Her name alone conjures up the image of a towering Amazon dressed in red, white and blue, ready to save the world with her gold lasso and silver bracelets. She is an ideal - an all-American warrior goddess who preaches for freedom and equality for all people. She is, in her own words, "a student of peace and love."
Throughout her 75-year existence, Wonder Woman has served to represent the role of women in American society - she was an ideal woman for others to look up to in times of need. Throughout the 1940s, she constantly fought for equality between men and women, fighting Nazis and misogynistic criminals who posed a threat to those she was defending. Namely, she fought for the women and citizens of the United States, the country whose morals she swore to protect when she left her Amazonian paradise of Themyscira, essentially to save the world from the wars of men. She relapsed in the 1950s and '60s as women were pushed out of the workforce with the end of World War II and eventually relegated to the role of a civilian heroine who worked and craved as a spy under her alter ego of Diana Prince Affection of her companion Steve Trevor. She made a comeback in the 1970s thanks to Gloria Steinem, who rebranded her again as a feminist iconMS.magazine and published compilations of her adventures in the 1940s that had inspired Steinem as a child to become the feminist icon she is known to be. And within the past year, she has been named an honorary United Nations Ambassador.
But what makes Wonder Woman so wonderful?
This answer is obviously different for everyone and is influenced by different periods of Wonder Woman stories. Wonder Woman is one of, if not the only, independent female superhero consistently and regularly marketed to women and girls, and as such one of the few beacons of what a female superhero can represent. When I asked my mother, who was born during Gloria Steinem's feminist crusade, what Wonder Woman meant to her, she replied, "She's special because she was the first female superhero I actually met. She made me realize that a woman doesn't need a man to save her." When I asked Brooke Blumenstock, a graduate student in directing, dramaturgy and production at the University of the Arts, she told me that "[p ]he represents good old-fashioned "We Can Do It!" to them. Mentality [that] women can do anything we put our minds to. And that we can do anything that men can, if not more, and that we have the strength and stamina to do anything.” And when I asked Hannah Sayer, a freshman animation major at Drexel University, said she immediately: "The Wonder Woman movie will save the world," followed by "All of her morals are just what America needs right now - the idea of a hero who knows that jumping forward isn't always best and attack, but first to see how to make peace. It's a mature clarity that we've lost a lot of, both in the media and in modern life. When she's with Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman is clearly the adult in the room."
While each of these answers is quite different from the others, each reveals a different aspect of what makes Wonder Woman such an important character. As my mother said, Wonder Woman doesn't need to be rescued - she is fully capable of rescuing herself, and she only calls for assistance when she needs it. She doesn't endanger her companions and makes it clear from the start that she's in charge. As Brooke noted, Wonder Woman has become firmly entrenched in the feminist movements of the past several decades. Such was the intention of its creator, William Moulton Marston, who was heavily influenced by the early feminist movement through the actions of his wife Elizabeth Holloway, his romantic partner Olive Byrne, and Byrne's aunt and mother Margaret Sanger and Ethel Byrne. Even in those early comics, Wonder Woman constantly preached the importance of sisterhood between women, as well as equality between men and women, whether she was fighting Nazis abroad or resolving conflicts on the campus of the fictional Holliday College. Her relaunch in the 1970s, after decades away from those actions, brought her back to her roots and made her an icon of the women's liberation movement. And her inauguration as a Volunteer UN Ambassador in 2016 was done to provide women and girls everywhere with a distinctive feminist icon to look up to.
As amazing as these messages of sisterhood and empowerment that Wonder Woman is spreading are, it's perhaps Hannah's message that most touches on Wonder Woman's importance in the world right now — not just as a feminist icon, but as a diplomat. One of Wonder Woman's most famous quotes is as follows:
"We have a saying, my people, 'Do not kill if you can wound, do not wound if you can conquer, do not subdue if you can pacify, and do not raise your hand at all until you have extended it first.' "
Something that is often forgotten, but is an integral part of Wonder Woman's character, is that she was originally sent from Themyscira to the United States not only to join Repatriation Officer Steve Trevor, but also as Themyscira's ambassador to the rest of the world. She took her Amazonian ideals of peace and love and spread them around the world as far as she could. Additionally, part of the reasoning for the world being in chaos - Wonder Woman was introduced to the world when the United States plunged into World War II, and as such the world of men she was introduced to overall was , a deeply divided place that had plunged into war with no sign of stopping anytime soon.
