Women’s inequality has always been an issue for the female half of the world’s human population, but this year women are going to have their own special symbol.
International Women’s Day dates back to 1908, when for the first time American women marched in New York City to demand shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights. At that time, activists for voting rights were called suffragettes.
National Women’s Day was made official in the USA in 1909. Europe quickly followed suit, and in 1910 women from 17 countries met in Copenhagen. By 1911, International Women’s Day was celebrated in Denmark, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Even Russia understood the plight of women, and they made this day official in 1913.
But let’s fast-forward to 1941, when the woman I hope will become the 2017 symbol of all strong, modern women was created. Her name is Wonder Woman, and a man named William Moulton Marston, a psychologist, a feminist, and also the inventor of the lie-detector test, invented her. Her creator made her to look like the pinups that soldiers usually hung in their lockers. Wonder Woman was actually born Princess Diana on a fictitious all-female island where she trained as an Amazon warrior. She had never seen a man until an American solider named Steve Trevor was washed up on the shore of her island after a plane crash. She left the island with him and fought in World War II. In 1943 Wonder Woman ran for President of the United States, against her significant other, Steve Trevor, who headed the Man’s World Party. Wonder Woman won, which means that even if Hillary didn’t win in 2016, the US has had a female president.
But she didn’t last long. The war ended in 1945, and Marston died in 1947. Women who had been working in factories while the men were at war were being laid off from their jobs and went back to being housewives. The women who were able to keep their jobs were almost always paid less than their male counterparts. Wonder Woman was no longer depicted as a superhero but instead shown as a fashion model, sometimes a babysitter, and never wearing her combat boots. Women in general were pretty quiet in the 50s and 60s.
But not in the 1970s. In 1972, Gloria Steinem put Wonder Woman on the first cover of Ms., which was the first feminist magazine. The headline read, “Wonder Woman for President” – that was the same year that Richard Nixon was re-elected as president. In 1975, Lynda Carter starred in a Wonder Woman TV series. The series only lasted a couple of years, but it made a difference to a generation of young girls who loved to pretend to be Wonder Women. It also opened the door for female action movies like Charlie’s Angels.
Let’s fast-forward again, this time to 2008. That’s when Marvel Entertainment and its parent company, Disney, released Iron Man. They have been producing almost 2 superhero films a year, grossing more than $8.3 billion globally. Their rival, DC Entertainment, which is a subsidiary of Warner Bros., has a project to make at least 10 Justice League hero movies in the next 5 years. And that includes Wonder Woman. The movie is going to be directed by Patty Jenkins, one of the first female directors to work with a budget of over $100 million. The lead of the 75-year old Wonder Woman is going to be played by Gal Gadot, a 31-year old Israeli actor who was Miss Israel in 2004 and then went on to be a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. She really knows how to handle weapons. The movie will be set at the time of WWI, just as the original story was.
It has not been easy for WB to figure out the character of a modern Wonder Woman. Her love interest, Steve, has to be supportive but not emasculated. She has to be a super hero in combat but one who prefers peace. In other words, she has to be forceful but also compassionate – someone young girls can look up to. Fortunately, the Israeli actress can actually run and jump and kick in high heels and usually does her own stunts.
As a matter of fact, Gal Godot sees the movie as giving a message of empowerment to girls. She says she is in reality a pacifist, and defines a feminist not as someone who burns bras and hates men, but as someone who believes in gender equality. She also says that whoever is not a feminist is a chauvinist. It could be that this will be the year that her character will break the equivalent of a superhero’s glass ceiling.
According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap will only close in the year 2186. However, the Wonder Woman movie premiers on June 2, 2017, and I hope it will be a tiny step towards closure. It is hard to be a human in this world, but it is even harder to be a female human. This year’s motto is #BeBoldForChange. Let’s just do it!
The word cliffhanger comes from cliffs. Duh. Cliffs are vertical, or nearly vertical, rocks that have been formed by erosion and weathering. There are lots of famous cliffs, but the first ones that come to my mind are the White Cliffs of Dover, probably because there was a popular World War II song about them that was part of my childhood, and also because they are on the historical English coastline.
When one thinks of cliffhangers, England and its gothic novels always come to mind. Cliffhangers are the kind of story, book or movie that uses suspense either at the end of an episode or a scene. A good example was the way the final episode of Game of Thrones, season 5, was done. Jon Snow was dead. Or was he? Those of us who sweated it out until season 6 was aired were never really sure. The writers used old-fashioned melodrama, suspense and uncertainty, and the audience was left as if hanging from a cliff in a state of tension and apprehension. And that’s a true cliffhanger.
This part of the blog will not be able to offer any nail-biting cliffhangers, but it will have classes in series, and I hope they will be interesting enough that you will want to come back and read what happens next, even if you don’t lose sleep anticipating the next chapter. Enjoy.