What the Wonder Woman movie means for men

(And by “men” I do mean all those who identify in some way or another as male, without necessarily limiting those people to their body parts or lack thereof.)

I’ve seen the 2017 Wonder Woman movie twice. I’ve rather little knowledge of the DC Cinematic Universe. I know of the many Wonder Woman story arcs without having necessarily read the whole thing. I know a little of the entire intent that William Moulton Marston had when he was creating his famous heroine.

That establishes my comics background.

In my country today, macho culture rules, and rape culture underlies nearly every single social interaction, and also there’s too much misogyny so that most women and people-who-identify-as-female must by necessity don figurative armor whenever they must interact with people of the male persuasion/s and pretty much everyone else in general, including other women and people-who-identify-as-female.

No, I don’t live in the US. I live in the Philippines. We are being ruled by an asshole, who was elected to his position by 16 million voters, a depressing many of whom have since revealed themselves to be assholes. We are being ruled by a murderer, a liar, a woman-hater, and an ass-kisser. He has surrounded himself with men who are all too happy to follow his turdish examples, who are all too happy to discard whatever principles they might have had in the name of power. Remember the saying about absolute power? Yes, the Philippines bills itself as a democracy, but really from colonization onwards it’s been a patriarchy, a kyriarchy, a society in which the loudest assholes triumph.

Which basically makes this place the Front — as in the front of the war — for a person like me. Female, queer, educated, separated from spouse who cheated on me and was emotionally abusive, mentally ill, trying to be woke, in my mid-30s — it’s like I actually am the all-purpose ready-made target and punching bag for rape culture and for macho culture.

And that establishes my personal background.

As I have said, I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice, and my takeaway is: this movie shows us, in often terrible and visceral detail, why feminism is so important. Why is feminism so important? Because look at the members of Diana of Themyscira’s team.

They do not overshadow her, and they openly recognize and admit that they cannot.

But that doesn’t stop them from being entirely human and recognizable and real.

Steve Trevor is a soldier, a pilot, a spy: and there’s no denying that men in those professions have been heavily glamorized as being heroic, being larger than life, having outstanding sexual prowess. He’d have been the actual main character of this story if anyone else other than Patty Jenkins had been the director. But thanks to her, we don’t, and indeed can’t, see Steve Trevor as the all-conquering hero.

We see him with his comforts taken away from him: those scenes with the Lasso of Truth, where he is stripped of everything he uses and tells himself in order to protect his heart/soul/spirit from the horrors of the war. And let’s not forget, one of those scenes has him self-inflict: he voluntarily seizes the Lasso and binds himself with it in order to convince Diana that he’s telling her not only the absolute truth, but also that which is killing him with fear and anxiety.

And, of course, there’s the entire climactic sequence for him, at the controls of an airplane that is nothing more or less than a weapon and an instrument of death: he doesn’t speak once he’s got the plane rising into the sky. He doesn’t need to. We see in his eyes, on his face, that he understands what he is doing, that he understands why he is doing it, and that he understands that he doesn’t want to do it. The camera, and our view, catches every single nuance of the fact that he is going to do something great and good, and that he is also going to destroy himself, willingly — and he flinches, as the camera doesn’t, and we see who he really is, and we don’t fear him or hate him. We salute his courage and determination, neither of which is eroded or harmed in any way by his naked fear of everything he’s doing at that moment.

Sameer is almost presented as the comic relief: until he shows that he is painfully, terribly aware of his situation and of the environment in which he lives. He wants to be an actor, he wants to spend all his time entertaining people, and he has been shut out of his dreams because his skin is the wrong color. He has no problems with admitting that fact to Diana — whom he’s seen performing some pretty incredible feats — he knows exactly who she is, that she’s the focus and the linchpin, and he tells her what was “wrong” with him and neither flinches nor makes light of it. He simply tells her his truth.

Charlie appears as a drunken sot and then he’s presented as not being one: to be very plain about it, he’s already lived through the horrors of the same war they’re all facing, and he cannot escape that war. He cannot be considered to have survived it, not when he’ll be carrying his demons with him everywhere he goes. We’ve seen war heroes succumb to their vices, but with him we see that he’s no hero and he knows it. We’ve seen war heroes fall into depression, but with him we see that it’s entirely possible for someone so afflicted to try and create some kind of hope in others — and for that same someone so afflicted to find hope in something that’s part of him. “Who will sing for us?” indeed: it takes Diana to understand that he is wounded, he’s a victim, and he’s still capable in his own way.

