The uproar about Gal Gadot’s armpits is a great example of Wonder Woman sexism, and how misogyny still holds power in Hollywood.
If you were fortunate enough to miss the Wonder Woman armpit debacle, here’s a quick run down. In the Wonder Woman ‘Origins’ trailer, Diana is shown literally throwing an entire tank over her head at enemy soldiers. Yeah, like a tank from wars and shit. Yeah, like throwing it with her arms. But let’s ignore this fantastic display of otherworldly strength and focus on what’s important here: The look of Gal Gadot’s armpits.
As Diana lifted her arms in this act of sheer power, we saw her hairless, slightly pale underarms. And because our world is stuck in the 1400s, the internet went fucking mad (yeah the 1400s had internet too, shut up). The close up image of Gal Gadot’s armpits spread like wildfire, if wildfire was a dude from the 1950s who ‘respected’ women but preferred if they stayed at home and cooked for him. Attention was drawn to the pale, clearly shaved nature of Gadot’s armpits. Safe to say, a good chunk of the comic book world was up in arms (don’t laugh at my exceptional pun, this isn’t a laughing matter).
In no time, Warner Bros. caught wind of these shenanigans. And guess what they did? They changed the shot! Viewers have now been spared the horrible, natural look of Gal Gadot’s armpits, and can instead stare at tanned, airbrushed pits of the highest calibre. Praise the Lord.
I’ve got a few questions.
Question One: How did people notice these armpits in the first place?
Maybe I’m weird, but armpits are probably in the bottom few things I focus on when watching badass movie trailers. And even if I was to notice them, I’d notice weird ones, like an alien with thick locks of green arm pubes.
Gal Gadot’s smooth, clean shaven armpits on the other hand definitely wouldn’t stand out. I’m still genuinely confused as to why everyone was so perturbed and shocked by them.
Question Two: Who gives enough shit to genuinely be angry about a superhero’s underarms?
This one bugs me. It’s one thing to joke about someone’s physical appearance (I’m not condoning it). But to genuinely care about Wonder Woman’s armpits to the extent that you’re demanding them changed? In the nicest way possible, who the fuck do you think you are?
The issue is, the vast majority of the complainers were ‘fans’ of the franchise. But if you’re a true fan, in what way could a lack of underarm tan affect you and your enjoyment of the movie? You should be getting pumped for the first female-led, female-directed, superhero action film. The issue of armpits should really have nothing to do with it.
Question Three: Why would Warner Bros. listen to the complaints?
The fact that Warner Bros. ‘fixed’ this problem suggests they believed it was a problem in the first place. Or maybe they didn’t. Maybe the marketing team heard about the complaints and, for fear of losing a bit of money, decided to do whatever the fans desired.
Whatever the reason, it isn’t good enough. The studio powerhouse had a chance to make a point about the objectification of women, but instead chose to say “Hey, we like sexy fake women too!” With attitudes like this, it is no surprise sexism is still rife within the Hollywood industry, as well as the wider world too.
This example of Wonder Woman sexism should come as no surprise.
In 2017, nearly 100 years since the first superhero movie, we’re all talking about how there is going to a superhero franchise with a female lead. It’s a miracle! Really though, it shouldn’t even be an issue.
Marvel has bore the brunt of the complaints regarding the lack of diverse stars. They’ve made 20 films starring men (not including team-ups) to just a single film with a female lead.
Director of the Avengers franchise Joss Whedon blames the under-representation on Hollywood’s “quiet sexism”.
“It’s a phenomenon in the industry that we call ‘stupid people’. There is genuine, recalcitrant, intractable sexism, and old-fashioned quiet misogyny that goes on.
“You hear ‘Oh, [female superheroes] don’t work because of these two bad ones that were made eight years ago’… there’s always an excuse.”
As sad as it is, inevitably there will always be misogyny in the world. But it’s concerning when it comes from the top. It isn’t like studios are being outright sexist, but it’s as if they just don’t prioritise women or female stories. It’s almost like they don’t believe in them.
What does it say when Man of Steel‘s budget was $225 million, Batman V Superman was $250 million, but Wonder Woman‘s is only $100 million?
The issue is, Hollywood really loves money. And money comes from the people. If there is a reluctance from movie-goers to watch a female-led badass superhero movie, there will be a reluctance from the studios to make it.
But it should be the other way around. The studios should be setting the tone, establishing what is ‘cool’ to watch. They should be prepared to splash a massive budget on a film like Wonder Woman because they believe in it, and want the film – and other female-led movies in the future – to succeed.
Last year I wrote an article discussing how the impassioned hate towards the female-driven Ghostbusters remake was largely due to sexism. I don’t think the Wonder Woman sexism is comparable to that. It’s subtle, less hateful, and more systematic. But it’s there.
Movies with female-leads can succeed. We only need to look at the success of Hunger Games to know that’s true. So maybe let’s stop faffing about armpits and start believing in them.