The Wonder Woman Files

The Fine Print

Sometimes people who knew what they wanted to be, changed their minds once they were fitted in a particular costume, according to Chuck Armstrong, a [Costumes on Haight] store clerk. Many women envision themselves as Wonder Woman, but quickly switch tunes once they put on the costume in an experience that horrifyingly resembles trying on swimsuits in the spring. "They forget the outfit is a tiny, skimpy thing," said Armstrong. Quote from "Shop of horrors" -- an article in the Halloween 2002 San Francisco Examiner Superhero Ban for Kids 'Ridiculous' 22 August 2003 Patrick Goodenough Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - Australian Prime Minister John Howard has slammed a decision by some kindergartens to ban children from dressing up as superheroes, saying the move was "political correctness gone mad." At least a dozen centers for pre-school children in the city of Melbourne this week declared that they have been practicing a "superhero-free" policy, saying that dressing up as characters like Superman and the Incredible Hulk encouraged children to be aggressive. The city council of Hobson's Bay, an area of some 75,000 people, claimed the policy at its centers had already helped to reduce bullying among the 3-5 year-old children attending them. Mayor Bill Baarini was quoted as saying it was often the less assertive children who were the victims of aggressive behavior by their role-playing peers. He denied the ban was driven by ideology. But Howard told a Melbourne radio station Friday the decision was "just ridiculous" pointing too to a ban by some centers on children singing Christmas carols. Howard said he could not recall having ever dressed up himself as Superman as a child, "but I certainly had plenty friends who were like that, and my own children did and we had superhero parties when our children were growing up. "Wonder Woman and Superman and Batman and all that sort of thing - why not? For heaven sake ... we are losing control of reality. What is wrong with this?" 'The other day I watched the show "Wonder Woman" which was my favorite show when I was younger. As I watched it though, I noticed that Wonder Woman doesn't wear anything except a sparkling swimsuit type of clothing. She struts and strides around the brush and bramble with nylons that never seem to tear or run. Her hair is perfectly coifed even after the most arduous of adventures. Noted author S. Sheridan also believes Ms. Wonder promotes the objectification of women: "This cardboard adventure queen sends messages to both girls and boys: a heroine can be both strong and sexy which reinforces the old myth of a perfect cook in the kitchen and whore in the bedroom..." Is it any wonder that young, inexperienced women have trouble identifying sexual harassment? While young, we would dress up like Wonder Woman and imitate her because she was the epitome of a hero. What we didn't realize was that we were falling into society's trap from which only time and age could spring us. We thought it was appropriate to dress the way Wonder Woman did, not understanding it was degrading. 'Appropriate attire is of course what the "good girl" will have in her closet. Wonder Woman also showed us that. When she is not saving a Damsel- In-Distress or helping a Johnny Geek, how conservatively she dressed, without make-up and her hair pulled back into a bun. "This image reinforces the idea that girls should mask their real selves and hide their true identity" (Jan Johnson). However, when the time comes to become a super hero, the transformation occurs, clothes come off, effort-free make-up appears, and the hair goes down. Here, then, is the hero for young girls to aspire towards: a made-up, half dressed, wild-haired vixen. The moment she is not needed by someone, anyone, she must truss and bind herself until she is needed once again, a model of purity. --Jan Strever Johnson, Jan. Noted Role-Models Missing in Girls' Lives (New York: Doubleday, 1996). Sheridan, Sue. "Can Women Really Succeed in the Wonder World?" Science Not Psychology 206 (1989): 891-1000. It is [... the] ability to transcend all human laws -- and be honored for doing so instead of punished -- that makes the Superman formula so successful. All of Superman's violence being on the side of right, there is no necessity for any Katzenjammer-Kid punishment [e.g., spanking] on the last page, and this obvious flimflam suffices to blind parents and teachers to the glaring fact that the Superman formula is essentially lynching. Instead of teaching obedience to law, Superman glorifies the "right" of the individual to take that law into his own hands. Instead of being brave and fearless, Superman lives