EXPeriencing Wonder Woman

Cover image via.

Caution: There’s a spoiler below.

My husband made me cry because of Wonder Woman.

Don’t worry, they were happy tears.

We saw Wonder Woman this afternoon, and were both blown away. Not only was it a great story with great acting and awesome fight scenes and explosions that make all good superhero movies worthwhile, but it was a woman. leading. the. charge. I didn’t know I’d been waiting my whole life to see Wonder Woman kicking ass and taking names on the big screen, but when I watched her train with the Amazons, fight Germans, and save the world, I was mesmerized. She’s everything the 8-year-old girl in me needed to see 20 years ago: a strong, smart woman warrior who can do anything.

I was particularly choked up during a fight scene in the latter half of the film. Diana had just walked across No Man’s Land and helped the allied forces overcome the entrenched Germans. Then she cleared out the nearby German-occupied town to save the villagers. She was fighting a dozen men at once, and beating them all to pulps. My nose started to tickle as tears were welling in my eyes. I’ve never truly been struck with the sense of seeing myself represented on screen, and it is powerful. It’s one thing to see Captain America and Batman and Thor leading a team, running around, beating up the bad guys. But it’s another to see a woman doing it. Representation matters in all things. It took more than 75 years from Wonder Woman’s creation for women to see her on the big screen in all her deserved glory. It’s ridiculous it took Hollywood this long to catch up. But boy, was it worth the wait.

As I was about to share with Terry how this scene made me tear up, he said, “The movie almost got me. I almost cried during it.” I asked him what part. He replied, “When Steve Trevor was saying goodbye to Diana before flying the plane away from the base.”

Terry said, “Because that’s how I see you. You’re Wonder Woman to me.”

Reader, I burst into tears.

I clutched his hand and said, “Really?”

He said, “Yeah, are you kidding? You are Wonder Woman, and any other strong female video game or movie character. That’s why I want you to go everywhere with me. I’m Steve Trevor, I can’t do anything on my own. I need Wonder Woman there to help me.”

I’ve never felt more loved or special in all my life. I told Terry it was the sweetest thing he’s ever said to me. He replied, “What about ‘Will you marry me?'” That ranks second.

The moral of this story is two-fold:

1.) Go see Wonder Woman. Immediately. Take your daughters and sons.

2.) Find a lady or gentleman who sees you as Wonder Woman, and marry them.

EXPeriencing ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood [The Novel]

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I had always heard Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was a disconcerting dystopian novel. Nothing encouraged me to pick it up, though. It was simply a book written before I was born about some hypothetical “What if.”

And then Donald Trump was elected president, a man who multiple women have accused of sexual assault, and yet he gets to sit in the Oval Office and enact laws (or attempt to). If anything is illustrative of white male privilege and the need for feminism, it’s this, our new reality.

“I’m ravenous for news, any kind of news; even if it’s false news, it must mean something.”

Knowing things could somehow still be worse, and having seen previews for the Hulu adaptation, I asked my sister to buy The Handmaid’s Tale for me for my birthday.

I read the book on my deck in the warm sun. I read it snuggled on my couch under cozy blankets. And yet, I couldn’t quite shake the chill that crept up my spine with every page.

Atwood thrusts you into the life in the new United States–Gilead–a nation that has been taken over by a religious right that strips women of their rights. They are no longer able to own property, make their own decisions about money, or even read. Women (the lucky ones? It’s hard to say.) are classified into three categories: Wives, Marthas (housekeepers), and Handmaids (breeders). Human reproduction has plummeted, and now Handmaids, those women with the most viable reproductive systems, are tasked with conceiving children. Not for themselves, but for the families they are tied to.

“You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, is what he says. We thought we could do better.

“Better? I say, in a small voice. How can he think this is better?

“Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some.”

You almost want to read the novel at arm’s length. The main character, Offred, describes things with almost detached interest that makes you similarly want to detach yourself. But you can’t. Especially when Offred tells the reader, “I don’t want to tell this story.”

Those parts, the parts Offred doesn’t want to tell you, are where the novel gets too real. The flashes of life before Gilead are an America that looks remarkably similar to our own. There are subtle, slow changes that are easy to overlook, that everyday citizens think they’ll work through. But then it’s too late and too much is different and resistance isn’t just a hashtag or a march but a death sentence.

Offred’s tale isn’t one of information and facts, but of humanity and emotions that can’t be undone by a religious regime. It shows the dangers of a few at the top holding all the power, and how the erasure of science and reason in favor of piety can have devastating consequences for society.

The world of The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t as far away as it should be. But living Offred’s story through her eyes ensures I will fight tooth and nail to keep that reality far, far away.

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”

Fight, Resist, Rebel… and Rest

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When I started listening to NPR a few years ago, I never thought there would be a day where I just had to turn it off because I couldn’t bear to hear one more horrible thing about what’s happening in our country. I never thought I would go on Facebook and Twitter and be so overwhelmed by news that I would have to hold back tears because it felt like a mountain of animosity was sitting on my shoulders.

But today was that day. I nearly flung my phone away from me at lunch with despair. It was only after listening to Beyoncé and Les Mis really loudly in my earbuds at work and not allowing myself to look at the news that I felt better.

I was alarmed by the crushing despair and anxiety that hit me today. I suffer from depression, so the feeling itself wasn’t new. But the energy and enthusiasm and drive I had felt since the Women’s March evaporated almost immediately, only to be replaced with hopelessness. It was such a drastic emotional shift that I really struggled to get back to normal.

This is when all those self-care tweets you’ve been seeing actually start to make sense. You see people saying to take time for yourself, log out of social media, take a bath, watch a movie. But how can you when the Trump administration does something insane every half hour? Trust me: you can. You need to.

The only way we’ll be ready to secure the House and Senate for Democrats in 2018 is if we have the energy to support Democratic candidates for those offices in the run up to elections. The only way we get the current president out of office in 2020 is by having the strength the come together as a party and elect a qualified candidate. And, let’s be real, the only way we can continue to even watch the news over the next four years and protest and rally and fight for America is if we have the energy.

You only have energy if you take care of yourself. Don’t look at social media for an hour before you go to bed. Read a book. A YA book. Re-read Harry Potter. Watch comedies that have nothing to do with politics. Don’t check your phone during the movie. Binge cooking shows. Eat cookies while watching baking shows. Exercise. Eat more cookies.

Whatever you want to do to rest and recover, don’t feel guilty about it. Listen to yourself. Now, when you’re fighting for the freedoms and rights of all Americans and feel like the world rests on your shoulders, let the weight off a little and do something for yourself that feels good. I promise you’ll feel better.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to go read.