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Why I’m Afraid to See Wonder Woman

 

I should have been on line to buy one of the first tickets to see Wonder Woman. It’s a superhero movie, with a female star, who fights for the vulnerable, and the actress in the starring role is Jewish. But I couldn’t make myself go. The movie has become a smashing success, even without my help, and for that I’m grateful, because it means that female superheroes aren’t such a scary idea to (some) men anymore, and if the movie is good that’s really all that matters to an audience. But I still can’t make myself go to see it.

wonder woman

The thing is, I can never live up to Wonder Woman. I could never be that strong or courageous. I’ve worked my whole life to build up to a level of strength that allows me to believe that I might be able to do some good in the world. If I have to compare myself to Wonder Woman, I’m afraid I will lose all hope. I know women who are fierce and strong and capable, and I feel like I always disappoint them with my vulnerabilities and doubts. Wonder Woman would find me pathetic.

I look at my dogs, both female, and I know that they are not superheroes. They have their strengths and their weaknesses, they can almost fly and they bark at every danger, but they are imperfect and I love them for it, because they make my imperfections seem acceptable. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, makes me think of all of my flaws. She is like the Golden Retriever of women: loyal, strong, up for anything, deceptively smart, and, of course, beautiful. That’s not me.

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Delilah doesn’t even need a special outfit to look like a superhero.

When I was little I loved the Wonder Woman TV show. Lynda Carter and her twirly skirts and golden lassos comforted me. I didn’t imagine that that could be me, no, I imagined that Wonder Woman could be one of my teachers, or a neighbor down the block, or the Torah reader at my synagogue. I thought, maybe there is a superhero hiding in plain sight and she will come to save me. I especially liked that she was in disguise, like Superman, with her glasses, and skirt suit, and a day job hiding her real identity. I wondered, every once in a while, if even Wonder Woman couldn’t manage to be Wonder Woman all the time.

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It’s possible that Cricket and Butterfly think I’m a little bit like Wonder Woman, actually, the way I pretend to be tired and achy and boring most of the time and then suddenly save the day with a walk or chicken treats or extra-long scratching sessions. I’d like to think they could see me that way, but I still refuse to wear the new Wonder Woman outfit, that armor looks painful.

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“Scratchies are wonderful!”

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“Playtime is wonderful!”

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“I wonder where my treats are!”

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

86 responses »

  1. I haven’t seen it yet, but my 42 year old daughter said it was the best movie she has seen in years. She previewed it to see if it was appropriate for her kids and decided it wasn’t. Great picture of Delilah. Does she live around you? I think it is enough that our dogs think we are heroines!

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  2. My female peep truly IS wonder woman. I wonder why she did this. I wonder why she said that. I wonder where she is. I wonder if she is thinking.

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  3. Rachel, there’s a piece of Wonder Woman in all of us. I believe you will get in touch with yours some day. I can tell you have a good heart, a servant’s heart, and you will find your own ways of helping people, as that is what all your hard work and studying is for.

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  4. I remember reading about Wonder Woman in comic books, but I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined this Wonder Woman in the movie I saw. Wow.
    It is an assault on the senses, and I had to hang on to Pretty at times when the superhero was just a little too “super.”
    I enjoyed it, though, and wish she was on Morning Joe with Mika.
    Pow – Pow – take that, you ridiculous orange man.

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  5. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    I remember watching Wonder Woman on TV long ago!

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  6. Rachel, if you’re going into social work, you’ll find yourself being Wonder Woman. You will try to save the world and not even think about your perceived imperfections. When you focus on other’s needs, you will be brave and strong.

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  7. Don’t sell yourself short. You ARE Wonder Woman! Of course a movie will make us all feel inadequate; they have numerous re-takes, editing, make-up, special effects and more! We have real life to contend with. Granted, some of us contend with it better than others (I am rather low on that scale, but we’re not talking about me). But from what I can tell, you do fine. Go ahead and wear that gold bra if you want!

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  8. The capacity to love is the greatest strength anyone can develop. Your love of your pets and mother are laudable, and your noble interest in social work shows a deep capacity fir compassion. Love is a superhero strength of the highest order!

