Wonder (Warrior) Women
First, I know I’m a hetrosexual guy writing this blog. Second, I do love women and have the deepest respect for them. I do not appreciate the double standards or the pressures we, as a culture, weigh on them. We balance independence, motherhood, a lot of times work, and being a good wife on their shoulders. If we are being truly honest with ourselves, we expect a near perfection from them that is unrealistic. Balance that with how often we black and whitley categorize them as a demon or angel and it’s no wonder there is a cyclical return to women as fighters in this new wave of feminism. Can we blame them?
Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, and The Amazons
Wonder Woman is, by far, my favorite movie this year and probably among the entire canon of superhero films (I’m sorry but Dark Knight was really all about the Joker). I’ve watched and read as much as I can about the director, Patty Jenkins, and the actresses. Patty Jenkins required all the Amazons to intensely train for five months. She believed in the capability of women and wanted to express that on the screen. Their fight scenes were amazing! They were strong, capable, formable warriors in their own right. Even their costumes, including Wonder Woman’s, were very traditionally greek and have functional, realistic, armor that doesn’t detract from the woman’s beauty. Compare this to the overly sexualized masculinity of 300, where everyone runs around with their shirt off and a twelve pack. They didn’t have to put Diana in a tube top to sell her. In fact, I don’t remember a single exposed belly or over sexualized cleavage. The women were gorgeous, strong, and retained femininity without over sexualization.
Then there is Gal Gadot’s performance. She embodied strength, intelligence, and confidence. Even in the world of men, she remained strong, beautiful, and fierce. Her internal conflict was between the good in her heart and the evil she saw in the world of man and not out of vengeance or grieving a lost loved one. She fought out of pure principle, in a maternal way. When she entered “no man’s land” it was completely selfless and for the compassion she had for the people of the town. Where the men saw this as her weakness, it was actually her strength. Add to that the fact that Gadot actually served in the Israeli Army, she was a real soldier, and an entirely new dynamic, a depth, is added to her performance. The camaraderie she had with her fellow soldiers felt real. She took sympathy on Charlie’s PTSD and even encouraged him to be the singer and fight in way that healed him. I’m sorry but in those scenes I saw a warrior who knew what it was really like to be in the trenches
Nature vs Culture
The animal kingdom is filled with female warriors. The Lioness is one of them. Have you ever watched a lioness fight for her kill, the food of her pride, on a nature channel? It is beautiful, confident, and there is a fearful power to them. It’s no wonder the Egyptians had so many feline Goddesses. Or have you seen how protective a mama bear is for her cubs. If one is in danger, she will put her life on the line to protect them. Sure there are exceptions to the rule. However, as we clearly see in Wonder Woman, the maternal quality, of which only a woman can possess, is a deeply selfless motivation. It’s sad that our culture brands them as the weaker of the two sexes. How often do we still hear weakness equated to “being like a girl”? Whenever we question a man’s masculinity it has to be this sick reinforcement of a patriarch by demeaning the role of women.
Society has a way of making a girl either choose between being a princess (i.e. Girly Girl) or a overly masculine feux male (i.e. Butch, Tomboy). Why can’t women be both strong fighters and we consider that part of femininity? In my eight years of personal training, the fiercest lifters, the ones that lift the smartest and with the best form, are always women. It’s the men, with their ego, that have to wear the belts and “prove” themselves manly. To women, their only competition is to better themselves. A lot of time it’s because they have a family to take care of and want to be physiologically well. This gender gap is pervasive in Title 9, probably the most disgusting form of institutionalized sexism. The day they change the way Football, Basketball, or any other sport into something that include both men and women will be the day I watch sports. The darkest quality of patriarchal sports is that, even for the men to be competitive, they have to have outstanding attributes either gifted to them by genetics or performance enhancing drugs. As many women who join the military, the police force, or fire department prove over and over again, they are just as capable as men at fighting.
Spiritual Center of Womanhood
Whether one believes in God or not, there is a deep creative spark in all of us. I honestly believe that creative spark comes from the spirit (i.e.soul). Not only can women create life, carry it for nine months, but they can go through excruciating pain to bring the child into the world. Watch a mother give birth. It’s just as fierce as a lioness killing prey twice its weight. I’ve always contended that women have a deeper connection to their spirit because of this ability. Watch a mother hold her child, is there anything more beautiful? With that said, the world of men, more often than not, uses their motherhood as a curse pressuring women to take the mantle of motherhood whether they want to or not. Unfortunately, we have religion to blame for this. Sure, most Judeo Christian denominations include women as warriors. The best of these is the Salvation Army. They were the first to embrace woman pastors and give them military ranking. I know more about Mother Teresa than any other catholic in my lifetime. However, there are still religions that subjugate women into a limited role of motherhood and sex objects.
The first reply I get to a statement such as this is, “Well look at the Bible, the patriarch was ordained by God.” My first response is, “Are you sure?” Not only is God, and even Jesus, at times described in the original Hebrew and Greek with words of maternity, there are also more than one occasion where that is coupled with the image of a warrior (do your own research, it’s there). Then, we have to remember that the first couple of chapters are written in poems and story like metaphors from when the Israelites were slaves in Babylon. Even with that said, think of Esther and Ruth. All throughout scripture, we see the entire line of David built on the woman. If God always intended a patriarchy, why didn’t he make a man pregnant with Jesus? In fact, it’s Mary that encourages her son to begin his ministry. She is the one that sees him first upon his resurrection, she is the one asked to give up her son for the sins of the world. Add to that Mary Magdalene and Martha who refer to Jesus as a teacher in much of the same way the disciples did. If a patriarchy was established by the temple of the Old Testament, guess what, Christ destroyed that temple. He broke the barrier and rules of genders. The depth of scriptural support for this could go on forever and is a post for another day.
Women, be Warriors. Men, be Warriors Like Women.
This blog barely scratches the surface of everything I have to say about women. Do some research of your own. The only complaint I have about the current wave of feminism is that I think it is misguided. I think men have sabotaged it with arguments of wage gaps, rape culture, and standards of beauty. The real discussion should be why only men over eight feet are allowed to be professional basketball players, or why grossly overweight linebackers belong on a football team, and why do we continue to compare women as the lesser of the two genders? There needs to be equality between the genders. We can’t replace one dichotomy with another.
There’s no reason why a woman can’t be in the free weight section of the gym. The reason they don’t feel safe, is because of the weakness of men who view their presence as a hit on their already insecure and false masculinity. There’s no reason why a woman can’t put on the hat of a business woman, mom, and healthy fit person. There’s no reason why a woman should feel pressured to bare children just because they can nor is there sufficient reason to say they have to stay home with the kids. My contention has always been to give women the same choices as men. Be warriors. Men, learn a lesson or two about a woman’s strength, the fierce lioness, the actresses that played Amazons. Wonder Woman entered “no man’s land” because of the charity of her heart. We all need that spoken to our spirit and pursuit of wellness. That should be the center of all debates for equality.
Aaron Daniel Behr
Mount Vernon, Ohio
August 9th, 2017