Monday, March 19, 2018

The Wonder of a Woman (and Blackness of a Panther)


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I was quite a few months late to the game, but I finally was able to see Wonder Woman recently.
Settle in, because I have ALL THE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS about it.

Within minutes, I joined the millions of people who absolutely loved it.
The story was unique yet solid, the humor was witty, the themes were inspiring, and the character development had depth and relatability.

I completely enjoyed the love story between Chris Pine and Gal Gadot.
Their characters both had callings that required such strength, and yet they let their guard down for each other. And in an unusual turn for Hollywood, they didn't JUST have physical attraction for each other, but developed a deep respect and admiration for each other's character and integrity, which caused that attraction to turn into love.

I also particularly appreciated the way they represented Wonder Woman's womanhood.
Diana (along with the rest of the amazon women) were not overly-sexualized, in my opinion, which I appreciated.
Women inherently do have a sexual aspect to us, because God created us to be visibly lovely and beautiful. And while we can be tempted to either despise that (because of the way culture has objectified our bodies) or use it to manipulate (because we can easily use our looks and sexuality to control), we should work hard to be thankful for our unique beauty and wield it wisely. And I thought that balance was done well in this film.
I appreciated that they were portrayed as warriors, but not masculine ones.
These women were stunningly fierce and die-hard champions in battle.
And yet, they were not dressed like men! They showed no shame in displaying their physical strength and power, in their uniquely feminine way.
Similarly, I didn't once witness Wonder Woman needing to prove herself by overcompensating into a bullying personality and aggressive conversation with people.
She carried herself with a freedom to be kind and gentle and vulnerable, without feeling like that would somehow weaken her. Grace and class were not her disadvantage, on the contrary, they substantiated her intelligence and power.


But my favorite part of the entire film, and the most impactful scene, in my opinion, was when Woman Wonder storms No Man's Land in the Belgian village.
Watching this woman feel so overcome by her need to help these people, and then shed her cloak and climb out of that trench was monumental.
And as her enemy's confusion turned into fear and her friend's shock turned into inspiration, I had chills running down my spine and tears streaming down my face.

Honestly, it's still hard to articulate how I felt, as a woman, watching it.

Seeing that way that both her allies and her enemies looked at her.
Seeing what was being done by someone who looked like me.

 (I mean that in the sense that she's a woman and I'm a woman, not that I will ever actually get to look like Gal Gadot. *cue hysterical laughter* Pretty sure I'd have to stop eating bread and be willing to exercise for longer than 20 minutes to even dream about that happening for me, which I'm not, so...)

What we saw on their faces was pure, unadulterated AWE.
Not just at her beauty, but her strength. Her bravery. Her capability.
There was so much power in that moment of watching a scene like that, and it can be so easy to take those moments in life for granted.

The power of seeing someone who looks like you being viewed as invaluable.

She had something to bring to the table that was needed, and that no one else could bring, and in that very moment, everyone knew it.
And it is so closely personal and deeply moving to watch that, especially when you've experienced the contrary.

And I can't help but thinking that if I feel so impacted and inspired by that on such a small scale as a middle-class white woman in America, how much more have the black community felt that while watching Black Panther?
Possibly the first blockbuster in movie history that celebrates blackness in it's centrality.
No longer the side-kicks, but the heroes.
No longer the prop there to add the diversity factor, but the heart and soul and life of the story.
Not in a world where their ancestors were bought and sold, but one where their ancestors were royalty.
Not in a society where they are treated like second-class citizens, but one where they are as trusted and esteemed as the next.

Our world is poisoned with both racism and sexism, but they are different beasts.
Let me say right here and now that as a white woman, I won't ever claim to have a have any sort of full understanding of all the implications and feelings under the weight of racism.

But did women and africans share a similar, although very different, moment of overwhelming wonder when they watched the adventures and victory of a hero who looked like them?

Maybe.


