenon: distorted expectations from lack of sufficient and accurate information.

Likely owing to society’s desire to increase the population of humans, and general squeamishness and avoidance of gross subjects, most women are exposed to only a very topical and rosy view of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood throughout their lives leading up to the decision to reproduce. Everyone’s heard of “pregnancy glow.” On the other hand, things like pregnancy constipation, pregnancy constant flatulence, pregnancy insomnia, pregnancy leaking of urine, and pregnancy leaking of amniotic fluid are less frequently mentioned, if at all. After labor, everyone knows about the “bundle of joy,” but probably not the bundle of shit on the delivery table.

Unless a woman happens to keep company with a horde of brutally honest women who don’t mind sharing things like a desire to literally die during childbirth because of the horrible pain (thanks mom!); how badly their vaginas tore, got infected, then tore again; among other horrifying stories not fit for dinner conversation, a woman may find herself pregnant and learning these very real possibilities for the first time. Society wants you to think of the glow, not the farting, leaking, pain, tearing, and shitting, because if women carefully considered all these downsides, some undoubtedly would have second thoughts. It is true the more women know and contemplate the implications of these realities, the more careful they are going to be about their decision to reproduce, but this should not be a bad thing.

Again, I’m not a medical professional, but I speculate jumping into pregnancy imagining the glow and the rewards of motherhood, then being subsequently ambushed by a slew of physical ailments, followed by serious physical compromise or injury during labor, topped off with the reality of becoming responsible for a squirming, screaming, crying, shitting bundle of mess all while suffering sleep deprivation and possible problems with breastfeeding, is an easy recipe for depression.

This is exactly why all women should seek out all the relevant information, both positive and negative before deciding to have children. Having worked in the field of healthcare law for many years, I know the detailed and precise description of risks and complications, both common and rare, discussed with women before they have so much as an appendix removal, brow lift, or boob job. For almost all surgeries, no matter how minor, physicians will review risks, benefits, and alternatives, providing an overview of common complications, expected outcomes, and even some remote risks, such as death. They are required to do this for every procedure, even life-saving surgeries most people in their right mind would never refuse. The basic rationale behind this practice is that people should know what they are getting into, and that includes not only common and expected risks and outcomes, but at least an idea of remote and unlikely complications as well.

Yet, as it relates to reproduction, a completely elective choice in this day and age, women hear merely about “pregnancy glow,” “bundle of joy,” and perhaps vague references to fatigue and morning sickness before committing to something of significant medical, physical, and emotional impact not only for the next 9 months, but indeed, possibly for the next 18 years. With this in mind, it’s actually amazing more women do not suffer post-partum depression.

Of course, while society has a tendency to give women inaccurate impressions, women need to take responsibility for their own decisions. I doubt many women look into the full panoply of risks, complications, and outcomes associated with pregnancy, labor, and the post-partum period in great detail before deciding to become pregnant; I know I didn’t, and I am actually someone who really took my sweet time deciding to have children at all. I had cataloged in the back of my mind a collection of horror stories from honest women over the years, and went into this with an understanding of a lot of worst case scenarios, because that’s my personality. I figured if I could accept the possibility of these worst case scenarios, then I would not have any regrets, but as far as being actually informed, this is totally not sufficient, and I met with plenty of surprises upon finding myself pregnant.

As with most things in life, preparation is key, and I surmise the more women know, the more they can do to prepare emotionally and physically, and the less shock and disappointment they will experience, which in turn would reduce the likelihood of post-partum depression.

Is Your Daughter Going to Be a Slut? Take this Quiz To Find Out!

Desperate to know whether your little princess has a future as a ho-bag or slut in store for her? Take this simple quiz to find out. Keep track of your score for each question. At the end, give yourself 5 points for each “yes” answer, and 0 points for each “no” answer.

  1. Did your wife eat enough kale while pregnant?
  2. Did your wife consume too much sugar while pregnant?
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how good looking are you?
  4. On a scale of 1-10, how hot is your wife?
  5. Is your wife a hoochie?

Just kidding. This is not a real quiz. And the answer for anyone taking it is, “Who fucking cares?”

Men in their late twenties and thirties everywhere who slutted it up in their youth and find themselves expecting, or father to, a young daughter have this bizarre concern their precious princess is going to grow up to be a loose woman. I do not know where this fear comes from, as it takes two people to have sex, and if these men enjoyed slutting it up so much in their youth, they should view slutty women as a boon and source of great joy to men everywhere, not something to be feared. I love drinking beer, traveling, and eating. Therefore, I would not have any irrational fear of raising a son who becomes a lover of beer, traveling, or eating. See how that works?

Oh, wait. Sex is different. Women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex, so all those slooties these men slept with in their youth were defective, broken, or immoral. This mentality strains logic to the breaking point, yet is shockingly common. Men somehow want to constantly fuck different people, but cannot bear the idea the women on the receiving end might do the same and enjoy it. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because they are rapists at heart. I think it entirely fair to characterize it as such, if these men truly enjoy going around feeling like they’ve conquered a bunch of unwilling, unhappy, and begrudging participants, who obviously cannot possibly be moral, normal, or healthy individuals if they actually want the sex. There is no way around this logic. Every time a guy fucks a woman, hopefully, that woman is consenting to it and enjoying it. If a guy has consensual sex, there is presumably a woman on the other end who wanted to have it with him. This isn’t fucking rocket science.