Regardless of who you voted for in this year's presidential election, or whose ideals most closely match yours, there is no denying that the United States is in a state of deep division right now. Mass groups of people are marching in the streets to protest our President-elect and his election has been declared a victory by white supremacist groups. Older generations point the finger at millennials for not voting enough, while millennials point out that they say they voted for the wrong person. Families are split down the middle, some to the point where children won't speak to their parents simply because they feel their parents' voices were a declaration that they didn't support their life choices. I have watched my friends and immediate family fall into grief upon seeing the results while at the same time I saw distant relatives rejoicing in their victory. The country has descended into another mess, a mess where people on both sides of an argument spend so much time pointing fingers and scaring others to make the other side the villain, resulting in a world where people are choosing to live blindly to hatred of others rather than taking the time to stop and listen to and analyze their grievances, which has resulted in them being elevated to a better understanding to get. A world where members of each side of the dispute have portrayed the other in such a negative light that engaging positively with the opposing side means ostracizing yourself from your original allies. This is a world where people who voted against Donald Trump thought suicide was a better option than living in a country where he holds the highest office.
This is a country that Wonder Woman desperately needs.
In the words of comic book writer Gail Simone, "If you have to stop an asteroid, you get Superman. If you have a puzzle to solve, call Batman. But if you need to end a war, you get Wonder Woman.” And that's what needs to be done.
As tempting as it is to point fingers and name others or stop your feet and yell at people you disagree with before promptly cutting them out of your life forever, this is not a productive action. This is an action that cuts off any chance for dialogue -- an action that essentially eliminates the possibility of an ally in the fight to protect the rights of American citizens who feel and are threatened by this upcoming presidency. And as satisfying as it may be to simply silence the person before they have a chance to respond, the only way this fight against the discrimination that has been pervasive during this election cycle can be waged is by doing so , to be willing to really listen to their complaints and formulate a valid response.
That's exactly what Wonder Woman would do.
"If the prospect of living in a world where attempts are made to respect the basic rights of those around us and to value one another just because we exist is such a daunting, impossible task, what kind of world are we left with? And what kind of world do you want to live in?” With this statement, Wonder Woman encapsulates the central theme of this ongoing struggle that is taking place in the United States right now – when all we can do is argue, how can we then ever make the world a better place?
The main goal of Wonder Woman is not to rush into battle and throw caution and conscience to the winds. On the contrary, Wonder Woman begins virtually every exchange with an attempt to engage with the being or person causing problems for others and to learn their reasons for their actions. She genuinely listens to them, she asks questions, and she builds a complete personal picture of each other's experiences by trying to reassure them and/or offer a compromise before taking any physical action. Wonder Woman brings with her a true sense of love and compassion for all people she meets, regardless of how they feel about her or her beliefs. Wonder Woman is mature, direct, and respectful of everyone at all times, even when it's clear that her words and actions infuriate her. If there is anyone preeminently qualified to solve the social problems of today's society, it is Wonder Woman. And I know she will in every story I read.
Unfortunately, Wonder Woman isn't real and she's not really going to save us. But if each of us would take to heart their life principles, their compassion for those around them, and their love for the world around them, then we could all slowly put our country back together. And maybe together we can begin to heal this country and make it a safer place for all people to interact with one another, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. It will take a long time, but if we act as followers of peace and love rather than anger and retribution, we will be able to overcome everything and then we will no longer be so desperately waiting for Wonder Woman rushes in and saves us all.
Comic panels were written by Gail Simone and drawn by Colleen Doran. From Wonder Woman's 75th Anniversary Special #1, released November 2016.
Continue reading... Show less