Posts Tagged ‘Gloria Steinem’

Wonder Woman Unbound Preview #11: A Bungled Return To Her Roots

March 24, 2014

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Every Monday until Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine comes out this April, we’re taking a look at a comic panel that captures a key moment in Wonder Woman’s history and highlights an important point from each chapter.

In the last two weeks, we’ve looked at Wonder Woman’s bizarre mod era.  These changes didn’t go over very well with many women involved in the burgeoning women’s liberation movement who grew up reading Wonder Woman, especially Gloria Steinem and her cohorts at Ms. magazine.  When DC announced that Wonder Woman would return to her Amazon roots, Steinem and her friends were quite enthusiastic.  They put Wonder Woman on the first cover of Ms., and released a book that collected several of Wonder Woman’s Golden Age stories.  One of things they were most excited about was that Wonder Woman would be helmed by a female editor, Dorothy Woolfolk.

However, by the time Wonder Woman came back there was a change of plans.  Robert Kanigher, chronicler of Wonder Woman’s Silver Age adventures, was back on the title, and Dorothy Woolfolk was gone.  Here, in our penultimate preview panel, is how Kanigher addressed Woolfolk’s departure on the first page of Wonder Woman #204 in January 1973:

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Kanigher managed to insult both Ms. and Woolfolk, murdering the editor of a woman’s magazine whose name was a thinly veiled analogue for Woolfolk.  One would hope that this was a bad joke rather than a vindictive jab, but we don’t know Kanigher’s intentions.  Regardless, it was surely a disappointed for the feminists who were excited about Wonder Woman’s return.  She had her powers and costume back, but the book lacked any modern relevance; in fact, Kanigher rehashed several of his own Silver Age stories before he left the book.  The next arc of the series involved Wonder Woman having to prove (to a majority male team) that she was worthy to rejoin the Justice League.  It was hardly an auspicious return to the uniform.

To read more, you’ll have to wait until Wonder Woman Unbound comes out just over a week from now!  Be sure to come back next Monday, when we’ll talk about Wonder Woman in the Modern Age, and also check out the final installment of my Wonder Woman interview series this Wednesday; we’ll be talking with Colleen Coover and Kate Leth!

Wonder Unbound Unbound is available for pre-order now, online or at your local comic shop.

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Wonder Woman Unbound Is In Ms. Magazine!

March 13, 2014

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WHAT?!  This is super cool.  Wonder Woman Unbound is in the “Bookmarks: Great Reads for Winter/Spring 2014” section of the current issue of Ms. magazine!  Take a look:

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Here’s the blurb typed out:

Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine

By Tim Hanley

Chicago Review Press

A streak of bondage fetishism, a hint of lesbianism – Wonder Woman was more complicated than your everyday comic book superhero.  It was no accident she became a feminist icon, appearing on the first Ms. cover and starring in a TV show; her creator, William Moulton Marston, believed in women’s superiority and purposefully made her, according to Hanley, a sort of “super-powered Rosie the Riveter.”

It’s ridiculously fun that my name and my book are mentioned in Ms. magazine, along with five words that I wrote.  Ms. has been such an important bastion of feminism for forty years now, and it’s a real honour to be included in their book recommendations.  It’s exciting for a first time author to be in any publication, I suppose, but to be in Ms. means a lot, both as a feminist and a Wonder Woman enthusiast.

I mean, come on:

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This was the first issue of Ms. magazine, and the catalyst that turned Wonder Woman from a little-read superhero floundering in a chaotic comic book series into a feminist symbol known and loved the world over.  Wonder Woman was in a bad way when Ms. came along and adopted her as their unofficial mascot and established her as an icon.  Without Ms., there wouldn’t have been a TV show, and without Gloria Steinem the superpowerless Diana Prince era might still be going on.

Now, Ms.’ adoption of Wonder Woman was ostensibly a celebration of her Golden Age incarnation but in actuality Steinem and her associates projected their own values onto her original comics;  they essentially remade Wonder Woman, and in many ways the icon has overwritten her bizarre past.  That’s actually what Wonder Woman Unbound is about, rediscovering Wonder Woman’s lost history and exploring her journey to becoming a feminist icon.  Not that remaking Wonder Woman was a bad thing; there’s something absolutely wonderful about a group of women who grew up reading Wonder Woman recasting her for a new generation based on their interpretation of the character.

Anyway, Ms. is such a key part of Wonder Woman’s history, and a key part of Wonder Woman Unbound as well, and I’m beyond thrilled that the book got a mention in the magazine.  It’s available on newsstands now, and you should definitely check it out.

Wonder Women! The Untold Story Of American Superheroines Review OR An Excellent, Inspiring Documentary

April 16, 2013

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Last night, PBS’ “Independent Lens” documentary series aired Wonder Women! The Untold Story Of American Superheroines, a film by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan.  I’ve been looking forward to the films since it premiered last year to rave reviews at the SXSW film festival, and after more than a year of waiting to check it out I’m very glad to say that it didn’t disappoint.  I was really impressed with it.

