In October of 2013, a little known Israeli actress signed a three-picture deal that would go on to redefine female cinema, and this year's theatrical releases as a whole.
Previous to this, Gal Gadot had modeled and acted, reprising her role in the Fast and Furious movie franchise three times. And then she beat three other actresses for the title of Amazonian Princess, Diana Prince, and her acting career was changed forever.
The announcement of a live action Wonder Woman was met with a response that rose decidedly above the rest of the DC live action releases. Finally a female superhero. Finally a role model for the girls that flock to theaters every year only to see men in inspirational and heroic roles.
"I wanted to show that women are empowered and strong, and don't have to be saved by some male hero"
Needless to say, the world of cinema, feminism and indeed chauvinism all followed suit in the fervour. Gadot's role was criticized because she was too thin and her breasts too big. A female director, Patty Jenkins, was chosen when many felt the “pressure" of such a blockbuster and large budget would be too much for her. And the excitement was duly heightened by Gadot's glowing appearance in the dud that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
You may remember that last year the movie was in headlines again on a completely unrelated movie topic, as the U.N dropped Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador. SWAAY previously recognized how foolish the decision was on behalf of the U.N to reward the character its title in the first place, as before Gadot, Wonder Woman was most definitely not an emblem of female empowerment, nor deserve such a title. Had they waited for after this release, perhaps then their decision would not have become such a controversy.
Clouded and controversial as the movie and its lead/director has been, we never expected just how much it would be in the headlines, and dominating social feeds. Below we look at three different instances of just how much fervor Gadot and Jenkins' movie has created.
Previous to its release, the movie was caught up in a torrid of conflicting press reports about whether or not it was getting the marketing budget given to its DC counterparts. Articles abound and nobody was decided as to whether the movie had in fact received more or less funding than that of Suicide Squad, or any of the Batman/Superman films. Why? Because this year has become defined by a rampant raging feminism that has consumed the press since the president's inauguration and the subsequent women's marches. Those that didn't vote for Hillary have received a torrent of abuse for purportedly anti-feminist views and 2017's “Year of the Women" title has created a sense of urgency within the wider press to produce content that complements the idea that women are a constant victim of the patriarchy in every aspect of their lives. Was this the case with Wonder Woman? No, in fact, DC spent more on its marketing budget than its sibling live-action film Suicide Squad. Click bait conspiracy, anyone?
Girl-only screenings wreak havoc
Women-only showings of the movie have become very popular in the last week and have sparked incredulity from both sides of the line because of their hard female-only stance. Is it a civil rights violation that these showings are taken place? Is it sexist? Perhaps. But this is (set to be) the first female superhero blockbuster ever, and hey - if you've been deprived of say beer for your entire life, and then magically are given beer - would you prefer drinking it for the first time with people who have been depriving you of it - or people who have been deprived with you? Don't we deserve a little all-female celebration of what could become indicative of 2017 as “the year of the woman."
Lebanon officially bans Wonder Woman from theaters
In what actually seems like a veiled attempt to scupper a step forward in feminism, the “Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel" spotlight anything or anyone that might be funding the Israelis in their decades-old war against Lebanon. They have thus called on the Lebanese government to cancel all showings of Wonder Woman in Lebanon because of Gadot's time served with the Israeli army (which is mandatory for Israeli youngsters), and her outspoken views against Hamas. On Wednesday it was officially announced that the movie would be taken out of the Box Office, with reports slowly coming out that some rogue theaters plan to go ahead with showings despite official orders.
How is this a step to scupper strides in feminism? Well, you might remember Gadot's previously mentioned cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie which ranked third in last year's Lebanese box office. While the campaigners penned a letter to officials requesting a boycott for this movie, this request was snubbed and as such the movie ended up making over $800,000 at the Lebanese box office. Now that Gadot is at the centre of the movie, authorities veritably jumped to cancel its showings and as soon as the statement was read, movie posters were torn down and campaigners were overjoyed with the outcome.
Politics aside - what does this say that Gadot was featured in both trailers and movie posters for the two films - but only the one where she is the lead is thrown out of cinemas?
New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.
Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.
Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:
"I didn't think you'd come back."
"You must feel so guilty."
"You missed a lot while you were out."
To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.
There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.
Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.
Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.
It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.
Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship
How to be a good Momtor?
Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.
Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.
Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.
Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.