Sunday, May 5, 2013

In praise of Wonder Woman

Sophia fights evil on the porch
I've a column in the Sydney Morning Herald today, 'Discovering kindness without mawkish humility'.

I'm celebrating Wonder Woman as a liberating character: a feminist superhero, invented and written by feminists in a conservative era. My daughter is (rightly) enamoured.  A sample:
The Amazon has been a rare pop culture feminist. This is why Gloria Steinem put her on the cover of the first stand-alone Ms. magazine in 1972. (“It’s been many years since I was a child,” Steinem said recently, “but I still always buy two bracelets.”) Diana has provided generations with a symbol, not only of modern women, but also of humanity more generally: independence without egotistic brutality, kindness without mawkish humility.

In stories like Greg Rucka’s Hiketeia or Christopher Moeller’s JLA: A League of One, Wonder Woman is tough, intelligent and righteous, but also wary of intimacy, often lonely, and ambivalent about freedom. She boldly contains multitudes.


Kim said...

Great post Damon but I question the assumption that Wonder Woman's early penchant for bondage was due to her being drawn for men.

Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that the ménage à trois that brought her into being was pretty happy with those early undertones all round? The quote that “Wonder Woman binds the victims again in love chains,” and “she makes them submit to a loving superior, a beneficent mistress or master.” That sounds straight out of the BDSM playbook and I don't think I would be telling you anything new by pointing out that women enjoy BDSM as well.

Perhaps fairies are not the only ones with ambiguous claims to ACL approved morals ;)

Damon Young said...

Thanks, Kim. Yeah, I agree with the gist of this.

I'm not sure the WW illustrators/studios were as interested in emancipation as they were in titillation.

But I don't see BDSM as somehow oppressive or anti-feminist. So perhaps I wasn't clear.