Wonder Woman: Worth the 40 Year Wait
by Kiersten Hallie Krum
I was five years old in 1977 when I jumped off my older sister’s canopy bed and sprained my arm. Hers was a tall bed, tall enough to house a trundle bed underneath, and was as high as I could get at just past 9 PM on a Friday evening. You see, I’d just seen another episode of Wonder Woman. And I knew, even then, that was who I wanted to be in life.
After that stunt, my parents tried to forbid me from watching the show. You can imagine how well that went over. But I did have to promise no more leaps from high places. When my mother tried to curb our Saturday morning cartoon watching, I wheedled my way into her acquiescing to only the SuperFriends and the Smurfs. The SuperFriends are probably the only reason I was ever willingly awake at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. That year or the next, a girl in my class (who I went to nursery school with and, as it turned out, every other school through to high school graduation) got a full Wonder Woman kit for her fifth or sixth birthday. I was insanely jealous and, at that age, completely incapable of hiding it. Somewhere, there’s a picture of me at her party dressed in her birthday present (sorry about that, Kimmie).
You see, from as far back as I can conjugate, I knew I was destined to be Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman was strong. She was never, ever bullied. Not for her looks, not for her size, not for anything. She rescued the underdog, the helpless and needy. She was respected by men–or at least by men worth of the title. She was honorable and righteous. She was kind and generous. She smiled big and knew how to have fun, but she never put herself above others, despite her power and strength and position. She could not only play with the boys, not only hold her own with them, but she could (and would) easily outpace their best efforts. She took care of those who depended on her and made sure they had what they needed, even at her own expense. She was a princess and a warrior. She was loved and lovable.
From a very early age, I longed to be all these things.
Wonder Woman didn’t get teased for her weight or her clothes. Wonder Woman didn’t get mocked for reading as she walked to and from grade school. Wonder Woman didn’t cry as she walked to junior high. Wonder Woman didn’t get ridiculed for reading romance novels because she needed to believe not only in romance and love, but that she herself was worthy of being loved. Wonder Woman didn’t worry about any of that shit. No one would dare.
So you can imagine my feelings to learn there was finally going to be a live-action Wonder Woman film. Or maybe not, because I’ve been trying for nearly ten days to figure them out, and I’m not all that much closer than when I walked out of the movie theatre.
For once, I did not learn every microcosm of information about the movie. I didn’t scan blogs or media sites, I didn’t haunt youtube videos of premieres around the world, I didn’t read or watch media blitzes and morning show spots and red carpet interviews.
I didn’t want the real world interfering with my life-long dream. A real, live Wonder Woman.
It’s been nearly 40 years since I was that young girl jumping off the bed. (Newsflash: that wasn’t my last jump.) Over time, my love for the Amazon princess has not abated. I have a Wonder Woman license plate frame. My best friend bought me Wonder Woman drinking glasses for Christmas. The Mother bought me Wonder Woman stud earrings (which I wore to the movie, natch). I had the Wonder Woman Underroos; as an adult, I have knickers and sleep shirts. I have Wonder Woman workout gear. I wore a different Wonder Woman shirt to the day job every day of the week the movie was released and still had another to wear Saturday when I went to see the film.
To say my expectations were high for this movie is to understate the emotional importance the film carried for me and that five and six and seven and fourteen and so on through the teenage years girl.
I’m here to say, it was absolutely, 100% worth the wait. It’s powerful, emotional, sweet, funny, sexy, emotional, and empowering.
“What one does when faced with the truth is harder than you think.” — Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Wonder Woman 2017
I’m not going to rehash every moment of the film or break down all the feminist principles or the (very few) places they went wrong. There are plenty of other places out there to read all of that. The nay sayers and trolls are making a lot of hay over the movie’s assertion that “love is the answer” as though the moral and theme of Wonder Woman can be summed up with a Beatles’ song. But it’s so much more than that.
“Be careful in the world of men, Diana, they do not deserve you.” Queen Hippolyta, Wonder Woman 2017
Diana’s strength isn’t in her weapons or her power. It’s in her heart where her true power lies. This is something our male superheroes struggle to convey and/or to capitalize on. They have honor and strength and commitment and sacrifice, but few have the courage to act solely from their hearts–from a place of love. Diana has so much love to give, her heart is so large, it can’t remain on an island sequestered from a world that needs her, however violent and cursed and male that world may be. She gives up the right to ever return to her home in order to go where she’s needed. Her mother, Hippolyta, reminds Diana that if she chooses to leave, she can never return. “How will I be if I stay?” Diana replies, to which Hippolyta has no reply.
Steve Trevor: I can’t let you do this…
Diana Prince: What I do is not up to you.
Wonder Woman 2017
That doesn’t mean she’s a pushover. She enters the outside world at a time when women’s suffrage had yet to happen and women were struggling for that very recognition. But Diana knows no world where she is not an equal. It doesn’t ever occur to her that she is less for any reason, but especially not because of her gender. Diana goes where she wants and does what she thinks is necessary and just no matter that all the men around her are telling her “no”. She is constantly being told “no” in this movie, and she just keeps on going. When Steve Trevor brings Diana with him to Parliament so he can update his boss, he tells her not to enter. He actually says “stay”. Diana ignores him and walks on in, bringing the entire room to a standstill because, good Lord, there’s a woman in the chambers of Parliament!