in continuous guilty terror, projecting outward in every direction his readers' inward aggression. In the ten-year effort to keep supplying sinister victims for Superman and his imitators to lynch, comic books have succeeded only in giving every American child a complete course in paranoid megalomania such as no German child ever had, a total conviction of the morality of force such as no Nazi could even aspire to. Nor are the comic books lacking in any of the trappings of their Naziism. There is the same appeal to pagan gods for totally unearned powers; there is the same exploitation of magical insignia; there is the same anti- intellectuality, not only in the worship of thick necks and ape-jaws, and in the stock characters of the "mad" scientist, but in actual propaganda strips showing whole hordes of sinister scientists about to enslave and destroy the world. There is of course the same anti-Semitism -- the more sinister villains have Jewish noses -- there is the same glorification of uniforms, riding- boots, and crushed caps; and there is the same undercurrent of homosexuality and sadomasochism. [... Some complain that] sexuality is to be discovered, not in the comics' stupendous dosage of sado-masochistic excitements, but in the female breast: the women in certain comic books, the complaint essentially deposes, have highly developed binocular bosoms, and run around in brassieres and panties. Now just what there is about even a woman's unbrassiered breast that would come as a surprise to even a nursing child is hard to say, but the really surprising thing is the hypocrisy that can look at all these hundreds of pictures in comic books showing half-naked women being tortured to death, and complain only that they're half naked. If they were being tortured to death with all their clothes on, that would be perfect for children. Naturally this formula is not popular with girls. Granting all the masochistic excitement of terror, it is difficult to identify yourself with a corpse. And so there are a whole series of so-called "teen-age" comic books, specifically for girls, in which adolescent sexuality is achieved in sadistic disguise, without father-daughter incest, without petting, without even a single kiss; through a continuous humiliation of scare-crow fathers and transvestist boy- friends by ravishingly pretty girls. --Gerson Legman, "The Psychopathology of Comic Books" American Journal of Psychology, Vol. II, No. 3, 1948, pp. 472-490 Wonder Woman is actually a dramatized symbol of her sex. She's true to life- true to the universal characteristics of women everywhere. Her magic lasso is merely a symbol of feminine charm, allure, oomph, attraction -- every woman uses that power on people of both sexes whom she wants to influence or control in any way. Instead of tossing a rope, the average woman tosses words, glances, gestures, laughter, and vivacious behavior. If her aim is accurate, she snares the attention of her would-be victim, man or woman, and proceeds to bind him or her with her charm. ... Wonder Woman can break any rope or chain with which a mere man tries to bind her. She stays bound only as long as may be necessary to accomplish her good purpose -- then tears off her man-made shackles and goes to work on the man! ... [N]o man has the slightest interest in tying up a girl who holds out her hands to be bound. If he takes her as his property, that's a bad day for both of them. The man begins to use dominance, and that's acutely painful for the woman captive. Wonder Woman and her sister Amazons have to wear heavy bracelets to remind them of what happens to a girl when she lets a man conquer her. The Amazons once surrendered to the charm of some handsome Greeks and what a mess they got themselves into. The Greeks put them in chains of the Hitler type, beat them, and made them work like horses in the fields. Aphrodite, goddess of love, finally freed these unhappy girls. But she laid down the rule that they must never surrender to a man for any reason. I know of no better advice to give modern women than this rule that Aphrodite gave the Amazon girls. ... Of course, she may let the man think she's helpless. My Wonder Woman often lets herself be tied into a bundle with chains as big as your arm. But in the end she easily snaps the chains. Women can do lots of things by letting men think they're fettered when they're not. --William Moulton Marston, quoted in "Our Women Are Our Future" by Olive Richard, Family Circle, August 14, 1942. There are scads of people out in the world who spend far too much time creating images of Diana being beaten, humiliated, and far far worse. For some people, there's a need to punish Diana as a form of lashing out at