On Wonder Woman

A classmate of mine asked if I would accompany her to see a screening of Wonder Woman. We were studying abroad in Paris, and I was curious as to whether or not the film would be in English. I happily agreed and walked to the theater in anticipation of what I would experience. From the minute the film began, I knew that mainstream America would be all over this one. Gal Gadot—a former Israeli army soldier and mother of two daughters—plays the title character, Diana, better known as Wonder Woman. Diana is raised in a kingdom of women, for women, and ruled by women. She saves the human race by defeating Ares with a team of misfit sidekicks all whilst stealing the heart of her love interest, played by Chris Pine. The film’s message is loud and clear: women can indeed have it all. Women are strength, power, beauty, and wit all in one. It’s a message that people love to hear, explaining why the film is set to break a box-office record for the highest grossing live-action film directed by a woman. The financial and critical success of Wonder Woman indicates that people are ready to see multifaceted representations of female characters. Seems pretty obvious right? As I took the Metro home, I couldn’t help but contemplate the reaction of citizens worldwide, particularly Americans.

While some came out in droves to support a fictional character, others were distinctly silent when it came to a certain female presidential candidate last November. America’s own real-life Wonder Woman shattered the glass ceiling, but fell short of claiming the ultimate victory— – the Oval Office. As a former senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton has more governmental experience than any other presidential candidate in recent history according to the Washington Post. Former President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments while campaigning for her last fall. Despite her credentials, Americans held varying opinions as to her level of qualification for the presidency. Was she our savior? We’ll never know that for sure. Perhaps it was naïve to assume that a Clinton presidency would prompt an ideological shift in America regarding women and their capabilities. Her becoming President would likely do as much for women as an Obama presidency did for the black community. Obama is often regarded as a representation of how “far” our nation has come in addressing race relations. But this message is contradicted by the police-involved shootings, campus protests, and racially-motivated crimes that are committed on a regular basis in our nation. Likewise, issues related to misogyny and sexism will continue to pervade our workplace and educational environments regardless of the gender of our president.

No candidate is perfect. Concessions would have been made, promises broken, but she would have put on her boots and stepped up to the challenges ahead, facing America’s enemies head-on. She would have empathized with those who are struggling and pursued her agenda with unrelenting fervor. After all, it was her tenacity and determination that propelled her to becoming the first female Presidential candidate to win both a major U.S. political party nomination and the popular vote.

Commencement speeches, initiatives, and foundations are the fate of this once candidate. The private-sector is and always will be her home. She may end up with a cushy administrative job at a university with a solid endowment, go back to teaching law or prepare her daughter for something greater. Her light, previously bursting with promise, has been relegated to a glow. While not conspicuous, it is constant (save the occasional flicker) and a source of warmth and hope in the dark. She made it to the final round. She sat in her living room watching the election results come in just as we did. She experienced both victory and crushing defeat. She was not the first to attempt and she will not be the last.

My above statements are not meant to diminish her problematic behavior and decision-making processes. I cringed just as much as anyone else when she “dabbed” on Ellen and appeared on Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” pandering to the black community. I too searched for a “real person” or someone with whom I could connect. I too sat in my room disgusted at times by the political options with which our country was left. As I mentioned earlier, she is flawed. We all are. But I can’t say that I was surprised that America didn’t rally behind the individual who could be the first woman president. The election of Donald Trump represented the thesis of the prayers of Americans who felt ignored by previous administrations. What some may view as Clinton’s qualifications, others view as indictments of the government’s failure to tackle key issues. In contrast with an administration that supported marriage equality for members of the LGBT community and a President who implemented DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy, Trump’s platform was more accessible to Americans who felt that their concerns took a back seat to “minority issues.” The harsh tone, catchy chants, and rousing speeches that peppered Trump’s presidential campaign indicates that in this nation we vote for whomever moves us. We vote with our hearts, eyes, and ears. And while Hillary Clinton may not have moved all of us, she will never be forgotten.

I recognize that she is not our only Wonder Woman. We have been blessed with many in our short history as a nation. Whether it be a former first lady, a teacher, a mentor, or a family member, we all have women in our lives whom we hold in high regard. While I understand that this candidate was not venerated by all, I am assured by the individuals I attend class, live, and experience life with that there will be many more.

Chalaun Lomax ‘19 studies in the College of Arts & Sciences. She can be reached at c.lomax@wustl.edu.

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