I attempted to avoid this Wonder Woman controversy for as long as I could, but honestly, some things just need to be discussed, especially when they’re discussions regarding something as ridiculous as armpits.
Why are we talking about Wonder Woman’s armpits?
Honestly, that’s such a good question – thanks me! – and quite frankly, I have no idea. When Wonder Woman hits cinemas later this year, it will be the first female-led superhero movie in almost over a decade, and from what the trailers are showing, it’s going to be given the treatment it deserves.
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman looks like a strong lead in an origin story that barely acknowledges the terrible New 52 decision to make Zeus her father (“I have no father.” – GET IN, LASS!) and we see her undoubtedly kicking ass all over the place. She certainly put Batman in his place in Dawn of Justice and was undoubtedly the best part of the movie. Are her armpits really something that should be commanding so much attention?
I know it’s part of a wider discussion, but honestly, we need Wonder Woman right now.
Does no one truly remember the cinematic car crash that was Catwoman? The movie that completely ignored Selina Kyle’s comic book existence and created an entirely new story that focused purely on fetishising Halle Berry in PVC, as she pounced around for the benefit of the male gaze, in a caper that saw her solving a make up related crime?
What about those leaked emails from Sony, revealing misogynistic comments and attitudes regarding female driven superhero movies? Or, perhaps more recently, Harley Quinn’s teeny, tiny glitter shorts or Black Widow’s documented internal shame at not being able to fulfil her role as woman by giving birth to tiny little widows?
We need Wonder Woman!
Honestly, we’ve been waiting for a proper female-led superhero movie for so long. We deserve a movie that isn’t solely focused on the lead’s sexualisation or romantic interest. We have a story that looks set to accurately align with Wonder Woman’s original origin story, for crying out loud, does no one realise how unbelievably important that is, given DC’s massive, massive New 52 blunder!? So why are we focused so intently on her appearance?
I mean, this isn’t the first time that Gal Gadot has come under intense scrutiny for her appearance since she first took on the role of Wonder Woman. Granted, it’s a pretty hefty role for anyone to consider, but when it was first announced, was it really fair to denounce her as being too small to play an Amazonian? Or criticise a woman in Hollywood for being too small/thin/slight to play such a powerful character?
No one seemed to bat an eyelid when Ben Affleck either grew or spray painted on that terrible stubble for Batman, and no one decided to comment on the fact that they decided to bring back the bat-nips of costumes past… (I did, in all fairness, but then again, I love a bat-nip).
I’ll ask again: why are we focusing on her arm pits?
Granted, the image does make her armpits look like they’ve been amended somehow in a post-production edit. I’ll even go as far as admitting that her arm pits don’t really look like they have the capacity to grow natural under arm hair at all… but does it matter? Is it really an image that aims to censor the natural female body? Do people really need to focus so intently on whether Gal Gadot or Wonder Woman can actually grow under arm hair?
“But she’s an AMAZONIAN!”
She certainly is, and that’s something that her origin story pays attention to in the movie trailers. Of course, I also understand that if Wonder Woman were, in fact, a real life person, she would look like a traditional Amazonian woman – but what does that look like? Words like ‘tall’, ‘glamorous’ and ‘hairy’ come to mind, but surely the fact that if she were to look like an Amazon, she’d sooner have one breast and be way more awesome than simply having hairy pits, right?
Let’s not forget that if she were a real life woman, she’d also not have a shiny, magic lasso, or her bulletproof bracelets. She probably also wouldn’t have been created out of love and magic without the input of a man, never mind a Greek God (if you prescribe to New 52’s origin…which I obviously don’t).
Come on people!
Look, I’m as feminist as they come, and I’m passionate about women being able to do whatever they want with their own bodies, without the judgement of other people and without the scrutiny that often comes with not prescribing to some patriarchal agenda. I also know that if Wonder Woman wanted to exempt herself from prescribing to modern beauty standards, she totally would.
However, given that we’re in 2017 and this is (I’ll repeat) the first female-led superhero in over a decade, is it not better to move past this and throw our support behind the movie so that film makers continue making female-led superhero movies, and, I don’t know, forget about something as non-important as arm pits?
Focusing on something as trivial as arm pit hair, or offering arguments that Amazonian women wouldn’t shave (something I find interesting, and potentially have to disagree with; where does this come from? I’d argue that if these women are happy to chop off a whole tit for more accurate bow-aim, why should their body hair be something they’d want to keep? Surely that would reduce friction or something?) only seems to diminish the importance of a female-led superhero movie, as well as catering more to a culture that perpetually demeans women based on their appearance.
In my opinion, the female body hair debate should never have crossed over into the Wonder Woman movie build up. At all. While I certainly agree that it’s an important debate and a debate that certainly has a place in popular discourse, I don’t think it belongs here.
Honestly, I kind of feel like we need to pick our battles. We’re already going to have a difficult time on our hands when Wonder Woman is released; not necessarily from men salivating over her appearance, or even men getting themselves in a mess complaining about some hidden feminist agenda only they can see, but from movie executives and decision makers who could axe Wonder Woman from the cinematic landscape, just as easily as they’ve made her film possible.
Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder.
This is what’s important moving forward: a potential Wonder Woman franchise. Let’s stop focusing on a female’s appearance (albeit, I concede, for the right reasons) and focus on the film. Like I said, Ben Affleck’s ridiculous spray-on stubble wasn’t given a platform; we judged Dawn of Justice, and indeed, Batman on how terribly it was acted and how the film made Batman look like an overgrown, petulant and potentially racist man child.
I personally want to start as we mean to go on with female-led superhero films; strong, independent, passionate and amazing women who don’t fall into the same tired old tropes that are given to female-driven movies in order to fit with a demographic that we didn’t get to fucking decide on. I want violence. I want ass kickery. I want Wonder Woman.