I never grew up with Wonder Woman. In fact, I think I might’ve made conscious decisions to avoid her at times, because – as she was female – there’s no doubt in my mind that, at some point, I heard, “That’s your superhero.”
It isn’t to say that I didn’t grow up with Barbies, Care Bears, and Rainbow Brite. But, The Ghostbusters were my first true fandom (followed closely by TMNT) that filled our home with action figures and accessories galore. It just stood to reason, even at age 7, that a proton pack and jumpsuit were more realistic than heels and a Ferrari.
Looking back on it, I NEVER liked being TOLD what I had to enjoy – simply because I was a girl. We weren’t raised that way, and I think I just had a natural aversion to it. Part of me, even then, even being that young – felt like female superheroes were, at times, pandering. As if I was expected to like them, because…girl.
So, I didn’t. Wonder Woman. Batgirl. She-Ra. Yankees jerseys in the color pink. They were okay. If they worked for you, I’m happy. They just weren’t what I was drawn to. Ever.
My childhood was, more often than not, filled with days where my sisters and I were running barefoot through the soft, green Jersey grass singing The Ducktales theme song – arguing over who would be Launchpad McQuack. On each adventure, we’d carry a tiny red Webster’s Dictionary that I can’t recall had any significance to anything other than our imaginations. It led to an obvious and immediate love of Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, Tail Spin, and Darkwing Duck.
We’d spend afternoons divvying up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, always pining to be our favorite. I always chose Raph. In large part because I liked his smartassery. But, I also knew how much Kellie loved Michelangelo. It was always easiest not to upset your younger sisters. On Friday’s we’d beg our parents for pizza.
And with my best friend just next door, a boy named Jeffrey who was a whopping eight months younger than me – there were calculated summers of getting just the right amount of ooze to drip down the Ghostbusters Firehouse so we could send the Ecto-1 back across the living room floor from a haunt in the dinning room to save the day. You haven’t lived until you’ve saved your Firehouse from being haunted.
The only other figure I remember being drawn to was Batman.
Batman was one of my very first favorites, maybe even slightly ahead of The Ghostbusters. I remember being really young (maybe 5 or 6) and super sick at my Aunt Gale’s house while we were visiting in Pennsylvania. My mom’s cousin Louie had a pretty wild Batman collection there — more Batmans than I had ever seen! Most of which I couldn’t touch. Most of which I asked careful questions about hoping that my inquiry would help him to decide that these Batmans NEEDED to be freed from their pristine packaging displayed on the shelves. He must’ve seen my disappointment upon the realization that these were the kind of “look, don’t touch” toys in life.
In no time at all he found a few figurines that I could be trusted with. I knew that they were all special, and eventually the Batmans made me feel better (either that or I had sufficiently met the tiny-human-can’t-puke-anymore-today requirement) while we watched this amazing guy named Adam West on the television. He did the coolest thing I ever saw.
I was hooked.
Louie would later get sick with cancer, and lose his battle while I was still fairly young. So, really. I think this is my only solid memory of him.
Can I tell you all the facts about Batman (or even Ghostbusters or TMNT?) No. They never mattered to me. I was a kid, and I loved what they brought my childhood. I wouldn’t learn until years later, well into adulthood, that Raph was really more angry and confrontational than the sarcastic turtle I grew up with. I didn’t know much about Batman’s back story until then either, or where the heck Robin even came from. And I am positive I know less about the Ghostbusters than I think I do.
The fact is, I don’t need to know everything to be a fan. I’m sure there are some who would argue that point. But I think love can carry me pretty far on this front.
So, I walked into Wonder Woman without knowing much. I knew her name was Diana. I knew there was a lasso involved. I knew she was part of the Justice League. And I knew she was, hands down, my favorite part of Batman v. Superman.
I walked out realizing that, perhaps, I’ve always been Wonder Woman…without ever even knowing it.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, then you may wish to stop reading now. If you continue on? I will not be held responsible for anything you see or read starting…right…meow.
1.Why Do Nothing When You Could Do Something? I am not a person who (usually) opens her mouth to let words fall out without careful thought or enough pestering from an individual that recklessly does not know the tiny bear they’re poking. A bear is still a bear, y’all.
There have been two instances that I can vividly remember where some brainless wretch of a person has made horrible comments of people I love dearly within earshot of me. I let them say the first one without warning. In both instances, hoping they can feel my eyes on them. The second comment received a stern, “Hey. I can HEAR you and you are talking about someone I know and love. So, can you please take your conversation elsewhere or end it?” I’m polite, mindful, and (I feel) more than fair. You can say whatever you want, I just don’t want to hear it.
In one case, I got an apology after the dude’s girlfriend pointed out how fair and “awesome” I was being. In the other case, this woman who was twice my age (but a fraction of the maturity) puffed out her chest and demanded to know why she should listen to me. I sent a look that my fairness was shifting, and her epic assholery was turning up the heat on my blood, and then…she made one.more.comment.
So I ended her. With words. Loudly. For all to hear. Two of my friends might’ve also had to pull my away. It wasn’t that I was going to fight the woman – I was just going to make sure damn well she knew how wrong she was, and sure enough, she was escorted out with her tail between her legs.
The Time that involved a Fight. When we were all much younger, at a party, two of my good friends started getting into a fight that involved alcohol, loud voices, and fists. These dudes tower over me, all well over 6′, I think…and there I was, all 5’4″ of me, in the middle of it separating them, yelling “enough.”
