Well, as usual, I’ve got a lot of territory to cover with this one.
President Misogyny was at it again last week. I also want to explain why I was so annoyed with the new Wonder Woman movie. Plus I binge-watched The Handmaid’s Tale like nobody’s business. And along the way, you’ll find out what all this has to do with TrumpCare, our Wall Street billionaire Treasury Secretary, and early-adopter threesomes.
Actually, I’m not sure if Trump’s tweet was misogynistic, or just immature, inappropriate, and plain ol’ loco:
I’m not the only one who notices that he continually accuses others of his own flaws and misdeeds, right? Except for the face lift.
Which, according to Mika & Joe, was just a little nip and tuck under the chin. And of course she had a little work done! She’s a 50-year-old woman who’s on television every morning. Do you think she’d be allowed in that chair if her face wasn’t frozen in time? She looks flawless. (Not that I’ve ever seen Morning Joe; I’m all about my Rachel Maddow.) She also got orthodonture a few years ago, and after some Google image searches, I’m pretty sure her breasts have been upgraded as well.
Because a woman these days becomes persona non grata if she’s doesn’t have tight skin, full lips, and a flat stomach, not to mention booty implants. (Thank you, Kardashians. Butt “lift,” my ass.) Plus there’s so much boobage out there, I’ve been really regretting not making mine bigger when I had the chance; my plastic surgeon at Sloan-Kettering had said that most of his patients who went small regretted it, and that my frame could handle bigger, but I liked the size they were. I thought smaller was more elegant. Not to mention easier.
And it’s SO annoying that I even think about that! (I also spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get my eyebrows to do things they don’t want to do.) I’m tired of all this talk of “girl power,” while we’re being supplied with these ridiculous visual standards by everybody from “reality” TV stars to rappers to Victoria’s Secret to the infamous Instagram pout to our supposed First Lady. This crap even rubbed off on Bruce Jenner. Poor Caitlyn.
Still with me, men? I know I sound angry . . . but you know what? I’m a little angry.
Let’s talk about why Wonder Woman pissed me off. This is NOT a feminist movie. I saw it opening weekend, in 3-D; I was looking forward to it. Female director, first leading female superhero in 33 years, blah blah blah.
Now, it was cute when Christopher Reeve’s Superman was clutzy and clueless, and Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane was a driven career journalist. It was perfect for 1978, only five years after Roe v. Wade, and the year Sally Ride became America’s first woman in space. Plus, Superman’s Clark Kent innocence was just an act (and Gene Hackman is hi-larious). On the other hand, when Chris Pine shows Wonder Woman how to behave appropriately in his world, it’s regressive.
I mean, the woman supposedly speaks 100 languages, right? Chris Pine / Steve Trevor’s secretary is the only woman in the movie with any personality, and she’s not in it near enough for moi. Plus Wonder Woman has very little agency of her own, other than to use her handy supernatural strength — given to her by Zeus — to deflect major ammo as she sprints across no man’s land so she can kick more ass. No spoilers here, because there’s not much to spoil. She’s not even really the hero (but I ain’t sayin’ who is, just in case).
I take off my 3-D glasses as the credits roll. The director is a woman. The screenwriters, however, are four men. The Executive Producer is Steven Mnuchin.
Yeah, THAT Steven Mnuchin. Our Trump-appointed Secretary of the Treasury — a former Goldman Sachs guy who profited off the massive banking crisis of 2008. No wonder I didn’t like the flick.
Now — because I tend to go down research rabbit holes when I’m working on this blog — in addition to watching the full 1978 Superman movie online, I did a little digging on the original Wonder Woman, from the comics back in the day.
Now that was fascinating . . .
William Moulton Marston was a psychologist and inventor, working and writing in the 1920s. He apparently liked the ladies, and championed the “latent abilities” and causes of the women of his day. By 1940, Marston was seeing “great educational potential” in comic books, and went to work for the future DC Comics as an educational consultant.
While there, he came up with an idea for a new kind of superhero, one who would conquer not with fists or firepower, but with love. “Fine,” said his wife, Elizabeth. “But make her a woman.”
