Saturday, October 15, 2011

Accentuate the Positive

Lest you think I'm nothing but angry at DC right now, I've coem to comment on good news. The truth of the matter is, I enjoyed almost (not Voodoo) all the books I bought from DC this month. (I did not even bother with Suicide Squad, Red Hood, or Catwoman.) In general, I think the relaunch/reboot was a success and I'm going back for second issues on everything. (Except Voodoo.) So I am optimistic about some things, and good news keeps coming. Ann Nocenti might get me to pick up Green Arrow. Azzarello has apparently hinted that Steve Trevor will be back. And of course, there's this:

Grant Morrison's Wonder Woman series could debut in 2012.

Now, you all know I'm a Morrison fan and a Wonder Woman fan who will give any writer a shot at her, but I'm actually especially excited for one reason.
Wonder Woman needs sex definitely because, you know, again as I said in the book [Supergods], they kind of transformed her into a cross between the Virgin Mary and Mary Tyler Moore,” he said. “This Girl Scout who had no sexuality at all and the character’s never quite worked since then. In the way that Superman’s supposed to stand for men but at least he’s allowed to have some kind of element of sexuality, Wonder Woman is expected to stand for women without any element of sexuality, and that seems wrong.

And this is the part where the fans are freaking out, especially after Voodoo and Red Hood and Catwoman. But here's the thing, Morrison is not Marz, Lobdell, or Winick. Morrison has actually addressed female sexuality in a thoughtful way back in Seven Soldiers. In fact, in that series he managed to delve deeply into the personalities and growth of varied and distinctive female characters, creating complex stories about women at different times in their lives that varied widely in tone and theme. If you have doubts that Morrison can handle sexuality with respect and complexity, check out Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer, Seven Soldiers: Zatanna and Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight.

This is not Judd Winick's sexy, sexy Catwoman.

The other thing is... he's absolutely fucking right. They are so terrified to delve into sexuality with Wonder Woman that they wrote out her love interest in the 80s reboot.. They insist she's a virgin at conventions.

Cheryl Lynn has said in the past that Marvel has no equivalent to Wonder Woman because there's not character that fanboys would freak out about if it was established they'd had sex in the past.

And for real, if you went ahead and had Diana casually mention that since arriving on Man's World and meeting men for the first time she experimented with sleeping with some of them, fandom would melt down.

If you established that back on Paradise Island there were female characters that were age appropriate and not foster mothers to Diana, and she sleep with them OR that since arrive in Man's World and meeting all these new women Diana had gone all the way with a couple... fandom would melt down.

If you established that Wonder Woman had had sex, the Internet would break in half.

And no, Kingdom Come and other Elseworlds don't count because they are AUs where she fucking married Superman or was enslaved by crazy Victorian misogynistics, and it's pretty much always in the bounds of marriage in those anyway.

And that is why no love interest has lasted since Steve left. Not because he's inherently better than the replacements (even though he is), but because writers are so fucking scared to address the sexuality of a truly liberated woman... because editors are so afraid that she'll be degraded by not being the purest woman possible.. because our society prizes chastity so fucking much that they are reluctant to even hint or explore the POSSIBILITY that she might someday have sex with someone.

And this is a character who was sexual when she was first introduced. A character inextricably associated in all incarnations with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Sexuality and Love. As long as this aspect of her personality is ignored? She will NEVER have the appeal she originally had, she will ALWAYS be a shell of her former self.

And he's right earlier. Batman can be sexual. Superman can be a symbol of sexual power. But Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman can't be sexually powerful. A strong dominant woman must be a virgin, married to a more powerful man, or subjugated in order to be acceptable.

Someone has to go there. Someone has to address her sexual nature from a position of agency and not objectification. It's how she was originally written. And here we have a writer who actuallly has the ability to do so. I acknowledge that it could suck, but I am beyond cautiously optimistic here. I want to read this and I think it could be just what the character needs.

11 comments:

  1. Huh, I hadn't thought about it in that way - Morrison's enthusiasm for Marston, with all is weirdass fetishes, makes me nervous.

    I simply can't imagine that Diana hasn't had sex, ever, whether it's on the island or since then. It's way past time that made it into the books. Just...handled well. I wish Gail Simone were still writing.

