I am one of the women who unexpectedly cried watching Wonder Woman opening weekend.
I fell asleep during every Avengers and X-Men movie for the past three years. I assumed this DC movie would have the same nap-triggering formula, but with Xena: Warrior Princess costumes.
Then the beautiful, strong, united, Amazon women of Themyscira descended on the beach to fight invading German soldiers, unafraid and victorious. I didn’t wince, cringe, or worry while they were fighting, because they weren’t victims or reactors. They expected to win and they did.
Maybe this is what men always feel like when they watch battle scenes, but for the first time I felt like I just won with them on that beach. Tears sprung into my eyes. What a proud, exhilariating moment!
A tiny flame ignited in my heart.
Later in the film, Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) climbs out of one of the trenches on World War I’s Western Front, determined to charge through No Man’s Land to liberate a village. She doesn’t look scared, make jokes, cross herself, or ask for help. She just goes. She heads directly into danger. She deflects bullets and machine gun fire with constant forward progress. She is certain she can and will win.
I cried again during that long fight scene — from the trench, all the way to the village, and the climax at the bell tower. Diana was strong, confident, powerful, graceful, effective, accurate, and victorious. She saved that village. She stopped evil that day.
I wanted to stand up, point at the screen, and say, “Did you see that?!”
The flame in my heart grew.
The tears came again in the final battle scene, when the stakes for her heart, her identity, and her purpose surprise and almost destroy her. Her resolve, conviction, love, and grief reflected all I’ve felt at my highest and lowest moments.
I never cried watching a fight scene before, though I’ve seen women fight valiantly on film. I loved Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Her wisdom, beauty, patience, and fighting skills unlocked a brand new pride and aspiration in my heart. I had a major crush on Trinity in The Matrix. I loved watching Sydney Bristow take control on Alias every week. I felt huge, victorious, in-your-face pride when Éowyn slayed the Nazgûl in Lord of the Rings. Katniss was clearly the protector over poor Peeta in the Hunger Games. My daughter carried a broomstick around to fight like Rey after The Force Awakens. But none of those characters and stories revealed the raw pride and longing I felt watching Wonder Woman.
This new movie turned me into a 6-year-old fangirl. In every scene I thought, “I want to BE her.” By the end of the movie I was convinced, “I AM her.” I strode out of that theater ready to take on all of society’s problems.
This tweet, which has been liked more than 301,000 times and re-tweeted 84,000 times (updated 6/26/17), sums up how I felt driving home from seeing Wonder Woman:
A few hours after the movie I had enough squabbles in real life to know I AM NOT like Wonder Woman afterall. I haven’t been trained “five times harder than any warrior” my whole life. I wasn’t raised on an island of women, protected from intentionally and unintentionally demoralizing men. I’m often afraid and avoid danger. I don’t have good aim and I’m back in physical therapy for a pulled hamstring.
But then I thought of Diana Prince’s solo charge through No Man’s Land and got teary again. The flame still flickered and swelled with pride and longing. I WANT TO BE HER.
Like most women, I’ve learned to hide and hinder my power. As a smart girl I was often told that men are afraid of smart women, so I should “dial it back.” I learned how to lead colleagues and clients toward the outcomes I wanted by asking questions I already knew the answers to, nodding a lot, laughing at terrible jokes, and grinning silently through varying degrees of sexual harassment.
As an independent girl I learned that men like to feel needed. So I asked for help opening my locker, parallel parking, and reading a map, even though I could do that all myself.
My 13-year-old daughter asked, “Why do women get in trouble for wearing certain clothes? Why don’t men get in trouble for not controlling themselves just because of what a woman is wearing? I don’t get it.” I’m sad that one day I may have to tell her that she’ll get better service at the Genius Bar and the Auto Shop if she smiles a lot while wearing make up and tight jeans.
That doesn’t feel like charging toward the enemy through No Man’s Land, sword and shield in hand. That feels like muddy compromise and wary surrender. Trapped and small.
So my hunger persists: I WANT TO BE LIKE HER. I want the courage and confidence of a strong, well-trained woman in charge on the battlefield. I want to know who I am and what I’m made for. I desperately want this for my daughters. I want us all to fight hard and well, certain that our identity and training will bring victory.
But I’m not literally going to in battle, am I? I’m not literally going to kill anyone, am I? I don’t want to literally fight with my bare hands, do I?
This is the part where Christian women talk about how Deborah led the Israelites, Esther saved her people after winning a beauty contest, and Mary said yes to carrying the Son of God inside her body. There’s a certain place for women, with few exceptions.
This is the part where sensitive women say, “everyone is fighting a hard battle” when we’re referring to the ravages of mental illness, poverty, domestic violence, divorce, or cancer. Because women know what it’s like to be fragile.
And that flame inside me grows bigger. I know all that. I believe all that. But still. I WANT TO BE LIKE HER.
I want to fight. I want to fight and win.
When I picture Wonder Woman, Jesus, and me sitting around a café table with my resumé and flaming heart, we keep coming back to Diana Prince’s movie line: “I will fight, for those who cannot fight for themselves.” So far we’ve come up with these ideas:
Maybe, with the history and training I have, I can walk into danger with bolder compassionate service? I could build deeper relationships with refugees with hard pasts and big needs, distribute clean needles on the streets, pursue downward mobility, and speak truth to power.
I could fight like that.
Maybe, with the experiences and expertise I’ve slowly earned, I can walk into danger with my words? I can research, write, and advocate through letters, blogs, articles, books, speeches, lessons, and sermons. I could take on evil and injustice with confidence, certainty, and courage.
I could fight like that.
Maybe that longing and pride I felt in my heart watching Wonder Woman fight is a gift from God? Maybe I could own my identity, past, and desires? Maybe I could help my friends, colleagues, and daughters identify their own longings and battles?
I could fight like that.
Maybe when my girls are my age and they flip through history books, web archives, and personal journals they will realize tears are rolling down their own cheeks. And they will pick up their swords and shields, and run toward danger, just like we trained them.
Lord, make us like Wonder Woman. We can fight like that.
A special thank you to Wonder Woman Director, Patty Jenkins –
Dear Patty Jenkins,
I saw Wonder Woman this weekend and loved it. Thank you for making a totally different movie for me and my daughters. Several differences stood out:
Thank you for not slowly panning up and down Gal Gadot’s body in way that invited devouring gazes.
Thank you for not including any rape or sexual assault.
Thank you for not making this heroine a former victim.
Thank you for not including lewd jokes about women, men, or sex.
Thank you for showing women working together, instead of competing against each other.
Thank you for not denigrating men to artificially build up women.
Thank you for showing several examples of men respecting women.
Thank you for making me proud to be a woman in culture.
Thank you for giving my two daughters a quality night at the movies and a fun, powerful role model.
We are so excited for the sequel!
Sincerely, Aimee Fritz
Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2017.