As for Chief: he meets Diana eye-to-eye and he tells her his story, and he is instrumental in telling her — and us — about the value of making something out of nothing. About the idea that each person is complicated and flawed. That’s a poor way of saying it, maybe. But he says, very simply, that people like Steve destroyed his people and people like him — just delivers the facts and leaves it to Diana to wonder, and to try and understand what being like him might be like.

What I am trying to point out here is that we see Diana’s perspective on each of these men, and we see her effects on them: and maybe she can’t understand them completely, but there’s no need for her to make that supreme effort. Indeed, she realizes that it’s impossible to do so. So what does she do? She recognizes that they each have their trials and their suffering — and then gives them the space they might need to be human anyway.

Too many people mock feminism and don’t actually realize that feminism is a Lasso of Truth all on its own: the mere mention of the term reveals the real mindset of the person acting or reacting to it.

Some think feminism means the women will rule the earth under a crushing heel.

Some think feminism means weakness and a preoccupation with what is superficial (and that includes body parts).

I think feminism means recognition. The recognition that I might be strange and complicated and flawed and allowed to be that way — and the recognition that everyone else in the world is allowed to be that way. Genitals don’t matter: self-realization, self-actualization, that matters.

And it’s to the credit of the cast, crew, and director that the Wonder Woman movie really is a story of self-realization and self-actualization.

I wish it might be possible to be Diana in this world. To show that we are all human beings, complicated and flawed and strange and hurting, and that we should never think of each other as inferior because of superficial differences. I know that’s an impossibility — I myself demonstrate that I can’t always do that, when I talk about people here in my own country — but I’m making a good-faith effort to try, every day, every moment.

Best I can do is to keep going, and to keep learning, and to follow the example of Diana of Themyscira.

radio mumbo jumbo

I will name no names in this post.

But let me start this post off with this, because maybe you’ll catch the drift of my irritation quickly:

double_facepalm_meme

I was hauling my tired self home from another shift in which I was running on too little sleep. (Thanks, Manila summers packed to the rafters with high temperatures and high humidity, ugh.) I was cranky, I was ticked off, I was thirsty (and I had already polished off half a liter of fruit juice), and I just wanted to go home — so I took a cab from one of the central transport hubs in Metro Manila.

Tail-end of one radio show on an inexplicably popular radio station: the hosts reading off a convoluted list of greetings and credits and sponsors. That led into a quick jingle and the opening spiel of the immediately succeeding program, which ought to have been useful, because it featured a lawyer and a prominent broadcaster who had joined forces to offer legal advice to people in bad relationships (family, spouse/significant other, et cetera).

(Some of you will already know what program I’m talking about.)

Anyway, the legal expert on the show was talking about how this particular episode would be a little shorter in duration because that radio station on which the show was being broadcast would be switching to sports programming in the late afternoon. In comes the prominent broadcaster, and I thought that would be the cue for them to start the show.

Instead, the prominent broadcaster decided to sit down and unburden herself of a homily on earthquakes, claiming that earthquakes were concrete proof of the existence of an all-seeing all-powerful deity.

First off: as Karen Owens neatly and succinctly put it,

Can omniscient God, who
Knows the future, find
The Omnipotence to
Change His future mind?

Which basically means, if a bog-standard god is capable of seeing everything all at once, how will it be able to make any one decision at all? The god knows every single consequence of every single action that it might ever undertake, good and bad and neutral and all — so how even can that god act at all?

So, first spurious claim, that earthquakes are a manifest sign of the divine presence.

The thing that bothers me, and ought to have bothered the program listeners, is this: either the divine presence is completely removed from morals and consequences (and boy, isn’t that a troubling thought, if this same deity is invoked over and over again to uphold some standard of “morality”), or that divine presence is an evil shit (because it sends earthquakes on a whim, heedless of the damage that an earthquake causes, heedless of the deaths and the injuries and the suffering that follows especially intense incidences).

Want to discuss that? Okay. Think of it this way, as the prominent broadcaster did: an earthquake is supposedly a sign of displeasure or warning from some divine presence. What is actually good about a deity that punishes its believers with the widespread fear/paranoia/death/destruction/PTSD that an earthquake can inflict? And what’s more, that punishment is for — what? For being human i. e. living and loving and all that? What is good about that kind of god?

