When Wonder Woman became an instant hit upon release, it made headlines for all the right reasons. The success of the female-led #DCEU entry was so significant that it broke a number of records, becoming the highest-earning film directed by a woman and the highest-grossing title in the DC However, even Diana of Themyscira hasn't entirely escaped controversy.
When Alamo Drafthouse announced it would be holding women-only screenings, the reaction was mostly positive. Despite being honored for their good intentions, not everyone was happy with the theater chain's decision. Although these concerns were largely dismissed, it now appears that these women-only screenings might have been illegal in the state of Texas.
Despite Their Best Intentions, Were These Screenings Actually Breaking The Law?
The women-only screenings were initially applauded by people on the web before a backlash caused a debate as to whether these screenings were a good idea. One of the more vocal DC fans to backlash against the women-only screenings was Fox News contributor, Stephen Miller, who decided to buy a ticket to one of the exclusive screening.
People on Twitter were quick to reply to Miller (and others who shared his opinion) by stating that spaces like these are needed so that women can be relieved of the constant male gaze.
Of course, Miller wasn't the only one to put this argument forward on social media. In fact, many were quick to complain about the situation. The majority, who mentioned hypothetical male-only screenings as a retort, failed to see that they wouldn't be relevant or necessary. Perhaps most notably, these women-only screenings were an attempt to celebrate a female-led title in an industry where women have been severely underrepresented, particularly within the superhero genre.
Minority-only spaces and events are very important for the minority group in question, but it becomes a little more complicated when people raise questions of whether the exclusion of a group is legal. However, recent updates to the case show that the men who complained might actually have some legal backing.
Women-Only Screenings Might Be Illegal In Austin, Texas.
Salon reports that the complaints were filed by Albany law professor Stephen Clark and an anonymous man. Clark, a gay lawyer specializing in sexual orientation and employment law, said that he was "fairly certain this was not lawful,” adding that “if they were trying to do a gay-only ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ I would feel the same way.”
According to Salon, these complaints may have some legal merit because Austin city equality codes ban any public accommodation (in this case, a movie theater) from limiting their services for individuals based on factors including race, color, sex, sexual orientation and gender identification.
Alamo Drafthouse issued a letter to the city of Austin saying they "did not realize that advertising a ‘women’s-only’ screening was a violation of discrimination laws." Additionally, they're offering to send DVDs of Wonder Woman to the two men who filed the complaints. Lastly, the theater chain are planning on updating their discrimination policies, in addition to sending a letter out to their staff. However, we could expect further investigations and prosecutions by the city of Austin if the men do not accept this settlement.
Legality aside, the subject of female-only screenings continues to be a complicated issue. Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins spoke about the issue, stating that she has mixed feelings on the subject despite celebrating the film's achievements.
"I could switch to either side of the argument, but I certainly think it’s wonderful … there have not been that many female-skewed things and certainly there have been many, many male. So I celebrate that."
It's clear that Alamo Drafthouse also wanted to celebrate everything this movie has done for female-led titles and the future of the film industry, so it would certainly be a shame to see the company get punished for their good intentions. Hopefully, those who filed complaints will be happy to receive DVDs of the DC hit, and we can all go back to unanimously applauding the film's progressive achievements.
What do you think about the women-only screenings? Let us know by commenting below!