Summary: Here is a wonderfully revealing clip from Wonder Woman about the oppression of woman. Audiences laughed! It is, however, quite mad. Let’s turn the clock back to 1918. We’ll know more about 2017 when we are done, and we will have a key to the political reform of America.
Hollywood provides a mirror in which we can better see ourselves. Even small scenes can reveal larger aspects of society, things that we would otherwise never learn. Look at this little scene from Wonder Woman.
Etta Candy: “I’m at Steve Trevor’s secretary.”
Diana/Wonder Woman: “What is a secretary?
Etta: “I go where he tells me to go and I do what he tells me to do.
Diana: “Well, where I’m from that’s called slavery.”
Etta: “I really like her!”
Audiences laugh! In 1918 the lot of this young woman — well fed, well-dressed, doing light office work — is compared to slavery. A mere 125 miles to the west, men were working Wales’ coal mines. Working in great hardship, under horrific conditions, and for low pay.
Look 125 miles to the northeast to see the industrial city of Cradley Heath. It was the world’s capital of hand-hammered chain-making (the anchor chain of the Titanic was made there). Disraeli called it the “Hell Hole of England.” Robert Harborough Sherard describes it in his book The White Slaves of England: Being True Pictures of Certain Social Conditions in the Kingdom of England in the Year 1897 (1897). Where…
“in smoke and soot and mud, men and women raise their bread with the abundant sweat not of their brows alone ; a terrible ugly and depressing town …. If chains for slaves are not made here also it is doubtless because …hunger can bind tighter than any iron links. And chronic hunger is the experience of most of the workers in Cradley Heath, as anyone can learn who cares to converse with them.”
As Jonathan Raban said, Cradley Heath was where “men and women melted the iron rods that they hammered into chains and continually rehydrated themselves with beer at threepence a quart.” They knew not to drink the water. He describes how conditions there were worse in 1938 than in 1918. (Progress!)
Look 155 miles to the east to see Nieuwpoort, Belgium. Where the trenches began, extending across Europe. In them soldiers lived amidst conditions that no good farmer would subject his animals to. Plus the horrors of combat.
The writers of WW are as out of touch with life in 1918 England as was Wonder Woman herself. Or perhaps they just believe we are.
Feminism has been a fantastic boost to the women of America’s middle and upper classes. We still hear about their oppression. This scene in WW is a reflection of those claims. The benefits feminism has brought to the women of America’s lower classes is less clear.
America’s influence in the world has often been harmful to women. We helped overthrow secular regimes in Afghanistan (Operation Cyclone), Iraq, and Libya. In all of those the women were dragged back centuries by the theocratic regimes that followed our intervention. Look at pictures of women in Afghanistan before and after we “helped.” We are now trying to do the same to Syria.
Race, feminism, non-conventional genders — they all have legitimate complaints. They have become focuses of the Democratic Party, and more so for the Left. The 1% laughs at the popularity of these divisive themes, preventing the broad political movements alone capable of challenging their power. There are broader themes that could unite us, such as social class and national prosperity.
That will not happen so long as groups — even among our most prosperous — put themselves and their grievances ahead of those with real problems. There are priorities that will work better for us.
For More Information
If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about increasing income inequality and falling social mobility, about women, society, and the gender wars, especially these…
- Why Americans should love Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – we live there,
- Our future will be Jupiter Ascending, unless we make it Star Trek.
- Complaints about air travel are the cries of a dying middle class.
- When marriage disappears: rising inequality as the threat to the family.
- An anthropologist looks at America’s growing proletariat.
- A picture of America, showing a path to political reform.
- Audi’s Superbowl advert reminds us that class is boss in America.
- Liz Bennett couldn’t marry Darcy. Nor can your daughter.
About Wonder Woman (2017)
I have never see such ecstatic reviews as those for Wonder Women. I have seldom seen reviews with such unrestrained sexism.
For a contrary note, see this by film critic Jeff Beck’s review, a contrary note amidst the ecstatic applause.