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Wonder Woman Will Help Defeat Geek Culture Sexism

05/29/2017 04:14 EDT | Updated 05/29/2017 05:50 EDT
Warner Bros.

When a child asks why there's a Mother's Day and a Father's Day, but no Kid's Day, the obvious answer is that everyday is freaking kids day -- so maybe just let your parents have a little shine once a year, alright?!?

Well, some dudes with the maturity level of little kids have pulled the same crap when it comes to a handful of women-only screenings of the new Wonder Woman film coming out on June 2.

Cue outraged man-boys with cries of sexism this and inequality that.

The Alamo Drafthouse, an Austin-based independent theatre chain, came up with a novel way to celebrate the first female-fronted superhero film in years, which also happens to be about a woman who literally hails from an all-female island:

An all-female screening.

"Apologies, gentlemen, but we're embracing our girl power and saying 'No Guys Allowed' for one special night at the Alamo Ritz. And when we say 'People Who Identify As Women Only,' we mean it. Everyone working at this screening -- venue staff, projectionist, and culinary team -- will be female," they posted on their site.

"So lasso your geeky girlfriends together and grab your tickets to this celebration of one of the most enduring and inspiring characters ever created."

Fun, right?

Cue outraged man-boys filling the Alamo's Facebook and Twitter timelines with cries of sexism this and inequality that. The theatre's social media manager was having none of it, though.

Speaking of HBO-born movies, would they have complained like this if it was a women-only screening of Sex and the City? Nope, because that's a "chick flick" and these men feel entitled to superhero movies.

So they continued to rant and rail online about the inhumanity of it all until the Alamo folks finally responded to the complaints with "quick and decisive action" -- they added more screenings and rolled the concept out nationwide.

"That providing an experience where women truly reign supreme has incurred the wrath of trolls only serves to deepen our belief that we're doing something right. As a result, we will be expanding this program across the country and inviting women everywhere to join us as we celebrate this iconic superheroine in our theaters," a company rep told HuffPost.

Wonderful indeed, but the issue at hand is actually deeper than misogynistic trolling.

Geek culture has a sexism (and, yep, racism) problem that it has been unable to shed despite growing into our era's dominant form of pop culture.

It exists on the corporate level as well, which is why Wonder Woman, one third of DC Comics' holy trinity alongside Superman and Batman, is only just now getting her first movie despite being created way back in 1941.

It's why Black Widow has yet to have a solo film despite being portrayed by Scarlet Johansson, 2016's biggest box office draw, and why Marvel Studio's first female-fronted film, Captain Marvel, will be the company's 21st (!) movie when it finally comes out in 2019.

The idea that women will go see movies headlined by men but men won't see movies headlined by women is fuelled by the defensive sexism that plagues geek culture.

The argument is always that it's just a business decision. Sony execs even claimed in an infamous leaked memo, that because Catwoman and Elektra and Supergirl (for which they had to dig all the way back to 1984) bombed, it means audiences don't want to see female superhero movies. You know, as opposed to audiences not wanting to see terrible female superhero movies.

I mean, it's not like Ben Afleck's shitty Daredevil stopped studios from making male superhero movies -- it didn't even stop him from getting the Batman gig.

But this perception -- the idea that women will go see movies headlined by men but men won't see movies headlined by women -- is fuelled by the defensive sexism that plagues geek culture.

It expressed itself during GamerGate, when angry dudes mobbed anyone suggesting that maybe there should be more video games with female playable characters.

And when Ghostbusters dared to do a reboot with female stars.

And when Star Wars introduce a female co-lead in The Force Awakens and a female lead in Rogue One.

And when Marvel Comics introduced female versions of Thor, Wolverine and Iron Man.


These awkward nerds-bros are trying to defend their white male-dominated territory from encroaching equality, railing against representation, SJWs and feminism without realizing (or without caring) that they're just bullying people the same way they were once bullied.

The MarySue.com had an fascinating article that looks at this phenomenon through the lens of the classic '80s film Revenge of the Nerds, where the nerd heroes get back at their frat boy-tormentors by sexually harassing -- and, in one case, raping -- their sorority sisters.

Efforts to broaden that fanbase to women become a threat to their fragile masculinity, even though female leads remain a rarity.

They have historically seen themselves at the bottom of the social food chain -- everywhere except within the geek culture that has always catered to their fandom. That's why efforts to broaden that fanbase to women become a threat to their fragile masculinity, even though female leads remain a rarity.

This subcultural sexism has been a roadblock for female geeks over the years. But female readership for comic books, for instance, began increasing not only with more female-fronted comics but also with the rise bookstore collections and digital downloads. This allowed them to avoid dude-dominated comic shops where their geek cred may be called into question on account of their chromosomes.

Nowadays, there are as many females as males at comic-book conventions, though these geek gatherings have also had to put up "Cosplay Is Not Consent" signs to clamp down on sexual harassment.

Times are changing, and movies like Wonder Woman that put female superheroes on the same page as male superheroes are speeding up that process. Equality is the subtext audiences will take away from the film on top of Gal Gadot's general badassery. So, let's support women-only screenings, because it's fun and female fans deserve a dude-free environment for the iconic Amazonian's film debut.

But please also encourage the men and boys in your life go see it, too. After all, the more kids who grow up with Wonder Woman stealing the show in Batman V. Superman, Harley Quinn dominating Suicide Squad, Jyn Erso leading Star Wars' latest crew of ragtag rebels or Jane Foster wielding Thor's hammer, the more they will embody the ideals of the superheroes they idolize.

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