Head to head: Women-only screening of Wonder Woman is not a sexist act

Lauren Willson

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This is a head to head column, find the opposing viewpoint here.


Shortly after its release, the ever unconventional Alamo Drafthouse offered a female-only showing of Wonder Woman at one of its Austin theatres. Almost immediately, men took to social media, accusing the Alamo of promoting sexism and undermining gender equality. Some asserted that if they had advertised a male-only showing of say, Thor, the company would have received massive backlash for misogyny. Alamo Drafthouse, unperturbed, responded in perfect fashion: by announcing they would be holding another women-only screening of the superhero blockbuster.

The Drafthouse’s behavior is nothing new—the movie magnate has been known to host screenings specifically for active members of the military, too—but what is novel is the message of empowerment conveyed by Wonder Woman. Alamo was able to recognize this, and appropriately offered a girls-only movie night as a means of celebration.

In an era of male-dominated action flicks, a film featuring a badass female protagonist is not unheard of, but nevertheless rare. Yes, there have been others: Ellen Ripley of Alien, Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games, Beatrice Prior of Divergent, etc. But none of these ladies are quite on the same level or boast the same long history as Wonder Woman.

Diana Prince, as WW’s alter ego is known, first appeared in DC comics in 1941. The only well-known female hero to precede her was Catwoman, in 1940. Wonder Woman made her debut over 75 years ago, and she is just now getting her own feature film. By contrast, Superman got his first full-length movie in 1951, and Batman his in 1966.

For the mere fact that Wonder Woman fans have been so patient, I think a night of celebrating the superhero’s cinematic achievement—and the gender with which she identifies—is warranted.

Furthermore, the act of holding a women’s-only screening would only become sexist if it actually met all of the criteria for such a form of prejudice. “Sexism” can be defined as “discrimination based on sex” and “behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles” based on gender.

Excluding males from a movie screening may technically be a form of discrimination, as it does forbid individuals based on categorical traits. However, it in no way reinforces attitudes about gender stereotypes. Indeed, it does quite the contrary.

Only recently did women stop believing that their responsibilities and worth lay solely within the confines of a home. Wonder Woman serves as a source of empowerment and pride for many women (and men too!). Her character is defined by commendable traits, from her devotion to justice to her fearlessness in the face of conflict. These are values recognized regularly in men, but for far too long they have been overlooked as elements of the female composition as well.

I will admit, it is a bit of a double standard for Alamo Drafthouse to host a women-only screening and refuse to do the same for men. But given how underrepresented females have been in the sphere of superheroes (and in society in general) a night or two of male-less movie-watching should be granted to the opposite sex.

And if some men are still chagrined over the situation, they can rest assured that they’ll have a testosterone-scented theatre to themselves when Spiderman: Homecoming premieres in July.


Lauren Willson can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @LaurenKealani