Whenever I make comments that there *really* is a lack of feminist and female-positive characters in fiction, I get the *smug* look as if one or two tokens ought to be enough and I should just shut up and go away because the person came up with the devastating exception that tested my rule.The character that is the equivalent of throwing a dog a bone? Wonder Woman.
When I explain that she is anything *but* one and she is the very reason we need *real* ones, I get funny looks.
Shocked and distressed looks, really. Wasn't Wondy on the cover of Ms. Magazine or something?
Yes, she was a couple of times, so what?
We have been dutifully instructed by authority figures to see her as a feminist icon, but she is a pseudo-feminist cheesecake character.
What Wonder Woman is in reality is a Trojan Horse character: she is presented as something of a gift to girls when her message is very, very oppressive. It reminds me of war propaganda posters with scantily clad damsels in harrowing positions of submission encouraging young men to save them by enlisting -- the text suggests valour, but everything else is anything but noble.
Her origins are absolutely hideous: at the sight of the first male she ever meets, Princess Privilege proves to be a weasel and a coward and lies to her only first-degree female relative, disguises herself, and then takes off to follow a man who is vastly inferior to her, leaving paradise behind.
Sorry that your best fighter left her post and abandoned you, girls, hope your enemies don't find out and attack you all, tee hee!
Yeah, no wonder she needs a magic rope to let her know if someone is lying to her. She doesn't have the ability on her own.
Princess then takes a job as a secretary, something she is overqualified to do as she perpetually has to bail out her man.
Every woman I have ever known who followed this life formula has not done well, but she'll tell you how much she loves Wonder Woman. ("She owns her sexuality!" I have been told to which I reply, "No, Corporate America has the dibs on that.")
Every fix WW has gone through still has that stink. She began in a facsimile of the Playboy Bunny costume, just swapping the ears for a tiara. Even now, she may wear a costume that came as a result of Michael Jackson's red military get-up mating with a priest's frock, but now her current beau Superman has regressed to wearing Superboy's rags.
You always choke as you settle, Wondy, this time with Supes' new costume not-so-subtly implying that he has to seriously slum it so you can keep up with him. You never got it right. The "Just Add Revlon" school of what makes a woman glares with that character. There is always something hollow and disingenuous about her.
I always think of that Brian Bolland cover of her working at a fast food joint -- no take-charge ingenuity in that faux feminist icon.
But then again, she never earned a lick: the gods gave her gifts, she never developed them herself. Mom was a queen. All that privilege and it shows.
The girl from paradise never had a clue: it was not her own naturally curious spirit and drive that made her explore beyond her boundaries. She didn't have to be a princess: everygirl Diana of Paradise Island could have wanted to *explore* and push her boundaries, earning her stripes in her quest for knowledge or even zeal for testing herself. She is not an explorer or an innovator. She is not a detective, visionary, leader, or a crusader in search of the truth.
She builds nothing. She is not like Bruce Wayne who has an empire along with the vigilante calling. She is not like Clark Kent whose day job is to expose corruption as a journalist. We can go down the DC list: she isn't looking after her world like Aquaman. She doesn't innovate like the Blue Beetle.
But she is a babe in a bikini ready to play tie up with bad boys.
We did actively encourage impressionable girls to think this was acceptable. We did tell them this was what "strong women" do. We did not ask those girls to question that character or demand answers to how we put a sunny spin on her vile subtext.
She was created by a polyamorist man. Not that men can't create fantastic female characters, but the top female super heroine of all really ought to have been created by a woman. We are more than capable. Men can only guess the struggles women face, but women live through them, big and small. One of our number has to open that heart and let it all explode in that genre. It is long overdue. I do it with my fiction daily, but I don't write a comic book.
WW is a faux feminist and I don't want another version of this ersatz heroine polluting the pop culture landscape. She has done more than enough damage as it is. She uses that rope of hers to confine women, never to liberate them.
What DC Comics absolutely excels at without peer is the Noble Man. They are second to none in that regard and even Marvel has nothing on them. They have no shortage of impressive men from all walks of life who you want in your corner when the chips are down.
Superman -- the adopted son who let his parents in on his secrets is far more trustworthy than the one holding the Lasso of Truth. Batman used his privilege to stand up to tyranny and he never left his grim and gritty Paradise Island called Gotham to do it because he worries about them when he is away -- and he didn't even need parents to guide him on the noble path.
DC gets men and gives them maps to becoming better people in a way that speaks to their souls. It gives them a wide array of options to being a good person, no matter what happened to them in the past or what obstacles they face in the future.
I have no problem with it. It was even a pleasure reading it when they hit their stride. There is nothing wrong with it; in fact, it is a necessary service, and bravo to them for providing it for decades.
They do not get women, let alone provide any maps to how to become better women who do not live in the shadow of men. Here, they fail and miserably so.
As I have repeatedly said, women need to make their own Marvel and DC. Wonder Woman is not our friend. She is the very reason we need an alternative. The subtext of that character is too troubling and anti-woman, let alone anti-feminist. She is weak, dishonest, and devoid of a core no matter how she is rebooted.
WW may settle, but I won't. I will not play a game of Twister, bending over backwards justifying her portrayal just because the mainstream pickings are slim. If there is one thing I can do in my life, it is to create the maps for girls and women so the characters are mentors and then friends who never steer them wrong.