Wonder Woman appeared in 1941, written by Marston (as Charles Moulton), who believed her to be a model of that era’s unconventional, liberated woman. Oddly, though, in his original series, Diana accompanies Steve Trevor back to America not because she wants to save the world, but because she’s got a mad crush on the pilot who’s been stranded on her island. Meanwhile some of the ancient Olympian goddesses are urging the queen — Diana’s mother — that “American liberty and freedom must be preserved! You must send with Capt. Trevor your strongest and wisest Amazon — the finest of your wonder women [a popular phrase in 1941]. For America, the last citadel of democracy, and of equal rights for women, needs your help!”
And so the queen sets up a tournament of Amazons, and declares that the winner “will go forth to fight for liberty and freedom and all womankind!”
And Diana’s like, “Oh, I got this,” and she shellacks all the other hot young Amazons.
Later in the series, Marston gives her a backstory that she’s got Greek-god-given powers (that’s like today’s doping, yo). Anyway, I didn’t read the whole damn thing, but once she’s in the US of A, these superpowers come in handy for crime-fighting and getting evil fascists to come clean with her magic Lasso of Truth.
Holy smokes, Wonder Woman! Talk about au courant! We’ve got a fascist right here! Why didn’t the screenwriters write about that instead of some weirdo acid-throwing WWII-era Kate McKinnon-type bad guy?
Oh, right. Steve Mnuchin.
Hey, remember when I said I’d gone to see Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s Town Hall a few weeks ago? He was so progressive, obviously in the know, and had such equanimity for all. So it was surprising when he agreed with a constituent — a clearly upset HIV-positive black man — that Donald Trump was indeed a fascist. Nadler suggested that Trump is the first elected official in America to qualify as such, and he defined it for us:
“Someone like Bernie [Sanders] will say, ‘The problems are a, b, and c. The solution is d, e, and f.’
Donald Trump says, ‘The problems are a, b, and c. I blame the Mexicans, the Chinese . . . And the solution is me.’
But where were we? Oh, did I mention that Marston’s biggest invention was the precursor to the polygraph? He used blood pressure belts as lie detectors, to test people for emotional reactions. (Which is another thing his wife suggested to him.) Lasso of Truth, anyone?
Marston also apparently drew inspiration from the bracelets worn by Olive Byrne (below left), who lived with the couple in a polyamorous relationship.
Uh . . . what?
Yup. Marston lived in an extended relationship with his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne (aka, Olive B. Richard), both of whom “embodied the feminism of the day.” (And based on some of Marston’s writings, both in and outside of his comics, I’m inferring that they were also into bondage.) The women had two children each, all by Marston.
And guess who Olive’s aunt was? Margaret Sanger, the early 20th century feminist and the mother of women’s reproductive rights!
In 1916, Margaret Sanger and her sister, Ethel Byrne (then 12-year-old Olive’s mother), opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States. Hmm . . . looks like we’re almost back to Roe v. Wade again, and a woman’s right to make our own medical decisions — like when we have a baby, or DON’T have a baby.
One thing to note about Sanger is that she didn’t fight for women’s rights just for the sake of women’s rights. She worked as a maternity nurse, mostly with lower-income immigrant women, and saw the hardships they suffered due to a lack of birth control and affordable health care.
Does this sound relevant to today’s political climate, or what? 1916 was A HUNDRED (and one) YEARS AGO. And Conservatives are still trying to take away those rights. Welcome to Ladyhood 2017.
Did you know that freed (male) slaves got the right to vote before women, black or white? By FIFTY years. (Although Republicans are still trying to wrestle voting away from blacks through gerrymandering and strict voter ID laws [i.e., suppression] — not to mention foreign intervention in our elections.)
Anyway, Wonder Woman was a superhero not despite of being a woman, but because she was a woman. Marston’s comic, he said, was meant to chronicle “a great movement now under way — the growth in the power of women.” Albeit maybe a different power than you’re thinking of . . .
“The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound. . . . Submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element.”
—William Marston, Creator of Wonder Woman
Which leads me to . . .