And what kind of a warning is an earthquake? Warning against what? Obvious answer is obvious: far worse things. And earthquakes already cause panic and fear and nightmares. An earthquake, to prominent broadcaster, is just an amuse-gueule and a harbinger of far worse things. So, question, prominent broadcaster: are you looking forward to these far worse things? Or are you just sowing fear for your own amusement?

Second spurious claim: there is nothing, nothing that human beings can do in the face of an earthquake. Um, prominent broadcaster, the scientific community — and the local government agency that deals exclusively with the effects and consequences (and the causes, natch) of earthquakes and volcanic activity — wants a word with you. Let me repeat that: this prominent broadcaster effectively said that the local government agency tasked with dealing with seismic activity is without any function or benefit.

Third spurious claim — oh, and let me remind you that I was in a cab and that meant I was not going to be able to listen to the entirety of this idiotic speechifying effort because I would be getting home at some point — only the third spurious claim! Which was, all of the earthquakes happening all over the 7,000+++ islands of my poor archipelago of a country originated in one single fault system.

Facepalm! Facepalm! All the facepalms!

Okay, I will break this down as best as I can. I live in the Philippines. The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,000+++ islands. These islands are located along the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean. The entire rim of the Pacific Ocean — and that includes all the countries with coastlines on the Pacific Ocean — is known as the Ring of Fire. Why is this rim known as the Ring of Fire? Because beneath the Pacific Ocean, the crust or outermost terrestrial layer of the planet Earth is very prominently in motion. As in huge plates of crust moving and colliding and sliding — meaning, NOT STILL. The increase in geologic activity very logically begets seismic activity: and yes, we benefit from seismic activity when we see it in the form of — hot springs, and sources of geothermal energy.

But seismic activity also includes not-so-fun things like, well, I don’t know: how about earthquakes? How about volcanoes that can and do erupt?

The Philippines is literally crisscrossed with multiple fault lines, which is as can be expected of nearly all of the countries on the Ring of Fire. Yes, there are connections between those fault lines and their respective branches — but the idea of the country being ripped right down the middle by one single massive catastrophic chasm is pretty much illogical.

Which leads me to the thing that terrified me about that particular installment of that particular program: the sowing of fear and, worse, disinformation. That prominent broadcaster was spewing out a tale of woe and doomsday and death in the service of — what? Talking about the broadcaster’s preferred deity? Please refer to the comments on an evil shit of a deity. Worse, a fear-mongering one, all in the service of gathering in more prayers and worship and supplications!

How even can this fear-mongering, demanding deity be considered moral?

And how even can this prominent broadcaster have delivered such an impassioned and stupid tirade? That the earthquakes are happening: that’s undisputed. So is the broadcaster’s preferred cause of action in the face of such a situation to scare the shit out of people?

That’s a fucking waste of air time and a complete and utter failure of logic right there.

Fairly prominent radio program helmed by a prominent broadcaster: what is the task here? What should have been the imperative? Of course:  CORRECT AND USEFUL INFORMATION. Let me say that again: we’re already scared! We’re already nervous! DON’T RUN AROUND SCARING US SOME MORE! Do your fucking job: which is to give actual solutions and useful advice!

The more I think about this — and I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days now — the more I want to tell you outright who that prominent broadcaster is. I mean, you are probably going to come up with better statements to broadcast than I am. You are probably going to think of better presentations related to earthquakes and disaster preparedness than I could ever come up with. You are probably going to do a much better job than this so-called prominent broadcaster’s speechifying and evangelism!

I don’t need homilies and divine signs and harbingers and shit, if I’m faced with a perilous situation such as an earthquake. I need correct and current information and advice because I want to stay alive okay. I want to stay alive and more importantly I want other people to stay alive and survive such an eventGet away from me with this ignorant superstition and dumbshit moralizing.

And because I want to help: there’s this thing commonly called a bug-out bag, which contains essential tools and gear to help one person survive the 72 hours immediately following some kind of disaster (whether man-made or natural). I think it’s a good thing to keep in mind when talking about places as prone to weird shit happening as my country. So, let me present a sensible-sounding guide to packing a bug-out bag. And perhaps you might have your own ideas for things to add to this kind of survival preparations. That’s a better thing to think about, I think, not the least of which because it totally bypasses the shitty so-called logic being peddled by the prominent broadcaster I’ve been decrying all throughout this post.

This prominent broadcaster has just turned out to be one of the reasons why my poor country finds itself hip-deep in shit. Broken pedestal, anyone?