Looking back on 2017 and forward to 2018

 

I can’t believe 2017 is over! It was certainly…a year.

2017 was ambivalent for me in many ways – on the one hand, my health did a complete 180 and I spent the first 7 or so months mostly housebound, thanks to a tricky combination of chronic pain, poor pain management, and medication.

Although I’ve been able to scale back my studies to part time, start trialling pain meds, and buy mobility aids, I’m still uncertain about my future as a uni student and whether I’ll be able to keep up with two modules next term. Even with just one I’m barely attending 60% of classes a week. I honestly think I’ll be forced to interrupt my studies until later this year, when I’ll hopefully have found pain meds that work for me and a diagnosis.

On the plus side, this year has been a real wake-up call in terms of my (dis)ability. I feel I’ve grown more appreciative of what I can do, chronic pain be damned. This has taken a lot of adjusting (and 2 am crying jags), but I think I’m in a place where I can finally start getting my house in order. 2018 will be my year to sort out my health and get a proper diagnosis.

In spite of my health, I’ve still been able to do some really amazing things this year.

Top amongst them was travelling to Thailand to visit my boyfriend and his family – I’ll definitely return in 2018!

Next up – making my first trip in a wheelchair. Yes, people are weird and creeped out by wheelchairs, but it’s hard to notice when you’re spending your first ENTIRE DAY OUTSIDE in God knows how many years. I even came home with energy to spare! This was a definite turning point for me – getting my own wheelchair has opened my horizons so much. Before I would leave the house for 1 or 2 hours and then come home exhausted. Now I can actually plan to go outside for an entire day, squeeze in a lot of activities and sightseeing, and enjoy it! As you can imagine, travelling has always been something of a drag for me – but now I’ve found out that I, too, can be an irritating tourist.

What is the most incredible to me is how I’ve been able to stick with this blog for so long. I made several failed attempts when I was younger, but never had the patience to bother after the third post or so. In 2017, I found so much joy in writing, and reading other people’s work. Of course, because I can’t just enjoy something for its own sake, I’ve been able to CV-ify this too. I really think that I’ve managed to demonstrate my interests, work ethic, and writing skills as time has gone on. I’m even writing at a second website now – Women’s Republic – and I’m going to be applying to some more volunteer writing jobs this year. I’ll also try to find some books on non-fiction writing to improve what I’ve got already.

I’ve loved video essays for a while now, and I really want to progress to making my own. I’ve got some vague plans knocking about for two films, but I think I’ll knuckle down and make a short video essay – hopefully sometime in January or February! Then, if I like it, I’ll continue with the other and keep going. Expect some very rudimentary film analysis, bolstered by literary and feminist analysis.

2018’s got a lot going for us – have a great year everybody!

Featured image from Freepik.com.

 

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Dark side of the moon: Black Women in Wonder Woman Part 2

Welcome to the last installment of my first mini-series!

Here, I’ll be discussing Artemis, played by real-life boxing legend Ann Wolfe.

Artemis is a fierce warrior, second only to Antiope, the leader of Themyscira’s army.

Physical strength isn’t usually celebrated in women – athletes, and regular gym rats are mocked for their appearances, and for ‘looking like men’. Heaven forbid we open a door for ourselves!

Artemis is muscular and athletic, but not unwomanly – her face is framed by her tiara, her armour is more practical than Diana’s little off-the-shoulder number, but is still feminine.

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Alas! My shoulder is my one true weakness!

But I digress.

Again, Artemis’s power isn’t something to fear – it’s something to aspire to.

She’s set up early in the film as the strongest of all the training Amazons, and Diana proves herself by fighting Artemis, mini-boss style, before moving on to Antiope.

I’m not mad about her being hardcore. I’m concerned about the emotional stoicism she shows in her first appearances. Artemis doesn’t even flinch after getting wapped by some cowardly sneak attack – she just turns right around and gets on with her business. While admirable on the surface, this is a major aspect of the ‘strong black woman’ trope. Mel Perez, writing for Blackgirlnerds.com, dissects this trope and why it’s harmful:

“A strong, black woman is almost superhuman. She bears crippling burdens without a complaint. She nurtures everyone around her and fights for them. She weathers both physical and mental pain and comes through, intact on the other side…Perhaps, instead of superhuman, a better way to describe her is that she is barely human. This is the problem with this descriptor — it strips away our humanity. It makes it so that we’re not allowed to break down. We swallow our pain and try to ignore how we’re choking on it.”

Praising black women for their ability to quietly withstand pain is “a trap that keeps us from being able to express how these negative situations truly affect us.”

Fortunately, while Artemis totters precariously around becoming the “strong black woman,” she breaks through these barriers the next few times we see her. (I guess by the time she appeared on screen, the filmmakers were already preoccupied with pigeonholing Diana’s sitter).

Yes, she’s used to further Diana’s character development (and only as a mini boss)…Yes, she only has one line…

BUT!

At least for a moment, we see her existing outside of the white protagonists’. When she fights alongside the other Amazons to protect their home, we see her being as frightened and upset as the others as they decide what to do with Steve Trevor. The mask we see her using in the first fight slips, and she’s allowed what the strong black woman isn’t – vulnerability.

So, hardly a homerun, but not absolutely shit.

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And so I couldn’t help but wonder…what if Hollywood took black women seriously?

Again, I really wish they’d done more with this character. What if Ann Wolfe and Robin Wright had switched places? The island’s most powerful warrior would make much more sense as a real-life athlete instead of somebody that, while lovely, is the Ancient Greek equivalent of a dried up old stick with a bad accent.

And speaking of unmuscular, slender women warriors – my next post (Wo)Men in Tights: Femininity in Wonder Woman will cover even more of this wonderful hot mess of a film. See you soon!

More on this

Monique Jones looks at women of colour in Wonder Woman‘s comic book history.

At Everyday Feminism, Kesiena Boom discusses four prominent misogynoirist tropes.

Also, what is misogynoir?

Ann Wolfe reveals how she got cast as Artemis, and discusses her career with The Ringer.

Disclaimer

I’m a white woman. I wrote this mini-series in the hopes that I could help other white women, and non-black women understand the problematic ways black women are represented in this film. If you’re a black woman and you disagree, or you just want to share your thoughts, please feel free to contact me either in the comment section or via my blog’s contact page. Comments are all moderated by me, and I endeavour to make this blog a place where people of all marginalized groups feel they can safely express their views.

Featured image from Comicbook.com. Others are from Comicbookmovie.com, and Thegloss.com respectively.