I went and saw Wonder Woman last night with my husband, our two teenaged sons, and our college-bound daughter. It wasn’t my first superhero movie; we’ve seen enough of those that one might even call me a bit jaded about the genre (except for Groot; I love Groot). But one would be wrong to call me jaded today, now that I’ve seen this movie.
I loved it—no, I reveled in it, in ways I never expected and will probably never be able to fully explain, particularly to men who already don’t get it. For days, I’ve been seeing stories about the movie’s impact, particularly on women and girl viewers; it’s a game-changer, but hard to express in words, because the impact is so visceral—or at least, it was to me.
So instead of an explanation that would likely fall far short of any sort of clarity, I’m going with this list of life lessons—and some lighter-hearted observations—I took away from the movie (it’ll make more sense to you if you see the movie first). I find them to be significant, and seeing them up there on the big screen was not only monumental, but also a reminder that other people thought so, too.
Oh, and if you’re worried about spoilers–just go see the damned movie!
- Listen to your sister. We women spend far too much time tearing each other down, ignoring not only the wisdom, the life experiences, the different perspectives each one of us brings to the world, but also the shared life experiences we all have in common, no matter who we are. If we spent more time listening to the women around us, hearing their stories—not just our mothers and sisters, but every woman—just imagine how much we could learn from each other, and how powerful we could become.
- Dress to fight. This isn’t about literally fighting, for most of us—this is about loving the body you are given. Love its curves, love its strength, love its softness, love all the amazing things it can do. Dress in a way that makes you feel good about you, because nobody else’s opinion matters. Addendum: Edna Mode may have been mistaken about capes.
- A woman doesn’t “need” a man, any more than a man “needs” a woman. If you’re a man reading this, don’t get your jock strap in a bunch yet; just hear me out: Women are smart, women are competent, and women are strong. Virtually all the things women used to believe they “needed” a man to do for them or on their behalf (provide for their household financially, teach their children*, heal them, provide spiritual guidance, vote for them, fight for them, rescue them, govern them—well, that one’s another post altogether) they can do for themselves now. It may unnerve some men to think about it, but researchers say they’re even getting closer to a woman not even needing a man to reproduce.
By the same token, however, and I hope that this relaxes that pinching jockstrap a bit, a man doesn’t really “need” a woman, either. Thanks to the enlightenment of the past few decades, we know men can do virtually everything we used to think they “needed” a woman to do: cook, clean, sew, raise babies (and not just in some Mr. Mom doofus kind of way), teach our children*, nurse, grocery shop, do laundry. So yeah, a man doesn’t need a woman, and a woman doesn’t need a man, except…
- A human needs a human. Just because we’re strong, competent, and smart, doesn’t mean that we can function in this world alone. We need others, need those strong, enduring, steadfast relationships that we can count on every minute of every day—whether it’s a man or a woman, a parent, a spouse, or a best friend. While we can do many things for ourselves, without the aid or assistance of any particular man or woman, we are not designed to be alone, so a woman needs a man, a man needs a man, a woman needs a woman, and a man needs a woman. We need each other.
If you’re a woman reading this, never hesitate to make your voice heard, especially if you are the only woman in any room, ever, that looks like this:
- If you have the chance to change the world for the better, leap that chasm, climb that tower, launch that boat, cross that ocean, toss that goddamned tank.
- Don’t grab the only gas mask. Put others, particularly the weak, the poor, and the vulnerable, ahead of yourself.
8. Demand Truth in all things, especially from yourself.
9. Learn to speak a foreign language.
- We all, every one of us, have more power inside us than we know. Whenever possible, use it to do good in the world. Temper justice with mercy.
Well, that’s about it for now; I tried to be as succinct as possible. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, go. If you have kids, take them, too, and talk to them afterwards, both the boys and the girls, about what they saw, what they thought, and how they think the world around them should be. They are, after all, our future. Lastly, I will leave you with a prediction: Cuff bracelets are going to be HUGE this year:
*Funny how, for a long time, only men could be teachers; then, for a while, teaching was considered women’s work. A great example of how arbitrary perceptions can be.