Male Fragility in the Advent of Wonder Woman

If you’re a man that has complained about Alamo Drafthouse deciding to host women-only screenings of Wonder Woman, then you’re a man that lacks understanding on the social effects of an institutionalized patriarchy. As Lora Ridl of Geek Girls Brunch Denton very bluntly said, “women need a safe space from men.”

But a fella might say #notallmen.

If it’s not believable for women to want a space devoid of men, then have a discussion with some ladies on how often they feel encroached upon by male strangers they encounter in everyday life. But like, listen. A diverse enough social media feed should reveal the truth about how women feel uncomfortable in certain situations. Even the simplest act of listening to music with headphones on doesn’t grant women the privacy they deserve sometimes. And yes, any person can expect to have a degree of privacy in a social hub such as a coffee shop or bar.

I’ve spent the last week perplexed at why these screenings sparked such outrage. I’ve come to realize the shell of male fragility is encased by a desire to save the damsel in distress. When men realize they’re not needed, some handle it poorly to say the least. In this case, one gentleman decided to threaten a lawsuit over what he viewed as gender discrimination.

And Wonder Woman is the pinnacle of smashing that ‘damsel in distress’ trope that’s been in place since the stories of old. When Wonder Woman has been captured, she saves herself. Furthermore, Wonder Woman is a superhero that’s capable of solving problems without resorting to violence. Captain America: Civil War is one of the smartest comic book films to be released, but that airport battle was a destructive case of the "boys will be boys.” I say that knowing that it wasn’t until the early oughts when studios started to finally make quality comic book movies after the awful plates of shit that were served in the 80's and 90's (Howard the Duck, anyone?). 

Meninists (who actually know comic book history) might be quick to suggest Wonder Woman was created by two men in 1941. Those men are William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter. Marston and Peter were strong allies in the suffragette movement in a time where it wasn't popular to support women’s rights. Marston’s wife, Elizabeth, was a headstrong woman who earned a law degree from Boston University despite her family wishing for her to develop into the role of a housewife. 

Here we are in what may be the golden age of comic book cinema, 76 years after the debut of Wonder Woman in the golden age of comic books. There is finally a film centered around a female superhero that was created for the purpose of supporting feminism - and it was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins.

And men* are angry that women want to celebrate this occasion without them. (*the fuckboys and Nice Guys™ of the world.)

The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin scheduled their women-only screening on Tuesday, June 6th. Four days after the movie opens. On a weeknight where movie theater attendance is traditionally slow even during the summer. Each showing sold out within an hour.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler received a concerning email in response to Alamo Drafthouse's women-only screenings.

The email read:

"I hope every man will boycott Austin and do what he can to diminish Austin and to cause damage to the city's image. The theater that pandered to the sexism typical of women will, I hope, regret it's decision. The notion of a woman hero is a fine example of women's eagerness to accept the appearance of achievement without actual achievement. Women learn from an early age to value make-up, that it's OK to pretend that you are greater than you actually are. Women pretend they do not know that only men serve in combat because they are content to have an easier ride. Women gladly accept gold medals at the Olympics for coming in 10th and competing only against the second class of athletes. Name something invented by a woman! Achievements by the second rate gender pale in comparison to virtually everything great in human history was accomplished by men, not women. If Austin does not host a men only counter event, I will never visit Austin and will welcome it's deterioration. And I will not forget that Austin is best known for Charles Whitman. Does Austin stand for gender equality or for kissing up to women? Don't bother to respond. I already know the answer. I do not hate women. I hate their rampant hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of the 'women's movement.' Women do not want gender equality; they want more for women. Don't bother to respond because I am sure your cowardice will generate nothing worth reading.

"Richard A. Ameduri"

Yesterday, Adler posted his response:

 "Dear Mr. Ameduri,

"I am writing to alert you that your email account has been hacked by an unfortunate and unusually hostile individual. Please remedy your account's security right away, lest this person's uninformed and sexist rantings give you a bad name. After all, we men have to look out for each other!

"Can you imagine if someone thought that you didn't know women could serve in our combat units now without exclusion? What if someone thought you didn't know that women invented medical syringes, life rafts, fire escapes, central and solar heating, a war-time communications system for radio-controlling torpedoes that laid the technological foundations for everything from Wi-Fi to GPS, and beer? And I hesitate to imagine how embarrassed you'd be if someone thought you were upset that a private business was realizing a business opportunity by reserving one screening this weekend for women to see a superhero movie.

"You and I are serious men of substance with little time for the delicate sensitivities displayed by the pitiful creature who maligned your good name and sterling character by writing that abysmal email. I trust the news that your email account has been hacked does not cause you undue alarm and wish you well in securing your account. And in the future, should your travels take you to Austin, please know that everyone is welcome here, even people like those who wrote that email whose views are an embarrassment to modernity, decency, and common sense.

"Yours sincerely,

"Steve Adler"

A common response is that if there were any men’s only screenings then women would be in the streets protesting. Schedule one and see what happens. Not only will women not care, but it wouldn’t be well-attended because most hetero men (but not all men...) won’t go somewhere where there won’t be absolutely any women. These fragile men should attempt to understand the internal aspects of why women want a safe space free of men.

It's not like Gentlemen's Clubs and "Man Caves" don't already exist. These women just want to watch a movie, together, while also donating proceeds from most locations to charity. How dare they.

The video of a French Open tennis player forcing himself on a reporter during an interview is a disgusting case of toxic masculinity in point. It’s not comfortable to watch anyone get groped without permission, or as some would say consent. 

Maybe it's just a marketing ploy. Snakes on a Plane had a clever marketing ploy but it turned out to be an atrocious movie where people were just expecting a B-movie. Wonder Woman is carrying a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It helps that it was directed by the very skilled Patty Jenkins who directed and wrote the critically acclaimed Monster.

Masculinity has led to a fragile shell protecting anger grown out of disappointment. Society and gender construct is on a wave of much-needed change, and it is these progressive values that can move people away from a constant state of anger and frustration.

“A woman, I forget who, once asked a male friend why men felt threatened by women. He replied that they were afraid that women might laugh at them. When she asked a group of women why women felt threatened by men. They said, ‘we’re afraid they might kill us.’”
— Stella Gibson from The Fall

Header image design by Cristopher Rodgers