Or maybe the real fear is just that – these men come to a realization that they were predating upon women they believed to be emotionally unbalanced, weak, not in the right mind, and/or semi-retarded, and fear their daughters may face similar predators. In that event, the men with these concerns should reflect upon their lifetime of asshole behavior, rather than project their fears into a sick need to obsess over their daughters’ sexuality. Additionally, maybe the focus should be on raising a happy, well-balanced, non-retarded daughter instead of fretting over the number of dicks that might go inside her vagina. The order of priorities could not possibly be more absurd here.

Even in 2017, some men are unable to grasp the concept that individual women own their own sexuality; men – whether husbands, boyfriends, fathers, or brothers – do not. A woman is like, a human being and stuff. Women have sexual desires just like the other 50 percent of humanity. Men fail to understand they sound like total neanderthals when they talk about using guns to threaten their daughter’s boyfriends. They do realize this is the acceptable, westernized version of certain fundamentalist Muslims who treat their daughters and wives like property and guard their sexuality with head-to-toe covering, right?

Making violent threats of murder no less, against innocent young boys trying to date your daughter is not funny. It is not cute or merely being “overprotective.” It is fucking disturbed and psychotic. I have a nice brother, about 5 1/2 years younger than me, who is a good person, and whom I love. I was probably a gun-hating liberal in his early days of high school, but if I learned some deranged dad of some princess threatened him with a gun, I would have been on Google searching the fastest way to get my own fucking gun to threaten to blow that dad’s head off myself. If you think threatening to stone or beat women to protect their chastity is lunacy, you should find violent threats against innocent, young, male suitors for the purpose of protecting your daughter’s virginity equally insane.

It is literally the same concept. Male relatives who think they have a right to use violence to enforce their female family members’ chastity – whether against the woman herself, or against perceived violators of that chastity – do so because they feel entitled to control female sexuality, “purity,” and ultimately, reproduction. They likely can articulate no reasonable explanations as to why they feel compelled to control sexuality or reproduction, but it’s certainly traced back to the base and patriarchal construct that emphasizes the need for women to be virgins. This is 2017, people. Your daughter is not a piece of property; she owns herself, and by extension, she also owns her personality, her desires, her actions, and her sexuality. There are few things in existence in the United States in 2017 that are more embarrassingly unprogressive and backwards than this.

And please don’t insult anyone’s intelligence by arguing the “biology” card. While there are obvious biological differences between men and women, these are far too minor to justify society’s drastically disparate treatment of men versus women’s sexuality. Further, even assuming your bullshit biological “argument” is correct, biology does not dictate morality. Biology explains why children are more likely to be murdered by their stepfathers than biological fathers, but this says absolutely nothing about the morality of murdering stepchildren. Stepfathers don’t want to waste resources on children who do not pass on their genetic material, and are more likely to kill unrelated children. But even though biology explains this phenomenon, the explanation is nevertheless irrelevant to the ethics involving murdering children. Similarly, whether biology explains how women behave sexually is irrelevant to the ethics or morality of telling women how they should behave sexually.

If you want to dwell on biology, arguably, men invented this patriarchal idea that women love being virgins, hate sex, and only want it with one person because evolutionarily speaking, men want to pass on their own DNA (and no one else’s), and therefore wanted to guarantee they did not spend energy and resources being cuckolded and raising a child who biologically belonged to another man. But again, irrespective of what accurate or inaccurate biological explanations may exist, this is entirely irrelevant to ethics and morality. Also, newsflash: paternity tests were invented in the 1960’s, and there is no longer any excuse for a creepy obsession with seeking unmarred virgins under the guise of wanting to preserve your DNA. You can always find out with an extremely high degree of accuracy whether a woman is carrying your DNA or not. See e.g. Various episodes of Maury and Jerry Springer. It seems the classy, educated gentlemen featured on those shows are capable of grasping the benefits of a paternity test. Men who haven’t caught onto this nifty invention are a good 60 years behind the times. Let me emphasize that part about being “backwards” once more.

Then, there’s the crowd favoring the “emotional problem” argument alongside the “biology” argument. This group couches the thinly-veiled criticism of women who love sex in falsely sympathetic terms, in that they pretend they only shun or dislike sluts because they claim it is evidence of some kind of emotional or mental illness in women. Again, I fail to see how a man who loves having sex is normal, but a woman in the same situation is mentally or emotionally ill; regardless, this sentiment is nonsense for other reasons. Don’t think you can bullshit me with this kind of false concern about the emotional well-being of women, because I know the men pulling this lame excuse aren’t also irrationally and inexplicably concerned about their female fetus or 4-year old princess becoming an alcoholic, drug abuser, manic-depressive, narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath, which are equally if not more common, and much more serious and destructive emotional problems. Read: “I don’t care if my daughter is a half-retarded heroin junkie sociopath – just please don’t let it be the case that she loves sex!”

I thought I was slightly neurotic because I daydream of animal costumes for my fetus (cat ears! leopard print!) and have detailed mental debates on which classical instrument she should play (piano if we choose a traditional lifestyle, violin or cello if we decide to live a nomadic one), but I’m pretty sure being scared of how many dicks will one day see her vagina encompasses a crazy of epic proportions.

My parents basically never had any discussions about sex with me, and left that task up to public schooling and my friends. However, I recall one time in high school, when my friend joked in front of my mother that her mother thought she was a big whore. My mother raised her eyebrows and said something to the effect of, “Don’t worry about being a whore. Just don’t get AIDS and don’t get pregnant.” I probably laughed hysterically at the time, but in retrospect, this is practical and reasonable advice for a 15 year-old girl.

My husband and I are concerned about whether our future daughter will be intelligent, healthy, and happy. We do not give two donkey shits about whether one day many years down the road she might have sex with more men than the acceptable number set by society. If you do, your priorities might be in the wrong place.