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  1. #1
    Spectacular Member Geraldofrivia's Avatar
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    Default Patty Jenkins says Wonder Woman not a Feminist Superhero

    Jenkins, 45, bristles at this last idea, however. “[Wonder Woman] doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder. That was something I felt … that I really brought in. We had a lot of conversations about feminism and her point of view. She’s not a feminist. It never occurred to her that she would treat somebody differently to somebody else, which is the stronger statement.”

    What do you guys think?

    https://www.scmp.com/culture/film-tv...-movies-female

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    I think there is a lot to unpack there, and also make clear that I have no idea on Patty Jenkins's views or ideas on feminism (though I'd expect her to know more than I do).

    A lot comes down to how one views feminism. If one reduces it to, say, "the radical idea that women are people too", then yes, Wonder Woman is clearly a feminist. But it's a long way from that to the feminist critique and analysis of the current society and culture. To start with, feminist ideology is intrinsically steeped in the idea of genders and the role they play in society: it is a reaction to patriarchy. Diana grew up entirely outside such constructions. I think that was what Jenkins was driving at: feminism is an analysis and critique of something that Diana never has experienced or had to deal with.

    As a liberal socialist (in the European sense) I can pose a similar question if Diana is a communist, because most incarnations of Themyscira to me very much looks like a state-less and class-less society without wage labour (note: state here means the repressive elements of government; the definition also pretty clearly excludes every modern society described as communist). To me, that does not make Diana a communist: rather she is a person who grew up in a functional communist society. She can agree with the goals, but a lot of the ideas and patterns of thoughts will be very foreign to her.

    If we go to how she was conceived by Marston, then things get even muddier. He (and Peters) were very familiar with early liberal feminism and the suffragettes, but Marston's feminism (if it can be called that) was more patriarchy reversed than anything else. You can probably find feminists like that today, but Jenkins is clearly not one of them.

    This is also something that is echoed by the movie. While it carries an intrinsically feminist banner in that it shows a lot of women in leading roles normally reserved for men, it doesn't really do anything with it. It is representation without a message. Which is fine as far as it goes—superhero films aren't noted for their ideological stringency—but it makes the film a bit shallower than it could have been.

    There is one piece of feminist critique of our culture that I believe could have improved the film, and better yet it would only have amounted to cutting two short scenes: Diana inviting Steve into her hotel room in Veld, and the picture of their window from outside. That is, the movie would have skipped from Diana and Steve talking and dancing in the square directly to the morning after. The reason for that is that Wonder Woman, at core, is a coming-of-age story. And one of the things that is ingrained in that coming-of-age stories for women are tied to them getting together with a man. Boys can become men in many different ways; girls become women by discovering boys (or men). In fact, I believe a huge reason why Frozen was such a big hit was because it rejected that idea and pattern. Instead of following through on the message that men are necessary for procreation but unnecessary for pleasure, Wonder Woman chose to buy into the established pattern that men are necessary to make girls into women.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  3. #3
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    This would be a lot easier to interpret and comment upon had Jenkins offered a definition of a feminist.

    I can see an opinion that WW is not a feminist because she came from a place where gender oppression simply isn't a thing because there was only one gender. Further, barring that brief Emma Peel era, WW has never been a woman without power surrounded by males holding all the power, whether maliciously or obliviously. Thus, it may be that Jenkins thinks WW lacks for the skin in the game true feminism requires.

    I can also see an opinion that WW's mission has usually been about peace, love, and a better way that included equality for all, but in which gender equality was not necessary the central ethos. So, it may be that Jenkins thinks a feminist superhero should have feminism at the center of her raison d'etre.

    All of that, however, is just me guessing. To me, WW is about the power of women, but I can see how others might think WW's story isn't feminist for leaving out the "relative to men" part.

  4. #4
    Mighty Member Koriand'r's Avatar
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    I believe she feels this way because she doesn't want to compete with Captain Marvel or have Wonder Woman 1984 face a similar backlash from the unenlightened.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Note that the linked interview was from 2017.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  6. #6
    Relic Seeker Pinsir's Avatar
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    In the first film, Wonder Woman isn't technically a feminist. Feminism is an ideology whose origins are clearly documented to the 19th century Americas and Europe (which WW and her kin are not a part of). Yet, even if Wonder Woman as the character isn't feminist, the work was produced during a period where feminism exists and therefore feminist themes will naturally slip into the narrative. So just because Wonder Woman as a character may not view herself as a feminist (as she isn't even aware of the idea), the character paradoxically, is clearly feminist.