    DC really insists WW's a virgin at cons? Wow O_o

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  2. @Michelle: Marston's not *just* the fetishes, though. Wonder Woman is never passive in Marston's stories- all the bondage and confinement is explicitly temporary, and it always builds up to a moment where she starts kicking ass and taking names.

    Marston's Wonder Woman has very firm ideas about what's right, and rarely agonizes over it. Her entire character is about putting "the Amazon way"- Marston's admittedly quirky and odd version of feminism- into practice.

    Basically, Golden Age Wonder Woman is awesome.

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  3. Michelle -- Does my enthusiasm for Marston make you nervous?

    Because it was the best run, seriously. Go back and reread it, it's great. The bondage stuff is actually hilarious icing on a great adventure story cake. (Seriously, after a few issues you start laughing your ass off, it's like homoeroticism in He-man.)

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  4. but because writers are so fucking scared to address the sexuality of a truly liberated woman...

    To be fair - most of the guys who have written Wonder Woman over the years probably SHOULD be scared to address it. I doubt many of them would have been up to the challenge.

    Just imagine Denny O'Neil or John Byrne attempting to write those elements of her character.

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  5. DC actually claims she's a virgin? I've never thought of her as one (though I would not be surprised if Steve Trevor is). She and Steve probably never got that close; his head would've exploded. But I'd be very surprised if she didn't do some experimentation before leaving home.

    Morrison having said what he said about it, I trust him to do it well. I'm not sure I'll like it, but it will be well crafted.

    -- Jack of Spades

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  6. Michelle -- Does my enthusiasm for Marston make you nervous?

    Heh, no. It's the combination of Grant Morrison + Marston that worries me.

    But it sounds like I should check out the Wonder Woman Chronicles and give Golden Age WW another chance :)

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  7. If anyone can tackle this, it is Morrison. I'm looking forward to this enormously. AND to Ann Nocenti.

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  8. It's weird; personally, my brain melts down at the thought of Wonder Woman being a virgin. One of the things that always struck me about Paradise Island was that it was far more enlightened than "Man's World", and one of the key elements of an enlightened culture is, to me, a freedom from our culture's hangups about sex (which come from a mix of Puritanism and Victorian culture, neither of which Diana's ever had to deal with.) To my mind, Wonder Woman has always been a very sexually liberated character, poly and kinky and bi and not just unashamed of it, but outright proud of it and willing to discuss the subject freely with anyone who asks.

    (Of course, "poly and bi" are not the same thing as "indiscriminate", something else she's willing to discuss freely with anyone who asks, and a lot of people who demand, too. :) )

    But then again, maybe it's just that I model Wonder Woman the same way Marston did: On my wife.

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  9. I think you underestimate fandom; to be sure there are some unfortunate wings of fandom that want Wonder Woman to remain a perpetual virgin, but I suspect there are even more who could readily handle the notion of her having taken (very sturdy) lovers before.

    Handling her as a latter-day Greek heroine also helps in this: show me a character in Greek mythology and I'll show you a sexual history. In fact, it would be almost perverse of her NOT to have had a few lovers in her day if they're going the Greek heroine route.

    Another problem occurs to me if Wonder Woman is held to be an absolute incarnation of femininity ... nothing can be an absolute without also being complete and self-sufficient. So if she's an absolute incarnation of femininity, a man can provide nothing for her. This is why absolutes suck.

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  10. I wasn't aware that Steve Trevor had been rubbed out of existence. That needs to be reversed.

    He's no Lois Lane, who regularly scoops Clark despite his ability to see through walls and listen in on top secret briefings. In her domain Lois is queen, and Clark has to respect that. As far as I know, WW is superior to Steve Trevor in every way (strength, status, fame, wealth, intelligence, courage, generosity of spirit...), and yet they have a relationship based on equal respect. He's fine with being second banana. He knows she loves him.

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  11. Anon -- He was EFFECTIVELY rubbed out of existence in the Perez reboot, replaced by a older man with the same name and a lot of similar personality traits who fell for the pliant, passive 80s Etta Candy rather than the superstrong demigoddess.

    So, same name, crashed on the island, lovely man and good friend of Diana's, but can't be the same character. (I think it's his Dad.)

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