Thursday, September 18, 2014

NOW Wow: Wonder Woman Revisited

by Drew Martin
Jill Lepore's article The Last Amazon: Wonder Woman Returns in the September 22, 2014 issue of The New Yorker brought back fond, boyhood memories, and helped explain a thing or two about my childhood crush-hero.

I loved Wonder Woman when I was a kid: I loved her look, her power, and her golden lasso of truth. Lynda Carter was a beautiful goddess to me. I was even hooked on the animated version on television. I especially liked how Wonder Woman's invisible plane was minimally represented with simple white lines, similar to the treatment used to show (her guy friend) Aquaman's sonar call to his marine friends.

I tuned out of the whole thing as I matured but I did have a reaction when I brought my teen daughter to Comic Con in New York a couple years ago and saw totally out-of-shape and junk-food-feed women donning the costume. Likewise, as Lepore points out the shortcomings of Gal Gadot for the new movie role, I had a similar unsettled feeling about not doing justice to the character and Carter's stellar embodiment of my adolescent icon.

Lepore's article digs deep (for nine, full pages) into the history of Wonder Woman and her creator, Dr. William Moulton Marston, a psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard, who breathed life into her in 1941 so as to bolster self-confidence in girls.

Marsten's dissertation on the detection of deception based on the changes in blood pressure earned him credit as the inventor of the lie detector test. This explains Wonder Woman's golden lasso, with which she captures people who cannot lie once they are ensnared.

Wonder Woman's big, bullet-blocking bracelets were a nod (or more like a wink) to one of Marsten's students who wore two long, silver bracelets: one from Africa and one from Mexico. This student became part of a threesome love affair and long-term living arrangement manned by Marston.

Wonder Woman was embraced by the Equal Rights movement, and as Lepore mentions on more than one occasion in her article, Ms. magazine featured her on the cover of their first regular issue, in 1972.

My mother, who was very active in the feminist movement and NOW (National Organization for Women) in the 1970s, took this picture of me (bottom image) in 1972 with that very issue!