    That being said, I don't think my statements above is really what Jenken's is getting at. She seems to be saying that because Wonder Woman is not oppressed (or rather, does not see herself as oppressed) that she therefore isn't a feminist because feminism is about correcting that oppression. This may work in the context of the first film, but, at the end of that story she becomes marooned on 'Man's World'. Are we to believe that in the 60 year-ish gap between the first and second film, Wonder Woman doesn't want other women to at least achieve social parity with men?
    Last edited by Pinsir; 05-17-2019 at 03:46 PM.
    Want to read Wonder Woman stories, but don't know where to start? Check out my top 10 lists for Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age and Modern Age Wonder Woman tales!

    I don't dislike the MCU films because they're Marvel branded, I dislike them because they're bad films.

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    We know too little about the WW84 to speculate, but it seems like it is set to at least acknowledge the AIDS crisis, which would mean bringing LGBTQ questions into the fore. So I'm hopeful that Jenkins will approach or use some feminist themes or analysis in the movie, which I agree with Pinsir is something that is needful.

    On the other hand, few of the writers after Marston has chosen to engage with feminist themes. Marston at least picked up the ways that women are made invisible within the patriarchy on numerous occasions. The writer who has engaged most directly with Marston's feminism is sadly Morrison, and he made a strawman out of it to knock down—more a parody of feminism than anything else.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    Note that the linked interview was from 2017.
    Quote Originally Posted by Koriand'r View Post
    I believe she feels this way because she doesn't want to compete with Captain Marvel or have Wonder Woman 1984 face a similar backlash from the unenlightened.
    Note: What kjn said. Nonetheless...

    Captain Marvel is a feminist movie, in an oblique way. The Kree, are a masculine power that Danvers overcomes (although, the presence of Minerva undermines that).

    There is the scene where Yon-Rag tries to point out Danvers' failures (with an undefined assumption that he failures are because she lacks a penis), that also points out how she always gets up. It's a personal opinion, but that moment feels contrived; designed to force the message. This is why I say CM's feminism is oblique.

    Thus, CM can't really claim to be more of a feminist movie than Wonder Woman can.

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    I'd say Captain Marvel had some more feminist beats than Wonder Woman. First was the way that Yon-Rag is constantly gaslightning Vers by telling her to control her emotions, that only he can help her become the person she was meant to be, and the way out for her is to explicitly reject that conditioning. It was tied into the heroic ideal that Carol always gets up.

    Another feminist element of Captain Marvel was that the strongest and most meaningful relation was between Carol and Maria, and the way that they obviously supported each other in a hostile environment.

    While we're at the topic of Captain Marvel, one comparison between the two movies lie in Gadot's and Larson's approach to smiling. A lot of women smile as a defense mechanism, to appear non-threatening. But note the situations in which the two of them smile. They only smile towards people they are happy with. In a way, Larson's "wooden" face in the movie is a feminist statement in and of itself. She's only going to smile towards people she likes, thank you very much.

    Note: I'm sure WB and Jenkins would be exceedingly happy for the kind of backlash that Captain Marvel got…
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  10. #10
    Spectacular Member VonHammersmark's Avatar
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    She’s wise to distance herself from feminism which, contrary to popular belief, is not just anathema to “straight white misogynist dudes”, a crushing majority of women reject feminism as well

    Furthermore, I picture Wonder Woman as a free, independent thinker, as opposed to someone who adheres to an ideology. To be loyal to an ideology is to abandon the pursuit of truth and Wonder Woman is all about Truth

  11. #11
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    Patty's problem is probably generational. Depending when you grew up you may have got stuck with a particular definition of a word. For instance, liberalism is a perfectly good word, but a certain generation took it and gave it a peculiar meaning, so now it's tainted for people who grew up with that odd connotation.

    Feminism is a simply fine term for giving women equal rights in a free and democratic society. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s and absorbed those values. I feel good about the word. When I read the Ms. publication of WONDER WOMAN in 1972, I was happy to associate Wonder Woman with feminism. Helen Reddy was one of my favourite singers and I sung along with her when she sang "I am woman hear me roar," as well as "I don't know how to love him." She had a variety show on TV and I watched every episode. Women's Lib was a great thing just like Black is Beautiful, Give Peace a Chance and Save the Earth.

