15 Years Without A Man:
Is Wonder Woman Gay?
Paradise Island? Or Isle of Lesbos?
by Michael Hutchison
When George Perez revamped Wonder Woman in 1996, he didn't set up Steve Trevor as Wonder Woman's love interest. In fact, Steve Trevor got married and departed from the title altogether. Since then, Diana's only love interests have been the "it'll never happen" glances at Aquaman and Superman. Diana's own book, Wonder Woman, overflows with female characters. Thus, it's to be expected that the buzz starts. Is there a reason she's not seriously dated anyone? How can she not have some suitors? She's from an island of women, where lesbian relations have become normalized. Is Wonder Woman a lesbian?
Er not that there's anything wrong with that.
The Oddest Love Life In The World
Well, let's not pretend that Wonder Woman was having a healthy love life when Steve Trevor was in the picture. Pre-Crisis, Steve Trevor and Lois Lane were two sides of the same coin: love interests who appeared in decades of stories without ever having a "dinner and a movie, flowers and candy" relationship with the hero or much of anyone else. To maintain the status quo, there was no actual relationship just a lovestruck normal human who wanted the superhero while ignoring the hero's secret identity as a romantic option.
In the last issue of Wonder Woman (before cancelation, revamp and the relaunching of a new Wonder Woman #1), Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman/Diana/Diana Prince were finally married and went on their honeymoon. This Crisis tie-in served as a bit of a consolation to the fans who would see Wonder Woman killed (wiped from history, actually) by the Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12. That's right, it takes a pre-written death to bring the relationship to fruition. "Maybe she does die, but at least she and Steve finally get to have sex after 45+ years!" it seemed to say to all the fans. Never mind that the marriage seems like quite a jump, based on the total lack of a real relationship between them up until that issue.
Added to this bizarre relationship are Wonder Woman's other suitors. Mer-men. Bird-men. Amoeba-men. Space gorillas. Mythological monsters. Not one healthy, red-blooded male human in the bunch.
This just kills me. The woman looks like a supermodel who eats good portions and exercises properly, and she dresses in an impossibly scanty bustier and hot pants and she has no decent offers from nice men? Yes, I realize that she'd also have a ton of slobbering jerks approaching her, but there will be some winners among them and she's capable of getting them. That's Darwin's theory at work, and it happens in our looks-oriented society all the time. A fantastic-bodied, friendly woman with a great personality is not going to be alone for long except in the comic books, where we never saw guys on the street approaching Wonder Woman for dates.
I'll go a step further: even Diana Prince was hot! I realize that the intention was for her to look mousy and bookish (and to insultingly promote the idea that being prim and smart is not attractive), but it just doesn't work. She's six feet tall and dressed in a tight military uniform that includes a short skirt showing off her legs! And the glasses and bun hairdo are supposed to be a disguise?
I'm going to let you women in on a not-so-secret secret. There isn't a healthy, heterosexual single man alive who, upon meeting a prospective female in glasses and a bun hairstyle, doesn't mentally picture her with the glasses off and the hair flying free (perhaps even spread out on a pillow, depending on the vividness of the fantasy). Men usually do this kind of fantasy in a brief second after meeting a woman. I realize Steve Trevor is smitten with Wonder Woman, the "angel" who saved him but in overlooking Diana Prince, he has to be a really special kind of stupid. We're expected to believe that the guy hasn't had millions of sexual fantasies about his sexy co-worker. Sorry, I don't buy it. Steve would have to be gay AND mentally challenged AND chemically castrated AND committed to lifelong celibacy and even then, he'd be a little odd.
Of course, it's no more effective than slapping a pair of glasses and a slick hairstyle on Mr. Universe, calling him Clark Kent and thinking he would be such a dweeb that women wouldn't be lining up around the block for a crack at him. Looks, schmooks Clark Kent's a Pulitzer-winning writer with a nice apartment and a good income in a big city, he's a polite gentleman from a happily-married farming family, and he's got all his hair. Cripes, pre-Crisis he was handsome enough to be a news anchor! In real life a guy like this couldn't walk a block without getting phone numbers slipped into his pocket. And this is supposed to be Superman's bland side? But back to Wonder Woman
But if Wonder Woman was lacking in good partners before she was rebooted, she's been in even worse straits since George Perez relaunched Wonder Woman in 1987. Before, at least she had the horny-as-a-dead-fish Steve Trevor and numerous opportunities to engage in semi-bestiality.
Now, Steve Trevor is portrayed as about 45, a navy officer at the tail end of his career who is dissatisfied with his fellow soldiers and the military leadership. (I don't know Perez's personal politics too well, but the Wonder Woman title certainly had enough of an anti-military, pacifistic tilt. Of course, Reagan was in office then, and it was popular to make the military the bad guy. Witness "Dark Knight Returns" and numerous other works of the same period.) Over the course of the first two years of the book, Steve leaves the military, marries the newly-svelte Etta Candy (whom he didn't consider as a mate when she was overweight what IS it with this guy?) and disappears from the book.
