Let’s talk about the Wonder Woman movie. On Thursday, June 1, 2017, USA Today printed an article titled “Why are women crying when they watch ‘Wonder Woman’ fight?”
My first thought was, “Ladies, get a grip! I mean seriously!” I admit that I cry a lot, which is the reason I wear water-resistant mascara. I even choke up watching commercials, but watching a female superhero dodging bullets is not my idea of a tearjerker.
The USA Today article quotes the movie’s director as follows, “I didn’t even realize I needed this,” says [Patty] Jenkins, who makes history as the first woman to helm a superhero movie. “I didn’t realize that I needed to let this out, that’s what I was tasked with. But it opened a door to all the expressions of this superhero, all the dimensions of a woman that maybe we haven’t seen or felt.”
The article encourages the reader to, “Look for a particularly poignant battle scene as Wonder Woman weaves through the trenches of a bullet-ridden war zone known as no man’s land.”
“Up until that point, she’s an Amazon who has stolen a costume,” says Jenkins, who had to sell the scene of Wonder Woman fighting a line of German soldiers solo to studio executives. “(They said), ‘She’s on the field by herself. How many times is she going to block a bullet?’ “But the scene is about her,” says the director. “It’s a battle with oneself to change the way the world works.”
I enjoy action movies. I admire strong female characters. I really enjoyed watching the Wonder Woman movie. However, I did not cry during her fight scenes. The movie did not stir feelings of empowerment or pride in being female.
Before some of you judge me as being insensitive or out of touch, allow me to remind you that I was born female. I have remained a female for 58 years. I believe God had a purpose in creating me as a female. I’m content with that and proud of being so blessed by my Creator. My roles as a female are daughter, granddaughter, sister, sister-in-law, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, friend, and female professional. I am sure my husband can testify that I have many “dimensions” within my emotional makeup.
While Wonder Woman is beautiful, strong and courageous, she is a fictional character – a cartoon character. Let me repeat that a different way: the Wonder Woman character in the movie is not real. Now, allow me to introduce you to a real Wonder Woman: my mother.
Mom was the oldest of seven children born to a coal miner. She fell madly in love with my father when she was in high school. They married when Mom was seventeen years old. I was born two years later. Less than two years after my birth, my brother, Billy Jr., was born. Jonathan and Steve came shortly thereafter. Mom said that she felt continually pregnant during that time. Several years later, my sister April was born.
Mom worked at home, but she was not paid a salary for doing so. She cared for her five children and her husband. Do you have any idea how much strength a woman must possess to stay at home with five children? Before I left home to attend college, I believe there were two or three years when four of us were teenagers. I tremble at the thought!
For several years, Mom did not have the household amenities most of us take for granted. When we lived in east Tennessee, the only plumbing in our tiny house was in the kitchen. Water was pumped from a well that supplied ice-cold water. Mom did not have the luxury of standing under a nice hot shower every morning. She didn’t have a shower. The bathtub was a steel gray tub hanging on the back porch. The tub was brought into the kitchen on Saturday nights for our weekly baths. Now, before you get grossed out, we took “sponge baths” in the kitchen sink during the week.
Mom didn’t even have the basic convenience of a porcelain toilet. Our wooden toilet was in a rustic brown building at the end of a worn dirt path. Instead of the pleasure of occasionally renovating a bathroom, the toilet/outhouse was moved a few yards every few years. (Only those who live in the country will understand the engineering behind this ingenious method of renovation).
Mom’s mornings would start with milking a cow and gathering eggs. She did have the luxury of an electric churn so churning butter was not the backbreaking chore it could have been. Mom and Dad planted their own garden. From the yearly harvest, Mom canned vegetables. She was a responsible organic farmer.
Her washing machine was an old wringer washer. When she inadvertently placed too many clothes or towels in the washer, it would dance across the back porch. Mom would dash out the door and brace herself against the washer so it wouldn’t dance into the yard. After dancing with the washer, she would hang the clothes out to dry. Oh, did I mention, she never received a salary for all this hard labor?
Mom would never spend money on herself. She chose to wear the same dresses and shoes for years so that my siblings and I would have what we needed for school. I was an adult before I realized just how much Mom had sacrificed for us. I wept when I realized that she had gone several years without many necessities so that I could have new outfits. Even now, I am choking back tears.
I will skip over the years when Mom was a pastor’s wife. While I treasure some those memories, I know Mom faced some difficult challenges. I may share stories from those years at another time.
Mom loved to read and journal. She read her Bible as often as possible. I know she prayed for her children. I would not be the woman I am today without the prayers of my mother. I know I broke her heart a few times, but she continued to love me and pray for me. That is the heart of a real woman who wants to change the way the world works.
After my brothers and I left home and my sister was a teenager, Mom started a daycare in her home. She kept children 24 hours a day because of the shift work performed by working mothers in the area. She tackled this job while going through menopause without hormone therapy. I am convinced she possessed superhuman strength and resolve during those years. I am exhausted just thinking about it. Some of the children she cared for have grown up to become doctors and professionals who are changing the world.
In 2005, Mom was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. Her left kidney was removed. Two weeks later, she became psychotic. The mother I once knew was no longer present. The person living in my mother’s body was not the mother I had known all of my life. For months, I grieved for her as if she had died. While I grieved, she fought invisible enemies.
Over the next ten years, Mom fought cancer and mental illness. I watched her win a few skirmishes. Throughout those ten years, the cancer retreated for a while, and electroconvulsive therapy (f/k/a electric shock therapy) temporarily chased away the mental illness. After her last ECT treatment in April 2015, Mom wrote me a note stating, “Seems like the Lord has lifted me up out of a horrible pit.”
Unlike the fictional superhero Wonder Woman, my mother was a real woman. She didn’t dodge bullets from the rifles of German soldiers. She fought to restore her sanity and heal her body through prayer and faith in her Savior. She was beautiful, strong, and courageous as she faced the enemies surrounding her.
Two years ago this month, cancer won the battle and my mother died. I still cry for my Mom. I miss her terribly. I want to call her and hear her sweet voice and charming chuckle. I long for her hugs and kisses. Fortunately, I can rejoice in the comfort of knowing that her battle is over. She is healed and dancing with her Lord and Savior. Sometimes when I pray, I ask Jesus to tell Mom that I am okay, but I miss her. I ask him to hug her for me and assure her I will see her soon.
Feel free to cry as you watch the Wonder Woman movie. I choose to cry tears of joy and gratitude because I am the daughter of a real Wonder Woman.
She is clothed with strength and honor, and she can laugh at the times to
come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on
her tongue. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not
eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her
husband also praises her: “Many daughters have done valiantly, but
you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a
woman who fears the Lord will be praised. Give her credit for what
she has accomplished, and let her works praise her in the city gates
(Proverbs 31:25-31, NET).