Taking My Son To See Wonder Woman Was Just As Important As Taking My Daughter

We are standing in the kitchen on a Saturday, looking at movie times. My daughter is excited. Seeing the most popular female superhero tear across the screen should be a rite of passage for any girl. Wonder Woman, the show from my childhood, has been mandatory viewing in our house. There have been Halloween costumes and dolls. Our favorite superhero is a paragon of feminism.

“I’ll go,” my 12-year-old son chimes in.

Though I’m surprised, I agree to take him—to include my oldest son in what I originally envisioned as a girls’ night. I think it will be good for him to see a movie about a fearless woman, a female superhero who has always held her own in a Justice League filled with men. Aside from Batman and Superman, no other superhero has lasted so long. Wonder Woman has endured for over seven decades and continues to evolve. She has now been resurrected—at a time when our President is a man who brags about grabbing women “by the p*ssy”—as part of the reinvigorated fight for our rights as women.

In Trump’s America, our girls—and possibly, more importantly, our boys—need strong female role models. Wonder Woman and other women warriors are essential. I’m hoping seeing her story, her true origin revealed, will be the impetus for an open dialogue on what women have achieved, how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

In the theater, I see an equal mix of men and women. Whole families fill the seats. We watch together as the story of Wonder Woman, and her beginning, unfolds on the screen before us. She battles the patriarchy of WWI Germany with grace, warrior wizardry and humor. Two hours later, we are back in the car, headed home.

“Mom, that was awesome,” my daughter says. “One of my new favorites.”

I look to my son, a boy in the thick of puberty, hormones raging, mood swings, moments of reticent solitude, and he appears unfazed. I want him to love her the way I do. Not because she is Wonder Woman and can out-fight any man, but because this is a feat. This is an action movie, made by a female director, about a 75-year-old legend. “The first female director to win an Oscar,” I pause, “was Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for a low-budget Iraq war film called The Hurt Locker. It was remarkable. Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman, a movie about a female superhero, and it was good and funny.”

“It was funny,” my son says. That’s all I get: three words.

“This movie is important for women,” I say, trying to impress the relevance upon him. “The reason all those women marched when Trump became president, is so that we don’t lose the footing we’ve gained.” I tell him about birth control in this country and how it may no longer be available to all women. I tell him about misogyny and what it means. I tell him about equality. I remind him of how we fought to vote, and how we won.

My son stops me. “Mom, I get it. Women should be equal. But what about other groups of people?” He finds my thinking limited. My narrow focus on women’s equality seems exclusionary to every other oppressed group. For a moment, I stop and realize my son isn’t arguing my point, but trying to expand my view.

This movie, this moment is an important one. I realize that he understands the fight for equality—not just for the rights of one group, but for the rights of all. My son is concerned about the intersectionality of oppression across all social characterizations, including race, class, gender and religion.

While Wonder Woman battles to save humanity from injustice—and the hatred mankind unfurls upon itself—my son simply wants everyone to be equal. I’m proud, and humbled, knowing that not only does he get feminism—he gets humanity.

I hope one day in his lifetime, equality is a right for all.

Nicole Johnson received her bachelor’s degree in Literature from Hofstra University and a master’s degree in Television/Video Production from Emerson College. Her work has appeared in the Wilderness House Literary Review and Grub Street. Her greatest accomplishment to date, excluding bringing four amazing people into the world, was a kind rejection letter comparing her work to A.M. Homes and Richard Yates. She refers to it often. Nicole blogs at Suburban Sh*t Show.

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Comments

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