Wonder Woman was created during the Golden Age of Comics, before the temporary workplace gains of World War II, at a time when women were told that their only place was in the home. An Amazon princess and the most powerful warrior of her race, Wonder Woman ignored these expectations. Her comics didn’t just suggest equality of the sexes; they flat out demonstrated that every woman had innate power and that Wonder Woman was superior to her male counterparts. This was the goal for the original comics of Wonder Woman. In the first comics, she went to America with a man, Steve Travor, because she was the only hope for women there; she  must help women gain equality.

I was always curious about Wonder Woman and the comic books that told her story. I imagined her as a Feminist icon; she was, in my mind, all that women should be: free and powerful. So when I finally grabbed hold of  The New 52 Version of Wonder Woman I was extremely excited. As the pages went on I was a little disappointed in the comics because she was not what I expected, none of the women in the comics were. However, I kept going, and I found that I quite liked the series!

READ: Want to read more Feminist articles on Comics Verse? Check this one out on women in comic books!

WONDER WOMAN

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In 2011, the series was brought back with The New 52 and a new story was created. Wonder Woman is simply Diana, daughter of Queen Hippolyta and she is trying to complete a quest so that her birthday would be acknowledged. She is proving herself to be the Amazon that she is supposed to be. During her birthday festivities, she runs away distressed after a fight.

Paradise Island is just the same as before. No men are allowed on the island and the civilization is filled with only women. However, in secret, Diana is being trained by War, a man who teaches her how to fight and how to slay others. He sends her out on a quest on her thirteenth birthday for the greatest gift she could give her mother. Here is the first difference that is shown between man and woman: compassion. When she is met with a Minotaur and has the chance to take his head, she doesn’t. She lets him go and angers war but gains respect from the creature. He protects her from War’s scorn.

It was interesting reading this and knowing Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, claimed that “women were more living and selfless, and thus more willing to happily give themselves to each other. They were also far better suited to inspire this sort of behavior in others. He said due to this emotional side of women, they were far better leaders and could lead a civilization to peace with their love.”

But love was not seen to conquer all in this series. There were many troubles between women and women. It was disturbing to read how women blamed each other for a man’s actions. The fact is that Wonder Woman portrayed a dark relationship between women that unforunately is seen today. Instead of supporting one another, women are in competition and rip each other apart. They let men come betweent them.

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THE WALL BETWEEN WOMEN

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Women throughout this series are being pitted against each other. The greatest example seen is with Hera and her hatred for all the women who laid with her husband Zeus and the children they created. When you enter a relationship, it is a partner’s duty to be faithful, if the relationship is monogamous. It is implied that Hera and Zeus entered a monogomous relationship and yet Zeus ignored the promise of marriage. Fidelity is an important part of a relationship and he ignored that without being blamed.

In this particular series, a young mortal woman, Zola, is discovered to be pregnant with Zeus’ child. Hera, pissed beyond imagining, sends her children to kill this bastard that her husband created with another woman. It is up to Hermes, Wonder Woman, and Lennox to protect Zola and her baby from Hera’s wrath.

The hatred that Hera has for her husbands mistresses are seen throughout the series, not only with Zola but with the other women Zeus was with.

Wonder Woman always heard that her birth was a miracle. Queen Hippolyta said that she wanted a child with every fiber of her being so she molded a baby out of clay. She fell asleep next to the figure and when she awoke, the baby made out of clay was a living child. Readers discover that this in fact, is not true. Queen Hippolyta admits that her and Zeus fell in love and they expressed that love in one passionate night. From that night, she fell pregnant and never told anyone about him. To the Amazons laying with men is treason, so Wonder Woman is shocked and confused by this information, but she does not have time to talk to her mother. Hera, in her anger, turns the Queen into clay, and Wonder Woman is the last Amazon left because of Hera.

This is just one extreme case of how Hera punishes women, who don’t even know the man they slept with is Zeus or married.

In Wonder Woman #14 (2013) readers meet Siracca, another illegitimate child of Zeus. She is angry and attacks Wonder Woman, and readers find out why.

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Hera killed the girls mother by making her choke on the sand in Pakistan. Then, she proceeded to spread Siraccas consciousness around the world; until Zeus took pity on her and put her back together.

Hera, instead of blaming her husband blames the clueless women that share his bed. She exclaims that there is a price laying down with her husband, but in fact these women did not know his true identity. So why are these women being blamed for simply being sexual beings? Is it not the man that lied and cheated? Zeus changed his form into one that “inspired lust from his latest prey”, and Hera sees him as blameless. She takes out her anger on these women instead of the man who hurt her.

