Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Supposed Female-Superiority Agenda In "Wonder Woman"

Geez Louise, this article about Wonder Woman from The Sun has a bit of the snark about it, insinuating that Gail Simone's latest run might have a female-superiority "agenda":

The Amazing Amazon owes her longevity and popularity in large part to the politically incorrect idea that Marston etched into her DNA: Maybe women really are superior to men. Ms. Simone downplays any larger agenda in her run on Wonder Woman.

"I just want to give the reader as good of a story as I can write," she said.

But in the first issue of her relaunch, Wonder Woman fights a gang of super-gorillas before realizing that they're not evil, merely misguided. Bringing the fight to a halt, she lets them move into her apartment, but only after their leader kneels and kisses her lasso. Not many superheroes turn their enemies into roommates, especially when their enemies are talking gorillas. But while the new Wonder Woman series portrays its heroine as strong and compassionate, it also carries a whiff of slightly sexualized dominance. In other words, as she enters 2008, Wonder Woman is finally back on track, just the way her creator wanted her.

I sincerely doubt the latest Wonder Woman is truly "anti-man" or about "female superiority." And I don't really see such a stance in Simone's other comics, which seem pretty gender-balanced.

As for the assertion that Marston's original conception of Wonder Woman was truly about female superiority, I have to disagree. It's like saying that businessmen who secretly go to dominatrixes to get their asses beat are really feminists. It's all about a kink. There are more images of women in submission in Marston's Wonder woman than anything else.

And really -- DC Comics supporting a female-superiority agenda? C'mon.


  1. What a total load of garbage.

    He knealt down because he comes from a monarchy and in said society you respect royalty in that capacity. It's a knight kneeling before a princess, not a male submitting to a female.

    And it's not like she was using her apartment that much, anyway.

  2. Not to beat a dead horse, but why do these things have to be mutually exclusive? It's not as if Marston simply wrote comic book bondage scenes and people conclude from that he was a feminist... he had a large body of academic writings detailing his theories on the roles of men and women in society, and they do advocate the idea of women as being superior and the world being better off with women in charge. We don't have to hold them to be valid, but at the same time is it really fair to dismiss them as not genuine beliefs and instead simply the product of masturbatory fantasies? Bottom line, I don't think we ought to dismiss him simply because of his sexual preferences.

  3. I dismiss a belief system that says that one group of human beings is superior to another group of human beings. Simple as that. I get what you're trying to say, Matt, but I have to draw the line for respecting other beliefs at that.

  4. Lewis: dismiss away, but it WAS what Marston was up to. Anyhow, I totally support the Kink. Especially if you see it. I saw the monarchy thing, but looking again, the kink reads right, too. Go Kinky WW! (Like, that cover to the-- I'm going to spell this wrong-- Hekitea? With her boot on Bat's head? So hot.)

  5. When you think about it then, Mordicai, you have two kinks going on - women superior to men AND bestiality. ^_~

  6. How come powerful women in a high leadership role have a superiority complex?

    If anyone has the superiority complex its Batman and Superman, Superman cause he's all good and no one can live up to his Jesus like ideals, while Batman just thinks he's better than anyone cause he's rich and smart and has no powers yet still hangs with the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman.

  7. Simone is the hero of many women out there who love comics. That is perceived as a threat to the male dominated industry, hell, the whole eco-military complex. Therefore, she will be bullied out of the job that she loves.

    I said that moving to Wonder Woman was a massive mistake for Simone, not because she can't do it, but she can do it better than any one, and it is high profile, REALLY high profile. On BoP she was working on a "B" book, without press. Now she will be used as a pariah by all the mindless f@#s.

  8. Is it really an assertion of Marston's original conception or is it a factual representation of his conception.

    Honestly, I really do not know. Maybe someone here does.

  9. Dude's got an axe to grind- emphasis mine:

    "Surprisingly, no. In November, fan-favorite and ex-hairdresser Gail Simone..."

    I mean, its not "New York Times best-selling author and former busboy Greg Rucka," is it?

    Its just a shame that this dude's issues is what the wider non-geek readership gets to see. Did he get savage by a WW book as a child, or something?

  10. I think the guy was just pissed WW had apes move in with her. Those damn, dirty apes.

    This article has a definite anti-simian slant.

  11. Liberate Apes Before Imprisoning Apes!

    ...yes, I was the only person who enjoyed that film.

  12. "I dismiss a belief system that says that one group of human beings is superior to another group of human beings. Simple as that. I get what you're trying to say, Matt, but I have to draw the line for respecting other beliefs at that."

    Like I said, I can totally understand not buying into his views. It's writing them off as not genuinely held and simply some sort of cover for his sexual preferences that I think is unfair, as it seems to me OS is doing.

  13. My only source is 'Wonder Woman: The Complete History', by Les Daniels, but he cited a lot of Marston's writings in claiming that Marston genuinely intended for Wonder Woman to be a feminist character, and that the sexual symbolism of her tying up men with her golden lasso was intentional; Marston believed that women would run society better than men did, and that presenting men with sexual images of dominant women from an early age would help them accomodate the idea of strong female authority figures.

    I'm not going to get into the much larger discussion of whether this was a good idea, or a workable one, but it really does seem to be what the man was going for.

  14. Glad to see the article is generating debate - it's great to see Wonder Woman getting so much attention when her book has been flying beneath the radar for so long. I apologize for the "ex-hairdresser" comment, and have already apologized to Gail Simone directly, who was very nice about it. A copy editor inserted it without my knowledge after the piece was filed in an attempt, I have to believe, to be witty but I thought it came off as pointless snark. I didn't see it before it was printed but my name is on the article so ultimately it's my responsibility. That DRESSER? What is this, the 60's? It's hair stylist.

    It's inarguable that Marston believed women were superior to men, and it's also inarguable that he intended Wonder Woman to, in part, convey that message. The more interesting issue is: with such a low media profile, why has Wonder Woman remained in the forefront of pop culture, right up there with Superman and Batman? She's been around for a long time, and that partially accounts for it, but I interviewed a lot of people who feel very passionately about Princess Diana and you have to wonder - why? What is it she's tapping into, what idea is at her core that makes her resonate with people, some of whom have never read her comic book? In the article, I put forward the idea that it was Marston's assertion that women, and particularly Wonder Woman, were better than men that gave her that spark, but I've also heard a number of other theories that are probably just as valid.

    And for the record, I am very much against monkeys. It's them or us.

  15. This article reminds me of Troy Mclure from the Simpsons in the planet of the Apes musical, for some reason...

    I hate every ape I SEE, from Chimpan-A to chimpan-Z. NO, you'll never make a monkey out of MEEEEEE!