As a little girl, I loved watching Wonder Woman’s adventures on TV, but I had no idea how controversial she’d been in her earlier years. Originally known for themes of bondage and lesbianism, outraged mothers influenced politicians and educators to pressure DC Comics into toning down the erotic elements. Wonder Woman was reinvented and the feminist icon became another ‘vanilla’ superhero.Embed from Getty Images
William Moulton Marston (psychologist and lawyer) was the inventor of the systolic blood pressure test, which became a component of the modern polygraph, or lie detector, with the help of his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston.
He was also radical feminist. Having served in the first world war, Marston introduced Wonder Woman to the world during the second world war, in 1941, and she was initially depicted fighting Axis military forces. “He believed that the only way to save the world from war was for women to rule the world and for men to become more like women. Marston was, among other things, a noted psychological researcher and an enthusiastic bondage fetishist; he believed comic books were a great form for educational, anti-patriarchy propaganda. Wonder Woman was designed to bring the world to matriarchy through confronting abuse and modelling girl power, genderfucking, bondage play, and erotic mind control.”
While working as an educational consultant for National Periodicals and All-American Publications, two of the companies that would later merge to form DC Comics, Marston recommended an idea for a new kind of superhero. One who would conquer not with force, but with love. Using the pen-name Charles Moulton, he created Wonder Woman.
His wife, also a psychologist and a lawyer, was equally talented and her husbands equal partner in his research, in their marriage and in their relationship with Olive Byrne, their live-in lover. Between the trio, they brought up four children, all fathered by Marston, two by Elizabeth, two by Olive.
The original premise…
An Amazon princess, originating in an all-woman society, she comes to our world to fight for peace using weapons and techniques based on Professor Marston’s DISC theory –
- Dominance produces activity in an antagonistic environment
- Inducement produces activity in a favourable environment
- Submission produces passivity in a favourable environment
- Compliance produces passivity in an antagonistic environment.
Wonder Woman’s only weakness – she lost her power when she was tied up. Which she often was, in sexually suggestive ways.
Writer: William Marston. Artist: Harry G. Peter. Copyright DC Comics
Bondage themes entered popular culture in the 1930s and is reflected in the physical and mental submission represented throughout Marston’s work. In his comic books, Diana’s Amazonian sisters indulged in wrestling and bondage play and criminals were often tied up or restrained.
Wonder Woman’s golden lasso (a version of a lie detector) and Venus Girdle in particular were the focus of many of the early stories and have the same capability to reform people for good in the short term that Transformation Island offered in the longer term. The Venus Girdle was an allegory for Marston’s theory of ‘sex love’ training, where people can be ‘trained’ to embrace submission through eroticism.
In a 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Marston wrote: “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”
Wonder Woman was played by the beautiful Lynda Carter from 1975-9, and stunning Gal Gadot in the 2017 movie, but what prompted this post is the moving portrayal of Marston and his relationship with his wife and live-in mistress, Olive Byrne in the recent movie Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.
I particularly enjoyed the scene that showed Marston’s interest in sorority initiation rituals, which was reflected in the Grow-Down Land in his comics, where Wonder Woman’s hands are bound and she’s spanked.
In my opinion, Marston was an extraordinary man and the way he is portrayed in the movie makes me wish the entire male population would look to him as an example of respect for and love of women, and for embracing his sensual nature. Gorgeous actor Luke Evans plays the role with sensitivity and an allure that makes Marston’s character even sexier. I could watch it over and over again…
If you’re interested, here some fascinating facts about Wonder Woman’s creator:
Thank you to Wikipedia for their valuable collection of knowledge:
2 thoughts on “Sexy professors and strong women”
Growing up in a house with very strong women, I remember being fascinated by Lynda Carter’s portrayal of Wonder Woman, despite the shows cheesy special effects. Thanks for the interesting background on Marston, his wife and their companion.
Thank you for you comment Henry, it must have been an interesting home for you to grow up in. You have me trying to imagine how ‘cheesy’ in the 1970’s would translate today, and having trouble… I might have to re-watch some episodes.