Wednesday, February 18, 2015
wonderful wonder woman
in our second of a series of salons i've been co-creating at our local library, the theme was wonder woman. but not only the comic book character wonder woman, but the wonder woman in us all. this year is the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in denmark, so we brought in that aspect as well. we didn't get the vote in the US for another 5 years! afterwards, i looked up when women got the vote in countries around the world and there are some pretty surprising facts on that list. like that switzerland, which i would have thought was a pretty progressive place, didn't allow women to vote until 1971! appalling! and turkey gave women the vote in 1934, but france didn't follow suit for another 10 years in 1944. also appalling.
we prepared two rounds of questions for the tables to discuss. my thought was to start it off a bit lighthearted in the spirit of wonder woman and ask people what they thought their super power was. or what they would want it to be if they could have one. the age range at my table went from a bit younger than me (early 40s) to 60s, so approximately a 20 year span. and i quickly realized that aside from one (my partner in the arrangement), they actually didn't know what was meant by a super power. and they definitely didn't take the question in the lighthearted way it was intended.
i came to find out that they actually had no idea who wonder woman was at all! they weren't familiar with the cartoon, nor the fabulous series from the 70s starring lynda carter that so defined how i jumped out of the swingset for a good portion of my childhood. so, they looked a little blankly at my superman socks and wonder woman converse. they just didn't get it. and i have to say that it made me feel so sorry for them! but then, it hit me that they felt sorry for me for knowing about a comic book heroine. it was just another example of those shallow americans and their lack of culture.
they obviously didn't know that jill lepore (a harvard scholar, no less), recently wrote a history of wonder woman and the story behind her debut in 1940 as well as her place in feminist history. they didn't know that the book just beat out 132 other contenders to win the american history book prize. wonder woman is huge and awesome and a feminist icon. she is not merely a cartoon character, she is so much more. she is strong and brave, a real amazonian princess. and it was funny, because several people mentioned that they wished they could be more like those amazon women of legend. they just didn't seem to realize that wonder woman was the best known one of all!
next time, i'll not assume that everyone is on the same page and prepare a bit more explanation so that we all start on equal footing, or at least that we understand where we're all coming from.
in all, tho', a very interesting evening anyway.