When I first heard about the backlash over a theatre in Texas announcing that it would have a few women only screenings of the new Wonder Woman feature film I produced an eye roll that could likely have been seen from space. If our space program was still intact, that is.
Yes, men in Austin, Texas were none too pleased when told that in the spirit of the film’s overall message of girl power, they would be kept out of a few showings. Looking through the Facebook comments under the under the announcement for this event was a truly exhausting experience.
For every man or woman who commented calmly trying to spark a debate about the meaning of equality, there were ten more spewing hateful little proverbs about women knowing their place. If you have spent even five minutes on any form of social media you are likely familiar with this pattern.
However, I tried to look past the folks who were commenting just to stir up an offensive storm and focus on my own kneejerk reaction of glee when I hear the phrase “no boys allowed.” I can’t help it, the phrase conjures up all sorts of lovely thoughts. The clubhouses of my elementary school days, getaway weekends with close friends in which no one attempts to explain things I already know to me, and a possible future in which politicians don’t get to decide what I do with my body.
Friday night I went to see the blockbuster movie that is stirring up all that controversy and I have to admit, I had a complete change of heart. I don’t think there should be a single screening of this film that doesn’t have a healthy sprinkling of men in the audience.
This is because I think the message contains a lesson that is far more important for male audiences. That message isn’t subtle: Wonder Woman is strong, smart, and fearless. She’s been that way since her creation in the 1940s. While there are some women who need a reminder that they possess these qualities, far more often it is men who need this reminder.
Don’t get me wrong, photos of little girls dressed up like the iconic character proudly posing in front of the big screen equivalent makes me as emotional as those Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercials. Still, what we need is a generation of little boys who grew up with a legitimate female superhero.
When I was growing up Wonder Woman already existed but she wasn’t starring in her own cartoons the way her super male counterparts were. Truthfully the only time I thought of her is when someone would dress like her for Halloween or she would make a cameo appearance opposite a titular character.
The best part is that this message about female empowerment comes in the form of something that men already love. Women, like myself, love a good superhero flick as well, but the numbers don’t lie. The audience for gritty superhero reboots are overwhelmingly male.
It’s human nature that we are more likely to listen, and maybe even change our minds, when information is given to us in a package that we like and understand. Chances are if in the past you haven’t liked my editorials you read through the first few sentences of this, produced your own larger than life eye roll, and turned the page.
However, if you’re a diehard fan of DC Comics chances are you weren’t going to miss their latest installment. The film doesn’t feel inherently political, it simply showcases a strong female character. It’s not a perfect film, and it isn’t without its issues but it exists and it tells a story not often told.
So no, I can’t agree that women only screenings of this movie were the right choice. The way of the future isn’t just about women who know their own worth, it’s about men who know women’s worth as well. Wonder Woman has been around nearly 80 years, and she remains a great carrier of that message.