Development of society has contributed to the development of feminism. Due to the prevalence of education, many people acknowledge the importance of gender equality and efforts we have to put in to fight for justice. Fundamentally, the issue of gender inequality has become one of the most controversial topics in recent years. Public gain a sense of feminism in various ways, for example, comic books and films. Notably, comic books were used to explore culture, its meaning, and mythologies of national identity that predate historical times. The first appeal of Wonder Woman changes the mainstream of male superhero comics in history. Fundamentally, Wonder Woman serves as an example of the many changes that took place in the representation of women in the comic world. This essay, therefore, provides an analysis of Wonder Woman and Fa Mulan as a representation of women through the rise in feminism.
Wonder Woman also known as Princess Diana possesses an arsenal of weapons that give her an upper hand in the battlefield. In the movie Wonder Woman (2017), she leaves Paradise Island with Steve to save the world by killing the God of War. Wonder Woman has always been recognized as the icon of feminist that represents the power of women. By a similar token, Fa Mulan whose character is displayed in Mulan, a Disney movie, as a legendary woman warrior is a feminist icon. The legendary warrior saves her male love interest severally in the film. Fa Mulan presented Chinese values in a dramatic but respectful manner. These virtues are derived from her objective to protect her father, family, and country at large. Her unique heroine features primarily mark her character. Fa Mulan has both physical and mental strength as depicted in her role in the film. Wonder Woman and Mulan have various similar interests at heart, most primarily the two are feminists.
The story of Wonder Woman has its origin based on a feminist utopian. She grows up in Paradise Island under the protection of her mother, and she does not know her real background as the daughter of Zeus. Princess Diana was not allowed to learn how to fight at first because she is the only child on the island of the Amazons. However, the restraint on Princess Diana did not reduce her passion for learning fighting skills. Her insistence and efforts gained the trust from her mother, and then she becomes the best warriors on the island. Thought out the movie, Diana always insists what she believes that other people view her thoughts as unrealistic and she takes acts on it.
Character portrays a strong independent heroine. Fa Mulan is a legendary Chinese warrior character that initially depicted in the Ballad of Mulan from the Northern and Southern dynasties. Fa Mulan is portrayed as an independent individual both in thoughts and livelihood. The Disney animated film Mulan (1998), presented a different version of Mulan which is a part of the Disney Princess product line. It is worth noting that Mulan is the only character among the Disney Princess line who is not a princess and never married a prince. Mulan is not an ordinary girl who supposed to be steady, obedient, diligent and pretty. She lives in the world where she must conceal her real thoughts and feelings. Later on, she disguises herself as a male soldier to take her father's place in the conscription army. Fa Mulan goes challenges her father and society at large when she decides to go and fill his position in the military where no women served. In Chinese culture, it was expected that when a lady is not taking orders from the father, then she is getting orders from either her husband or son (Tso 115-116). However, Fa Mulan's character of defying submissiveness ensured that throughout her life she did not take orders from any male individual.
Wonder Woman is a female superhero who has truthfulness, compassion, and beauty. Even though the beauty of her feature which is controversial. Her perfect body structure and the exposed bodysuit both depict the element of women. However, some feminists have pointed out that all of these are sexualizing Wonder Woman and powerful woman should not be portrayed who has a perfect body. However, in Wonder Woman (2017), when Steve takes Diana to a clothing store to change her bodysuit into traditional women wears, Diana complains that the costumes she tried are likely to deter her fighting abilities. Therefore, Wonder Woman's dress-up montage is a feminist act that women should not be ashamed and be judged on what they are wearing and their appearance.
Contrary, Fa Mulan's costumes played a significant role in gender performativity (Tso 115). Initially, Fa Mulan goes into battle with cut hair to hide her gender. As a result, the soldiers and the social audience believed in Fa Mulan's constructed Identity. In this regard, Fa Mulan does not challenge gender stereotypes but rather surpasses the expectations of the society by acting like a man. Fa Mulan's demonstration of feminism is unique, unlike Wonder Woman, Fa Mulan neither ties her hair up nor does she go to fight with an arsenal of weapons.
Additionally, female cross-dressing is a Chinese cultural practice aimed at upholding self-expression freedom (Tso 111). As a result, Fa Mulan's masculinity revealed by her gender performativity is what plays a significant role in defining her feminism. Moreover, Fa Mulan does not intend to live as a man but to take the responsibility of protecting her family.
