Hello and welcome to another edition of the BBRBF Book Club! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review and the reason is because I couldn’t quite bring myself to write about our last book; in fact, it was a struggle to even finish the book. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, it just hit too close to home in regards to medical conditions.
Fortunately, this month’s book focuses on one of my favorite comic book characters: Wonder Woman. Here is the plot summary of The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore:
A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman is a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history. Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights—a chain of events that begins with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later.
If there’s one thing that I can say I’m without a doubt passionate about, it’s women’s rights, so when I saw the opportunity to read about one of the most historically powerful, albeit fictional, women I was overjoyed. Wonder Woman was inspired by several influential figures throughout the women’s suffrage movement, including Sadie Holloway and Margaret Sanger, a famous birth control activist.
Interestingly enough, the creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, was a bit of a misogynist despite being a committed feminist (weird, I know). He simultaneously lived and fathered children with two women, while participating in “cult of female sexual power” sex parties that were organized by his aunt. Perhaps misogynist isn’t the correct word, because his wife and lovers all willing participated in these sorts of events, instead let’s just emphasize the fact that he believed in “free love” outside of the restrictions of marriage (as did his wife, Sadie Holloway).
Marston’s exposure to suffragist culture led him to depict Wonder Woman as bound by chains in many editions of the comic; this being a common theme throughout suffragist imagery and publications. His goal was to make her the heroine of a new age in which women ruled. He, in fact, believed that the day would come when women would lead, as opposed to men (I, myself, wouldn’t mind seeing this some day).
After Marston’s death, at the young age of 54, his publishers ignored his original intent of keeping her as a “Progressive Era feminist” and began depicting Wonder Woman as a traditional housewife. Having been turned over to a new writer, she would be characterized as a babysitter or even a fashion model.
Despite these later depictions of her after Marston’s death, Wonder Woman has remained the greatest female superhero of all time. She’s extremely strong and agile, beautiful, cunning and intelligent and a symbol of empowerment to women everywhere. I highly recommend reading this book, as it goes into much further detail as to the people and events that inspired her. As for me, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the new Wonder Woman film coming out this summer.
And, as always, don’t forget to check out all of the other fabulous book clubbers’ opinions and inspired outfits: Sara (In a Nutshell), Kat (The Miss Information Blog), Kristina (The Eyre Effect), Noelle (The Classy Junk), Laci (Laci Fay), and Justyna (Hazel & Honey)!
Next month we will be reviewing Caraval by Stephanie Garber, so stick around!