    Patty Jenkins would not have had my experience so for her feminism means something different. But Wonder Woman is a feminist and DC has made a lot of money in merchandising from that association.
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  12. #12
    Mighty Member Koriand'r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    I'd say Captain Marvel had some more feminist beats than Wonder Woman. First was the way that Yon-Rag is constantly gaslightning Vers by telling her to control her emotions, that only he can help her become the person she was meant to be, and the way out for her is to explicitly reject that conditioning. It was tied into the heroic ideal that Carol always gets up.

    Another feminist element of Captain Marvel was that the strongest and most meaningful relation was between Carol and Maria, and the way that they obviously supported each other in a hostile environment.

    While we're at the topic of Captain Marvel, one comparison between the two movies lie in Gadot's and Larson's approach to smiling. A lot of women smile as a defense mechanism, to appear non-threatening. But note the situations in which the two of them smile. They only smile towards people they are happy with. In a way, Larson's "wooden" face in the movie is a feminist statement in and of itself. She's only going to smile towards people she likes, thank you very much.

    Note: I'm sure WB and Jenkins would be exceedingly happy for the kind of backlash that Captain Marvel got…
    Why, because all the controversy helped the film find the audience it was trying to reach? I'd agree with that. I've also gone on record stating I feel Captain Marvel sold it's feminist message in a real world way that was far more effective than anything in Wonder Woman.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koriand'r View Post
    Why, because all the controversy helped the film find the audience it was trying to reach? I'd agree with that. I've also gone on record stating I feel Captain Marvel sold it's feminist message in a real world way that was far more effective than anything in Wonder Woman.
    The only think i know is that cm made more money. But i don't think it sold a better feminist message. Because to me, that movie is poorly executed. The biggest factor of its success, was being a sandwich movie between IW and EA. How much of chance does the sequele have to gross as much as the first or more? Without the hype of first female lead mcu movie and the placement between IW and AG. The sequele will have to stand all on its own. And for that they need to work on better script, acting and action. Because the word of mouth from a big portion of the people that watched cm is not positive. And most critics also found it to be underwhelming.

    I think what Patty means is that Diana sees everybody as equal. The interview is from 2017. In the 2017 film Diana is a fish out of water in man's world. But one thing we know is that she never treated anybody differently.
    Last edited by starlight25; 05-17-2019 at 07:22 PM.

  14. #14
    Spectacular Member Geraldofrivia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starlight25 View Post
    The only think i know is that cm made more money. But i don't think it sold a better feminist message. Because to me, that movie is poorly executed. The biggest factor of its success, was being a sandwich movie between IW and EA. How much of chance does the sequele have to gross as much as the first or more? Without the hype of first female lead mcu movie and the placement between IW and AG. The sequele will have to stand all on its own. And for that they need to work on better script, acting and action. Because the word of mouth from a big portion of the people that watched cm is not positive. And most critics also found it to be underwhelming.

    I think what Patty means is that Diana sees everybody as equal. The interview is from 2017. In the 2017 film Diana is a fish out of water in man's world. But one thing we know is that she never treated anybody differently.
    Sure that is what Patty means. It is not like she did amazing job of hiding Diana's feminist lore and roots in Wonder Woman We will see about WW84 but these statements are not making me confident.
    Then there are equally stupid statements like Wonder Woman can be killed by bullets and the way WW nerfed in the movies.
    No mention of Wonder girl, Artemis or Wonder Woman flying or her power level

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geraldofrivia View Post
    Sure that is what Patty means. It is not like she did amazing job of hiding Diana's feminist lore and roots in Wonder Woman We will see about WW84 but these statements are not making me confident.
    Then there are equally stupid statements like Wonder Woman can be killed by bullets and the way WW nerfed in the movies.
    No mention of Wonder girl, Artemis or Wonder Woman flying or her power level
    WW not being bulletproof is DC's fault. In one of rebirth comics they almost killed her with one. And i don't know how much control Patty had over the script of the first movie. As far as i know she had nothing to do with that. So we need to see her in WW84 and the sequele to know how powerful she will portray WW.

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