“Neglected amazons to rule men in 1000 years, says psychologist” the Washington Post read in 1935. In 2017, still some years away from the fulfilment of the prophecy, a misogynist rules the free world while Wonder Woman, iconic daughter of the mythical and god-like Amazons, finally stars in her own motion picture (directed by a woman, no less).
The DC comics character Wonder Woman was formed out of clay back in 1941 in the pages of All Star Comics, written by William Moulton Marston under the pseudonym Charles Moulton. Marston, a psychologist, was the creator of the systolic blood pressure test, which went on to became an important component of the modern polygraph, or lie detector test. This was thanks to his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston, who first brought up the link between her emotions and blood pressure to Marston, telling him that when she got “mad or excited, her blood pressure seemed to climb”.
Unlike Wonder Woman’s famous lasso of truth, the invention Marston contributed to remains of questionable utility. In fact, many things about Marston and his original Wonder Woman stories were controversial: although he considered women superior to men in many ways (for example, in terms of honesty and the speed/accuracy of their work), when the habit of people tying up or otherwise restraining each other raised a few eyebrows, he deflected, claiming that “women are exciting for this one reason – it is the secret of women’s allure – women enjoy submission”.
By this he meant the submission emotion, calling it a noble practice that women are more capable of, saying that “only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society”. Additionally, any eroticism inferred by readers about the bondage trope in Wonder Woman is justified too, as Marston felt that only by seeing it as something pleasurable would people understand the benefit of the submission emotion.