Wonder Woman

2623824-wonder_woman_for_president  Wonder Woman has been a feminist icon, taking political action on the 1972 cover of with Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine under the heading “Wonder Woman for President.” This wasn’t the first time she ran for president – the 1943 cover of the original Wonder Woman comic book featured the same scenario. Wonder Woman has also been a longstanding queer icon throughout her history, becoming the first superhero to officiate a same-sex marriage in 2015.

233p1Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who studied at Harvard (and who was also known for inventing the lie detector test – an inspiration for Wonder Woman’s “lasso of truth”) in 1941 with input from partners Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne (the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the founders of Planned Parenthood).

Marston had the explicit purpose of presenting female empowerment in the popular comic book medium. A radical change in how womanhood was idealized would be needed in order for his future dream of a female-led utopia to be realized (albeit a distant future – in 1943 issue Wonder Woman was elected president 1000 years in the future). Marston’s intentional usage of bondage imagery was another element that played into the comic book censorship that followed in the 1950s.

Through the classic era of American mainstream comic books, the Wonder Woman series was the only one featuring a standalone female superhero. In 1972, science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany attempted to re-cast her as an everyday feminist hero with a storyline that would have concluded with her defending an abortion clinic run by female surgeons from a band of violent men, had it not been thwarted by plans to return her to her traditional costumed form (and Steinem’s unintentional intervention) with superpowers.

Watch: “Technology/Transformation:  Wonder Woman”  (dir. Dara Birnbaum, 1978)

 

Through the classic era of American mainstream comic books, the Wonder Woman series was the only one featuring a standalone female superhero. In 1972, science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany attempted to re-cast her as an everyday feminist hero with a storyline that would have concluded with her defending an abortion clinic run by female surgeons from a band of violent men, had it not been thwarted by plans to return her to her traditional costumed form (and Steinem’s unintentional intervention) with superpowers.

The 1975-1979 American network tv show Wonder Woman Lynda Carter further cemented the character’s popularity. Her stars and stripes superhero costume while originating with a nationalistic motivation during the World War II era that required women to take on nontraditional wartime roles, was one that recast female power as requiring an emphasis on peace and negotiation.

Read:

Les Daniels and Chip Kidd. Wonder Woman: The Life and Times of the Amazon Princess: the Complete History (2004)

Jill Lapore, The Secret History of Wonder Woman (2014)

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