Sunday, June 11, 2017

Attempted fratricide

I saw this opinion cartoon on USA Today yesterday (reprinted from the Detroit Free Press) and I've been trying to parse out its message. It seems to be saying that the success of the movie Wonder Woman, or maybe the fictional exploits of Wonder Woman, is being given misplaced attention. That the single mom on the right is the real Wonder Woman and that the movie is  . . . what?

See, as a non-conservative, I have a lot of sympathy and respect for the woman being portrayed on the right. I think society should help her by providing a livable minimum wage, affordable childcare, workplace protections and food and healthcare assistance if necessary. Yes, call her a wonder woman and I won't object.

But I also recognize the symbolic importance of the figure on the left. How Wonder Woman is the first, modern, superhero movie starring a woman and how this provides vital representation for little girls (and women) everywhere who want to see themselves as strong, smart, capable, and on the screen, saving the world just like the guy superheroes have been doing forever. The Wonder Woman movie may be just a movie, but what it represents is LONG overdue and vital for our future.

This cartoonist is attempting to play these ideas off each other. He's trying to say that Wonder Woman the movie isn't important. This is the same argument you get from people complaining about women becoming CEOs, and Senators, and running for President; who cares if women are underrepresented in government and business when there are other, bigger problems women face? It's how you get arguments that women shouldn't worry about not having voting rights or freedom of choice, because, hey, some women somewhere in the world are actually enslaved.

You can have both. You can be concerned about all these issues at the same time and work on all of them at the same time. Or you can work on the issues where you can have an impact. It's not helpful (or rational) to portray every bit of progress as unimportant because another, bigger injustice is happening elsewhere.

In the end, the argument espoused by this cartoon is a repudiation of all progress.

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