General DC

Some History on Wonder Woman

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Wonder WomanMuch is being written about the recent changes to Wonder Woman with a lot of glossing over of the history of the characters creation.  Here’s the condensed version of her history and her creator Dr. William Moulton Marston.

Dr. Marston was born in 1893 and passed away in 1947.  He was an American psychologist, feminist theorist, teacher and inventor (he invented one of the components to the polygraph) on top of his famous comic book creation.

In 1928 he published Emotions of Normal People, among his theories was a “male notion of freedom that is inherently anarchic and violent, and an opposing female notion based on “Love Allure” that leads to an ideal state of submission to loving authority.”

Marston also lived a polyamorous life with his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne a former student.

The creation of Wonder Woman has a lot to do with Elizabeth (though it is said both women influenced the character greatly).  According to a Fall 2001 issue of the Boston University alumni magazine:

William Moulton Marston, a psychologist already famous for inventing the polygraph (forerunner to the magic lasso), struck upon an idea for a new kind of superhero, one who would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love. ‘Fine,’ said Elizabeth. ‘But make her a woman.

In a 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Marston wrote:

Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power.  Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are.  Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness.  The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus the allure of a good and beautiful woman.

The character was intended to be a mix of strength, power, submission and tenderness.  There are numerous themes of submission in Marston’s writing of the character (later writers would downplay it).  Marston’s beliefs included that women are naturally submissive, but that submission to women is a world-saving practice and hoped for a matriarchal society.

The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound … Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society. … Giving to others, being controlled by them, submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element.

Marston truly felt give the male readers someone to submit to, and they would.