Activists Taking Wonder Woman Into Our Own Hands: Join us for #PopPoliticsChat on Wednesday

When we announced the #PopPoliticsChat series of Twitter conversations we knew the Wonder Woman movie needed to be one of our online discussion topics. #PopPoliticsChat was developed by the Cultural Pulse project to connect fan communities and nonprofit organizations and explore how storytelling and fan communities can influence activism and community engagement.  Wonder Woman was on the cover of the very first issue of Ms. Magazine meaning feminist organizations have seen the cultural importance of this particular superhero for decades.

We knew Wonder Woman was a cultural phenomenon that even people who generally tune-out on popular culture would notice and that nonprofits that don’t normally use pop culture in their communications should be paying attention.

I figured feminists would be discussing if the movie was or wasn’t feminist. But I also think a conversation that is limited to that question is ultimately unproductive for either fans or feminist organizations. A mass cultural moment like this one is just a jumping off point for wider conversations and a way to connect the work change-making organizations like Moms Rising are doing with fans who share their feminist values.  That’s why Anita Jackson, Moms Rising’s Digital Communications Director, who is also a big fan of the film, is one of our featured tweeters during tomorrow’s tweet chat.

Of course the result of the movie is predictably complex. Wonder Woman isn’t straight but it hardly counts as sufficient LGBTQ representation. But it provides a starting point for us to lobby for better representation in the future as I outline in my essay.

The question of Gal Gadot’s own politics and nationalism are absolutely a valid topic of conversation. I understand why many people do not feel comfortable watching the movie because of Gadot’s political statements and I won’t try to get them to change their minds.  But I did personally choose to watch it as there hasn’t been a specific boycott called. I admire Jill Raney’s take on it, informed by their work as a member of If Not Now, a Jewish social movement opposing the occupation of Palestine.

But let’s talk about what organizers can do with the movie:

Cher Martinetti (one of our tweet chat’s featured guests) is the founder and managing editor of Syfy Fangrrls and co-founder of Legion of Women Writers. She explained that her focus in both Fangrrls and  the League of Women Writers is. “ to create a space that not only amplifies women’s voices within fandom but also celebrates female creators in genre. When Wonder Woman came out, and we saw the female only showings at the Alamo and how quickly they sold out, we wanted to find a way to purchase tickets for young girls and women who may not be able to afford to. That led to LWW linking up with Girls Inc of NYC and launching a GoFundme campaign to send 70 high school aged girls in their program to their own screening.”

“Initially, our goal was to pay for the screening and whatever extra money was raised, we would just donate to them. But once we found out about their Annual College Shower [scholarships for low income girls that help with tuition and textbook costs], we made a concentrated effort to raise as much money towards that as possible.”
They were able to raise not just the $1,200 they needed to pay for tickets but a full $10,000 for Girls Inc.

The Alamo Drafhouse turned their all-woman Wonder Woman screenings into fundrasiers for Planned Parenthood in response to sexists complaining about the screenings. A local resistance group and Democratic club in La Jolla California made a screening a fundraiser for not just Planned Parenthood but for the girls of color who survived the racist terrorist attack in Oregon.  

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand emailed her fundraising list about a raffle to join her in watching the movie. U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan who is running for Mayor of Seattle did a screening as a fundraiser too.

Former Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang even sold original art to donate to Planned Parenthood too. Smaller individual fundraisers using Wonder Woman in their messaging seem to abound.

The ACLU of Southern California encouraged their supporters to see the movie as a way to promote women in Hollywood and oppose the systemic discrimination against women in the entertainment industry.

Let’s talk about how we can use Wonder Woman’s success to promote our own agendas: be it getting Hollywood to hire more women, pushing for better LGBTQ representation, calling for bigger roles for women of color in future Wonder Woman movies, raising money for causes or well— I’m sure you can think of something.

And that’s why I hope you’ll join us in conversation tomorrow, 9pm eastern on twitter at the hashtag #PopPoliticsChat.

Click here to join in!

Elana Brooklyn

Elana Brooklyn

Elana is co-host of the Graphic Policy Radio podcast. By day she works for a community based organization of low-income workers. She has written and spoken about comics and geek culture for Graphic Policy and at the Netroots Nation conference. She is on the board of Girl Wonder.