“She has been through hell, so believe me when I say,
fear her when she looks into a fire and smiles.”
I watched Wonder Woman last night. I loved the funny secretary, the ragtag bunch of friends, the historical setting, the community of Amazonian warrior women. I loved the male characters who were secure and weren’t threatened by Wonder Woman’s leadership or abilities but, on the whole, just let her get on with things.
But most of all, I loved Wonder Woman herself. I loved the non-sexual depiction of a strong, female character. I loved watching her throw off the restraints of what society deemed appropriate so that she was free to carry out her mission. I loved watching her get thrown to the ground only to get back up again, stronger. I loved watching her silence everyone who told her it was impossible by going out and doing the very thing they said she couldn’t do. I loved watching her fix her gaze and stride purposely through no-man’s land and the firestorm of bullets and explosions, determined to help others and fulfil her destiny.
According to the bible, there is a time for everything. There’s a time for peace, but there’s also a time for war. There’s a time to embrace, but also a time to refrain from embracing. There’s a time to be silent, but there’s also a time to stand up and speak out.
The time comes when you have to draw a line in the sand and say no more. Sometimes that happens within us. It’s that refusal to be complicit with the lie that we’re not good enough, that we can’t do it, that our culture or society deems us and our dreams inappropriate, that it’s time to give up.
Sometimes the fight is outside in the world. It’s the willingness to stand up against injustice. It’s the refusal to believe that increased use of food banks is inevitable; that people’s worth is determined by the amount of wealth they create, their gender or their skin colour. It’s the perseverance to keep fighting against poverty, violence and war.
A few months ago, in my home city of Birmingham, a far right organisation called the English Defence League organised a demonstration. One of the group began to racially abuse a woman in a hijab, when Saffiyah Khan stepped up and drew her line in the sand. She fixed her steely gaze on that firestorm and smiled, because she knew a secret. Just by standing there, she had already won.