Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wonder Woman: UnApologetically Woman

Wonder Woman. The movie? Amazing.

But why?

Well, duh, because Wonder Woman is bad-ass.

Except, we've had other movies featuring bad-ass women. So what's so special about this one?

Yeah, she's the main character. That makes a huge difference. But what else? I think it's because she's not only bad-ass, but she's unapologetically bad-ass. She's strong and her strength isn't merely in sex appeal, or twisted with evil intentions as most strong women are portrayed in movies. And her strength doesn't come from her similarities to men, or by her having traditionally male attributes. She's feminine and compassionate and uses her intuition (her belief or gut feeling).

She's unapologetically woman.

Where do you think she got these personal convictions, this way of being herself without apology, despite the men who say she can't do this or that throughout the movie?

Wonder Woman was raised in a matriarchal society.

According to Dr. Heide Goettner Abendroth matriarchal societies are not the opposite of patriarchal societies. They are not "Mother-ruled" like the patriarchal "Father-ruled." Rather, they are Mother-centered, which is vastly different. They are gender egalitarian and many are full egalitarian.

Diana (Wonder Woman) grew up without lies to put her in her place, without the shame of womanhood. She grew up listening to her intuition, even if that meant secretly training against her mother's wishes. Can you imagine how many personal hurdles she'd have to fight just to train as a warrior if she'd been told or led to believe that women couldn't fight? If she'd been taught that father knows best (males know best) do you think she would have stepped foot onto "No Man's Land"?

When girls are raised in a culture that deems them as the lesser sex by the laws passed, the school dress code enforced, the lack of layered female characters in movies, the pigeon-holed clothing options they're given, the accepted rape culture surrounding them, the disgust of menses displayed by their peers and adults, and so much more...they grow up inheriting a shit-ton of self-shame.

And self-shame weighs you down. A lot.

But in the movie Wonder Woman, Diana doesn't have to deal with that added self-shame on top of the weight of her dangerous mission. She's driven by compassion for humankind and won't let anyone lessen that conviction. If someone called her a "special snowflake" due to her activism, their words would mean nothing to her because she wasn't raised in a culture where war and power trump love and compassion. She didn't re-think her actions to help, or have second thoughts, because death and dominance weren't accepted norms for her. She respected life, which you often find in matriarchal cultures.

Like others, I cried during the fight scenes. Chills ran up and down my body throughout the movie. Viewing a little girl with dreams of learning to protect herself touched my heart. Everything about that movie resonated deeply with me because I've been studying matriarchal (and matrilineal) cultures and their spirituality for years. In almost every manuscript I've written, the main character is a girl/woman raised in a matriarchal family or society.

My current manuscript passion, Freyja's Daughter, follows a huldra raised in a matriarchal family, but governed by a dominating patriarchal establishment. Those who govern her insist that it's unsafe for her to use her huldra abilities, that if she does she'll become a danger to herself and to others. She's conflicted because her mother secretly taught the opposite. But the night her huldra takes over for self-preservation, her life is changed and her beliefs solidified.

In every story I write, my goal is to display and inspire unapologetic women.

The major response to the Wonder Woman movie has breathed new hope into me, as I'm sure it has for many others. The girl that I was, who asked lots of questions and was told men have always ruled and would always rule because that's how it's meant to be... Well, she's smiling. Because the public's response to Wonder Woman suggests that things, they are a changin'.

Want to know more about matriarchal societies? :)

Here's a video of Dr. Heide Goettner Abendroth teaching:

And of course I've got book recommendations for those interested.