The Handmaid’s Tale
I’m not going into any plot points — maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t. You may know that a bunch of very attractive right-wing religious zealots have slaughtered the gov’ment and taken the country back to a “simpler” (i.e., dystopian) way of life, and they’ve given the Kool-Aid-swilling couples that can’t get preggers a “handmaid” to live in their attics and screw the husband once a month to try and make a baby for ’em. Clearly the novel was written before IVF went mainstream and helicopter parents were chasing their fraternal twins all over the place. (I even tried IVF myself for a full year and a half — good times.)
What’s going on in America now kinda sounds like a prequel to the show, doesn’t it? Even though Margaret Atwood was writing the novel during the Reagan era.
Anyhoo, from what I can figure, these nutjobs are kidnapping these proven fertile ladies because births are incredibly low in the near future due to pollution and chemical spills and such — but don’t hate, because they’ve also created “a society that reduced its carbon emissions by 78% in 3 years.”
What? Aw, snap!!
I KNEW something drastic would have to happen before we took this shit seriously, and dealt with climate change.
A subtly female-savvy scene comes when the Commander (a very sexy Joseph Fiennes) gives his “handmaid,” Offred, a contraband beauty magazine, like it’s a gift from God. She admits she used to look at them in the old days when she got her hair highlighted (my sista!!!). But the Commander then says what I’ve always thought about those damn magazines: that they contribute to a “list of made-up problems: no woman was ever rich enough, young enough, pretty enough, good enough.” Amen, brother. And then he drops the bomb: “Now you can fulfill your biological destinies in peace.”
“Biological destiny?” Offred asks.
“Children,” he says. “What else is there to live for?”
Well, then I’m screwed.
Admirably, four out of the five directors in Season One are women. Praise be. But there’s a rumor that Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins may jump in for Season Two. Ugh.
Also, I’ll never look at a teal-colored dress the same way again.
And briefly, while we’re talking about movies (since they are the folklore of our age, as fables and dark tales were lessons of yore), I went and saw the new Jane Jacobs documentary, Citizen Jane — which is mostly about Robert Moses. Roll credits . . . directed (duh) by a man.
Then I snuck into Band Aid (sorry, IFC!! I was just so annoyed with the Jacobs doc) about a couple who fight so much they decide to form a band with Fred Armisen and turn their arguments into songs. It’s awesome — real, insightful, and hilarious. Roll credits . . . written & directed by (and starring) a WOman.
I’ve barely scratched the surface here of what it’s like to be a woman right now — and I don’t want to sound like I’m feeling all victimized and held back. I’m just saying what some of my everyday experience is like. I’m sure dudes have societal pressures as well. (Please share in the comments if so! Ladies, too.)
But guys, helps us out here. I mean, how cool is the Fearless Girl statue that’s standing down the Charging Bull on Wall Street right now? Can you believe the bull’s sculptor threatened a lawsuit to have the girl removed? I don’t give a hoot that she was installed to promote a financial organization — it was still done by a woman to promote female (financial) power, and objected to by a man. What a tool. That dude should have been like, “Hell, yeah!” Women just reinvigorated his sculpture, and brought it into the 21st century.
Arright, I’m good for now. Let’s end with a suggestion Jerry Nadler made at his Town Hall. A female constituent asked Nadler if he would “march with us” against the current regime. Nadler answered that he has marched with us (and he has), but that “the goal is to be effective in opposing what they’re trying to do.”
“We have to fight at every level,” he continued. “We need to give to candidates who aren’t a part of this. Contribute to organizations . . . or amend the Constitution, but that’s very, very difficult. Public financing of political campaigns is really the best thing you can do.”
And follow my blog, haha. Go to the sidebar HERE to sign up.
And FYI, here’s a smattering of the things I see when making my way through the streets of New York City on any given day:
Happy post-Independence Day!!
9 thoughts on “Ladyhood, version 2017”
Hi Debbe, Great and thoughtful blog. Clever & insightful. Keep up the good fight!
Wow. You covered a LOT of material here. I love the whole thing and thoroughly enjoy the irony of the photos at the end.
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