Quite by chance, my most recent visit home to New Zealand coincided with the release of the 2017 Wonder Woman movie. Of course, I had to indulge in the unexpected opportunity to watch it in a movie cinema.
Seeing a movie is a big deal for someone who lives in the middle of Papua New Guinea’s isolated mountain ranges, with no movie cinemas and no DVD rental stores, let alone the option of Netflix. Unless you are willing to risk the pirated discs of dubious quality that are touted on the streets, you have no way of seeing anything that has been released in the same year.
So armed with chocolate, a snuggly scarf (it was winter in New Zealand, after all) and my best friend, aka mom, I went off to the cinema with all the anticipation of a six-year old going to her first feature film.
Let me just say that watching an entire movie from beginning to end, on something bigger than my laptop screen, and without even worrying about power cuts once, was AWESOME.
And this movie was especially thrilling for me — a woman living in a particularly female-suppressing society — because it was all about the wonders of… women.
And women were amazing!
Women were owning their choices. Women were heroes. Women were warriors. Women were making mistakes and rising again. Women were selfless. Women were respected.
Women just WERE.
Not only were the women in this film the heroes, the saviours, the game-changers of the world, but it was perfectly normal for them to be so. In fact, it was nothing to raise an eyebrow over or to get excited about or to say aloud in case someone hadn’t yet caught up on the truth that:
And the world is better off because of it.
End of story.
I could not believe how exhilarating it was to cheer on Gal Gadot’s brilliant portrayal as she powered through the Wonder Woman movie with all the grace and strength that makes our kind so powerful and unique.
She did not apologize for doing what needed to be done. She did not automatically reign in her sense of purpose for fear of being accused an attention seeker. She did not restrain from calling men out on their cowardly inaction for fear of being labelled an angry bitch.
I watched in awe and not a little longing as Diana/Wonder Woman unashamedly took on the world with no sense of uncertainty or submissiveness. She was, in a sense, too naïve to know that she had no place stepping into humanity’s battle.
She came. She saw. She got on with saving the world.
I was weeping by the end of the movie, and I wasn’t sure why. I sat there in the dimmed, hushed house of Hollywood with hot tears flowing down my face.
Perhaps they were tears of comprehension. Of fresh hope that maybe — just maybe — being a woman is a valid status in this world. Maybe, having one’s own mind and heart, and following through on one’s own passions and convictions is not only acceptable but aspirational.
Or perhaps they were tears of anger. If this is the real world — if women are truly equals with men — then why is Wonder Woman’s existence too idealistic or even too feared in the world in which I live? If she stepped through the crack of time and into 2017, would she be welcomed with relief? Or would a pussy-grabbing president harass her into supposed submission while the women-bashing media debated the flaws of being incidentally sexy when one simply wants to be taken seriously?
The odds are never in our favour.
Looking back, I think there was ultimately a strong helping of Katniss-like determination in my tears.
I’m tired of apologizing when I present a good idea to a male-dominant crowd. I’m tired of my voice being overlooked and ignored, or painted with a male pseudonym so that it will be ‘accepted’. I’m tired of watching my carefully crafted requests or real needs get brushed off the table and into the ‘sensitivity compost’ trash can.
The problem is that now I know the truth.
And the world is better off because of it.
End of story.
Seeing Wonder Woman take to a male-dominant battlefield, fight for the downtrodden of humanity, and overturn the inept and corrupt systems of society in the midst of and despite the salvos flung at her by men… Well, that’s what really did it for me. That’s what made me sob in recognition and anger and renewed determination.
Because what is pinned to my noticeboard by a subjective media doesn’t matter anymore. It cannot stop me anymore if I am told to sit, to be silent, at the round table of knights.
I am stronger than I know. I am more valued than I see. And if my voice can make a difference for just one woman, today, then I will speak. And I will speak again. I will stand. I will fight. I will love.
Who else is going to tell women — many of whom think they live to be stepped upon — that we are worthy of equality? Who else is going to insist that our efforts receive recognition? Or that our minds deserve validation and our bodies deserve respect?
If not you, if not I… then who? Each of us needs to come face to face with this simple question, and give it a simple answer.
Who will look, and see, and gracefully yet unapologetically change the world?
I, Wonder Woman.
Emma is an Italian-South African with a New Zealand passport, living in Papua New Guinea. As well as years of running a puppet ministry and directing student choirs, she has served with Mission Aviation Fellowship since 2007, currently based in PNG. Emma's deep joy is in writing, music, playing with her ginger cats and finding God in unexpected places.
Read Emma's creative expressions at www.girlkaleidoscope.wordpress.com or follow her PNG adventures at www.pngponderings.wordpress.com
Emma McGeorge’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/emma-mcgeorge.html