Kelly Thompson had a piece a couple weeks back about Brian Azzarello’s decision to make Wonder Woman’s Amazons into lying child-murdering rapists. She points out that this is maybe possibly problematic.
Anyway, I haven’t read the issues in question, but I left a couple of comments about Marston/Peter because I can’t help myself. I thought I’d reprint them below, because, what the hell, it’s my blog. So here you go.
“The Amazons may not have been created originally to be such a thing,”
Sorry. Deep breaths…..
William Marston, who created Wonder Woman, was a passionate, ideologically committed feminist. He believed women were better than men in just about every way — smarter, stronger, more compassionate, more fitted to rule.
The Amazons were absolutely, uncontestably, intentionally meant as feminist icons. They were meant to be feminist examples for girls and *for boys.* It is impossible to read Marston’s Wonder Woman stories and doubt this; it’s impossible to read what he wrote about the character and doubt it. There simply is no doubt. The Amazons are feminist icons now because they were meant to be feminist icons by their creator. From the very first Wonder Woman story, they were established as feminist icons.
You know how horrified you are by castrating, evil, violent Amazons preying on men? Double that. Then double it again. Then, what the hey, double it a third time. That’s how absolutely, down to his socks horrified Wiliam Marston would be to see his beloved creations used in this manner. It is a deliberate, misogynist, betrayal of his vision. Azzarello might as well dig up the man’s corpse and defecate on it.
The fact that no one — not even committed Wonder Woman fans — knows about Marston or what he wanted for his creation is yet another sign of DC’s contempt for creator’s rights. (Which is in addition to their contempt for women, of course.)
Okay…sorry. End of rant.
And a second comment.
Wow…just skimmed through this.
I think for me the point is that Wonder Woman was very consciously created as a feminist statement. You can argue about the parameters of that statement (the swimsuit? amazons on a pedestal?) and certainly it wasn’t perfect in every way (though Marston and Peter are actually pretty thoughtful and complicated — they’re take on issues of war and peace, for example, is a lot more subtle than some folks here seem to think.) But be that as it way, Wonder Woman is decidedly, definitively a feminist vision for girls *and* for boys.
That was, and remains, extremely unusual for pop culture — or, for that matter, for any culture. You just don’t see a whole lot of movies, or books, much less comics, in which (a) the woman is the hero, (b) female friendships are central to her heroism, (c) feminism is explicitly, repeatedly, and ideologically presented as the basis for her heroism.
Since Marston and Peter, there have been a lot of creators who have, in one way or another, decided that the thing to do with the character is jettison the feminism. It’s important to realize that when they do that, they betray the original vision of the character in a way which is really, to my mind, fairly despicable. If you care about creator’s rights at all, what Azzarello is doing is really problematic.
Beyond that, though, to take a character who is originally, definitively intended to be feminist, and make her ideologically anti-feminist, is a really aggressive ideological act. One of the things Marston was doing was taking a negative mythological portrayal (the Amazons) and turning it into a feminist vision. Azzarello is turning that around and changing it back into a misogynist vision. Marston did what he did because he was a committed feminist. Azzarello is doing what he is doing…because he’s a committed misogynist? Because he’s not really thinking that hard about what he’s doing? Because he’s just getting his kicks? Whatever the reason, it is, as I said, a very definite decision with very definite ideological ramifications, and he deserves to be called on them.