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‘Wonder Woman’ Director Unloads on James Cameron: ‘There Is No Right Kind of Powerful Woman’

August 25, 2017, 1:30 PM UTC

Wonder Women director Patty Jenkins issued a scalding rebuke of James Cameron on Thursday after the Avatar and Titanic director suggested that the summer’s No. 1 film was a “step backwards” for women in Hollywood.

“James Cameron’s inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as, though he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman,” she wrote on Twitter.

Jenkins’ response came after Cameron insinuated that Wonder Woman—a woman-directed action movie featuring a female superhero—doesn’t signify progress for women because its lead is “an objectified icon.” He told The Guardian that “the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman” is misguided.

“[I]t’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing,” he said.

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He compared Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, to the character of Sarah Connor from his own film Terminator 2. “Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!”

Jenkins responded to that point specifically, writing, “If women have to always be hard, tough, and troubled to be strong, and we aren’t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven’t come very far.” She continued: “I believe women can and should be EVERYTHING just like male lead characters should be. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman. And the massive female audience who made the film a hit it is, can surely choose and judge their own icons of progress.”

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Indeed, movie-goers have flocked to the film. With nearly $800 million in ticket sales worldwide, it’s the summer’s No. 1 film and the highest-grossing live-action film ever directed by a woman. Whether it’s a feminist feat or more of the same from male-dominated Hollywood has been hotly debated all over the Internet.

But beyond debating the merits of the film itself, Cameron’s remarks repeat the argument that being a “beauty icon” is somehow incompatible with being feminist—a suggestion that many women forcefully resist.

Actress Emma Watson did so rather bluntly when a near-topless photo of her in Vanity Fair in March led critics to question her commitment to feminism and call Watson, an outspoken advocate of gender equality and founder of the UN’s HeForShe campaign, a hypocrite.

“Feminism is about having a choice,” she said at the time. “It’s not a stick with which to beat [women.] It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my [breasts] have to do with it.”