Or… Geek Stranger Comes Dangerously Close to Mansplaining in Addressing a Minor Criticism of the Movie.
You know the baby thing in Wonder Woman? Quick recap- Diana sees a baby in the streets of London and gets excited. It’s a nice little touch lasting about five seconds. I mentioned it in my review (subliminal plug).
Some people believe this scene may be demeaning toward women because it implies that all women have to love babies. It’s an intriguing thought, but I think the logic is flawed here for two reasons.
First, the moment implies Diana loves babies (or at least was excited by this particular one). It’s a bit of a jump from there to assume because she likes something, all women must. All women don’t have dark hair or come from an island of Amazons, nor do all women love ice cream. Probably. Maybe. I don’t know. I mean, odds are there’s a woman or someone out there that doesn’t, but I worry about them.
Second, even if all women did love
ice cream babies, that in and of itself doesn’t demean women as a group unless somehow loving babies is a negative. Having breasts doesn’t demean women. Being under six feet tall doesn’t demean women. Menstruation doesn’t demean women. A universal does not, itself, qualify as demeaning. The trait itself must be shown to be demeaning. If it was said all women were incapable of self control because of the vapors or whatever nonsense great-great-great grand Geek Stranger-pa would have said, that would be demeaning for instance. (And yes, we know, there are women who don’t have breasts, are over six feet tall, and don’t menstruate. But in general…)
Now, here’s where I probably get into some risky territory. I think this criticism of Wonder Woman stems from looking at the movie through a male perception of strength, which traditionally is perceived with an emphasis on physical expression and a lack of emotional expression. Think Wolverine, or Iron Man who hides behind his snark. Or the current Batman and Superman. What we have with Diana, in this scene, is a character with all the physical capabilities we associate with male strength, but without losing the ability to display emotion when and where warranted, or just as she pleases without losing physical strength. This duality of strength is what makes Wonder Woman unique in its depiction of its heroine. And there are similar, if more subtle, displays in the first act on Themyscira from Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, and Antiope, her aunt. They both want to protect and shelter Diana out of love, but have differing philosophies on how to go about that until the young protagonist forces the issue by beginning her training in secret.
What it comes down to is Wonder Woman got excited at a baby, and Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot filmed the scene and put it in the movie because to them it seemed to make sense. I think it nicely encapsulates the balance Diana maintains between having to prove herself in a man’s world without giving up being a woman. Too often the observation is made that a woman can’t get ahead in this world without being a bitch, and there’s more than a little truth to that. Maybe someday that won’t be necessary. Wonder Woman doesn’t think it is, though she is a work of fiction that happens to be a demigod, and of course Diana still has her sex appeal, but that’s a different topic (which I also briefly touched on in that review (subliminal plug 2)).
If you’re a woman and like babies, great. If you don’t, that’s perfectly fine, too. Do all women like babies? Of course not. Women aren’t homogeneous on what they like. No group of people are. Do most women like babies? eeehhh…. I tend to think so. My anecdotal observations suggest so, but I’m open to being convinced otherwise if there’s evidence to that effect.
It’s also worth noting that Wonder Woman was also a “fish out of water” movie. Diana had never seen a baby, nor eaten ice cream before (those Amazon monsters!) I highly doubt on seeing her 100th stranger’s baby on the street or her 100th cone of vanilla that she would still be so demonstrative. That is not to say she wouldn’t smile and ask to hold a coworker’s baby at the Louvre or order a bowl of cookies’n’cream for the occasional dessert, because she is still a being capable of emotion and enjoyment, and not afraid to show it or indulge in it.
So there you have it. Another argument forever settled by the thoughtful mind that still laughs at bad puns and when people say ‘duty’. I think I’m right here, but I also know on the internet if you say water is wet, someone will argue otherwise, so correct me if I’m wrong. I will fight you! With words and reason, because, nerd.