Thought Catalog
June 14, 2017

Dear Brown And Asian Girls: Wonder Woman Was Not Here For Us

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What is the issue?
YouTube / Warner Bros. Pictures
“Now I know, I’m a salty person and I should be happy that the world FINALLY has Wonder Woman as a film, because when white women succeed, everybody succeeds, amirite? Yeah, no.
Listen, how was I supposed to suspend my feminisms for a whole two hours and twenty one minutes? I couldn’t. Every single time Diana Prince (aka- Wonder Woman), shed tears on screen over the children dying at the hands of merciless German soldiers during her trip to the end of World War One, I kept whispering, “but Gal, what about the children in Gaza?”
This movie wasn’t made with all women in mind, it’s for the women who can ignore certain atrocities which don’t directly affect them. Your children are safe, their bodies aren’t being policed by soldiers, their schools haven’t been bombed, the hospitals they lay in don’t have bullet holes in the walls, their water supplies haven’t been cut, their electricity isn’t regularly shut off by another government.”Lara Witt

My dearest Brown girls and Asian/Filipina feminists:

How many times have white women talked about “feminism” and “girl power” that didn’t include or represent you, but you still celebrated them for it?

How many times have we, through our colonial mentality, been fooled to believe this is what “real feminism” looks like? How many times have we supported white feminism without it supporting us? How much have we given of ourselves to uplift and revere white women and white Hollywood, while rarely receiving the same from them?

Are we content at being extras and backgrounds and tokens that uplift the white girl, but reduce the brown, asian, black girls to props? To stereotypes? Are we okay with being repeatedly told “just be glad there’s a feminist movie now, be patient and one day progress will come for women of color”?

How much longer do we have to wait?

By now you have probably already seen the super cool, super astonishing, super feminist movie Wonder Woman. At least I think you have judging on the number of “This is the best and most empowering feminist movie ever!” I’ve heard all week.

Yes, Wonder Woman is the bee’s knees, but am I the only one who found it still lacking?

  • The film presents us with a tall, thin, able-bodied white lady that we can cheer on as being the standard-bearer for girl power. Meanwhile, as a child she was raised by a black sitter. One point for perpetuating the mammie stereotype.
  • There were very few women of color who appeared on screen. Roughly two or so of them spoke a sentence. Black Amazons were portrayed as muscular. Two points for perpetuating the unattractive, hyper-masculine black woman stereotype.
  • There was literally only one Asian Amazon and she showed up for all of .001 seconds.
  • How is it acceptable to call this an inclusive feminist movie when Steve Trevor, the love interest, literally got more screen-time than all of the WOC Amazons combined? Nevermind that she needed a man to show her how to navigate the world and how to defeat the bad guy with romantic love. Ugh. Diania seemed to be more affected by Steve’s death, than her own aunt Antiope’s and sister Amazons’ deaths.
  • There are scenes that show us Wonder Woman is literally a white feminist. The Chief shared his story about how his ancestors were mass murdered by Steve’s ancestors, and Wonder Woman does not even seem to care. No, girl, a five-second melancholic facial expression towards your crush does not constitute as genuine concern and interest. Sameer also expressed how he, as a brown man, can not access the same opportunities as white men like Steve. Does Diana show empathy? Does Diana ask probing questions as to why? (Think about it, she’s supposed to be a peace-loving benevolent hero who does not have any notions of racial discrimination, but she wasn’t curious about the men of colors’ experiences with injustice).
  • The Amazons’ bisexuality or sexual fluidity is hinted at, but never explored or outright mentioned.

So then may I ask – where is the Wonder Woman who stands for justice, peace, and sisterhood? Is strength only authentic if it’s physical (or if it’s emotional but in service of a man’s affections)? Is her compassion only extended towards white people and not towards minorities like us?

Okay, listen, this movie broke a couple of gender tropes and that’s nice. But let’s not forget real feminism is INCLUSION, and this movie, for all its wondrousness, missed an opportunity to truly showcase that to female audiences of all races.

“When we say “diversity,” we mean it. We mean on equal footing with white people. We mean in equal numbers as white people. We mean in equal positions as white people. But when white people say “diversity,” they mean “tokenism.” They mean “Sure, just as long as you don’t outnumber and outshine the white people. Just as long as we can present you in the ways in which feel comfortable presenting you,” which usually means relying on some type of (stereotype)… So much time was spent on (Steve) Trevor. Lois Lane NEVER got that much time and focus in Superman. I feel like the filmmakers were buying into the audience’s perceived sexism, splitting the screen time between Wonder Woman and Trevor so that the dudebros in the audience didn’t feel “emasculated by the feminist agenda.” – Son of Baldwin

“Oh, stop just enjoy the movie!” – You can enjoy a movie and still praise its pros, while being socially aware enough to critique its cons. The human brain is capable of multitasking after all. Just because I think it’s a well-made superhero movie doesn’t mean I’ll close my eyes to the (still) lack of representation.

It’s simply not enough to cast women of color as tokenized extras or sidelined props or parts of the background. Women of color must be given speaking roles and relevant roles. Otherwise, I don’t see why we should blindly celebrate with the rest of the white feminists.

“White feminists love to say that they are for all women, while ignoring real issues that impact different women around the world in different ways.” – 
TC mark

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