It’s a gloomy day sometime during the 1980s and a young girl with red hair and less than fashionable clothes walks to her morning bus-stop. She doesn’t fit in much because she’s bookish and people don’t understand why someone would want to read books over other things that young teens do. A regular pack of bully’s approach this girl like clockwork, and it starts to rain. What’s different this time, opposed to the countless other assaults, is a blue tin-metal lunchbox. It has a confident, peace-loving woman on the front wearing a tiara and a full smile, Wonder Woman doesn’t frown, nor does she flinch when she cracks down on the assailants as they swarm. As spherical as her arm-cuffs, the bullies topple and the red-headed girl puddle jumps to the bus ready to start her day, wonderfully. The girl in this story is my mother who couldn’t pass down that lunch-box because of her parent’s minimalist lifestyle, but passed on something greater in its stead; the ideal of justice. One that has followed and forced me into a path of consciousness and empathy even before I had the language to express it properly.
It’s a gloomy day when a feminist and nerd girl can’t indulge in one of the most anticipated and long overdue female lead movie as multiple critics have put it of “all-time.” The very fibers of my being are encoded in geek, my father is a martial artist who loves spaghetti westerns and Kung-Fu movies while my mother loves everything romance, pop culture and Sci-Fi. Naturally, it’s no surprise that I’m an all-American eccentric when it comes to media consumption of books, movies and video games. What some might find surprising, is why I won’t be watching the new Wonder Woman movie, who’s plot from what I hear is A+ despite its hyper-masculine pitfalls. Wonder Woman occupies a special place in my heart, next to all the iconic women outside of the mold who inspired and captivated my imagination as a young girl with too few role-models. I sat captivated on the couch by Lynda Carter re-runs on TV-land and then the Justice League cartoon series, I even stomached through Superman in hopes that he’d dump Lois Lane for Princess Diana. But I find myself mourning the current film instead of celebrating, because I live in a world where the word “Palestine” is a political declaration in and of itself. Where the displacement and ethnic cleansing of Arabs is OK and encouraged because of a tragic genocide they had no part in circa WWII, despite the Belfour Declaration dated 1917.
It’s a gloomy day when a feminist and nerd girl can’t indulge in one of the most anticipated and long overdue female lead movie as multiple critics have put it of “all-time.”
My words won’t fail me now, just like my mother’s lunch-box of truth on that fateful day and the Amazon goodness of Diana Prince and her legacy; the Palestinian-Israeli conflict isn’t a conflict, it’s an outright occupation, borderline apartheid system based on ethnic priority, even within Jewish taxonomy. Ironically, Israel is hailed as the nicest place to visit in the Middle East, its “Israeli salad” is sold in WholeFoods across the Midwest, and its democratic policies make segregationists old and new yearn ever so much harder for the good-old days of Jim Crow and slavery. The sign welcoming people into Israel should blink in neon, “Israel making the Middle East great again,” pun very much intended. The sheer body count, property damage, international and human rights abuses inflicted by the regime of Israel onto its Palestinian neighbors (regardless if they’re even in the country) buries the reactionary-aggression of its neighbors by a landslide (no hyperbole, no bullshit). Even without the ongoing onslaught of illegal settlements and crimes committed by these rouges, we only ever hear of “Arab” terrorism and then the cry of “defense” from valiant Israel—this narrative thrives and perpetuates the framework of orientalist prejudice and of Zionism being inherently antithetical to Palestinian rights. In the words of Golda Maier, “There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed,” (Israeli Prime Minister June 15, 1969).
Gal Gadot is a solider and agent of this settler colonialism, a poster-child of the military-complex and the police state, and a famous one at that. From beauty pageants, training blocks in the IDF, and actively fighting in Southern Lebanon during the brutal 2006 war, now with this box-office winning role, she is inseparable from Wonder Woman; who’s inception from creator Marston was meant to serve as a social message of peace and not violence. How feminist is it that an outspoken Zionist—a national identity and intellectual tradition rooted in the ruins of another’s national erasure—will play the emblem of Western Feminism? Should we ask the countless ghosts of women and children in Gaza and the West Bank that lived without water and the survivors who resist these conditions without the help of Wonder Women like Gal Gadot? Or the women who die in childbirth at checkpoints because the government of Israel deemed it necessary to erect prison walls and guards to keep the Palestinians in their ghettos, in their place. My problem with Gal Gadot isn’t that she’s Israeli, it’s that if your feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s just plain uninteresting, smelly, dishonest and above-all opportunistic BULLSHIT. As Angela Davis eloquently stated, “Whenever you conceptualize social justice struggles, you will always defeat your own purposes if you cannot imagine the people around whom you are struggling as equal partners.” If you don’t use the graces of your Wonder Woman privilege to speak out against oppression you’ve witnessed growing up in apartheid, can you call yourself a hero?
How feminist is it that an outspoken Zionist—a national identity and intellectual tradition rooted in the ruins of another’s national erasure—will play the emblem of Western Feminism?
The normalization of the oppression of the Palestinian people is now bleeding into geek culture. Things I’ve always used to spirit away from the depressing pits of reality have now become the pits. Wonder Woman was as nonviolent as a superheroine could be in the realm of comics, she was an exceptional fighter but used her wisdom and love for peace to outshine the human impulse to destroy. I remember her as calm, collective and inspiring in the Justice League, always diplomatic Diana Prince. Gal staring as ‘warrior woman’ on screen with a sword and shield illustrates just how nonchalant war and crime against others have become. Wonder Woman now serves a reminder to all of us awoken by the call of justice, that it will never be normal, that silence is and always has been violence.
It’s the gloomiest day in 2017 and there’s a light drizzle over in Lebanon where this movie is banned. A dual-citizen in the U.S. writes about how she wishes her mother kept that lunchbox, but knows that all good heroes don’t have lunchboxes anyways.