Wonder Woman’s Women’s Lib Issue OR They Really Published This!!

In the late 1960s, Wonder Woman ditched her superhero gig to become a normal human woman, and things didn’t go so great.  She was supposed to be modern and cool but she ended up violent, angry, and flitting from man to man.  It was a pretty bad scene, and not at all reflective of the times.  Finally, with Wonder Woman #203, DC tried to get their act together and put out this:

Written by acclaimed science fiction author Samuel Delany, this issue would finally address the women’s liberation movement and Diana Prince would get with the times.

Diana’s friend Cathy was active in a local women’s group, and when Diana got offered a job at Grandee’s department store, Cathy told her not to take it, because:

Diana responded with this fascinating remark:

Gripping, eh?  There’s no better way to get the kids into feminism then with people sitting around talking about interstate commerce law.  Also helpful to the cause was having Wonder Woman be completely disinterested in joining Cathy’s group, and just down on women in general:

So the issue was off to a great start.  Feminism is boring and Wonder Woman hates it!!  Good work, team.

But she came around.  Cathy, incensed at Diana’s blasé attitude towards women’s lib, gave a dramatic speech, culminating in this cheesy declaration:

Could Wonder Woman walk away from her anger?  Could she?

She’s trying to, but…

No, she couldn’t do it.  So finally Diana got on board and went with Cathy to her women’s group.  The whole event was a HUGE success and they ended up shutting down Grandee’s department store because of its unfair wages.  HOORAY for feminism, making a stand!!  Sisters are doin’ it for themselves.

Except that:

Well, crap.  Now a bunch of women don’t have a job!!  Thanks a lot, feminism.

The ending promised a resolution next month, but it never came.  Instead, DC brought back the old Wonder Woman, with her super powers and star-spangled outfit, and we never found out what happened with the unemployed women.

So that was DC Comics’ ONE attempt to have Wonder Woman address the women’s liberation movement.  It was a muddled mess, really.  Feminism is lame, but then it’s cool, but then it backfires and ladies lose their jobs.  Of course, the story would have likely benefitted from having a second issue, but guess why it didn’t?  If you said feminists, pat yourself on the back.  Gloria Steinem and others had been campaigning for Wonder Woman to return to her roots… they’re the reason why the second issue never got published!!

Dang feminists.  It’s sort of spectacular that we didn’t get to see the next issue of a story in which feminism backfired because feminist protests backfired and DC cancelled the second women’s lib issue to give the feminists the restored Wonder Woman they wanted.  That’s crazy meta.

Anyway, it’s a fantastic mess of an issue.  While I’m a super keen feminist, I can’t help but love what a train wreck that issue turned out to be.  Plus it’s such a fitting end to the general ridiculousness of the mod era.  Diana FINALLY gets on board with the real world and then BAM it’s over.  And Robert Kanigher took over, he of the marriage obsessed Silver Age Wonder Woman.  It’s just too hilarious, you guys.

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7 Responses to “Wonder Woman’s Women’s Lib Issue OR They Really Published This!!”

  1. Dahlia Jones Says:

    I’m confused. It must be my feminism.

  2. dcwomenkickingass Says:

    I JUST reread this issue yesterday. Train wreck sums it up nicely.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      It’s a classic! The sad thing is, Delany can be such a great writer and you can tell that he was trying to present a nuanced, thoughtful take on women’s lib, but then we only got half his story and that half was such a mess.

  3. Eh... Says:

    looking through various reviews of this issue… the one part that doesn’t seem to be addressed is the very real reflection on minority women in the (american) feminist movement at the time of publication. But perhaps I’m that’s only reflective of my personal biases or the presumption lending to Delany influence in the issue… and the workers protesting the loss of their jobs did appearing to be women of color – minorities within a minority that did present a higher social and economic divide that didn’t scream out we’re a rainbow coalition of sisters united. But eh… it could have been all solved if they just ended it all with everyone giving a beauty queen smile and wave for liberation. Hooray!

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      That’s a good point… while the issue isn’t a great portrayal of the women’s lib movement, one thing it does do well is show several minority women in the women’s lib group Wonder Woman attends. And a few are specifically pointed out, though not for their race… one is a karate expert, and another is psychologist with a PhD. Now, you could argue that this is somewhat undercut when ALL of the low-wage department store workers who burst in at the end are minority women, but you could also argue that this was an accurate representation of who would work such jobs then. Since we never got Delany’s second issue, we can’t know if he was trying to inject a discussion of race into the story as well, but he may well have been setting up such a conversation. Either way, the inclusion of minority women is one of the few pluses in this issue.

  4. FRIDAY NIGHT LINKS | Iced Borscht Says:

    […] The “Women’s Lib” issue of Wonder Woman […]

  5. The Superheroine Liberal | Cian Beirdd Says:

    […] https://thanley.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/wonder-womans-womens-lib-issue-or-they-really-published-this… […]

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