glaurung_quena: (golden age wonder woman)
The backstory for Wonder Woman's people has always been a bit strange and never made all that much sense. Attempts by DC to "modernize" the Amazons in the 80's and more recently have fixed some cosmetic issues but the underlying lack of sense has continued or even gotten worse.

Let's start with the Greeks )

America has the Wild West of the 1880's, Japan has the era of the Samurai; similarly, the ancient Greeks had their Heroic Age, roughly corresponding to what archaeologists today call the Mycenaean period in Greece (1500-1100 BCE). While the Scythian culture with its warrior women seems to have emerged in the 9th century (around the same time as archaic Greece), in fiction, the Greeks backdated Amazons to make them contemporaneous with their beloved legendary heroes and demigods. Which had the unfortunate effect of making centuries of classics scholars dismiss the whole concept of Amazons as a myth, despite the very level-headed accounts of them in surviving Greek non-fiction.

Amazons in the comics

Enter William Marston, who needed a particular kind of backstory for the character of Wonder Woman. His goal was propaganda, pushing for a vision of the world in which women were seen as superior to men and their right to rule the world was self-evident. Which meant Wonder Woman had to be an outsider, someone from a culture where women were powerful and in charge, who could look upon American customs of sexism as quaint and silly. What better background to give her than to make her an Amazon? Warning, bad mythology next 500 meters )

Next time, I'll continue by looking at the revamped origin story that the Amazons got from DC in the late 80's.
glaurung_quena: (Default)
As [personal profile] oursin likes to remind her readers, "secret history" is an overused marketing term for "actually quite well established history that people buying the book were maybe not acquainted with," but in this case it's definitely appropriate, as the history of Wonder Woman is inextricably tied to the polyamorous union of four adults who created her, and who did everything they could to keep their relationship an utter secret not just from the world but from their own children.

Various histories of Wonder Woman written by comics fans in this century have included details about William Marston's unconventional family and his fetishism for bondage, but all of them are frustratingly superficial and give little or no credit to his partners as co-creators, or to the political and social movements that influenced their creation of Wonder Woman.

Jill Lepore's book reveals that Wonder Woman, like all the writings attributed to William Marston, was a collaborative effort between Marston and his three partners, all feminists and suffragists like himself. Clues from college yearbooks and the like suggest that Elizabeth Holloway, Olive Byrne, and Marjorie Huntley were all bisexual and that the Marston family was not just polygamous but fully polyamorous. It is a truth universally acknowledged that bisexual women in want of children should find themselves an agreeable donor )
Overall, an excellent history not only of Wonder Woman, but also a look at one slice of the history of feminism in the years between the passage of suffrage and women's liberation, showing how there was never actually an end to activism and the push for greater equality. Recommended.

Profile

glaurung_quena: (Default)
glaurung_quena

August 2017

S M T W T F S
  12345
67891011 12
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags