Wonder Woman and the Lack of Modern Day Heroines
If you are like me, you grew up watching boys having all the fun with their superhero action figures and you were handed a Barbie doll clad in pink. It wasn't until the Wonder Woman series starring Lynda Carter and Star Wars featuring Princess Leia portrayed by Carrie Fisher both debuted in the mid and late 70’s that we little girls had any strong female role models to look up to.
Since then, female heroines have continued to be surprisingly lacking in the mainstream as compared to the amount that boys have been given. While we may have had She-Ra, Princess of Power (He Man’s twin sister) in the 80’s and Xena, Warrior Princess in the 90’s, most of our role models have been less than adventurous. Strawberry Shortcake and Smurfette hardly conjured images of strong-willed females, rather they reeked of the outnumbered and often overlooked female in a male-dominated society.
Another troubling fact is that traditionally, female heroes (particularly those depicted in comic books and graphic novels) seem to always be lacking in the clothing department, but seemingly well-blessed in their bustiness and curves. This is yet one more overt sexual objectification of women and so contributes to a life of self-image issues for young girls the world over.
And so, it was with great glee that many of us celebrated the small cameo appearance Wonder Woman was afforded in 2016's Batman vs. Superman (sadly, a mediocre movie at best). But when rumours started to fly about a film of her own, Wonder Woman once again sprang to the forefront of many a now adult woman’s attention. For literally decades we have been watching as female heroines have been relegated to supporting roles of the male hero. And to be frank, it’s been an obnoxious wait.
Although female role models for little girls today are still a sparse lot to choose from, there has been progress made as more of them have been presented through movies such as The Hunger Games Trilogy, and the latest Star Wars instalments, The Force Awakens and Rogue One. And for little girls who don’t know about the original Wonder Woman TV series, the upcoming Wonder Woman movie represents another notch in the belt of their too-young-to-understand liberation – the one three waves of feminism throughout history have suffered through and fought to secure.
And that’s what DC Comics and Warner Brother Studios got right with the new Wonder Woman movie. They gave us an empowered woman, one that comes from a long line of other empowered women. In fact, Wonder Woman (aka Diana Prince), is Princess Diana of the island Themyscira, an Amazonian land where there are no men. Instead, these strong women are entirely self-sufficient, having had life blown into them by the Greek gods and goddesses (according to the 1942 origin backstory). They are cooperative and peaceful, yet have been trained as warriors to protect themselves from outsiders.
In February of 1987, after several revamps of Wonder Woman’s life story to reflect actual real-world events, Wonder Woman was charged with the task of bringing peace to “Patriarch's World,” in Wonder Woman vol. 2, #1. This comic was released after the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” series and is significant in that it is basically portrayed the anti-patriarchy: a woman being sent to save the man’s world which has been thrown into chaos by, well, men.
Now, there are not many little girls that are going to go back and research the backstory of Wonder Woman. But they don’t necessarily need to because they will get enough of Princess Diana’s history in the new movie to know that Wonder Woman uses her mind and morals, to wield her sword and shield in righting the wrongs caused by men. She does not need help from anyone, especially not from a man, but draws upon her own inner strength. She is the fictional big-screen embodiment of the potential every little girl carries within her, and what every woman can be – minus the bullet deflecting bracelets.