Do We Need Wonder Woman Today? by Barbara Ardinger


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.

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Categories: Activism, Myth, Popular Culture, Women's Power, Women's Voices

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25 replies

  1. I love this post and your questions! What would I do with my superpowers? I think I would have a special lasso that would cause anyone I lassoed with it tell the truth. A lack of truth is at the core of so much our society’s troubles, I think, and so that is where I would start.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just googled Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth and apparently Six Flags has a new Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth ride! It doesn’t make people on it tell the truth, like her lasso does, but just swings you around!

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      • Thanks for the google. You’re right: her lasso wasn’t intended to spin people around but to draw the truth out of them. Can we make a Lasso of Truth big enough to go all the way around, say, Washington, D.C.?

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  2. I agree with the sentiment of the Wonder Woman creator that we need images of women who can be strong as well as peace makers. Too bad the more current images make women as violent as men have too often been. If I were Wonder Woman I would end war, but I think that might require an omnipotent Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, there can be no omnipotent power if other people and other beings have power as I said in a recent blog.

    So what we really need to do is just keep on doing what we can, mostly in smaller ways without Wonder Woman power, and this is not always sexy, glamorous, or as effective as we might wish. But we don’t have to give up or give in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • PS I can also fantasize that as Wonder Woman I would zap the President with the recognition that he should resign and call a new election because the last one was flawed. I also might fantasize just zapping him, but as you say her solutions are non-violent, as are the ones of my better self.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s Sunday afternoon, and news of the defeat of Marine Le Pen in France is all over the news. One news commentator described her as “a nationalist and a socialist.” Guess what that adds up to. Yes, the people the original Wonder Woman was fighting. Carol, you’re right. We have to keep using our Wonder Woman power in smaller ways and we should not give up or give in. Thanks for your insights.

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  3. In answer to your question, who are wonder women today — Carol P. Christ is one of them, also you Barbara Ardinger, and every one of the writers who contribute here at FAR.

    And I agree all the women who put themselves out there and run for public office are heroes— it takes courage to do that — I admire them all. I am a big fan of Senator Elizabeth Warren who is right now fighting for healthcare for everyone — “Trumpcare isn’t a health care bill. A bill that destroys health care for millions to shovel cash to the rich isn’t a health care bill,” says Elizabeth Warren, so powerfully and wonderfully.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right! Elizabeth Warren is indeed a Wonder Woman for today. I think she exemplifies power-with.

      Thanks for suggesting that all of us at FAR are Wonder Women.

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  4. Thanks for this inspiring, entertaining, and thought-provoking post. I immediately thought of the dryads and naiads that CS Lewis so vividly depicts in the Narnia books. I would like to be able to make an alliance with the spirits of the waters, trees, rocks, air, soil so that if someone even thought about building a pipeline or clear cutting a forest, they would have to think again.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Or turning the mountaintops of Appalachia into coal mines or putting oil wells in the oceans. Go–sprites and dryads and naiads!

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  5. I think we are all “wonder women”. No magical powers needed because we each have our own gifts and can work together to create life-giving change.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes, Barbara, we probably have to start with fighting Nazis (read — fascist-leaning people, alt-righters, etc.), just as Wonder Woman did then … more’s the pity! But how great that the Wonder Woman movie is coming out now — I still am not sure about them re-setting it in WWI, rather than WWII (guess they wanted to differentiate her more from Captain America?), and not sure about the sword (it wasn’t one of her original weapons — her original weapons all fit into Valerie Frankel’s “bladeless talisman” motif in Frankel’s “Heroine’s Journey” model). And I think we have all had our first assignment as Wonder Woman/heras — the Women’s March!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure I want to see the new movie. I’m not fond of superheroes, and the PR makes her sound too much like one of the superguys. Phooey.

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  7. I remember seeing a photo from the Women’s March of a lady dressed up as Wonder Woman, but with Trump’s term “Nasty” written with an ink marker on her chest. The lady definitely enjoying herself.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a delight! But, Barbara! I’ve been using my superpowers all my life, since I realized at age four that “Sit down! Shut up! Fold your hands in your lap! Ladies don’t do … [whatever it was I was doing]!” meant that the grumps were never going to let me do anything I wanted to do. I said to myself “I’m going to do what I please and they’re not going to stop me!” And to this day (age 75), I do what I please and have not been stopped. Some of what I’ve used my superpowers for has been to open new opportunities for women, some has been to clean up the messes left behind by earlier generations, some has been to have a good time.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Interestingly, whilst looking at a drawing of the anatomy of women the other day, I was astonished to see that the uterus has ‘uterine horns’ – is that why the devil is portrayed as having horns?

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  10. Fantastic post, Barbara, and I’m with you on using the word “hera” rather than “hero” or “shero.” It’s a much nicer word.

    As for superpowers, I will have to give that some thought.

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    • What are you really good at? What do you like to do almost more than anything else? Pursue these thoughts, and maybe you’ll find your superpowers.

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  11. My favorite Wonder Women today include Elizabeth Warren, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Megyn Kelly, Tina Fey, Samantha Bee, and a whole lot of Melissa McCarthy! And I am very excited to see the new Wonder Woman! Thanks for the great article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure about Megyn Kelly, but Tina Fey’s impersonations are awesome. Ditto Melissa McCarthy. Do you think we need some serious Wonder Women in the White House?

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  12. Reblogged this on Mysa and commented:
    Growing up reading comics, Wonder Woman was my first, and still favorite, Princess. Suck it Disney!

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  1. Do We Need Wonder Woman Today? by Barbara Ardinger – Steve Scott Birmingham

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