I hated Wonder Woman my entire childhood growing up.
I was a girl who loved Superhero’s and comic books; but my backpacks were Spider-Man, my pajamas had Bat Signals on them, and my barretts donned the Superman ‘S.’
My brother and I would wake up at 9am on Saturdays to watch Dragon Ball Z, then run downstairs to our “Spider-Man Comic Maker” computer game, only stopping for a trip to the Library to rent a Captain America picture book.
And all the while, I hated Wonder Woman.
Lasso of Truth?
I saw her on television, a part of the Justice League. I saw her on notebooks in the ‘girl’s school supply’ section. In my teenage years, I’d even see her on ‘Entertainment Weekly,’ with journalists speculating who would play her on ‘Supernatural.’
Was I the only girl comic book fan that cringed every time she came on screen? Every detail about her confused and angered me. Why was she wearing a bathing suit? Wouldn’t that be distracting from her crime-fighting? Lasso of truth? Are you f****** kidding me? Make up??? Sexuality??? I don’t get it!!!
To be fair, I was a growing gangly young lady who would rather crack a joke than try at what others called ‘flirting’ and wouldn’t know a sexual encounter if it bit me in the ass- and that MIGHT be a reason her outfits and long eyelashes addled me.
In my mind, she was only used for eye-candy and ‘let’s give something to the sister’s of the boys who will be watching our show’- ness.
I hated her. I hated her for letting Superman call the shots, for letting any male superhero save her, or for letting her “lasso of truth” be her go-to weapon. I hated when men would think she was pretty instead of being afraid of her left hook. I hated when she flirted, because she should be focused on her mission. I hated that retailers thought I should idolize her. I hated that she wouldn’t wear regular clothes.
For a very long time I carried this prejudice against her. Even a couple years ago I was in a sketch and had to play Wonder Woman- and my immediate reaction was a little barf in my mouth.
“Couldn’t I be Spider-Man?”
“… you’re a girl.”
“… you’re wearing a tight leotard. Do the math.”
Her outfit was just as I had imagined. Uncomfortable, clingy, and absolutely impractical.
I put on her red lipstick, and chose to play her cynical and disinterested because that’s the way I felt about HER.
But then something strange happened.
I am Wonder Woman
In my circle of friends, I started being referred to as “Wonder Woman,” mostly because of the amount of projects I tackled and how much I could pack into one day. “You seem to be able to do it all!” they’d say (not by any means true, by the way-) and though I protested, the name followed as a compliment from my friends, mostly because they knew I loved comic books. What a fitting compliment they thought, for a girl who loved Superheros.
The name itched like a bad rash.
It made me uncomfortable.
I was no Wonder Woman! Mostly because Wonder Woman, in my previously formed opinion, was just made to fill a quota. To give boys something to gawk at, and certainly NOT a role model for a little girl. Being a busy person didn’t make me a Wonder Woman, it made me a Flash, or a Captain American, didn’t it? DIDN’T IT???
Suddenly I was seeing her everywhere. Wonder Woman t-shirts in the comic book store. Wonder Woman on the cover of Buzzfeed articles. Wonder Woman in the mirror when I wore red lipstick.
It was then I thought… maybe I’m the one who had her all wrong?
I started Wikapedia-ing everything about her. Her comic book series past and present. Her origin story. Her tv series. Her incarnations and reinterpretations.
I was more intrigued than anything else, and started to see not a weak boring superhero, but something I identified with much much more. Damn, she was a strong, moral character, in a man’s world, who confidently knew every positive part about herself and worked in a goal-orientated manner to make the world a better safer place. Oh yeah, and SHE WAS A WOMAN.
Not only a woman, but one of the ONLY women in the comic books kicking ass and taking names.
My world turned upside down. I realized I had been looking at her through a misogynistic lens, dismissing her as an over sexualized 12 year old boy’s wet dream. I was seeing her outfit and her make up and her weapons, instead of seeing who she really was. A wonderful strong human being with a second X chromosome.
And it was in the midst of this realization I saw the new Man of Steel film.
With my brows furred, I watched as Superman “struggled” with being different, not fitting in, finding his place in the world, and handling human emotions.
As I watched, Lois Lane’s one badass line of “Are we done
measuring dicks?” fell away to another flatly written female side character. She lived in the shadow of what I thought a woman in a superhero film should be. I compared her to this new formed image of Wonder Woman in my mind. A character that could have tackled Clark Kent’s problem of identity, fitting in, and human emotion in a much more layered and interesting way. In other words, a way fucking better movie.
I left the theater with a mix of emotions. I was disappointed I had let my mind wander to Wonder Woman so much during a film about Superman. I was angry that there has yet to be even a whisper of a Wonder Woman remake. I was sad a movie producer wasn’t waiting for me outside the theater to give me the job of rewriting her story for film and offering me the lead role. I was sad I forgot to grab my left over popcorn.
But, Ladies (& Gentleman) I am here to officially announce that I am a Wonder Woman convert.
I know her image and purpose has been bastardized in the past, but let us look at a version of Wonder Woman we could all call a hero and love as a nation. A single mother raising a kid all by herself, and doing a fantastic job. A business woman taking no one’s shit, making risky moves, who sometimes makes mistakes, but takes it all in stride. A smart young girl who gets made fun of in high school because she is much more interested in leading her United Nations club than being a ‘popular kid’. A woman who’s built like a basketball player, not a model. A little girl who runs around wearing a cape. A woman who wears high heels and red lipstick for no one but herself, and smiles because she knows she looks GOOD.
Oh, and all the while fighting evil before scarfing down Chinese take-out for dinner.
I’m in favor of this hero, and would be proud for my future daughter to look up to someone like her. I’m in favor of this kind of woman, who knows she can take on the world everyday she wakes up. I’m in favor of this person with a strong morale compass, who cares for the needs of others.
And yes, maybe this version of Wonder Woman currently only exists in my mind, but in real life you see these wonder women every single day. They don’t wear tight bathing suits, and they might not put on make-up, but think about your own life. Men, I’m sure you know a couple Wonder Women here and there- they walk into a bar, blow your socks off, then leave because they have to get up for work in the morning. Ladies, just look in the mirror.
Comic Book writers take note and start looking at the powerful woman that surround you. Filmmakes, stop being chicken and tackle Wonder Woman’s real story. Young ladies, recognize the powerful humanity being behind her smile and lasso.
And until then, I will wear my new Wonder Woman pajamas with pride, and be honored when mentioned in the same sentence as her.
So, “Go in peace my daughter. And remember that, in a world of ordinary mortals, you are a Wonder Woman.”
Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger,
Maggie Mae Fish