Overall, I don't feel treated less than the average man in my day-to-day life.
And I think that's partially because of a lot of the quality men I'm surrounded by, who don't just view me as an adorable decoration or a capable babysitter, but genuinely value what's in my head and my heart (and I'm married to one of those men, which is bonus.) And also partially, because of the certain shelteredness I'm afforded with my current job (of caring for my kids and my home.)
I no longer deal with demeaning words or sexual harassment in the workforce, which obviously I'm thankful for.

But I do still experience certain tensions, maybe now more than ever, of feeling like I don't always get a seat at the table. A table that my male counterparts do automatically have a seat at.
There have been conversations where I bring a thoughtful, well-articulated argument and it's ignored. (I don't mean disagreed with, that would be completely fine, I mean ignored.)
There are pieces of wisdom that I've offered, and were dismissed right up until a man said THE EXACT SAME THING and then all of the sudden, it was taken into serious consideration and even implemented.

I don't want to see these things or feel like a victim. I hate that so much of modern feminism plays itself out in a way that makes us look like angry martyrs, rather than cherished and valuable members of society who have just as much of a voice as the man next to them.

But at the same time, how can I repeatedly be in these not-so-subtle situations without starting to feel like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense? Like... can you even see me?
And why not?

I have a suspicion that maybe I feel this tension even stronger because of my particular profession.
I work at home.
I teach my kids to read and take them to swim lessons and fold laundry and make grocery lists and bring meals to people in need, so that my family and my home and my community is well cared for.
I have never once been embarrassed about my work, because I know it's value and that it's what God has called me to for this season of life, whether other people approve or not.

But I have to ask myself, is there something about this life and this work that says to a watching world "She's so busy nurturing that she must not have a brain"?

Is that what's happening here?
Is there an assumption that because I've potty-trained three humans, that I don't also educate myself in politics?
Is there an assumption that because I've read Green Eggs and Ham five thousand times, that I don't also read articles on economics or Systematic Theology?
Or even if I didn't have those interests, would I be viewed as "just" a nurturer?
Are maternal instincts and vocations synonymous with stupidity?

Maybe I'm feeling a little naive here because of how surrounded I am by women who would prove those accusations wrong every day. I'm honored to know countless women who are both exquisitely wise and fiercely intelligent, and I would mark our conversations together as such.
I can't know for sure if these biases are real or in my head, but I would probably bet on a little bit of both. But either way, if some of us feel that way, shouldn't we at least consider what messages our natural tendencies are sending?

If you're in my home, are you likely to ask my husband about his thoughts on gun control or immigration reform, but never ask me mine as well? If you're in a church, are you more likely to ask the button-upped white guy about certain doctrines of faith, but not the black man covered in tattoos?
Again, these truly are questions and speculations, not accusations.

But what if we made a genuine effort to ask ourselves and God whether there's truth to some of these?

I'll be the first to tell you that I am guilty of all sorts of conscious and subconscious bias on a constant basis, and God has been so gentle in the way He has humbled me and continues to do so. 
And can't we all make more of a habit of that, myself included?
Of continually asking God to show us the areas of our hearts and our lives where bias and partiality are? And asking Him to change us and forgive us for not loving and valuing ALL of His image-bearers equally? (And honestly, that might mean that you're a woman who thinks all men are idiots and chauvinists, and you make sure that they know it!)
What if we tried harder as individuals and a society (and in christian circles, especially), to look around our metaphorical table and see who maybe doesn't have a seat reserved for them, whether it's a gender or a minority?
And to make intentional efforts to invite those people to the table and conversation?


What if laying down our pride and admitting our mistakes is exactly the thing God uses to bring healing to those spaces?


I know that we will always feel the tensions and brokenness of sin in our world until Jesus returns or takes us home. But I pray that until then, He will keep opening our eyes more and more to see the beauty and glory of the diversity He created.
Whether it be different personality types or genders or skin colors, that we make sure they know that their seat at the table isn't just available for them, but that their presence in that seat is an invaluable part to it.


"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." -Galatians 3:28


1 comment:

  1. These are good questions. I'll answer once I've had more than 4 hours of sleep. I'd like to make time to think through each question and answer honestly while being willing to be teachable.

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