AS LOVELY AS APHRODITE – AS WISE AS ATHENA – WITH THE SPEED OF MERCURY AND THE STRENGTH OF HERCULES – SHE IS KNOWN ONLY AS WONDER WOMAN.
Dear privileged Hollywood women,
We need you. It’s time. You can no longer remain silent. You must act. You must step up. White men alone cannot decide the fate of the Wonder Woman movie.
As I write this, I understand the sad truth that many people (ie too many of our young) today do not know Wonder Woman: her power, strength, ideals or her significance to women’s empowerment and history. So, strap up. I’m about to blow you away with some knowledge.
In 1941, a psychologist named William Moulton Marston began writing comic books under a pseudonym. Marston, a respected Harvard-trained lawyer and Ph.D. was one of the few men of his era that believed in the untapped potential of comic books to teach children right from wrong and elicit positive change. He asked, “If children will read comics, why isn’t it advisable to give them some constructive comics to read?”[i] Marston, known as a flamboyant opportunist/marketing guru, also had very controversial beliefs about human psychology and was utterly obsessed with the ability to determine when a subject was not telling the truth. He was convinced that one could test for deception by studying subject’s physiological reactions (primarily changes in blood pressure) and is credited with the invention of one of the first lie detector tests.
Along with this obsession for the truth, Marston loved Greek mythology and believed in women’s overall higher moral compass. He alleged that women were innately “less susceptible than men to the negative traits of aggression and acquisitiveness, and could come to control the comparatively unruly male sex by alluring them.”[ii] This controversial ‘girls run the world’ prediction was very much ahead of his time. In a 1937 interview with The New York Times he claimed –
“The next one hundred years will see the beginning of an American matriarchy–a nation of Amazons in the psychological rather than physical sense,” adding that, “women would take over the rule of the country, politically and economically.”[iii]
Marston, a complicated man, was very much interested in bondage and the relationship between dominance and submission. He believed that the fairer sex would basically be able to control men through sexual governance. In his wildly sexist and heterosexist worldview, the world would be a better place if women ran it — mostly through the use of their sexuality of course. Sexually satisfied men would then happily submit to women’s power and we would all live in peace. [Side note, I don’t really hang with many white men, but this one definitely would have been invited to some of my parties. Did I mention he was poly? In 1941?].
Marston’s vision ultimately led him to work for DC Comics, home of Superman and Batman. He is credited with the invention of Wonder Woman – In Marston’s words:
Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world. There isn’t love enough in the male organism to run this planet peacefully. Woman’s body contains twice as many love generating organs and endocrine mechanisms as the male. What woman lacks is the dominance or self-assertive power to put over and enforce her love desires.
I have given Wonder Woman this dominant force but have kept her loving, tender, maternal, feminine in every way. Her bracelets, with which she repels bullets and other murderous weapons, represent the Amazon Princess’ submission to Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty. Her magic lasso, which compels anyone bound by it to obey Wonder Woman and which was given to her by Aphrodite herself, represent’s woman’s love charm and allure by which she compels men and women to do her bidding.[iv]
And, that my friends, is the origin story of Wonder Woman. [Side note: Marston somehow still failed to see that none of those qualities (dominant/tender) are mutually exclusive. He just didn't get that memo.] Wonder Woman’s story line debuted in the #8 All Star Comics (December 1941 – January 1942) issue. She was even given an invisible plane to assist her on her many fantastic journeys. Throughout the years, (and especially after Marston’s death) her adventures, agenda, love interests and wardrobe have undergone many unique transformations. At one point, she even had an uber popular TV series in the 70s [I Heart you Linda Carter]. Filmmaker Kristy Geuvara-Falanagan’s Wonder Women! -The Untold Story of American Superheroines is a wonderfully fun and informative documentary that chronicles Wonder Woman’s unique history; her resurrection during the women’s movement of the 60s & 70s; and the ultimate tragic fate of other super heroines. Please watch it. You won’t regret it.
I’m sorry, I got excited. You see, the more I learn about Wonder Woman, the more I want to know and the more I feel the need to share her story. Lets get back to the whole point of this post. Starlets of Hollywood, we desperately need a Wonder Woman movie. Frankly, as much as I love the 100th incarnation of the Superman, Batman, Spider Man and Iron Man movies, I’m extremely worried about our young girls and boys. If boys know that they can be heroes, then girls need to learn that they can be too. [Side eye to Marvel comics. I see you.]
I’m not calling for a Marston style matriarchy where women rule men only with their feminine wiles. Though that would be intriguing, I’m a lesbian and ultimately am not interested. I’m also a feminist and deeply invested in gender equity. What I am interested in, however, is a film with an awesome plot, X-men awesome. An action packed, empowering film with a multi-racial and multi-ethnic cast of women represented as intelligent, physically powerful, resourceful, capable, strong, independent, complicated, vulnerable, flawed, compassionate and beautiful. You know, human.