In our society women are constantly battling against each other for who is prettier, smarter, can get more men. Women need to support each other instead of fighting each other. I see this all the time, especially in Greek Life at my university. Girls let these boys get in the way of their friendships. Instead of calling out the boy for his wrongful deeds, the girls blame each other. It’s as if men are more important then your sisters or friends.

DC Comics did acknowledge the problem at hand in an interaction between Zola and Hera at a hotel.

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The writers did very well in addressing this issue in the comic series by having Zola tell Hera how it is. After this moment Hera seems to realize what she has done wrong all her life. She becomes a friend to Zola instead of blaming her for all that is wrong with her marriage.

When I first started to read this comics, I was angry that the writers put women in this position of slut shaming and blaming each other for the man’s sins. I wondered why they would do this, but then I saw that it was a lesson. They showed how ugly the wars between women could get and how absolutely ridiculous it is. They showed how Hera cannot go against her husband, the King, because he is a man. Instead she blamed women. I think it was an epiphany on Hera’s part and hopefully for many readers who read WONDER WOMAN in The New 52.

THE WAR ON WOMEN’S BODIES

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Plucky Princess. That is what Diana is called in the first few pages of Wonder Woman 00 (2012). No twelve year old girl likes hearing that she’s plucky, but Diana is no where near that. Even at twelve she is physically strong, she has muscles and the readers can see that she has been trained her whole life.

The body is an avid subject matter when it comes to any type of media, especially the female form.  Comic books are no different, especially in terms of how much skin these women show off and how they look. Wonder Woman had lessons in combat her whole life and is not the typical gentle and dainty woman. She probably has more strength in her pinky then I do in my whole body. It is evident in the strong muscles she shows off in her signature costume.

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Women are often criticized when they have bodies that are not considered feminine. But, if Wonder Woman didn’t have the muscles she has, she wouldn’t be able to save her charges. Her strength is celebrated because of how she protects the innocent. Her clothing shows off her strength as well as her womanly body. She has big breasts, so big that sometimes I wonder how she fights without them getting in the way, and a thin waist. Although she has a body that is liked and desired, she has a more masculine body as well. She is mixed with what is accepted and what is frowned upon. A woman’s body is her own, and I think Wonder Woman is a decent example for acceptance.

In Wonder Woman 09 (2012) Aphrodite appears for the first time. She is the goddess of beauty and love and was always described as the most beautiful woman in the world. The artists refrain from showing Aphrodite’s whole body, the artists focus only on the torso, without her breats (for the most part). Although Zola and the messenger acknowledge that she is beautiful, they do not express that beauty in the dialogue.

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The Messenger and Zola meet Aphrodite

I wonder if they wanted to refrain from stereotypically sexualizing Aphrodite, as she is the goddess of love and beauty. They made her naked but they do not show her in her full beauty. If they did not want to show her naked then why not give her a beautiful dress? They do not show her face either. They defined beauty as thin, curvy, muscular and having long hair. They did not make her dainty which I appreciated but still, not all women can identify, which is probably why they only showed her torso. However, it is worth nothing that she is still light skinned and thin. But even with the flaws, I quite liked this Aphrodite.

During the first meeting, Zola expressed her discontent being pregnant she said “I’ve never felt more ugly in my life.” Aphrodite responded with “Ugly? But you’re BEAUTIFUL.” She made Zola feel beautiful, and that’s an important quality for woman to have. Women, as written above, tend to be in competition in terms of physical attraction. If women bring each other up, that can help bring us closer together.

WATCH:  See what Felipe Echevarria has to say about women in comics and in art here!

COMING TO A CLOSE

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I discovered that the comics, although not perfect, were exactly what I wanted them to be. They did hit hard issues such as victim blaming (i.e. Hera’s actions towards Zeus’ mistresses) as well as the views of physical beauty. They created a world that is just like the one we live in, and they challenged it with their characters. What happens in these comics makes you think and makes you see things differently. Through different characters they targeted real life problems in our world…and I loved the fact that they did that. They didn’t create a “perfect” world of equality but mimicked our own world. The latter is much more effective than the former in making readers see the wrong in the actions done.

Something that I greatly dislike is that minorities are not represented well in Wonder Woman. There is one black man within the family that is Zeus’ bastards but no more. Today’s world is insanely diverse with people from all around the world living in one community and working together. All races are working their way up to be CEOs and leaders and there are many people that are biracial. Yet, this part of the world isn’t shown in Wonder Woman. Minorities are more often than not disregarded in media. It was sad to see that even in comic books not every one has equal representation. DC COMICS, BRING ON THE DIVERSITY! It’s time to have equal representation in our media, so lets start with comic books.

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