Wonder Woman is a White-Feminist Zionist?

A provocative (to say the least) article was shared on one of the intersectional feminist groups I’m a member of on Facebook, prompting some fairly intense discussion. I felt compelled to comment myself, and it ended up being a really long one.

The article in question, WONDER WOMAN IS YOUR ZIONIST, WHITE FEMINIST HERO, offers the opinion that your “new sexy fave, Gal Gadot” is a pro-colonialist Zionist and as such, the author found it difficult to enjoy the movie because she alleges the actress does not care about children in Gaza. She concludes that “This movie wasn’t made with all women in mind, it’s for the women who can ignore certain atrocities which don’t directly affect them.” Ouch.

Now I understand the author’s anger at the atrocities waged against the people of Palestine and how they’ve historically been underrepresented in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What I don’t understand is what any of that has to do with Gal Gadot or Wonder Woman. To me, this seems to be more of a misdirected anger drive-by than an objective critique of the actual film. And the ad-hominem attacks on Gal Gadot for one Instagram post are not only beyond ridiculous, they’re offensive.

So here is my article-worthy long response to the aforementioned article:

***SPOILERS***

Sorry, don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie. I couldn’t write it without doing so.

What I find troubling about this article is it’s use of the word “Zionist” as well as conflating Gal Gadot, the person, with Wonder Woman the movie.

For starters, the use of the word “Zionist” as an epithet removes the context from which it originated: European anti-Semitism. It’s an ideology rooted in the Jewish people’s right to self-determine. It is also an ideology that is much more complex than this article represents, as pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian colonialism: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/israel-studies-an...

Then we have the problem of attributing “Zionism” to Gal Gadot. Here’s another article that does it: http://www.independent.co.uk/.../wonder-woman-gal-gadot...

Nowhere does she identify as a “Zionist”. And if she were to, what interpretation (referring to the original link)? Israel is her home country — do we really expect her to not support her own country? Would you apply the same criticism to an American actor praying for our soldiers?

Here’s a good read on the conflict mentioned. It was sparked by “murder of three young Israeli students”: https://www.vox.com/.../israel.../gaza-israel-hamas-2104 This doesn’t invalidate the points made above — 2100 Palestinians were murdered. I’m merely trying to understand where Gadot was coming from as she prayed with her own daughter. This is not to get into the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but to remember that Gadot is a human being, who also posted #stopterror #coexistance. I’m taking that to be sincere. Her post does not seem worthy of the condemnation it has received, in my opinion. It also reduces intersectional feminism to ad-hominem attacks.

War is suffering and death. As Americans, we’re privileged that our own soil is not a battleground. Do you think your opinion would be the same if you lived that close to the conflict? Note: This is not a defense of political Israel. I’ve been alive long enough to see “peace in the Middle East” as a catchy American slogan — I’m beyond cynical at this point. This conflict started before most of us were alive, and it’s not going to be solved by one Israeli actress or a superhero movie. Why conflate the two?

You know what is feminist? Anti-war. Wonder Woman is a superhero whose mission is to defeat the god of war, thereby liberating humanity from it. The cynicism she encounters from the humans as well her own triumph over cynicism, by choosing love, is more than symbolic of our present day affairs. It’s a message that recognizes the complexity of our world and choosing to see the best in humanity despite the evils they commit. Now that is a message we need more of; an inspirational appeal to our better natures.

And as far as the lack of inclusion of people of color, I agree this is a shortcoming particularly in how they represented the Amazons. Far too many white women. Of course, if Wonder Woman were portrayed by a WOC the movie would be entirely different. The movie seeks to underscore sexism in WW1 Europe, so a WOC naturally would underscore the racism as well. Could Wonder Woman have traversed the spaces she does in the movie as a WOC? It’s an interesting dynamic, but again, a completely different movie.

It’s important to continue to push for progress, but I think we can do that and at the same time acknowledge that Wonder Woman is not only a fantastic movie but a step forward in our pursuit of progress.

And things are progressing (DC Comics should take note):

Marvel hires their first black woman writer for new ‘Black Panther: World of Wakanda’ series: https://blavity.com/marvel-announces-black-panther-world.../

Black Panther is due in 2018, starring Chadwick Boseman, written by Joe Robert Cole, and directed by Ryan Coogler.

Why Marvel’s New Black Female Iron Man Will Officially Be Named Ironheart: http://time.com/.../marvel-iron-man-ironheart-riri-williams/

As feminists, we’re better than this. A film can be both progressive and problematic. We can both enjoy a film while offering necessary criticism, without descending into an ad-hominem fueled rant about the people involved.

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