Wow. That wasn’t good. And it definitely isn’t written for women.
I was excited to read Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison because I’ve been wanting to get into Wonder Woman and I thought this reboot would be a great place to start. Unfortunately, this isn’t a great place for anyone to begin with Wonder Woman. This is male fantasy at its finest: a rape scene, fat shaming, using “like a girl” as an insult, and hot, big-chested lesbians in very little clothing who engage in light BDSM.
This begins with Hippolyta being draped in nearly nothing, on her knees, and in chains beneath a man cloaked in animal skins taunting her about how she will submit and be raped by him. I got the impression she had been raped already, or that other women had been raped, because this takes place in front of a cage where a bunch of women in very little clothing are confined. But we don’t actually see any rape because Hippolyta gets her magic girdle back, kills the man, releases the other women, and they kill all the other men who were holding them captive.
Because of how horribly they were treated by men, these women find some magical island that is removed from the world of men and they live there happily, with no men in sight. 3,000 years later is when we next see them and this is where the story really begins, with Hippolyta putting her daughter Diana on trial for going into the world of men to save a man that crashed on their island.
Throughout the rest of the story we see how Diana went into the world of men, beat up some people, met a Fat Amy lookalike (the Jar Jar of this story), and beats her mother at her own game so she can go into the world of men for no good reason.
That pretty much sums up the awfulness that is this story. I thought I’d find female empowerment here, but what we get instead is what some men think female empowerment means: that we all become lesbians, wear little clothing, engage in sexual acts all the time, put each other down, and drop our lovers when a good man comes around. I’m all for women wearing whatever clothing they’d like, lesbianism, and sex, but here it’s not authentic. It feels like it’s through the lens of teenage boy fantasy.
I would’ve loved to have actual depth behind Diana and her female lover, who she fights and belittles to help a man she doesn’t know and has been taught to despise her whole life. It really didn’t make any sense why she’d betray her lover so callously to help this man, especially when she’s been raised in an environment built on female power, that upholds womanhood, and praises women young and old, but teenage boy fantasies don’t get that deep. Here she’s just wearing little clothing because that’s what women should do, and she’s in love with another woman because teenage boys think lesbianism is sexy, but she’ll drop that woman as soon as a good man comes along, of course.
And in this teenage boy fantasy, a society of women that is all about female empowerment doesn’t include fat women, because these women engage in a lot of fat shaming when Diana meets her best bud, who is pretty much Fat Amy from “Pitch Perfect.” To save the life of the man who crashed on their island, Diana goes into the world of men and she meets a woman who has a name, but all I saw was Fat Amy because there’s no doubt that’s who she is. She looks like Rebel Wilson, talks like Fat Amy, is in a sorority, and at one point is singing on a bus. If I were Rebel Wilson I’d be demanding some money for them using my likeness because there’s no doubt that Fat Amy is now Diana’s best friend.
And as much as I love Rebel Wilson, this character is so out of place here. She’s overly happy, says idiotic things, plays the I’m-stupid-but-I’m-funny card, and at every turn is fat shamed by all the women, Diana included. Call me crazy, but in a society like this, why is there female fat shaming at all? Oh, yes, I forgot, this is from a teenage boy perspective of a utopian female society and fat women do not belong in that utopia. Duh.
And in this society all about womanhood, using “like a girl” as an insult would also totally be something they’d say. Women raised completely away from men would use “like a girl” as the ultimate insult because being “like a girl” is bad. Less than. Weak. Yep, I buy that, or at least I’m supposed to buy that in this teenage boy fantasy.
I’m just so disappointed in this. I was excited to read a Wonder Woman story and I was hoping to feel energized and powerful after I read this, but instead I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut. All the awful stereotypes of women are present and there is little to cheer for. As a woman who’s been trying to get into comics, I feel kicked over and over again with this bullshit. I’m sick of it. Maybe comics just aren’t for me.
I just went and asked my library’s comic book selector what might be better Wonder Woman options and he suggested ones written by Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka (specifically The Hiketeia), or maybe Gail Simone.
The problem isn’t comics, it’s men writing comics. As with anything written by dudes, you can never be sure what kind of misogynistic bullshit you’re going to get.
I second the recommendation of Gail Simone, and would throw in Kelly Sue DeConnick on Captain Marvel, G. Willow Wilson on Ms. Marvel, and anything by Marjorie Liu as recs.
Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll have to check out Gail Simone.
And I have read Ms. Marvel and loved it…at least the first volume. I didn’t like the second as much, but I’m willing to try the next one.
I’ve loved some other comics, like Saga, Sandman, Paper Girls, and Lumberjanes, but it seems like almost any superhero comic I try I get a bunch of crap like this Wonder Woman. Frustrating.
Oh, how disappointing. I’m reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman right now and it’s… well, the start of the whole thing was very much along the lines of “what some men think female empowerment means” — which, in the early 20th century, was pretty radical, but now I guess it isn’t surprising that this reboot doesn’t have anything new to say if it is just going to follow the same old formulas.