Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Wonder Woman's Desires

One of my all-time favorite television shows is Wonder Woman. It starred Lynda Carter and she has pretty big boots to fill; Hollywood has been threatening a remake for years, but can't seem to get it off the ground.
When I was a little girl I wanted to BE Wonder Woman. Part of me secretly hoped that I had been sent for fostering in a regular household in Chicago, so I would be poised to assume my true identity as Amazon princess and save the good old U.S. of A. from evil forces who would dismantle freedom. (Little did I know that these forces would come from within but I should have realized that in this man's world, the real evil-doers would be motivated by GREED, DECEIT, and WAR.) Thirty years later, my same-age cousins still give me crap because I would never let anyone else be Wonder Woman when we played. Of course, if either of them was really and truly Wonder Woman like me, they never would have let me get away with that.

During this pre-school era in my life, someone gave me a book which was a collection of the original Wonder Woman comics by Charles Moulton. It also contained essays about the importance of Wonder Woman in modern culture by people such as Gloria Steinem and Moulton's widow. As a little girl I could not understand why anyone would want to read pages and pages of boring black and white words about Wonder Woman when they could skip to pages and pages of technicolor cells of the Amazon fighting for womankind and country.

And growing up as I did during the U.S. Bicentennial with two darling sisters, a mom I was extremely close to, and tons of aunties and grandmas around spoiling me ... well, I could think of nothing more noble than fighting for womankind and country -- whatever it took. I wanted to grow up to be"...beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Mercury, and stronger than Hercules..." and because I was dragged to Catholic Church each Sunday, I knew all of those talents would come with serious reponsibility. (My other favorite book from that era was Lives of the Saints, so I had a thing for missions and martyrdom.)

I have never lost my love of Wonder Woman. My very first college paper was about Wonder Woman, and yes, I got an "A". Recently, I began reading the very first "Wonder Woman" (from the old, beat-up collection I read as a girl) to my fairy goddaughter.

As mentioned, Wonder Woman was created by Charles Moulton, which was the pen name of William Moulton Marston. Marston was a psychologist and feminist. As a psychologist, he created an early version of the polygraph test, called the systolic blood-pressure test and also published a personality theory based on 4 quadrants of passive to active and favorable to antagonistic. Describing the necessity of creating a female superhero in 1944, he wrote:

"Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power... The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman (Marston, 1944, p. 42–43)".

Marston must have understood women very well. He lived in a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth, who co-created Wonder Woman and former student and colleague Olive Byrne, upon whom Wonder Woman was modeled. Both woman had children by him and they all lived together as one big happy family. Olive and Elizabeth continued to cohabitate for more than thiry years after Marston's death until Olive died in the early 1980s. (Olive also was the impetus for the publishing of Wonder Woman; she wrote an article for Family Circle magazine which caught the attention of All Star Comics).

Some people credit Moulton and Wonder Woman with introducing bondage themes into pop culture. I do remeber the first time I ever felt THAT kind of excitement was while watching an episode of Wonder Woman. The evil Nazi guy (played by the guy who perpetually played the bad guy on TV in the 70s) had tied Wonder Woman up to some pneumatic table. Still, she refused to divulge the information he wanted, so he pressed a lever and turned her upside down. She was completely helpless and at his evil mercy. He had his eye on her THAT way, too.

Ahem... so I don't know if I believe the bondage thing or not. I'll let you think about it.

whatever ... "You're a wonder, Wonder Woman!"


Pelmo said...

I always wondered what secrets were hidden behind your mild mannered demeanor. And now I know the rest of the story.

Never knew that she had a side kick called Wonder Boy.

La Sirena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
La Sirena said...

Aha! Wonderboy and I are incognito for the purposes of a very delicate and vital mission -- so please keep this information strictly on the QT.

Woodlandmama said...

Mom and I have been reading Wonder Woman to the girl for a while now. She's also been Netflixing old episodes of Superfriends. We even watched a couple WW eps on Youtube. I think you were the one who gave me the action figure that she carries around.

twit said...


Jesus Toast said...

Um, I don't know you, I just now read your blog for the first time ever, but I may be in love with you.

I just wanted to kind of warn you.

La Sirena said...

wo..mama: Yes, we tend to spread our love of all things WW forward. I think it's so cool that my fairy goddaughter digs her.

Twit, Nice link. Thanks!

Hello Jesus Toast, I read your comments on Bostick's blog last week and started reading yours. I kept wanting to comment, but you seem to be having much drama and I couldn't find the proper tone -- til today. I'm always secretly falling a little bit in love with people so I understand. Welcome!

Bostick said...

Watch out for that toast guy, he is a mad scientist.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

As a young male, I never bonded with Wonder Woman, although perhaps I would have if Adam Hughes had been doing those covers when i was a kid. I thought that Wonder Woman was hopelessly square.

But I've been preparing a post for a while (that I've not gotten around to finishing) about my 6 year old daughter who is absolutely falling in love with wonder woman right now. the dodson version, the cooke version, doesn't matter. Wonder Woman, with her beauty, shiny costume, and butt kicking is making my little girl fall for her. Very cool to hear your childhood experiences with her.

I would never, by the way, let her read the car wreck that is supergirl, but I'm buying each issue for her and explaining circe's evil plot to her as we go along. I love seeing her fall for Diana.

By the way, the adult male in me is still amazed by Lynda Carter. A gorgeous woman who made that 70's version of the costume acutally work. Classy lady.

La Sirena said...

Bostick -- Thanks for the heads up! (I'm not afraid of science.;-})

idmb -- I really enjoyed your comment. Thank you. I wish your daughter many years of wonder. I also recommend everyone stop by his blog -- it's way cool.

Deek Deekster said...

She was a hero for boys as well, at least, the ones whose parents didn't enforce embarassing gender polarisation. Top geezer.

La Sirena said...

Deek -- Nice to hear from you! If anyone can transcend gender programming, it's Wonder Woman.

Gentle Readers -- Please indulge me in a vocab interlude:

from Urban Dictionary,
In the U.K.: A guy, a bloke, a person in general. The British equivalent of the American slang word "dude".

In the U.S.: An old man, particularly one who is either cranky or eccentric. Rather derogatory term.

(UK) "You're looking for Johnny? Yeah, he's that geezer over there in the green coat."

(US) "Old man Anderson keeps yelling at the kids playing outside. That geezer!"

viagra online said...

Well You left with the mouth open, now I could say that I know which the Wonder Woman desires are. Interesting story about you got the personage.

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