As numerous studies, commentators, and the documentary Miss Representation amply demonstrate, girls in the US are daily bombarded with media messages that tell them that their only value resides in their physical appearance, while at the same time presenting them with ideals of female beauty that are impossible to achieve. As men have long held most of the positions of power in the US, women have been taught from infancy that all of their successes in life are determined by their ability to beat other women in competitions for male attention and affection, contests wherein they’ll be judged mostly upon how they look. This institutional division and objectification of girls and women causes incredible, life-long pain for everyone, including men. It brutalizes the deepest parts of our private selves and corrupts every aspect of our public lives. Realistic portrayals of women in the media are a critical step in giving today’s girls hope for their future.
The upcoming Wonder Woman film presents a unique opportunity to set a new standard in how powerful, independent women are presented in popular culture. However, in spite of Wonder Woman’s explicit feminist origins, there’s no guarantee that current plans for her live-action film debut will be edifying to young female viewers. In fact, present trends in popular comic books suggest that unless a significant number of people demand otherwise, Wonder Woman will likely disappoint anyone hoping for a feminist story.
Here are just a few of the things that could be done to make the film a fair representation of women:
•Wonder Woman’s island home is populated entirely by women. This population ought to represent women of all shapes and sizes. While early Wonder Woman stories emphasized the Greek origins of the island, it would enrich the film script to insist that the isle has been a sanctuary for Amazons from throughout the world, thus justifying a proportional representation of women of color there. Also, women who’ve lived with only other women for thousands of years will not likely find a need to wear noticeable amounts of makeup, or provocative clothing or uncomfortably high heels. There would also be no reason for them to form cliques or nurse petty rivalries, as no male-dominance dynamic would be present to foster such things among them.
•Wonder Woman might best be portrayed as a person so focused on her mission that she has no time for romance. Male heroes are often portrayed this way and it’s regarded as honorable. In this way, young boys are encouraged to consider their potential regardless of social ties. It would be good for young girls also to realize that their own missions in life aren’t contingent upon their romantic attachments.
•In keeping with her tribal upbringing, Wonder Woman ought to prefer to accomplish tasks with the help of other women. Girls in the US are often shown media images of women who are enemies to one another. Wonder Woman’s story ought to be full of examples of women working together to achieve common goals.
•Wonder Woman’s costume ought to be sensible and modest. Her character ought to be shot in a manner that’s consistent with the way male heroes are shot in films, accentuating her heroic aspects and not simply her physical/sexual ones.