I wasn’t sure about taking my son to see Wonder Woman. He’s only seven, and it seemed like it might be a little intense for him. He didn’t even want to go! Both he and my daughter had to be dragged to the movies, which seems ridiculous to me as a movie lover, but there it was. And yet I had heard from so many people how important it was that we all take our kids to see this movie. And so we went, on a Tuesday afternoon matinee, to see the first big-budget super-hero movie with a female lead. (No, Lara Croft is not a superhero. No, Tank Girl was not big budget. You get my point. Stop arguing details.) And it was, of course, fantastic.
The kids loved it. Both of them. They want to go again. We got to have good talks about war, what it is, what it means, and why it is so terrible. We got to share our favorite kick-ass moments from the film. And we got to finally see a recent DC movie that wasn’t terrible. It was a good day. But the best part came afterwards.
I get it now. I get why it was so important. I get why I had to drag my kids to it. Aside from the fact that we had an enjoyed afternoon of entertainment, the needle was moved. The spectrum shifted. My son, who thinks girls are icky and smelly, started walking down the street as Wonder Woman. It was rainy day, so we had umbrellas with us. He put his out in front of him like a shield and started twirling it in a circle deflecting bullets as he recreated scenes from the movie. It was awesome.
I have been trying so hard to fight for my daughter all of these years that I worry I have neglected my son. I have fought for her right to wear superhero underwear and be Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and any other man she wanted to be. But where was I when I walked into the clothing store and found no Wonder Woman outfits for my son? Where was I when the time came to tell him that pretending to be a girl was just as okay as his sister pretending to be a boy? Where was I when I should have been telling him that traditionally feminine qualities were as important as the traditionally masculine ones, and that we all have a mix of both inside of us. That we are all strong, and sensitive, and smart, and emotional, and timid, and bold, and nurturing, and kick-ass.
I may have dropped the ball before, but I was on it now. I asked him if he was being Wonder Woman (because he clearly was), and he stopped. His face scrunched up. He thought about it. Then he said “No, Wonder Woman is a girl.” And so I had to take action.
“Well, I am!” I shouted. “See my bracelets?!” I deflected a few bullets as I leaped about the street. And he smiled and got his shield going again. The only way I can really prove to him that it is okay for him to be Wonder Woman, is to be Wonder Woman myself. And so I am. And so he is. And little girls can grow up to be Superman. And little boys can grow up to be Wonder Woman. And the world will be a better place for it, because we need more heroes, no matter where they come from, or how they started out. And we sure as hell don’t need to care what gender they are.