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  9. Our dogs definitely see us as perfect. Their unconditional love makes them accept all our flaws and still love us without limits.

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  10. hairytoegardener

    I don’t know how to be Wonder Woman either. The standard is far too high for me. Maybe it’s the small positive things we do that, when put together as a whole, add up to create a mini-superhero??? In all honesty, I’m pretty sure I won’t go to see Wonder Woman.

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  11. She’s the “Golden Retriever” of women! Thank you for explaining why I have never been comfortable with Wonder Woman, even when I secretly want her to pop up and save the day!
    The thing is, even Golden Retrievers shed, and drool and sometimes poop on the carpet. Maybe we all have a little Wonder Woman in us somewhere…?

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  12. I’ve been meaning to go see it. Need to get a baby sitter to watch Mary. We’ll get to see it eventually.

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  13. We are all superheroes to our animals! 😸🐕
    And it was nice to spend 2 hours in a theater feeling like we were all wonder women in some way. 😀❤️

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  14. Why did you bring me back to my childhood. Wonder Woman was PERFECT to me. I wanted to be her, look like her, have her intelligence and strength. I was reading your blog and thinking how did she know I had all these same feelings.😁😁 Great Blog! I am reblogging.🤗 I’m hoping to see Wonder Woman on the 4th.🤗🤗

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  15. Nobody can live up to a super hero. They’re not real. You hit the nail on the head with your description of Golden Retrievers. Deceptively smart they are. Mine is downright calculating.

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  16. Maybe there is something we can identify with in any superhero.Transcending our vulnerabilities is true courage – you have that.

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  17. We are all Wonder Women in our own right. We just don’t need the fancy trimmings.
    Whilst our mythical heroine has super strength and powers, we go about our daily business looking after our family, partners, parents, pets, multi tasking all the while. This is today’s wonder woman….. she with two young kids, a pushchair and loaded down with shopping boarding a bus…………… and smiling. You’re doing great Rachel. Don’t put yourself down.

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  18. So many of the “ideal women” out there are designed to reproach us, I can totally understand where you are coming from. I am sick of being told I need to look like – oh, I forget who it is this week, but I get depressed when some 60-something actress with perfect DNA is held up as an ideal of feminine beauty and I’m still dumpy and gimpy me.

    Same is true for those “Top Rabbi” lists that seem to come out every time I open a Jewish magazine – I am just not going to be one of those people, not with my weirdly-accented Hebrew and my scooter and all my other little quirks. Maybe I could be on a list of “Best Disabled Rabbis” list but even then, I’m fat and there’s that pesky accent.

    What I love about Wonder Woman is that she isn’t human. The movie makes a big point of that: she’s the daughter of Zeus, a demigod! She reassures me as an ideal of womanhood that I never have to fulfill. She’s beautiful and strong and all those nice things but I don’t have to BE her. I can just admire, and be moved to tears when she does superhero stuff, because finally, finally, there’s a superhero who looks little teeny bit like ME.

    (A teeny, tiny, TINY bit like me.) OK, not much. But I still cried all the way through that movie from sheer joy.

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    • Someone is going to have to explain to me why a rabbi, or any other teacher, needs to be judged by her looks rather than her brain and her heart and her soul. This was one of the things that drove me nuts during the election season, because it so clearly applies to women ten times more than to men.

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      • I know. It’s so silly and destructive. We human beings are prone to pre-judging people on account of first impressions, and looks figure into that in a big way. (pre-judge / prejudice – see what I mean?)

        It’s infuriating, but there it is.

  19. Not running to see it either, not sure of the underlining reasons. I think we are all superheros in our unique ways though.

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    • I think I prefer the TV shows and movies that figure out how to make each person’s individual gifts work together on behalf of the whole. I’m also a big fan of imperfection.

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  20. Rachel, interesting post. My college daughter is reluctant to see the movie, but her reasoning is different. She said this Wonderwoman is too quick to use force, whereas in her mind the heroine would use it as a last resort or to control an adversary.