women in general. --Greg Rucka, author of the contemporary Wonder Woman comic book, January 2005 SEX FILMS GREAT MORAL AID by Dr. William Marston, former Harvard Psychologist El Paso Journal, 1929 Erotic emotions are among the finest things life has to offer. In moving pictures this fine art of emotions should be retained and cultivated rather than eliminated. If there were more of the emotions of love in life there would be less war. I caution club women to go easy in their censorship campaign. Without the unique appeal of the erotic actress it is highly improbable that motion pictures would have ever developed to their present standing. Screen stars represent the ideal of the feminine world. The most pleasant of life's emotions is love. If a women's influence takes the form of taboos--cutting out the interesting things that matter and leaving the things of no value then their influence is misused. I venture to say motion pictures and the one-piece bathing suit have done more good in lifting the moral standards of the age than all of the social agencies combined. I can remember it as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. I was standing on the arm of an overstuffed chair in my friend Judy's living room, twirling a tired piece of rope and pretending it to be my golden lasso. This was, of course, on a break from spinning myself silly on top of Judy's coffee table while trying to make my miraculous transformation from mere mortal to Wonder Woman. (Mind you, I didn't look a thing like Diana Prince, so how I expected I could be changed into her alter ego is proof of the innocence I did at one time possess!) I recounted this story to a fascinating young woman several weeks ago. In the midst of interviewing her in her charming basement office at Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center, I saw some stunning photos of Lynda Carter ala the woman of wonder nestled into her window frame. Feeling it a safe space for such a confession, I poured my heart out to my interviewee and it was then and there and I learned the true difference between gay boys and girls. I thought she'd share her own tale of spinning in circles until she was no longer able to stand, but alas I was rebuffed. "I didn't want to be Wonder Woman," she said, putting me in my place. "I wanted to date her. She was my first crush." A beam of sensational sunshine crept through that dusty old window just then and filled every crevice of her quaint office with light. Talk about a revelation! I get it now, I thought, the true difference between gay boys and girls. Gay boys want to be Wonder Woman, and gay girls just want to date her. I felt ready to tackle the meaning of life! ... From "Wonder Woman and the difference between (gay) boys and girls" by Jason Michael, 7/29/2004 (Issue 1231 of Michigan Pride Source at pridesource.com) SHE COULD SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU Wonder Woman is often described as the first super heroine, but nothing is as simple as it seems. According to comics historian Will Murray, there is another character who can be considered the first super hero of either sex to get into print, and who is "definitely the first super heroine in comics history!" Even more surprising, this pioneer publisher later went on to run DC Comics, the place where Wonder Woman eventually found her home. Harry Donenfeld was a printer, publisher, and distributor who, with his partner Jack Liebowitz, bought the foundering DC Comics from its founder, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, in 1938. By then Donenfeld was established, with another partner named Frank Armer, as the purveyor of a line of lurid pulp magazines including _Spicy Mystery Stories_ and _Spicy Detective Stories_. Famous for their covers featuring half-dressed women being tied up or otherwise tormented, these periodicals contained short stories with similar embellishments, and also an occasional brief, black-and-white comics story. In its August 1937 issue (four years before Wonder Woman appeared, and almost a year before Superman), _Spicy Mystery Stories_ introduced a strip not much longer than its name: "The Astounding Adventures of Olga Mesmer, the Girl with the X-Ray Eyes." Created at a studio run by Adolphe Barreaux, Olga was the daughter of a mad scientist and the mysterious woman who was the victim of his strange experiments. As a result, "she was given super-human strength and the ability to see right thru solid objects." Before long Olga was jumping out of her clothes and bumping off bad guys, but she inadvertantly transferred her strength to the hero via a blood transfusion. By October 1938, she'd learned that her mother was from Venus, had taken a trip