All-Female ‘Wonder Woman’ Screenings Aren’t Sexist, Just Pointless

All-Female ‘Wonder Woman’ Screenings Aren’t Sexist, Just Pointless

I’m not against female-led superhero films. I'm against the implication that I owe 'Wonder Woman' a certain quota of praise merely because she is a she.
Esther O'Reilly
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“Wonder Woman” is flying into theaters this week, and if early reviews are any indication, it’s poised to be a critical and commercial success. Already praised as “a game changer,” “better than the cynics expected,” and “a rollicking action adventure…with a fully functioning sense of humor,” it may be the second wind DC Comics desperately needs after a dismal spate of duds.

But Alamo Drafthouse kicked up a less positive storm of comments last weekend, when they announced women-only* screenings at select locations in New York, Texas, and Colorado.

(*Sorry, that’s actually “people who identify as women only.” And when they say it, they mean it! Embrace that girl* power!)

Some of the backlash riffed on the theater’s concession to transgenderism by suggesting that men “self-identify” as women to crash the showings. Other patrons expressed more general outrage concerning the double standard that would brand men’s-only showings of superhero movies as sexist. What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. Some have even talked of suing Alamo for a Human Rights violation.

Please, Cool the Fake Outrage

Am I a conservative? Yes. Am I a complementarian? Yes. Could I possibly care less that Alamo Drafthouse is hosting an all-female screening of “Wonder Woman”? No. In fact, I’ll make a bargain with my feminist friends: In return for not filling up your social media feeds with overblown tantrums, I ask only that you respect my right simply not to care.

Here’s my deal: I do not feel moved to post an extended rant on Alamo’s Facebook page, because ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m not calling for a human rights lawsuit, because srsly? For realz?

But, at the same time, I refuse to pretend that Alamo is doing something remotely significant, moving, or profound. I refuse to pretend that a goofy superhero movie is an Important Cultural Event merely because the protagonist has two X chromosomes. And I refuse to pretend that any of this is Empowering Women in any concrete, meaningful way.

What’s that? Alamo is donating the proceeds from the screenings to women’s charities? Well, that is a nice touch, who’d they pick? Ah. I see. (To be fair, I have gleaned that this is not consistent across every single location. In particular, Dallas, Texas is one of the few not donating money from an all-female event to the country’s best organized baby-girl-killing syndicate.)

A Female Superhero Isn’t Going To Change Women’s Lives

Maybe I’m out of touch, but when I think about women who truly need to be empowered, North American comic book fans with money to spend on a dinner theater ticket are not the first demographic that springs to mind. I’m pretty sure there are women in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East who have things rough, too. Being beaten by your husband or enslaved by your mother-in-law—I mean, it’s not like having to wait a few decades before getting a non-crappy super-heroine movie or anything, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either.

I know, I know, it’s not just about a comic book. It’s about Sending a Message to an industry where women have faced systemic discrimination. (It’s real! Look, we have Charts!) I know there are people with way too much time on their hands who think it Means Something when you count up every line in a Hollywood screenplay and find the majority of them are spoken by men.

For these people, Wonder Woman isn’t just another bad-ass chick in yet another silly superhero movie. She’s not just the Amazon princess ex machina swooping in to save DC’s economic bacon. She’s a feminist icon leading Hollywood into the final frontier of Women’s Rights, which apparently includes the Right To Have Female-Led Superhero Movies That Don’t Suck. Women’s suffrage was a nice start, but you must understand that the fight is only beginning.

It’s not that I’m against female-led superhero movies that don’t suck. I’m for superhero movies that don’t suck. I’m for movies that don’t suck. If Wonder Woman deserves to rake in as much money as she’s projected to, I say more power to her bullet-blocking elbow.

What I am against is the implication that as a female film critic, I owe Wonder Woman a certain quota of dewy-eyed sentimentality merely because she is a she. Meanwhile, the self-defeating hypocrisy of Alamo Drafthouse isn’t helping.

Boosting Planned Parenthood Is Counterproductive

Now here I must note that in fairness, I have yet to see a self-proclaimed Christian feminist who applauded Alamo’s choice once it was confirmed that they were donating their proceeds to Planned Parenthood. I also have yet to see a Christian feminist who approves of their utter capitulation to transgenderism.

It should give Christian women pause to see what feminism has become on the stage of pop culture. Tragic and jarring as it is, it should not surprise them for a theater to use a character defined by her compassion and humanity as a money funnel for the most horrifically inhumane practice imaginable.

Moreover, it should not come as a shock that progressive ideology would eventually begin to eat its own tail by voiding the entire concept of gender. To the progressive mind, “empowering women” is all of a piece with enabling the destruction of everything that is good and beautiful about womanhood.

Despite this, many Christian feminists will continue to hang onto their feminist cards. It is not my place to demand they turn them in. Wonder Woman will put a lump in their throat that she simply doesn’t put in mine, and that’s just how it is.

Still, I urge them to consider the cautionary tale of Alamo Drafthouse. Let it serve as a reminder that in this brave new world, even our most innocent, most fun entertainment cannot always escape being appropriated for the culture of death.

Esther O'Reilly is a teacher, freelancer, film and music critic, bookworm, and Ben Sasse fangirl. She holds a double bachelor's in math and philosophy and is currently pursuing a doctorate. She has written for Quillette and regularly contributes cultural commentary to The Stream and film commentary to More Than One Lesson. Follow her on Twitter at @EstherOfReilly, or on Patheos at Young Fogey.
Photo Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman (2017)

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