We all remember the protests—and the pink knitted caps with the pussy ears—that filled the streets of our major cities after the inauguration of the Troll-in-Chief. Some members of this FAR community went to those marches and wrote about their thoughts and feelings in this space. I don’t go to marches and demonstrations anymore, mainly because it would be majorly inconvenient if I had an asthma attack right in the middle of when other people are trying to do important things. But I always send my thoughts.
And so I have recently been thinking about a feminist hera who can inspire us resisters. (Note that “hera” is not only the name of the queen of the Olympians, but it’s also the feminine form of “hero.” I’ve heard some women say “shero.” I guess that works, but it’s an ungainly word. Let’s call our courageous women heras and superheras. But I digress.) I’ve been thinking about Wonder Woman since the election. Here’s what I wrote about her in my book Pagan Every Day. (Note that I’m expanding what I wrote in 2003.)
2003: Wonder Woman, Diana Prince—Princess Diana—is a modern American Amazon. Her stories were first written by William Moulton Marston in the December-January, 1941, issue of All Star Comics. Six months later, she had her own comic. She was born on Paradise Island, known to no man, and trained in Amazonian martial arts. She wore bulletproof bracelets. Her magic lasso was forged by Hephaestus from links removed from Aphrodite’s Girdle. Her mother was Queen Hippolyta, whom we remember from the story of Theseus…
2017: …and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which, alas, she is is tamely married to Theseus, Duke of Athens. No Paradise Island in or hear Athens. (There aren’t any paradise islands in Shakespeare, not even Prospero’s island in The Tempest.)
2003: The Wonder Woman website quotes Marston as saying in 1943, “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”
2017: Marston’s thinking was certainly a product of his time. Who was a “good woman” in 1943? I immediately think of Eleanor Roosevelt. Some other “good women” of the 1940s were the Rosie-the-Riveter women who did “men’s work.” Who carried on very nicely, thank you, while most of the men were at war. It’s too bad they were shoved back into the kitchen in the 1950s. Today I look around and see many women with force, strength, and power. Nancy Pelosi and the other 82 women in the U.S. House of Representatives (19 percent of the whole). The 21 female senators. All the women in state legislatures. Female executives in large and small businesses, female entrepreneurs, female heads of organizations that do good work. Are we all Wonder Women? Who would you nominate to be a Wonder Woman today?
2003: The New Original Wonder Woman first aired on ABC on November 7, 1975, starring Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner as Steve Trevor, Chloris Leachman as the queen, and Debra Winger as Wonder Girl. American war hero, Steve Trevor, is shot down over the Bermuda Triangle and winds up on Paradise Island, where the Amazons hold a contest to determine who will return with him to American and fight the Nazis. Princess Diana wins. She hides her red, white, and blue bustier and shorts under a Navy uniform, and the story continues. The first season, set during World War II, remained faithful to Marston’s original.
2017: Today there are other female superheroes in comics, on TV, and in the movies, but Wonder Woman was the first and the best. She didn’t kill the villains, and she was honorable in all of her dealings in our flawed world. And now I’m thinking of the gods and preachers in our standard-brand holy books—the men who see women as doors to hell or think that women lead men backwards through their evolution so they become beasts again. How would Wonder Woman deal with such men or gods? With men who are convinced that a woman’s place is in the home? (Unlike Bella Abzug, who said a woman’s place is in the House.)
Can we go back to Paradise Island? Not likely. There are too many of us, and if we leave, who’ll take care of the kids? Or the planet? So let’s imagine ourselves as Wonder Women. (Gee—do we also get to wear that neat costume? Do we get magical bracelets?) Let us create our own scenarios. I’m not thinking of a mere reversal of the “power-over” that’s all around us. I’m thinking of “power-with,” i.e., shared vision and shared power. What is your vision of power-with in a world with crazy people in the White House who present “alternative facts” to gullible voters?
What if we had superhera powers? What could we do to help preserve the planet and hopefully bring peace back to nations? Where would you start? If I had superhera powers, I think I’d begin by melting down all the guns and other weapons and all the bullets. Use the metal to build statues of people who work to feed hungry mothers and children and give them comfort and safe places to sleep. Who work to remove the poisons from our water and air. Who work to preserve all species of plants and animals instead of driving them into extinction. Who would you build statues of?
So you are now Wonder Woman. What are your superhera powers? What’s your scenario? Your first assignment? Marston’s Wonder Woman began by fighting Nazis. Do we need to start there? Again??
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic. Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations. When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the Neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.