“Wonder Woman for a day: Affect, agency and Amazons” has Matt Yockey examining how William Marston’s creation of Wonder Woman has been used as a vehicle to spark “real-life social change,” while also pointing out how the creator himself was steeped in hypocrisy.
Yockey begins by taking a look at Wonder Woman Day, which is an annual charity event that has raised upwards of $100,000 over its five years of existence for local nonprofits serving domestic violence victims in the Portland area. Yockey writes about how Wonder Woman’s ethos of “loving submission symbolically embodies the conflation of affect and agency determined by participation in a collective utopian fantasy.” I couldn’t agree more.
Here, annually during this event, Wonder Woman is being used a best-case, utopian scenario to combat egregious social norms like domestic violence. Wonder Woman is the conduit and agent to combat that change, which in this case would be to combat domestic violence to its demise through social activism and humanity as shown in this gathering of people raising money to fight the issue. I believe that Yockey could have benefitted from saying something to the effect of Wonder Woman being a representation of a beacon of hope to empower and inspire women who have been victims of domestic violence. Seeing Wonder Woman in all her strength, beauty and glory could be an inspirational image and concept for victims of domestic violence looking to regain that strength that might have taken a hit during their respective unfortunate incidents.
As I continued to read Yockey’s examination and deep dive into the character and ideals of Wonder Woman, I couldn’t help but feel that Marston was awfully hypocritical with what he said and believed and what he delivered via the actual Wonder Woman comic. For example, Yockey cites a November 1937 New York Times article, in which Marston is quoted as saying: “The next 100 years will see the beginning of an American matriarchy — a nation of Amazons in the psychological rather than physical sense.” The thought of a governing body or society being run by women was thought-provoking, powerful and an advocating agent for positive change — especially during the time right before World War II.
But as strong as that viewpoint was, Marston failed to keep that same energy when tackling the cover of Wonder Woman No. 7 during the winter of 1943 roughly six years after that New York Times article. The cover of that issue is adorned with the words “Wonder Woman for President,” and accompanied by the text, “Wonder Woman 1000 Years in the Future.”
‘My man, William,’ I thought to myself. In the Times article just six years prior, he painted the picture of a utopian society by projecting the next 100 years to be the beginning of an American matriarchy, where women and their thoughts are leading the way for the country. But then when he had the opportunity to elaborate on that, he squandered it with the “Wonder Woman 1000 years in the future” tagline. Why would Wonder Woman run for president in 1,000 years and not 10, 20, 30 years from that point? Now, any of the latter numbers would have been envelope-pushing and truly empowering for women at the time to see, even if they were far-fetched for the time because once again, they’d represent hope.
-Why do you think Marston’s quote to the Times and his cover of Wonder Woman No. 7 are so different?
-Marston has a man hiding his face behind the sign that says “Wonder Woman 1000 years in the future.” Why do you think that is?
-Was Marston playing it safe or being bold at the time?
-Why did it always feel like as progressive as Wonder Woman was at the time, she was still being controlled by men (i.e. bondage)?