A Book Look: Tied Up In The Golden Lasso

Wonder Woman’s golden lasso is one of the character’s most iconic symbols, second probably only to her bullet-deflecting bracelets.  Crafted from the girdle of Hippolyte, the symbol of her ruling power (and, in the post-Crisis era, crafted from the girdle of Gaea), anyone ensnared in the lasso was compelled to tell the truth. 

William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, was one of the inventors of the lie detector test, and most historians associate the lasso with this.  In many ways, the lasso was a portable polygraph that gave Wonder Woman the ability to learn the truth from anyone.  However, there was far more to Marston’s view of the lasso than just a reflection of his past work.

In a 1942 interview in Family Circle magazine, Marston had this to say about the lasso:

Her magic lasso is merely a symbol of feminine charm, allure, oomph, attraction.  Every woman uses that power on people of both sexes whom she wants to influence or control in any way.  Instead of tossing a rope, the average woman tosses words, glances, gestures, laughter, and vivacious behavior.  If her aim is accurate, she snares the attention of her would-be victim, man or woman, and proceeds to bind him or her with her charm.

Basically, the lasso represents sexuality.  Being tied up in the lasso was the equivalent of being entranced by a woman’s feminine wiles.  The lasso wasn’t a lie detector so much as a mind-control device… forcing you to tell the truth was just one of the many facets of its mind-controlling nature.  Look at what Wonder Woman does when she first gets the lasso:

She’s not making the woman tell the truth.  Wonder Woman is controlling her mind, and making her do whatever she commands. 

Allure was a key component of Marston’s approach to feminism.  He believed that woman possessed dual natures that everyone yearned for: maternal love and sexual allure.  By effectively using the two together, Marston believed that women could get men to do whatever they said, and eventually take over the world.  The lasso was a metaphor, a physical manifestation of Wonder Woman’s, and all women’s, entrancing sexual charms, and the power therein.

Here’s where it gets tricky.  The following chart tabulates the use of the lasso in the first ten issues of Wonder Woman:

These numbers show that Wonder Woman was tied up in her lasso almost as often as she was tying someone else up!!  So for every one of these:

There was one of these:

So what does it mean that Wonder Woman was as regularly ensnared by her sexual power as aided by it?  Well, on the one hand it means that the dominant patriarchy (in this case, villains) will try to use a woman’s powers against her.  But on the other, it might mean that the all-male creative team behind Wonder Woman were not so keen to let a woman possess all the sexual power fun, which casts some doubts on the “women will take over the world” feminism that was supposedly behind her creation.

For more (and there’s SO MUCH more), you will have to hope that I sell my book.  But for now, when you read Wonder Woman you can see her lasso usage in a slightly weirder light.


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One Response to “A Book Look: Tied Up In The Golden Lasso”

  1. JB Says:

    Whoever you are, you are right on with the theories behind the magic lasso! I am an agent of a scholar who studied Marston’s Wonder Woman for over 10 years. There’s been controversy over his revelations, being an independent and all. But hopefully with the proliferation of your book, people will come to accept the truth!

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