Fa Mulan's physical strength and the learning process by which she acquired the fighting skills are indications of feminism. She wants to be herself, but the social norms of fulfilling the expectations of the society are contradictory. Thus, she battles with the concept of women objectification that expects women to remain submissive in their life (Tso 115). As the film comes to an end, Fa Mulan overturns the conception that women can only bring honor home through beauty. Fa Mulan returns home with a sword and the emperor's crest a symbol for her feminist struggles and actions. Additionally, these symbols were gifts to the family aimed at honoring them.
Wonder Woman maintains her original thoughts about the outside world and her confidence of the heightened heroism from the beginning till the end of the movie. When she saved Steve from the crashed airplane, she childishly treated him because she never met a man before. Confusion and bewilderment accompanied with Diana from the paradise island all the way to the truceless front line in Europe. Later on, when Diana first arrived the world of humankind from the secluded paradise island, her series of girlish actions such as eating ice cream and trying out clothes highlighted her kind temperament. The pureness of her mind even makes Diana seem a little bit stubborn, but her characteristic marks her off from others precisely. On the one hand, she was curious about the human society that she decided to protect but had never contact with before. The cruelty of war itself keeps revising her naive cognition and thoughts about humanity. The unique character does not protect Wonder Woman from facing damsel distress that requires extra effort since her heroine powers turned against the same society she strives to protect.
Romantic relationships often demand the superheroes to drop their heroic acts for them to succeed in the affection competition in superhero stories. However, Fa Mulan's love interest was not a priority in her life as she believed she had more important goals in life. Undeniably, this negative attitude towards relationships is molded from the moment the film starts. The women objectification that transpired during a match event in which Fa Mulan was a spectator did not impress her. Phrases conveyed objectifying women included men would fight in battles for a lady, and the women would win such attention through great make-up. These phrases were an implication that women in society have no significance other than their little beautifulness and marriage.
By the similar token, Wonder Woman falls in love at the end of the movie after all the things she went through with Steve. As mentioned before, Wonder Woman has always been seeing as the symbol of feminism. However, some public criticisms of Wonder Woman (2017) conclude this movie as a disproportionate representation of feminism. Steve plays an important role that he is the one who helps Diana become "Wonder Woman" that he teaches her about the outside world and the most important thing, love. At the end of the movie, Steve sacrificed himself to stop the poison gas attack. His sacrifice triggered Diana's power and changed her views of humanity that the most precious thing of humanity is love. Wonder Woman said at the end of the movie, "It is not about deserving, it's about what you believe. And I believe in love". The relationship between Steve and Diana is not only just romantic but also friends who support and believe in each other. Steve accompanies Diana from the beginning till the end of the movie, he witnesses the growth of Diana. He respects Diana's simple view even he never believed with her, and he never deliberately give lectures to Diana. What is more, he trusts Diana with her ability, and he respects her choice.
Both Wonder Woman and Fa Mulan arrived at a poignant time when female realizing the inequality of gender rights. According to the comic version of Wonder Woman that she was glossed by feminists such as Elaine Tyler concerning the Second World War with the aim of shifting gender paradigms in America (Rhodes 96). The shift was aimed at incorporating women into war since they are equally powered to engage in battles. Similarly, Fa Mulan lives within the society that men and women have different social roles which female is not allowed to be on the battlefields. The social function of a female is to serve for males at that time, as can see in the movie, Mulan has to dress up as a man for the whole time. Despite Fa Mulan's decision to decline a job offer at the palace after the war, she remains to be a unifying symbol of a woman's strength. Fa Mulan surpassed the expectations of a feminist since by leaving home initially she had defied the social norms that bind the female gender to beauty and marriage. As a result, Fa Mulan was not in good terms with neither the family nor the society at large. However, Fa Mulan's return with gifts makes her father appreciate her for who she is and the honor she brings. Therefore, Fa Mulan's choice to leave for home after the war does not in any way alter her feminism acts. The feminist icon remains to be a strong character the only difference is her decision to celebrate her victory at home humbly. Resolutions similar to those made by Fa Mulan to return home can be made by any feminist on different perspectives. For instance, a feminist can decide to stay at home with the children. Therefore, the decisions of independent female individuals should not be judged since they cannot be a factor that would hinder the attainment of a feminist society.
Most importantly, the inequality of gender rights is set in peoples' mind which is hard to change because of the male-dominated culture within the development of society till today. Fa Mulan and Wonder Woman both been recognized as the symbol of feminism, they challenge and jump out of the illogical male-dominated culture. In other words, their story not only reveals societal prejudices but also points out the problem of women not being aware of gender inequalities. Fa Mulan's objective in life to prove that gender stereotyping is not right led to the formation of a feminist icon who proves that beauty alone is not what women should be honored for.
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