But to Diana, it is just another room and she rightly sees no reason why she shouldn’t be able to enter it. Later, she does the same thing with the war room. Why should she stay outside when the information she needs in in that room? Therefore, she must be in that room. She challenges the men because she doesn’t recognize their “superiority”. It never occurs to her that she’s anything but equal, or at the least, their superior. Not because she has a vagina, but because these worldly people, these men, have been corrupted by ambition or greed or war (there are a number of options offered in the movie) while Diana’s gaze remains clear and fixed. She knows the enemy and knows how to defeat him. She doesn’t accept “we can’t do that because of X or Y.” She knows what must be done and if the men aren’t going to step up and do it, then she is going to do it without them.
And here’s the thing: the men follow her.
Because Steve respects her and he is absolutely not at any moment ever made to feel less of a man by her or because of her. He also doesn’t hesitate to follow her, to have her back while acknowledging her leadership. Nor does he think she’s less due to her gender. He doesn’t have to make her little to feel big. There’s no proving to be done by either one of them. She has her part and he has his and they both go to do them, no matter the personal cost. They are fully partners. When Steve fights with the Amazons on the beach, he doesn’t try to protect them or underestimate them. He immediately assesses their skill and fights side by side with them. More, he learns from them and proves this later in the movie when he copies an Amazon move in order to help Diana during another battle, sure she’ll instantly know what he means because he’s aware of her skill and training and more, confident she can carry it out to fruition. And he loves her, fast and sure as happens in such movies, but he doesn’t love her expecting her to change or become someone else or to set aside what she believes in or must do because of that love. He loves her for who she is, and makes him better, makes him want to be better.
(For more on how great Steve Trevor is as a beta male who doesn’t lose his masculinity because he follows Diana, read this great post on Mary Sue, The Steve Trevor Factor: Wonder Woman Gives Us a Template for What Gender Equality Can Look Like. I could not say it better if I tried.)
Steve Trevor: “We can’t save everyone.”
Diana: “Maybe you can’t. But I’m going to.”
Wonder Woman 2017
Watching Wonder Woman, I thought of all the young girls experiencing Diana, Princess of Themyscira for the first time via this film, seeing and learning not that no matter what or who they want to be, they’ll always hear “no” and “don’t” and “no” again and “you can’t do that” or “women can’t do that,” but that they will be able to reply “maybe you can’t, but I’m going to.” That they too can be a wonder of a woman: Courageous. Kind. Wise. Loving. Beautiful. Strong. Undefeatable. That there’s not one of these elements they need to sacrifice to be any and all of the others.
Because Diana’s great capacity for love doesn’t make her a weakling. Oh no. She comes from far too heartier stock for that. The Amazons in Wonder Woman are feats to behold, fierce and fearsome, and more than one warrior’s cry brought chills to my spine–and an elated smile to my face. These are the ancestors of all the Black Widows and Supergirls and Buffys and Jean Greys and so on and so on. Every kick ass, bad ass woman hero or antihero, superhero or chosen one. They owe it all to the Amazons. And these are the women who raised and trained Diana to be all that is Wonder Woman, and to have Robin Wright, the Princess Bride herself, leading the charge, well, there are few greater ways to make the circle complete.
I’ve lived to see my childhood princesses become generals. pic.twitter.com/CjVyYt1c4T
— M Evan Matyas 🏳️🌈 (@EvanMatyas) June 5, 2017
I’ve written before about how romance novels taught me to be the heroine of my own story, how they continue to embolden women to reach for what makes them happy, to be that heroine. With the arrival of Wonder Woman, I’ve realized she started me on that journey. She’s the first to make me believe I could be more–that I was worth more
I’ve been trying to be Wonder Woman for 40 years. Strong. Giving. Honorable. Righteous. Kind. Compassionate. Forgiving. Sacrificial. Loving. Undefeatable Striving to achieve that destiny, to be that woman in a mortal, real-life existence. And I’ve failed, epically, far more than I’ve succeeded.
There’s been no magic bracelets despite my propensity for silver cuffs (gee, wonder where *that* came from?). No lasso of truth to discern who is lying to me and guide me to the truths of peoples hearts. No invisible jet to get to places quickly (though that bit I never got–what good is an invisible jet when everyone can see you through it anyway?). No superior strength or effervescent beauty. Just me being, well, me.
As it turns out, that’s been more than enough.
I am, as I’ve always been, a wonder of a woman. We all are. Heroines of our own wondrous stories.
Looks like that was my destiny after all.
It’s theme week here at Lady Smut as we celebrate the release of our own Elizabeth Sa Fleur’s newest installment in the Elite Doms of Washington series, Lucky.
Be sure to stay up to date with all the Lady Smut sexy shenanigans by following us and signing up for our newsletter.
Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, WILD ON THE ROCKS, is a finalist for InD’Tale Magazine’s prestigious RONE award! Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.