The history of Wonder Woman is often told in reductive and somewhat inaccurate ways.  Particularly with the original Golden Age Wonder Woman, people tend to see the character through their own modern lens, and her message of superiority is swapped for equality while the more problematic aspects of the character, like her pervasive bondage imagery, are simply brushed aside.  Wonder Women! does an excellent job of portraying every side of each incarnation of Wonder Woman, avoiding the idealization that so often simplifies the character.  For a brief rundown of a lengthy career, it touches on all of the major facets of Wonder Woman over the decades and presents a very accurate and engaging version of her history.

There are a few bits where Wonder Woman! could have delved a little deeper, but this was essentially Wonder Woman 101.  More on Marston’s psychological theories would have been interesting, and they missed an excellent opportunity to dig into the lesbian subtext of the Golden AND Silver Age Wonder Woman (“Suffering Sappho!”), but that level of detail wasn’t the purpose of the documentary.  It’s a well rounded introduction to Wonder Woman’s history that serves as a launching pad into a discussion of female heroes generally.

This was an interesting transition, because after the heavy focus on Wonder Woman in the first half of the film, she disappears almost entirely after the TV show is examined.  The focus turns to Ripley, riot grrrls, and Buffy as we move toward the modern day.  It’s a somewhat jarring change, and the viewer is left to wonder “Hey, where did Wonder Woman go?” but I think that might’ve been the point.  After the TV show in the 1970s, Wonder Woman disappeared as anything other than an iconic figure.  She had her monthly comic book, a perennial poor seller, but didn’t do much else while other heroes like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man had multiple film franchises and TV shows.  Wonder Woman was a forerunner who paved the way for modern female heroes like Charlie’s Angels and Xena, but Wonder Woman herself has fallen by the wayside.  Wonder Women! later addresses this, taking the entertainment industry to task for its lack of strong heroines in movies and TV, particularly its lack of Wonder Woman.

The film is well put together from a technical standpoint, with lots of great visuals, a good score, and a very clear style and tone.  While I’m sure it was edited down to fit the one-hour time slot, it moved along smoothly, with one topic naturally leading into the next.  There were some great interviews, including big names like Lynda Carter, Gloria Steinem, and Lindsay Wagner.  Comic creators Trina Robbins and Gail Simone also appeared, as well as noted Wonder Woman fan Andy Mangels and writers like Mike Madrid.  To me, the star of the interviews was Jennifer K. Stuller, the author of Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology, who went through many of the more complex components of Wonder Woman’s history with ease and clarity. 

All together, I really enjoyed it.  It was a great runthrough of the history of Wonder Woman, and also a very inspiring and impactful story of the importance of female characters and role models generally.  I think the most affecting part of the film was when the many accomplished women interviewed for the movie talked about their own heroines, in that it really hammered home how valuable strong women, real and fictional, are for young girls as they grow up.  Wonder Women! is a blatantly feminist film without ever having to say it’s a blatantly feminist film.  There are no discussions of the patriarchy and the need for equality and the like; that’s all just assumed.  It’s a movie about strong women inspiring future generations of strong women, and how that is an incredibly good and important thing.  I thought it was great, and I hope that even more people are able to see it soon on DVD and other platforms.

Wonder Women! The Untold Story Of American Superheroines Documentary Airs TONIGHT On PBS

April 15, 2013

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Everyone be sure to tune into PBS tonight because Wonder Women! The Untold Story Of American Superheroines is being shown as part of the “Independent Lens” documentary series.  Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, this documentary has been getting tons of press since it debuted, and it features interviews with big names like Gloria Steinem and Lynda Carter.  Here’s a preview from PBS:

I’m very excited to check it out!  So far, it’s been shown only at screenings at conventions and festivals, so it’s great that it’s making it to a wider audience.  You should check your local listings to make sure you don’t miss it.  My closest PBS station (I’m in Nova Scotia, but I get a feed from New England) has it on at 10pm EST, and it’s titled “Independent Lens” on my telecaster.  Your local PBS station may be different, but you can stick in your zip code here and find out when the documentary is airing near you.

So check out Wonder Women! The Untold Story Of American Superheroines tonight on PBS, and come back here tomorrow, where I’ll have a full review of the film.  It should be a very fun show!  And possibly the only Wonder Woman we’ll see on TV for a while.

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

March 7, 2012

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.

I Want One: Wonder Woman Apron

November 25, 2010

This is pretty much the best apron I’ve ever seen.

First, it just looks cool.  The Wonder Woman design is classic, with the lasso going all around and the retro, 70s style art.  Old school Wonder Woman is always a good choice.

Second, the combination of an iconic symbol of domesticity, the apron, with an iconic symbol of feminism, Wonder Woman, is all sorts of fun.  It’s like having Rosie the Riveter potholders, or a cookbook written by Susan B. Anthony. 

I would wear that in my kitchen all the time!! 

UPDATE:  Oh my lord, there actually is a Susan B. Anthony cookbook!!  I googled it just for fun, and it seems that we could all be enjoying her baking recipes.  Are there Rosie the Riveter potholders too?

Wow:

Is there nothing you don’t have, internets?  What about a Gloria Steinem breadbox?

Okay, that doesn’t seem to exist.  Yet.  Give the internet some time.


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