    The other comment relates to what you said, but expands it. A psychologist was being interviewed and noted our unsatiable interest in superheroes to save the planet. He noted how our confidence in leaders’ ability to solve our everyday problems has waned, so we need superheroes to solve apocalyptic problems. I don’t think even Wonderwoman can solve climate change if we let it go unfettered. Keith

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    • Interesting. One of the sales pitches for female superheroes is that they will be more peaceful in their approach and focus more on the collective then on the single hero, but it doesn’t sound like this movie really committed to that vision.

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  21. The two aspects I didn’t like about the movie was the mangling of Greek mythology (I get the comic bends it a bit to make an origin story, but it still gets to me) and not enough German dialogue with subtitles (two German characters in a scene should not be speaking English only some of the time). But beyond that, it was so inspiring and powerful and pro-woman. I was so moved to watch her Amazon upbringing. My favorite scenes were on the island, to see her raised with such a supportive family and community, focused on pushing her (“train her harder than any Amazon before her”, “you are stronger than this”, “never let your guard down”, etc. etc.) to reach her full potential. I wish every girl in the world had that kind of support.

    I get there is some concern that Wonder Woman kicks a lot of butt in the movie, for someone who is supposed to be an ambassador of peace. I like to think that this is early Diana, so she will evolve over the course of her lifetime. But it was just so refreshing to see a film where the woman is the superhero, so capable and talented and compassionate for those who cannot defend themselves. At first she is considered just a pretty face, but soon all the men surrounding her begin to respect and rely on her strength and abilities. To see that contrasted with a time and setting that was fairly restrictive for women — really drives home the message.

    I recommend it. I don’t think I have to be her, but it gives me hope that girls will be inspired by her, and believe they can be greater, and do more, because of such role models.

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    • The big question: can you be a superhero without being stunningly beautiful?

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      • Although there was the comment here or there about her looks, and she snuck into a ball dressed in a gorgeous dress once, every other achievement came from her strength, speed, training, ingenuity, bravery, empathy, and compassion. Not to mention her great tools (lasso and bracelets). Plus, she’s a demigod, and gods are always more beautiful than mortals because we make them so. But she achieves great things because of what she believed in and what she was trained for and because she was strong. Not because she was attractive!

  22. Of course you’re Wonder Woman (to Cricket and Butterfly at least)…you provide shelter, food, make hurtie things stop hurting, protect and love. You’re their hero! Who cares about the rest of the world (and to someone out there right now you’re a hero. You just may not know it and the impact you have on another). I admit to never buying into the whole Wonder Woman thing at all. She was just too unrealistic for me to spend any time engaging in the fantasy I suppose. Now Uhura (Star Trek) or someone like her? Real enough that I could truly admire her bravery, her going places no sisters before her had gone (literally), and the fact that she could wear really short dresses and get away with it. Me? That short a dress and I was always fearing someone could see my underwear..

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    • I have never understood the short dress thing. Every time an actress goes on a talk show in one of those dresses, she spends half the time pulling on the hem and covering herself from accidental shifts. The answer is clearly to wear leggings under everything.

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  23. Go see the movie! It’s really good!

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  24. Women can be wonderful in many different ways and on many different levels.

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  25. Even superheroes have weaknesses. It’s all about how you get back up and overcome them.

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  26. You ARE definitely a super hero to the pups.

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  27. Rachel you are kind to animals, studying to support and protect the vulnerable in our society and live by the qualities of kindness and compassion in the bible – you are Wonder Woman chick you just don’t have the pointy bra? Or maybe you do! Just keep doing it – you are WW in someone’s eyes – be brbrave and get ya leotard on

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  28. GraiceLil Escapegoat

    With the size of your blog numbers, you are having a positive impact on more loves than wonder woman. And she needs to put on a parka. She’s jealous of you. 😉

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  29. Loved the post and the pictures. I have a golden/shepherd mix, who looks more like a Golden Retriever. His names Chase, and he’s eight. I haven’t seen the movie, but I married a super hero twenty-three years ago. She thinks she isn’t beautiful, but I think she is. That’s part of why she’s my super hero. She just does her thing, every single day, and doesn’t worry about what other people think.