I want the only gratuitous onscreen shots of pectorals, thighs, abs, and gluteal muscles to represent the extraordinary physical strength of these female protagonists. During the publicity tour, I want for the actresses starring in the film to be asked about their physical transformations and the amazing training that they received from Jeannette Jenkins. I want them to brag about their 300 style training; how hard they worked out, how difficult it was, and how much protein they had to include in their diets. I want them to boast about the amazing and powerful community they felt on set: how they all got along; their shared vision of the amazing things that happen when you portray women as full human beings; how they brought their sons, daughters, nieces and nephews to the set; and how amazing it felt to be inspired and in the presence of women from all over the world.
I want Paradise Island to portray a land where women of all races, ethnicities, abilities, ages and sizes are valued and contribute to their society in meaningful ways. I want for Linda Carter, Angela Davis, Rita Moreno, Michelle Yeoh, Gloria Steinem, Pam Grier, Sonia Braga, S. Epatha Merkerson, Betty White, Whoopi Goldberg and Jane Fonda – to serve as the elder council that advises and deliberates on the ultimate fate of Princess Diana. I want Lucy Lawless, Linda Hamilton, Sophie Okonedo, and Angela Bassett to be the physical trainers of the Paradise Island Amazon army.
I want them to scour the globe for Wonder Woman: the talented and newly discovered actress that will carry the franchise, and it will be a franchise. I want them to show scenes of this young Amazon training for battle with her comrades: Michele Rodriguez, Adepero Oduye, Emma Stone, Jessica Alba, Zhang Ziyi, Zoe Kravitz, Dakota Fanning, Selena Gomez, Blake Lively, Gabrielle Union, America Ferrera, Naya Rivera, Raven Simone, Emma Watson, Freida Pinto, Harmony Santana, Ellen Page, Camille Winbush, Aubrey Plaza, Keke Palmer, Jessica Biel, Melonie Diaz, Mya, Sarah Shahi, Dania Ramirez and Hayden Panettiere – all engaging in intense competition for the Wonder Woman title and chance to return Steve Trevor to the “Patriarch’s world.”
I want Wonder Woman to experience an amazing adventure that forces the audience to really consider and critique all of the oppressive ways in which women and men experience their lives within the patriarchy. I want her to Holla Back! at the fools who try to cat call at her on the street; teaching them a lesson they will not soon forget. I want her to come to the defense of a woman who is being abused by her partner and make them pay. I want for WW to inspire confidence in all of the women she interacts with throughout the film; and for all her enemies to be in awe of her, considering her a formidable opponent. I want it to be an action packed thriller of a film. During the epic and final battle when the audience is at the edge of their seats and believes that Wonder Woman is about to be finished, I want all the Amazons of her land to appear out of the sky to support their sister and wreck shit, because the evil dwellers messed with the wrong Amazon. I want little girls and women of all ages to come out of the movie theaters thinking, “I am Wonder Woman.” I want little boys to ask their parents to buy them Wonder Woman costumes for Halloween.
I want for Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Hillary Swank, Reese Witherspoon, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Susan Sarandon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sandra Bullock, Reneé Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Rachel Wiesz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Chastain, Diane Lane, Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Clair Danes, Diane Keaton, Drew Barrymore, Demi Moore, Annette Benning, Jodie Foster, Jennifer Anniston, Mila Kunis, Cameron Diaz, Michelle Williams, Katherine Heigl, Tina Fey, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Garner, Scarlett Johansson – and all the other established/prominent (lets us not forget white & privileged) Hollywood women who have been critically acclaimed for their talents; received numerous awards; and/or leads in commercially successful movies to step back and financially fund this project. Make sure that it is an empowering film. Please do not let the white man fuck it up.
Use that privilege and let other women shine.
I want Kerry Washington, Sofia Vergara, Gabourey Sidibe, Neha Dupia, Rosie Perez, Quevenzhané Wallis, Jennifer Lopez, Jaclyn Smith, Halley Berry, Eva Mendes, Amy Poehler, Viola Davis, Sara Ramirez, Sigourney Weaver, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Geena Davis, Sanaa Lathan, Lucy Lui, Sheetal Sheth, Aisha Tyler, Judy Reyes, Nia Long, Sandra Oh, Penelope Cruz, Melissa McCarthy, Zoey Deschanel, Taraji P. Henson, Miriam Colon, Hannah Simone, Queen Latifah, Rosario Dawson, Loretta Devine, Lauren Velez, Eva Longoria, Aishwarya Rai, and Amandla Stenberg to make cameo appearances as Amazons, goddesses (J. Lo you will always be my Aphrodite), political figures, lawyers, doctors, law enforcement, emergency responders, techies, surgeons, chief executive officers, journalists, reporters, scientists, teachers, engineers, illustrators, stay-at-home moms, professors, damsels in distress, cooks, painters and even villains.
I want M.I.A., Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Adele, Azalea Banks, Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Tina Turner, Janelle Monae, Nicki Minaj, Ani DiFranco, Jennifer Hudson, Peaches, Tracy Chapman, Jill Scott, Lady Gaga, and Janet Jackson and to put out a kickass soundtrack.
Shonda Rhimes, Gail Simone, and Jodi Picoult I need you to write the screenplay. Dee Rees and Kathryn Bigelow please team up and direct this. Salma Hayek, you made Frida happen, go on ahead and produce this one.
Please and thank you,