You know that person who, no matter how much you might personally enjoy something, has to shit all over the stuff you love? You didn’t ask them. You don’t really care for their opinion, and yet you’re left to wonder time and again why you have to sit and listen while they put on a one-person production of Debbie Downer: Unrepentant Dillweed Edition.
I had to sit through several of these performances recently. I was not a fan. The Debbie? Men. The thing I loved? Wonder Woman.
As someone who thoroughly enjoys superhero movies, I was still skeptical going in. The times that I’ve seen female superheroes portrayed onscreen, I’ve been disappointed. I’m usually frustrated by romance being a driving force for the hero’s motivation or downfall. It’s like watching a rom-com for people who like to see shit blow up.
But when the lights came back up after Wonder Woman was over, the few complaints I had were technical in nature (things like green screen being super-obvious at times) and didn’t affect how the movie made me feel. And what did it make me feel? Excited. Proud. Thrilled. And included. Here was a superhero film with a compelling female lead, a fleshed-out and complex story, and all the action I enjoyed in other superhero movies, and it felt like it was made for me and women like me.
And instead of letting me, and women like me, enjoy something that entertained and inspired us, the Debbies had to throw in their two cents, again and again and again.
It tends to start out with a little faux feminism — something about how women shouldn’t need a female superhero to look up to because there are plenty of empowering female role models in real life.
I’m a 31-year-old woman. I do not need to look up to superheroes. But I can absolutely look at a movie like Wonder Woman and the scenes of strong, powerful women training for battle on Themyscira and feel empowered because I’m watching women displaying their athletic prowess and being presented as a force to be reckoned with. I can watch this scene and finally see women not as inhabitants of bodies that wars are started over, but as the ones the other side prays they won’t meet on the battlefield.
What I can’t wrap my mind around is why men care. Why do they see something like a female lead in a superhero movie and feel the need to explain to us why it’s stupid or pandering or not as good as the movies they’ve seen themselves represented in their whole lives? There is a compulsion among some men to take something that women enjoy or that lifts us up and filter it through the male lens. We did not ask them what they think. We do not care. We just want to watch a movie and for them to leave us the hell alone for five minutes after it’s over, so we can soak it all in.
Some men argue that they never bought a ticket to a superhero movie because the lead was male. Well, I’ve never not bought a ticket to a superhero movie because the lead was male. They fail to see that neither of us had a choice. They went to see superhero movies, and superheroes tended to be male. When they looked up at the screen, they saw themselves represented and that sends a message, whether you want to admit it or not.
And if women buy tickets to see this movie simply because it has a female lead, who the fuck cares? Again, why do men give a shit? Not everything in society needs to pass through a male filter so the world can be made aware of how they view it, and whether or not they approve.
Here’s a lasso of truth, fellas: Not everything is for you. Growing up in a culture where practically everything is made with you in mind, I guess I can understand why that might be hard for some men to digest. But this is one instance (there are lots of others, but we are focusing on the small potatoes of a feature film today) where we, women, should be able to take a hard pass on male opinions. No mansplaining needed.
And I know I’m going to get snarky comments from some hen-pecking keyboard warrior saying that I am giving my opinion on why certain people shouldn’t give their opinions and how ironic that is. Here is your acknowledgment. Here is your applause. We are all so grateful that you caught that. Your trophy is in the mail.
Representation matters. It means something. Representation in the media is important for women and girls, especially young girls. All those little boys running around the playground wearing Iron Man masks and Hulk hands? They’re about to be joined by some little girls with a W on their capes and the kind of confidence that only a 6-year-old who thinks they’re a superhero can possess. I dare those boys to ask her why she’s wearing a Wonder Woman crown.