Since then, Diana's romantic linkings have been limited to a few inter-superhero possibilities that couldn't possibly happen (Superman and Aquaman). The only dates she's had were simply accepted terms with a couple of villains (in the 1992 Wonder Woman Annual and in Legends of the DCU). What's remarkable about all of these instances is that they don't occur within the ongoing Wonder Woman title itself.
Within her own ongoing book, Wonder Woman has been romance-less. No men are even mentioned as possibilities. Policeman Mike Schorr was introduced by John Byrne as a supporting cast member, but as time went by it became clear nothing was going to happen there. She hangs around with gal-pals and talks about ancient history and pacifistic philosophy and such. (Because, you know, women never talk about trivial things like their love lives when they're in a group. Women love to talk politics and history. Uh-huh.)
The only men who've actively pursued Wonder Woman as a love interest are Zeus and Hermes, who aren't mortal but can be counted as men for our purposes. And in both cases, Diana has refused.
A Commitment To Mediocrity
All right, all right. So Wonder Woman has been around for almost 60 years as a comic book character and, in all that time, has been denied a simple, normal boyfriend. Not once has she been walking down the beach arm-in-arm with a guy, gazing into his eyes, talking about future possibilities, making dates for the coming weekend, privately pondering whether he'd be a good father the sort of everyday dating that is experienced by most other women in the world. It doesn't necessarily mean she's a homosexual, just that she's badly written. Or, more to the point, denied from being written properly.
Unfortunately, being the female vanguard of the DC Comics publishing line carries a lot of sexual-political baggage that other characters don't have. Like outstanding females in many other prominent roles in our society, Wonder Woman can't just behave like a normal person: she has to represent women as a whole. Given that women as a whole are no more unified than men are as a whole, it is an impossible role. While Batman and Superman have some limitations as characters (i.e. no mention of their religion or politics), in the case of Wonder Woman the rules are quite binding and restrictive. (Oh, that reminds me: no bondage portrayals, either.)
Wonder Woman can't ever talk about wanting a man or it would offend the hard-left feminists who insist you don't need a man to be complete. She can't be afraid of anything, or need saving by a man, or rely on a man for emotional support. Wonder Woman can't cry ever, even in situations where men would be crying or it makes her "weak". Wonder Woman can't ever contemplate having a baby for fear of "Oh, so women are just baby-making machines, eh?" responses. And if Wonder Woman eschews a normal home life in order to maintain her role as an Amazonian representative, advocating women's issues and pacificism, the book can't get too controversial for fear of jeopardizing her commercial value. (Why do you think DC only allows second-tier characters like Green Arrow to get political? It's because DC Comics would still continue publication if Green Arrow had to be jettisoned.)
All of these considerations must be weighed when writing Wonder Woman. It matters not that the number of National Organization of Women members buying Wonder Woman can't be much higher than zero. Wonder Woman is, was and shall always be a mediocre book that's only read by hardcore fans, 13-year-old-girls and T&A afficianadoes. BUT if Wonder Woman was ever allowed to develop as a person in a way that displeased feminists, there would be an outcry in the media before you could say, "I'm Barbie and math class is tough!"
The effect of such a "scandal" would probably be good for Wonder Woman as a book. As I said, you can't boycott something you weren't buying anyway. The current fans are not going to drop it just because of some group that was offended by it. And many people, upon hearing that the Wonder Woman comic book is being decried for doing something controversial, would (A) express surprise that there is a Wonder Woman comic book being published and (B) possibly pick up an issue out of curiosity the next time they're at the grocery store or book store, assuming it was possible to find comic books there. However, Warner Brothers would balk at having their marketable character's reputation sullied by the outraged groups, even while DC Comics' response was "bad publicity is better than no publicity."
This is all wild speculation, of course. DC Comics will never do anything interesting with the character because of the aforementioned limitations. That's why the Wonder Woman title long ago devolved into a humorless mythological adventure series where every third character wears a toga.
But What About This Whole Gay Thing?
While there isn't much "meat" to it, any character who isn't actively heterosexual and has a number of same-sex friends is likely to be whispered about. It's not fair, no, but that's the way it is. In the old days, it was heterosexuals hoping to give someone a bad reputation doing the whispering. Today, it's homosexual activists hoping to create a "we're everywhere" atmosphere who have started outing any remotely likely candidate.
In both cases, it's an unfair practice, and the proponents use flimsy and stereotypical logic to reach the conclusion. The stigma has injured numerous real and fictional characters, including Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Tinky-Winky the Teletubby and the two guys driving a Volkswagen who pick up a smelly chair in that "dah-dah-dah" TV ad.
It all goes to reinforce some horrid stereotypes. Unless you're sharing a bed with someone of the opposite sex at all times and make sure that everyone knows about it, you're probably gay. If you're a clean-cut, soft-spoken man or a macho woman, you're probably gay. If you wear pink or purple, have triangle symbols or carry an item that could be considered a purse, you're probably gay. If you have friends of the same gender, you're probably gay. (What is truly odd is to see homosexual activist groups using this "logic" to out people when they should be trying to eradicate such stereotypes. It was homosexual activists who first called Tinky-Winky "the gay Teletubby", after all.)
