Individuation and Crying Over The Wonder Woman Trailer

Ok, lets get the trailer out of the way. Because this isn’t a postcard about feminism, this is a postcard about masculinism. And the fact that spellcheck doesn’t even recognise it as a word goes a long way to making my point. But first, in order to really make my point, I need to vent about that trailer. So strap yourselves in for a couple of paragraphs, because I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy about it.

I can’t tell you how excited I was about that movie. The Lasso of Truth and indestructible Bracelets of Submission for heaven’s sake. How much material for awesomeness do you need? And then the trailer began, and within a minute my heart was sinking as I watched yet another portrayal of a woman’s power being defined by her capacity to reject her femininity, embody masculine energy and to wear a sexy outfit as she uses destructive weapons to fight and brutalize men. Now excuse me while I get out my soapbox and megaphone, because I need to yell this part. A person’s power does not come from diminishing the value or power of the opposite sex, making them redundant, or from putting them in their place. That’s just fear and unresolved pain plus the exertion of will. A woman does not need to become a man in order to defend herself or her equality. Women’s bodies are not supposed to be ‘tight’ and excessively muscular or kicking anyone’s ass. Feminine power is fluid, creative, intuitive, nurturing magic. And believe me, if you think that physical aggression is power, that any kind of kicking ass and taking names behaviour is power, then you have never messed with a woman in full possession of her magic.

I am incredibly lucky to be part of a group of women who meet every other week to challenge, support and celebrate each other through the trials and victories of life, along with all the places in between. We often laughingly refer to ourselves as a coven, and we are only half kidding. I cannot begin to tell you the hardship and darkness these women have lived through. And they have risen, not by fighting or exacting revenge or staying angry, but through their capacity to process deep rivers of pain through grief, forgiveness, making difficult choices, and ultimately by returning to love. That, my friends, is power.

But while the Wonder Woman trailer may have been the inciting incident that brought me to the page, I’m not here to write with an exclusively pro-woman agenda. So let me explain.

As I mentioned in my previous postcard, I take time to process my experiences. So on November 8th last year, the only thing I felt was surprised. 24 hours later, I sat down in a dark, candle-lit temple in California, and cried…for an hour. My heart was hurting so badly, that I’d needed solace. But what healed me that night wasn’t meditation, or another woman sitting with me in solidarity. It was watching a young man, maybe in his early 30’s, performing his spiritual ritual. Dressed head to toe in white, his dark hair shaved to nearly nothing, he sat in meditation in front of an altar until after maybe 30 minutes he stood, cleaned the altar, and left. It was all I needed. An experience of an aspect of true masculine energy as the perfect balm for a dark, dark time.

So men, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we women are becoming pretty vocal, active and insistent about our place in the world and the way we want to be seen and treated, and I’d like to invite you to join us. Because I can spend the rest of my life becoming an empowered woman, but if you aren’t healing with me, then half of my heart will never be quiet. Because we are not separate or divided, this isn’t us versus you, so I need us to do this together. But I need you to start taking a stand too, not for us, but for yourselves. Because as far as I can tell, here’s how YOU are being portrayed in popular culture, most of the time, with varying degrees of severity…

Apparently, your true nature is to be either aggressively violent, or to remain perpetually adolescent, always looking for a ‘get out of jail free’ card to renounce responsibility for your relationships, homes, children, and adulthood. They say your truest desire for connection with women is to have as little accountability and commitment as possible, to use pornography, visit strip clubs and generally to objectify women. Apparently you have no desire or capacity for authentic intimacy. In fact, what you really want, is for the woman you have your primary relationship with to be your mother, the one who emotionally supports you and will always be there. The person who keeps a home you can come back to at the end of the day, weekends, or just whenever you feel like it, and that other women outside of your primary relationship are where you place your fantasy life, just as you did when you were 16. Also your obsession with women’s bodies or sleeping with as many of them as possible without any degree of intimacy or commitment, a healthy part of an experimental phase of adolescence, is actually your true, fully matured nature. Essentially you are developmentally challenged teenage boys, trapped somewhere between puberty and adolescence, without an innate desire or even capacity to progress into maturity. It is a profoundly disrespectful portrait, and I can only imagine deeply frustrating.

Because we’re going to all this trouble to teach young girls that they are smart, that they don’t need rescuing, and that they are not sexual objects. And that being a princess is great, so long as you have your eye on becoming a queen. But if we’re not empowering boys with equivalent teachings, then this whole thing, as far as I can tell, is just going to keep going round and around. And this battle of the sexes is never going to end.

I’m not denying that these portraits are true reflections of a disturbingly large percentage of the male population. I’m saying that these portraits depict the shadow masculine who has become stuck at a developmental stage of life due to some kind of trauma, or the absence of a qualified elder or elders to guide him into adulthood. Men in their whole state are not irresponsible, commitment-phobic, sexually insatiable, Peter Pans. Nor are they instinctively misogynistic or filled with rage and the need or desire to be violent.

What’s described here, I believe, is a psyche that hasn’t received what it needs to individuate into adulthood. What is a healthy state of attachment to his mother, sexual experimentation and a fervent interest in the opposite sex in adolescence, becomes dark when that man isn’t fathered into manhood. His psyche gets stuck and is still being expressed by a man in his 60’s, or indeed any age beyond the appropriate time. The same goes for a woman who has not received the fathering she needed, to be guided into her value and power and sent out into the world as a woman. She becomes trapped in a dysfunctional cycle of trying to get that power and value, most likely still from a man, but now through her sexuality, or by trying to be a man or by simply giving up and stepping into the mother role in all of her subsequent relationships with men. What was once a healthy need goes into shadow and becomes an angry, frightened sense of entitlement and frustration.