there, and ended an interplanetary war, but nonetheless Olga never reappeared again. --From _Wonder Woman: The Complete History_ by Les Daniels (San Francisco: Chronicle, 2000) See also Will Murray's article "The Superheroine Before Superman" in Comic Book Marketplace. September 1997: 24-29. Olga uses her X-ray vision - "Powers which were dormant through out her childhood burst into light, once she is aroused, and Olga embarks upon a remarkable career." Aroused, scantily-clad Olga uses her super-strength - "I warned you ... you ..." Excerpted from "The Spicy Strips" by Will Murray in Risque Stories No. 5 (1987) One of the features that made Culture Publications' Spicy pulp line stand out from its competition--other than its policy of displaying female pulchritude in all its "creamy alabaster" splendor--was the inclusion of regular comic strip features among its pages and pages of cold type and hot prose. ... Spicy Mystery Stories, the horror and supernatural title of the line, didn't get around to publishing a comics feature until 1937, but when it did, it was a doozy. "Olga Mesmer, the Girl with the X-Ray Eyes," first appeared in the August 1937 issue. Hers was a strange, convoluted story. It began with the meeting of Dr. Hugo Mesmer and the mysterious Margot, who was to become Olga's mother. Hugo rescues Margot from jumping into a river to escape a shadowy, knife-wielding assailant. Margot doesn't remember who she is--which is fortunate because, as later developments ensure, she would not have been believed. Margot and Hugo marry, but not before Mesmer makes his bride-to-be a bizarre promise. Namely: "I am going to make you the most remarkable woman who ever lived." It seems Margot's eyes are bewitching in a supernatural sense and Mesmer recognizes this. He goes to work, subjecting the half-nude woman to strange experiments involving a "soluble X-ray"--whatever that is. When he's done Margot must remain bedridden, her eyes bandaged. Mesmer, going a little cracked, starts throwing wild stag parties in the next room. Margot, hearing one in progress, tears off her bandages and her eyes see right through the solid wall like an X-ray. The power of her gaze kills Mesmer instantly. Margot falls unconscious, then dies--but not before giving birth to little Olga. "The babe inherits the effects of the operation performed upon her mother, together with the mother's haunting charm. Adventures unheard-of are in store for her," a caption promises at the end of the first installment. The next issue reveals the full-grown Olga, who possesses both X-ray vision and superhuman strength. Witnessing an attempted murder, she wrings the neck of a killer and rescues young Rodney Prescott. A doctor performs an emergency blood transfusion from Olga to Rod, and he too is endowed with Olga's abilities. Sounds like the beginning of a great romance, except for Olga's guardian, "Daddy" Rankin, who has lusted after Olga these many years. He captures her and chains her in the cellar. This is easily accomplished as the blood transfusion has robbed Olga of her "power-chromosomes" and her abilities are now limited to X-ray vision and brain-stunning measurements. Well, Red clobbers Rankin and off he and Olga go to discover the source of their powers. It gets pretty weird from here on. Going to her mother's grave, they meet a strange, pointy-eared being who emerges from the ground and leads hem to her mother, who is still alive and the queen of a subterranean supercivilization of immortals, called Sitnaltans. But all is not well under the earth. The pointy-eared Ombo is plotting revolt. Turns out it was Ombo who had forced Margot to flee twenty years ago, which led to her encounter with Hugo Mesmer--which in turn led, as we all know, to Olga. Margot, Rod and Olga--whose clothes slip and shred at any excuse-- battle the revolt, and then take off in a rocket for Venus, the true home of the Sitnaltans. And, abruptly, the strip goes Buck Rogers--but only for one installment. Just when things are getting really outre, suddenly the art style becomes crude and rushed, and abruptly all the plot threads are hastily resolved. On Venus, Margot receives an offer from "Boris, Prince of Mars" to marry him and bring peace to warring Mars and Venus. "Mars!" Margot cries, fainting into the waiting arms of Rod Prescott. "Peace! At Last!" Olga just stands there looking bemused, a bit player in her own strip. "Olga Mesmer" was the only Spicy strip to fail. The suddenness of it all is very suspicious. The last Olga episode was published in October 1938, only six months after Superman debuted in Action Comics. Because the Culture/Trojan line was published by Harry Donenfeld, who was also the publisher of