Does anyone remember that Wonder Woman fought for women’s rights? I have done a small survey of the people around me and what they know of Wonder Woman does not include her feminist beginnings. Have the feminist ideals of Wonder Woman been silenced by men?
You see, I have not read any Wonder Woman comics so I am not really in a position as a fan to make comment. What I have read is The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore which delves into the fascinating history of Wonder Woman and the unconventional man who created her.
“Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychologically propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.” William Moulton Marston, 1945
Marston was a psychologist who ‘invented’ the lie detector machine. He lived with his wife Elizabeth Holloway and his lover Olive Byrne who wore gold bracelets as a symbol of her relationship with Marston. There were feminists all around him and he believed women were superior. Really, Lepore’s book is fantastic. Read it.
But despite it Marston’s lofty intentions and the stories he wrote for Wonder Woman -sending her to war, having her run for president, Wonder Woman seems to become another victim of the patriarchy.
- She was created, written and drawn by men.
- Marston’s depiction of her is a contradictory. He did like to tie her up and put her in chains. He said “The Secret to a woman’s allure is that women enjoy submission.” Huh?
- She never wore many clothes. Her clothes are not fit for battle and conform to many of the complaints about how women are sexualised in video games and comics today. How was she expected to run in those kinky red boots?
- Wonder Woman was allowed into the Justice Society. Despite her popularity and strengths Wonder Woman’s role was the Society’s secretary. She answered the mail and wrote the minutes.
- Following Marston’s death in 1948, Wonder Woman’s grew weaker. She took on more ‘acceptable’ female roles – babysitter, fashion model and movie star. Suddenly she wants to marry Steve.
- In the 1960’s Wonder Woman relinquished her Amazonian powers, her golden lasso and invisible plane. She wore fashionable clothes. She had a male adviser. Ms magazine described her as a ‘female James Bond, but without his sexual exploits.’
Wonder Woman is due to make a comeback in her own movie. Now I know about Marston and his ambition for her, it will interesting to see how she is reinvented this time around. Feminism has changed shape many times since Marston was on Harvard campus at the beginning of last century.
As I said, I did not read the comics, and can’t call myself a fan but would like to know what her fans think.