When someone asked later what the hell I was thinking, it was easy, “I knew those two WEREN’T going to punch ME.” We laugh about it now because it all seems so insane that I’d put myself in the middle of it…but…if I hadn’t…who would’ve ended it?
I will always speak up. I will always do something.
I will fight, for those who can not fight for themselves.
2. It’s wonderful. You should be very proud. This scene quickly became one of my favorite moments where we see Diana experience ice cream for the first time – childlike excitement over this new found wonder, she tells the clerk, “You should be very proud!” It’s a humanizing moment, one where we know the rest of the world likely takes the incredible discovery of ice cream for granted, but Diana makes an immediate response to which we can see her appreciation for the “little things” in life.
One of the reasons I loved this scene so much was because I saw myself in it. Little things, things most people take for granted, I do my best to focus in on and appreciate as much as possible. I love being in the moment, I take NOTHING for granted. From ice cream to cool breezes, the way my dog looks at me, and the sound of rain on Monday mornings…I want to experience everything like it’s the first time.
3.Love is My Superpower. (Queso is my Kryptonite) I have been saying “Love is my Superpower” for YEARS, and now I know why it makes sense. I love without fear or hesitation, and I let people know that I love them. There’s no waiting or no shame in that. If I love you, I want you to know it in your bones.
I’m a big, big believer that even when days are grey and ugly, when things just aren’t going your way — there’s still beauty in those days. I am a master of finding the silver lining, even on the absolute worst of our 365. And through it all, through all the hate and fear and ugliness that people are capable of…I know to my core that love will ALWAYS win. These things that people see as weaknesses — love, compassion, and empathy — those are actual powers. That’s what I believe, too, Diana.
It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.
4.With Great Love, Comes Great Loss. That loss is your strength. I know, for a lot of people, this movie spoke to how they’re feeling, how they’ve always felt…to the world we live in now. It was a resounding movie of empowerment for women, and – undeniably – it was that for me too. But the moment where I lost it, and had to furiously blink through tears…was the moment Diana experienced loss.
I was strong before we lost Kellie. But the loss of her. The silenced reality of loss. The permanence of death. Watching it happen. Listen, I was strong before. I knew I was. Then April 2004 hit and my world exploded right in front of my eyes. There was a moment, this brief awakening in my soul — this moment of not knowing what to do, and KNOWING I had to go forward and step out ahead of it and stare it down. And that’s when I heard the theme music, and ended my Ares. It’s when things I couldn’t see or hear or understand before that moment, became clear. It’s when most things in life began to make sense, even as disheveled as they were, and I knew my purpose on this planet.
Through the shattering of life before this moment, and the sheer pain of her death that still courses through me — the loss of her is why I’m half as strong as you think I am. When I feel weak or unable to speak up, when I ache and feel I can’t go on…the loss of her is what strengthens me and pushes me forward.
I am nothing without her, even today. She saved me. She changed the course of my entire life.
I can save today. You can save the world.
5.The future is female. But, then. It’s always been. Step aside, boys. (or join us)
“Where’s My Wonder Woman at?” he held his hand back towards me, and I latched on, as our eyes adjusted to the light outside the theater. Women need strong male counterparts — men who believe in them. Not because WE need them to believe in us. But because there are parts of this world that will need to hear “The Future is Female” directly from men.
There are people out there who feel we still aren’t “adequate” – that complain about all women showings of Wonder Woman, and call us words that should never be uttered to describe someone simply for being the way they were born. And, likely, we females have been called all of them at some point. There are men who still think it’s okay to sexually harass women, whistle and cat call, and demean us…simply for existing, simply for breathing. Like we were only put here for them.
When I was 17 – SEVENTEEN – I was a lifeguard. There are rules at a pool because we’d prefer people not die there. The slide had a height requirement, and a strong “no tolerance” policy for swimmies – people had to be strong enough swimmers to make it out of the strong current at the end of the slide on their own accord. So when a small child came up with his father adorning swimmies – I politely let them know about our rules. The father left, unpleased and muttering, but back down the stairs they went. When I got bumped to my next position, I let the guard behind me know what had just happened. Sure enough, this guy tried to come BACK up the slide with his small child and NO SWIMMIES to get this guard to let the boy down. This guard also said, “Sorry, but no. He’s too small.”
“Did that BITCH tell you to say that?!” Suddenly, for preemptively trying to save this man’s son from drowning – I was the bitch.
Luckily, the guard, who was the same age if not younger than I was at the time, stepped up, put the guy in his place for how inappropriate he was being, and also sent them back down the stairway. When he told me about it later, I thanked him for not being silent. I was SEVENTEEN, a child myself, just trying to do my job. But this guy had a label for me already…when, in reality, his focus should’ve been on the safety of his son.
You may not think the future is female, you may not think we deserve a place at the table…but we’re here, and we’ll flip that table if necessary.
Perhaps it’s time to join the ranks of strong men, who stand behind their counter parts and say, “No, you’ve got it all wrong…SHE’s the superhero.”
“I can’t let you do this…” / “What I do is not up to you.”
I have to give it to my parents who raised a house full of girls in the 80’s and early 90’s. Yes, we played with Barbies and CareBears and Rainbow Brite. But we ALSO played with Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters. There was no such thing as a “girl toy” and a “boy toy” — truthfully, when we “played pretend” it MORE OFTEN THAN NOT lead to us being Batman and Robin or Raphael and Michelangelo or on a mission to bust some ghosts in the backyard.
I...have NEVER in my life pretended to be Barbie.
I have, on most days, pretended to be a superhero.
Sometimes, I’m actually the real thing. 😉