In the past, allusions that a character may be homosexual used to be the kiss of death. Today, however, it has become a selling point, particularly for female characters. Witness the strong homosexual following for "Xena, Warrior Princess" simply because the two main characters are butch females. The fact that the characters have had male lovers in the past does not diminish the speculation.
Of late, Wonder Woman has engendered the same speculation.
Still Crazy After 3,000 Years
More weight was given to this theory when Queen Hippolyte admitted to an outsider that the Amazons had various ways of handling their natural desires: some were abstinant, some practiced self-gratification, and some took pleasure in each other. "3,000 years is a long time!" Hippolyte observed.
And there it was, in plain English, after all these years. Yes, some of the Amazons are lesbians or, more properly, engage in lesbian acts because it is the only possibility in their culture.
If we're going to talk about Diana's orientation as dictated to by her society, we need to examine that society.
The Amazons were created by the Greek Goddesses out of the souls of women killed by men. In other words, they were born with a mighty big chip on their shoulder. They began their own city-state in Greece, but Heracles and his army arrived seeking Hippolyte's girdle. After seducing Hippolyte and the Amazons, the army struck and took them captive. Raped and enslaved, the Amazons finally rebelled and escaped. Half of the Amazons decided to stay in Man's World and make their own course, while the rest of the Amazons felt they'd never receive any proper treatment and respect in Man's World and decided to withdraw to a fantasy land where the gods would watch over them and protect them from everything. (Oddly enough, it's the Amazons who thought they could make it in the patriarchal society who are considered the extreme militant faction!)
Walking across the bottom of the ocean between parted waters, the Amazons arrived at Paradise Island. There, the days are always sunny and beautiful, and yet the plants and crops seem to grow without any rainfall. The island isn't battered by storms or subjected to drought. And this tiny island has ample marble for buildings and statues and a stadium, and ample metals for armor and dishes and weapons, yet the Amazons don't appear to have a rock quarry or a mine. The only cost of living in this paradise forever was to guard Doom's Doorway, a gateway that held monsters.
The Amazons arrived at Paradise Island and then, over the course of 3,000 years, didn't do a damn thing!
Now, I've got to say something here. I do believe that men and women are different by nature, and both genders have their good and bad points. I do believe that men are more naturally inventive than women. Women worked in the kitchen for most of history but as soon as men started making meals, they began inventing slicers and processors and toasters and other labor-saving devices. I realize it's partly due to the better education and engineering training men had, but I'm thinking it has more to do with men being lazier. Give a man a chore and he'll start designing a way to make it easier to do so he can sit in a recliner again.
Even so, I have a hard time believing that so many women could live on an island for 3,000 years and not create some inventions!
"But Michael the Amazons don't have need for any inventions. They get along just fine without 'modern' conveniences!" you might object. To some extent, that's true. There's little need for medicine, since they don't get sick or die. There's nowhere to drive or fly, so who needs motors? And there are no rainstorms to fly kites in.
But how many centuries do you have to spend carrying water buckets before you try to create a water system? How many centuries of being the cook for hundreds of Amazons could you go without creating some kitchen appliances? How can the Amazons not have invented pens, or good shoes, or some vehicles for moving all that heavy marble, or some battery-powered oblong devices? (If necessity is the mother of invention, they should have fully-functional male androids by now!) And how likely is it that a few thousand women would wear the same style of clothing for centuries?
When Steve Trevor's mother, Diana Trevor, crash-landed on Paradise Island, she only lived a couple of minutes. She helped the guards to close Doom's Doorway and injured one of the monsters with her gun, a device unknown to the Amazons. Here are the Amazons warriors, hunters and guards and they haven't developed any new weapons in 3,000 years.
Pre-Crisis, the Amazons had created so much technology that they were ahead of us ordinary humans in many ways. They had "purple ray" healing devices and the like. Even so, they lived like ancient Greeks; it's just that their temples had light switches.
Post-Crisis, it's just embarrassing. I think it's insulting, really. These women don't even have any concept of flight, or electricity, or explosives, or basic scientific and technological principles. Consider how much humanity has advanced in 3,000 years and that's with a couple of dark ages in there! Then add in the Amazon's advantage that they don't have to teach new generations, they just have to learn something themselves. Given such advantages, the Amazons should be way ahead of us technologically.
So, do you know what the Amazons are good at, after 3,000 years? Beauty techniques! That's right, in the JLA 80 Page Giant #2 story "Madmen and Mudbaths", Diana introduces her fellow JLA members Huntress and Big Barda to the relaxing day spa that is Paradise Island. On top of this sexist, idiotic, insulting portrayal of the Amazons, we're supposed to believe that the Amazons even give a rat's butt about the way they look. I thought women only tried to look good because a male chauvinistic society expected them to? I thought women, if left to their own devices, would eat all they want and let their body hair grow wild and free. (The Amazons sprouted from the water already looking like supermodels, and they aren't subject to any other ravages of time, so I wonder why they need beauty treatments?)
What Does This Have To Do
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This piece is © 2000 by Michael Hutchison.
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