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  30. GraiceLil Escapegoat

    Certainly. That would be subtle but polite.

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  31. I’ve seen it and admit to having a girl crush on Gal Gadot…she really does seem like a very cool person. I’m not a big superhero movie fan, but it was nice to see Wonder Woman on the big screen.

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  32. Rachel, I DID see the film over the 4th of July holiday, which seemed a little appropriate, and here is my way-too-contemplated response.

    I thought it had a great cast, and of course the visuals were stunning. My 27-year-old son, James, who is on the autism spectrum, absolutely adored the movie, which made my heart sing.

    One of the things I LIKE about Wonder Woman is that she is a super-powered hero. She is a god, after all, –and totally unlike me– so I can celebrate her amazing powers and unfailing good looks without feeling like someone’s implying that I should be like her! James and I have been bemoaning the “un-supering” of superheroes–current literature bringing them heroes down to a very fallible and all-too-human status. I remember studying Superman in undergrad days, MANY moons ago (the actor who originally played Lois Lane on the old show was a visitor at my campus during the ’70’s). The author I read made that point the Superman was a symbol of unlimited power during a time–Depression, WWII–when the average Joe was feeling pretty powerless.

    Are women feeling pretty powerless right now, and so Wonder Woman fills that same kind of niche?

    I hope she stays ‘super’ and doesn’t fall prey to pettiness, greed, or jealousy like some of the other traditional superheroes are being made to do in current universes!

    And I want to add that taking care of those beautiful beasts of yours so lovingly may just be one of your superpowers. (Still looking for mine, but I’m convinced we all have at least one…)

    Thanks for an evocative post!

    Pam

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    • I love the idea that a female superhero is needed right now specifically because women are feeling powerless. So that Wonder Woman is maybe representing the parts of us that are feeling submerged and unappreciated and needing a chance to explode into view. If we had a female president, maybe we could tolerate a less super female superhero.

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  33. I always lose when I compare myself to others.I’m trying to stop! You seem like a pretty wondrous woman to me, though, and I think your pups agree.

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  34. I had to chuckle when you compared yourself unfavorably to Wonder Woman. You see, the fact that you do all you do has often made me think, “Rachel wouldn’t let this stop her!” In your eyes your not the Wonder Woman of comic legend. But to some of us, and especially to Butterfly and Cricket, you’re the real deal!

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  35. You do yourself an injustice, Rachel: of course you are something of a wonder woman! Pip

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  36. I don’t think you are giving yourself enough credit. I’m pretty sure you have stared into the face of adversity more often than you know. And, you still have your sense of humour! Keep up the good work!

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  37. But there’s a reason why they’re called “super” heroes. We never have to live up to them. They are understood to have abilities which make them, well, super, better than we are in strength, speed, intelligence. But they make mistakes just as we do, they get confused or defeated, and that’s what makes them universal figures. If they can suffer, then our suffering makes more sense. We can all aspire to be heroes in how we approach our lives, I think, by doing the right thing as we see it, and trying to never stay down too long. I say go see it and take heart in the idea that such a woman now has a place in the greater social conversation.

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  38. Hey, thanks for sharing these thoughts. I’m working on a book with a strong female hero and thinking about how powerful I want her to be. Your post made me feel confident on the path I’ve been considering.

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  39. Hi, Rachel. You are already inspiring others with your writing! Have you seen the New York Times Opinionator blog? This post would be perfect for the “anxiety” section. Check it out!

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  40. No “living up to” necessary. You are your own version of Wonder Woman.

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  41. Rachel, even if you don’t realize it yet, your light shines brightly into the darkness. God has not given you a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. All the strength you need is right there inside you.

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  42. You are wonderful and you are a woman. Simple eh? Fabulous post.

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  43. Dear! You are sooooooo much better than Wonder Woman could ever be! Wonder Woman saves people in her way… a supernatural way… but you do it out of humanity & courage. I myself liked SuperGirl. I dreamed of having a costume that would allow me to fly. Writing & reading have given all of us those wings. BETTER THAN WONDER WOMAN!

    Reply

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