Superman, it might be that, although Olga anticipated many of Superman's powers, it was too similar close [sic] to the best- selling Man of Steel and was killed to avoid stealing from Superman's uniqueness. [Although Superman debuted in the June 1938 Action Comics (on sale in May), the character's first use of "X-ray eyesight" appeared in Action #11, published in early 1939.] Or maybe Spicy Mystery readers just didn't like to read about women who were stronger than men. Who knows? The "Olga Mesmer" strip, by the way, was credited to "Watt Dell." He's the same artist who did many Spicy interior illustrations sometimes signing them "Watt Dell Lovett." Yet some of the Olga strips were signed "Stone." In the 40s, a very similar artist signed his Trojan work Paul H. H. Stone. Don't count on that being his real name, either. In 1940, Spicy Mystery tried again. "Vera Ray" was her name. Watt Dell was the artist, but if it was the same Watt Dell, his style had sure changed for the worse. "Vera Ray" bore an uncanny resemblance to "Olga Mesmer." She was the daughter of Dr. Hannibal Ray, who plunged into an underground world inhabited by superscientific beings who exactly resemble Sitnaltans (but are known as "animal men") to grab their radium. He's into radium. So is Vera. Exposed to her father's Green Ray since birth, she sometimes glows in the dark, and her touch will paralyze like a black widow's bite. But when she touches her boyfriend, Tom Parnell, he gains temporary super-strength from the Green Ray emanations of Vera's lush body. And, speaking of Vera's body, it's a nice one, but she seldom loses as many clothes as good old Sally the Sleuth [of Spicy Detective Stories], despite being subjected to more rugged dangers, like being nearly devoured by a giant girl-eating plant in the Amazon. Vera Ray kept going to the bitter end--or until Spicy Mystery ceased publication. ... _________________________________________ References to Wonder Woman in Dr. Fredric Wetham's book Seduction of the Innocent (Rinehart & Company, Inc., New York, 1953) Chapter Two: "You Always Have to Slug 'em" This Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman group is a special form of crime comics. The gun advertisements are elaborate and realistic. In one story a foreign-looking scientist starts a green-shirt movement. Several boys told me that they thought he looked like Einstein. No person and no democratic agency can stop him. It requires the female superman, Wonder Woman. One picture shows the scientist addressing a public meeting: "So, my fellow Americans, it is time to give America back to Americans! Don't let foreigners take your jobs!" Member of the audience: "He's right!" Another, applauding: "YEAHHHH!" ... Superwoman (Wonder Woman) is always a horror type. She is physically very powerful, tortures men, has her own female following, is the cruel, "phallic" woman. While she is a frightening figure for boys, she is an undesirable ideal for girls, being the exact opposite of what girls are supposed to want to be. We have asked many children how they subdivide comic books. A thirteen-year-old boy, in a letter to a national magazine commenting on one of Sterling North's excellent articles on the subject, named five groups of harmful comics: fantasy comics crime comics superman or superwoman comics jungle comics (the worst, in my opinion) comics which still pretend to be funny but throw in a lot of nudity to help them sell ... Just as there are wonder women there are wonder animals, like Wonder Ducks. In one such book there is a full-page advertisement for guns, "throwing knives" and whips, and a two-page advertisement for "Official Marine Corps knives, used by the most rugged branch of the armed forces, leathernecks swear by them." Chapter Three: The Road to the Child To advise a child not to read a comic book works only if you can explain to him your reasons. For example, a ten-year-old girl from a cultivated and literate home asked me why I thought it was harmful to read Wonder Woman (a crime comic which we have found to be one of the most harmful). She saw in her home many good books and I took that as a starting point, explaining to her what good stories and novels are. I told her: Supposing you get used to eating sandwiches made with very strong seasonings, with onions and peppers and highly spiced mustard. You will lose your taste for simple bread and butter and for finer food. The same is true of reading strong comic books. If later on you want to read a good novel it may describe how a young boy and girl sit together and watch the rain falling. They talk about themselves and the pages of the book describe what their innermost little thoughts are. This is what is