Monday, March 02, 2015

we've come a long way, baby

yes, that is one of wonder woman's fabulous boots on the couch beside her.
it snapped off my wonder woman christmas ornament and it has a kind of morbid hold on me.
so i included it in my photo. and this wonder woman comes in this set with her invisible jet. 
i'm reading jill lepore's the secret history of wonder woman. there's a whole lot more to wonder woman than just a comic book heroine (as if that wouldn't be enough). and although my love of her comes from the 70s television series starring lynda carter, i just love her even more now that i know she finds her roots in the whole suffrage movement and the attendant fight for birth control and general women's rights that women waged at around that same time.

here in denmark, this year is the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote (that was why we had our wonder woman salon a couple of weeks ago), so that's part of why the topic has surfaced on my radar. and it's funny how once it's on your radar, you keep coming across things that are related to it. like these horrendous anti-suffrage posters that circulated 100 years ago. i don't think i'd fully appreciated how far we women had come and how much those early feminists did for us so that we have the rights and norms that we, quite frankly, take for granted today.

the jill lepore book is one of those where i find myself staying up late to read it and simultaneously feeling eager to turn to the next page to drink in the story (and this is actual history) and wanting to slow down and not come to the end of the book too quickly.

the inventor of wonder woman was a very strange man named william moulton marston. he was a harvard educated psychologist and the original inventor of the lie detector test (hence wonder woman's truth lasso) and generally a rather weird and possibly perverted guy. he lived in a very strange relationship with his wife and his mistress and their four children under one roof. because he was a polemic figure, he had a hard time keeping a job and his wife was the main breadwinner of the family, with the mistress playing nanny to all four children, despite only 2 of them being hers. and yet he was also quite a compelling figure - charismatic in a way and quite a prolific ideas man. and he believed that women were powerful forces to be reckoned with, so he couldn't have been all bad.

wonder woman came to life just as the US was entering WWII and thus there were many themes with a patriotic tinge to them. once she was allowed to join the justice league, things got a little less feminist for her, as another writer took over from marston and relegated her to secretary status, while the other justice league members went off to fight. not to make excuses, but that reflected the times as well, the men went off to war and the women stayed at home to handle the everyday duties.

it's also pretty fascinating, the insight into the early days of comic books and how they arose both out of the film and pulp fiction industries. all of the creative artists and storytellers and maverick publishers that did battle with censorship make you wish you had lived in a more dynamic time.

i'm only a little more than halfway through the book, so i'll wind down for now. i'm sure i'll be back with more thoughts on it once i'm finished. but suffice it to say, wonder woman is even more awesome than i ever knew.

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