Wonder Woman: The History of a Feminist Icon

Wonder Woman is receiving immense praise for its feminist themes as well as its confident and ravishing female lead. But how did this all start? What are the origins of this badass girl warrior? Read on to find out more!

By Elena Chamorro


In addition to its cinema success, Wonder Woman is receiving immense praise for its feminist themes as well as its confident and ravishing female lead. But how did this all start? What are the origins of this badass girl warrior?

Dr.William Moulton Marston is first famous for inventing the polygraph, and secondly as the creator of Wonder Woman. The psychology of sexism was fascinating to Dr.Marston. In this he was writing the new type of woman who he “believed should rule the world”. So, he made up a woman strong enough to do just that. Yet, writing a comic with a strong female lead in the 1940s didn’t always make things easy. Here are the top three challenges the comic faced to become the cinema blockbuster hit it is today.

Dr.Marston (far right) questioning a woman hooked up to a polygraph

 

Attire

Wonder Woman is the one of few super heroes hassled for her attire. Since its publishing, the writers were flooded with complaints stating that Wonder Woman’s lack of coverage was revolting. Apparently, the amount of skin in Wonder Woman’s original comics offended readers to a point that they believe she couldn’t be an icon for female empowerment. They claim that the amount of bare skin subjects her to a position of objectification by readers, even though she is consistently portrayed as strong and independent in the comic strips.

“Graphic” Content

Diana is often seen trapped in chains after encountering villains. This is inspired by the suffragette movement’s use of physical restrictions as symbols of limitation for women in America. This provoked quite the commotion, eliciting hate on the strips’ writers overuse of such violent scenes. However, critics’ abundant requests to remove the “graphic” scenes never got them very far. The argument of the comic promoting torture and harmful restraint of women didn’t have strong grounds. Readers stated that they were focused on Diana escaping, not watching her suffer. It is – in my humble opinion – easy to see that these complaints are reaching, in term of claiming “graphic content”. See the excerpt below:

Not quite as bloody and gory as you imagined, right?

 

Anti-Feminism

Unsurprisingly, there were a few women who were uncomfortable with the modern feminism displayed in the comics. After all, they had never grown up with the idea of women in power positions as socially acceptable. However, there was an unexpectedly overwhelming amount of male hatred surrounding the comics. Fredric Wertham – a published psychiatrist – was a classic example of someone who took action on those feelings. He conducted an investigation into the comics and went to Senate to protest. He was repulsed by the portrayal of “women in these stories [as] on an equal footing with men”. Or, to simplify: he was disgusted by the two genders being displayed as equal in the comics. I guess it’s a good thing that he isn’t alive today, with equality becoming a reality and all.

 

In conclusion, Wonder Woman went through a lot to get where she is today, and we should appreciate that. Just like how we appreciate what she fights for. #GirlLove!