called literature. But you will never be able to appreciate that if in comic-book fashion you expect that at any minute someone will appear and pitch both of them out of the window. In this case the girl understood, and the advice worked. Chapter Four: "The Wrong Twist" Spontaneously children connect this with crime comic books of the Superman, Batman, Superboy, Wonder Woman type. In the individual case this superman ideology is psychologically most unhygienic. The would-be supermen compensate for some kind of inferiority, real or imagined, by the fantasy of the superior being who is a law unto himself. I have had cases where children would have had a good chance to overcome feelings of inferiority in constructive ways at their disposal if they had not been sidetracked by the fancied short-cuts of superman prowess. ... Some children take for granted these comics standards about races, with more or less awareness of their implications. For others they constitute a serious traumatic experience. For example, a twelve-year-old colored girl said at the Lafargue Clinic: "I read a lot of comic books, sometimes about seven or eight a day. Love Comics, and Wonder Woman, Sheena, Superman, Archie. I don't like the jungle. She don't have no peace. Every time she turn around, she'd be fighting. I don't think they make the colored people right. The way they make them I never seen before - their hair and big nose and the English they use. They never have an English like we have. They put them so dark - for real I've never seen anybody before like that. White kids would think all colored people look like that, and really they aren't. Some of those children in my school don't like no white people. One girl's face was scratched up. I seen the girl, but not the fight." Chapter Six: "Design for Delinquency" What goes on in the mind of such a girl? Where does the rationalization come from that permits her to act against her better impulses? Her ideal was Wonder Woman. Here was a morbid model in action. For years her reading had consisted of comic books. There was no question but that this girl lived under difficult social circumstances. But she was prevented from rising above them by the specific corruption of her character development by comic-book seduction. The woman in her had succumbed to Wonder Woman. By reading many comic books the decent but tempted child has the moral props taken from under him. The antisocial suggestions from comic books reach children in their leisure time, when they are alone, when their defenses are down. Chapter Seven: "I Want to be a Sex Maniac" The Lesbian counterpart of Batman may be found in the stories of Wonder Woman and Black Cat. The homosexual connotation of the Wonder Woman type of story is psychologically unmistakable. The Psychiatric Quarterly deplored in an editorial the "appearance of an eminent child therapist as the implied endorser of a series ... which portrays extremely sadistic hatred of all males in a framework which is plainly Lesbian." For boys, Wonder Woman is a frightening image. For girls she is a morbid ideal. Where Batman is anti-feminine, the attractive Wonder Woman and her counterparts are definitely anti-masculine. Wonder Woman has her own female following. They are all continuously being threatened, captured, almost put to death. There is a great deal of mutual rescuing, the same type of rescue fantasies as in Batman. Her followers are the "Holliday girls," i.e. the holiday girls, the gay party girls, the gay girls. Wonder Woman refers to them as "my girls." Their attitude about death and murder is a mixture of the callousness of crime comics with the coyness of sweet little girls. When one of the Holliday girls is thought to have drowned through the machinations of male enemies, one of them says: "Honest, I'd give the last piece of candy in the world to bring her back!" In a typical story, Wonder Woman is involved in adventures with another girl, a princess, who talks repeatedly about "those wicked men." Chapter Nine: "The Experts for the Defense" What is folklore? The term was introduced over a hundred years ago by the British scientist W. G. Thoms. It is now used in many other languages. Authorities seem to agree on the definition of folklore as "the oral poetic creations of broad masses of people." Folklore has intimate connections with other arts, from dances to folk plays and songs. In the history of mankind folklore has played an important role. It is one of the fountains of wisdom and of literature. Many writers - among them the greatest, such as Shakespeare and Goethe - have drawn on it. It does not require much thought to realize that comic books are just the opposite. They are not poetic, not literary, have