For all the wonder women.

[The image of Wonder Woman was made by Avani Prasad, a twelve-year-old talented middle schooler from Detroit.]

This weekend, I watched Wonder Woman movie with one of my best friends and her daughters. We watched it in 3D in one of those theaters with great big reclining cushioned seats with nice leg extenders for added comfort. Just the weekend before, I had watched it with a bunch of women colleagues and some of their children. The movie was a lot of fun and it left me with a vastly different feeling compared to watching a batman or a superman movie. The second time was even more fun than the first time. The lead characters in action movies and superhero movies make us feel big and courageous and confident, and until I watched this movie, I didn’t realize how much more relatable a woman lead character was. James Bond? Who is that!

Wonder woman makes no apologies and offers no more than necessary explanations for her abilities which sound more like simple statements. She sees good in humankind and fights evil with strength, love and truth. At the end of our movie date, my colleagues and I declared that we will do the wonder woman move by crossing our forearms in front of us and opening them out in the face of any problem at work. I was so glad that they didn’t dress her role in pink or put her in a dress that highlighted her bikini line (or put her in a pantsuit).

The movie made me recall a conversation I had with one of my friends and his sons. We were talking about diversity, equal opportunity and affirmative action. My friend was saying in a general tone of peace and acceptance that career advancements are merit-based and that there will be more women in positions of authority as we educate more and more women and that women should not be discouraged by not seeing women in positions of authority. While my friend has a good point, the issue is far more nuanced. It’s not easy to tell yourself and other women not to get discouraged. When you don’t see people you can relate to, in top roles, there’s subconscious messaging in the environment that you don’t belong there. Gender, race and other demographic attributes, while superficial in one sense, allow a quick and easy connection until you figure out what else you can relate to on a deeper plane. When my older nephew gets dropped off in day care, he extends out his arms and a sweet girl his age rushes over to help him take his jacket off. No one taught them this behavior. May be this girl sees her mom do this for her dad. I don’t know much more about the timings of when these kids are dropped off in day care, but maybe we should pay attention and make sure my nephew helps this girl with her jacket when she is the one to reach later. In the normal humdrum of life, this is a not a big enough issue worthy of our attention.

As we came out of the movie, my friend says to her teenage daughters, “so girls, did you notice that wonder woman did not get exposed to men until she trained hard and became smart and strong and got to know herself?”. Spoken like a true mom of teenage daughters!

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