no relationship to any art, have as little to do with the American people as alcohol, heroin or marijuana, although many people take them, too. They are not authentic creations of the people, but are planned and concocted. They do not express the genuine conflicts and aspirations of the people, but are made according to a cheap formula. Can you imagine a future great writer looking for a figure like Prometheus, Helena or Dr. Faustus among the stock comic-book figures like Superman, Wonder Woman or Jo-Jo, the Congo King? As to the "advanced femininity," what are the activities in comic books which women "indulge in on an equal footing with men"? They do not work. They are not homemakers. They do not bring up a family. Mother-love is entirely absent. Even when Wonder Woman adopts a girl there are Lesbian overtones. They are either superwomen flying through the air, scantily dressed or uniformed, outsmarting hostile natives, animals or wicked men, functioning like Wonder Woman in a fascistic-futurist setting, or they are molls or prizes to be pushed around and sadistically abused. In no other literature for children has the image of womanhood been so degraded. Where in any other childhood literature except children's comics do you find a woman called (and treated as) a "fat slut"? The activities which women share with men are mostly related to force and violence. I admit they often use language - "advanced," I suppose - which is not usually associated with women. Dr. Richmond Barbour mentions an example: "'Try this in ya belly, ya louse' the young lady says as she shoots the uniformed policeman in his midsection. Scantily dressed, thighs and breasts exposed, she is leading three similar gun-girls. One has been shot, and she is falling. Another girl shoots at the police with a revolver and mutters, 'Here's one fer luck!'" The prototype of the super-she with "advanced femininity" is Wonder Woman, also endorsed by this same expert. Wonder Woman is not the natural daughter of a natural mother, nor was she born like Athena from the head of Zeus. She was concocted on a sales formula. Her originator, a psychologist retained by the industry, has described it: "Who wants to be a girl? And that's the point. Not even girls want to be girls. . . The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman. . . . Give (men) an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to and they'll be proud to become her willing slaves." Neither folklore nor normal sexuality, nor books for children, come about this way. If it were possible to translate a cardboard figure like Wonder Woman into life, every normal-minded young man would know there is something wrong with her. In vain does one look in comic books for seeds of constructive work or of ordinary home life. I have never seen in any of the crime, superman, adventure, space, horror, etc., comic books a normal family sitting down at a meal. I have seen an elaborate, charming breakfast scene, but it was between Batman and his boy, complete with checkered tablecloth, milk, cereal, fruit juice, dressing-gown and newspaper. And I have seen a parallel scene with the same implications when Wonder Woman had breakfast with an admiring young girl, with checkered table cloth, cereal, milk, toast and the kitchen sink filled with dishes draining in the background. Chapter 14: "The Triumph of Dr. Payne" Set the children free! All they want is to play, to learn, to grow up. They want to play games of adventure and fun, not your games of wars and killing. They want to learn how the world goes, what the people do who achieve something or discover something. They want to grow up to raise families with homes and children and not revel in morbid visions of Batman and his young friend. They want to grow up into men and women, not supermen and wonder women. Set the children free! _________________________________________ _________________________________________ ANTONY JOHNSTON: It could be said that bondage imagery [in superhero comic books] started with Wonder Woman. The early Wonder Woman was often in bondage situations. ANDREW WHEELER: She wore bracelets of submission. JOHNSTON: Trapped by her own lariat, many times. ALASDAIR WATSON: Today, DC is supposedly violently opposed to Wonder Woman having any kind of sexuality whatsoever. JOHNSTON: Well, maybe not violently. WHEELER: They won't actually beat you with sticks. Though [DC Comics president] Paul Levitz may try. JOHNSTON: The notion of her was sexualised in [Frank Miller's] DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, and in DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN she's been overtly sexualised. WHEELER: Frank Miller always sexualises his women. You can't stop him. You've got to look at Wonder Woman's origins. She was a sado-masochistic fantasy. She was hailed by feminists because she broke the mould, but she was often being tied up, often by other women. JOHNSTON: Wonder Woman is a very uniquely male fantasy. She was a dominatrix who inevitably ended up being dominated. WHEELER: And let's remember William Moulton Marston was a doctor of psychology. He didn't do this without some deliberation. JOHNSTON: It's only in the years since that people have tried to make sense of this, tried to ignore the sexuality and tried to make an actual hero out of her, and it doesn't necessarily work. WATSON: At least two writers have wanted to put a sexual aspect to Wonder Woman, and they were told, 'No. You may hint that she has a very chaste relationship with someone who might be a boyfriend.' Which I find very odd. The superhero medium is about adolescent fantasies. Surely the image of Wonder Woman shagging is an adolescent fantasy? JOHNSTON: DC might argue that it should stay as a fantasy. WATSON: I'm not saying DC should show hardcore shagging on-panel. ... Excerpted from 18 February 2002 "Triple A" column at The Ninth Art Wheeler, Johnston and Watson are the Ninth Art editorial board. _________________________________________ _________________________________________ ... I was terribly stimulated by the highly coloured American comics which first came to Britain in the late 1940s when I was in my early teens. They showed Wonderwoman, Sheena the Jungle Girl and other females with figures and faces like glamorous film-stars of that time, but wearing much less clothing, and since the representation of normal sexual practice was forbidden by the USA moral code their adventures involved them in capture and bondage instead. Such fantasies compensated for my own sexual timidity. --novelist Alasdair Gray in "Tailpiece" from _Lanark: A Life in Four Books_ (Canongate, 2002) _________________________________________ _________________________________________ In the second grade, I began to read Greek myths and they became part of my fantasy life. Often during the summer, I would retreat to a special private spot under a bridge by a creek near our home. There I could look up at the sky, see the butterflies and shapes of clouds, and hear the bubbling creek beneath. I would commune with my protectors, the Good Fairy and the Greek Goddess Artemis. Another of my protectors was from the comic strip Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman's mother was the Goddess Minerva, who lived on Mt. Olympus. With these protectors, I was not a part of the fighting and chaos in my home. Sometimes I drew pictures of these powerful women or made little clay statues of them to keep near my bed. --"Gayle," who was "sexually molested by an uncle," whose "parents quarreled constantly" and who "finally left home at age ten" to live with multiple foster families. Quoted in _Older Couples: New Romances_ (Celestial Arts, 2002) _________________________________________ _________________________________________ Originally aired: Wednesday February 28, 1973 on CBS Show Stars: Cher (Host), Sonny Bono (Host) All Guest Stars: Don Adams (Special Guest Star) 1. Sonny and Cher open the show with "Got To Get You Into My Life" and banter about Sonny's dream of being the President of the United States. 2. ... Superman (Sonny), Batman (Don) and Wonder Woman (Cher) enter the same public phone booth to change into their super hero outfits and rescue a stranger on the street (regular Ted Zeigler) who's being attacked by a wild gorilla. _________________________________________ _________________________________________ Lynda Carter on why gay men like Wonder Woman Excerpt from an interview by Randy Shulman in MetroWeekly 25 August 2005 ... As for Wonder Woman, the role for which she's most beloved, Carter marvels, "I can't even begin to fathom how much it has impacted my life. I have always embraced Wonder Woman. I even read the comic books as a kid." She feels that gay men in particular identified with Wonder Woman because of "the combination of a woman being a woman but also having a masculine side. She could be strong and beautiful like they can be strong and beautiful. "I think there's such a strong archetype there for gay people," she continues, "that secret self. It's that hidden self that's not about being defined by secrets or by sexuality, but being defined by your heart. So many of us have to hide our lives in order to make other people comfortable. And when you stop hiding your life to make other people comfortable, you begin to love yourself." _________________________________________
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