Planet Earth in Peril: Wonder Woman to the Rescue!

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If a super-hero can't help, how about a super-heroine like Wonder Woman?

A few years back, when the glaciers and the economy started melting (and way before the oil spoil), I began searching the skies for a Super Hero who could save the world. No such luck. The World is the same sad-sack it was yesterday and the day before and even the day before that. Then, one day, BOOM! I had an epiphany.  I realized the reason I couldn't find him is because he's a she. Him's a Her. I'd been looking for Super Hero rescuers in all the wrong places, or should I say gender. Who else but a woman has the inherent nurturing, strength and intuition it takes to heal a planet in peril? Who else but a woman knows intuitively what is wrong and how to fix it? There's a reason we call where we live, Mother Earth. And then, there's Wonder Woman. I might have forgotten about Wonder Woman (ever since Lynda Carter retired in the late 1970s), if it weren't for visit to the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles last year. There I checked out an amazing, Super Hero comic book exhibit, displaying original art and scripts from the most famous comic books of the late 1930s-50s. There they were: Batman, Superman, The Green Lantern, The Spirit and more - Drawings and hand-painted art work, pristine comic books, (originally $.10 each), video interviews of the artists and writers and even TV selections from old Superman shows. Truly a seventh heaven exhibit for those who love their vintage comics, and can't find an original. Each day, the originals become more rare and more valuable. (One 1st edition Superman comic recently sold for $317,000-plus at auction). Less enamored and well-heeled than some fans, I went to the Skirball exhibit to see the art (I am a cartoonist) - or so I thought, until I reached the tiny display reserved for Wonder Woman. There, not nearly front and center like The Green Hornet and Batman, I found her in a  case-  the original first Wonder Woman comic book and a brief bio about her creation.  It was the biography of her creator that knocked me out! The story of her birth was at least as interesting as the character, herself. The Epiphany struck. I had found the Hero(ine) who could save the world. Wonder Woman was created in 1940 by Dr. William Moulton Marston, whose scientific research led to the creation of the polygraph (lie detector). According to the exhibit, “Marston’s research on the lie-detector idea convinced him that women were more honest and reliable than men and could work faster and more accurately. Heavily influenced by both his wife and the girlfriend, who lived with them, Marston, who also wrote non-fiction books about psychology,  created a Super Heroine, first named Suprema.  Some references point to Marston's wife, Elizabeth, (a liberated woman, if ever there was one)  and his girlfriend, Olive (likewise), as the true creators of this first female Super Hero. Whatever the true story,  Marston (who wrote for DC under the name, Charles Marston) stepped way outside the comic book box when he pitched  and launched his female Super Hero. This bold, outrageous idea seemed to follow naturally from his lifestyle.  As a psychologist/lawyer/ comic book writer, living in an unusual " polygamous/poly-amorous relationship", Marston had no problem viewing women as powerful.  (Marston had two children each by Elizabeth and Olive). Marston and DC comics introduced Wonder Woman in December, 1941 in All Star Comics #8.  Of course, she was larger than life, literally and figuratively: an Amazon, who was not afraid to tackle the bad guys. Living in the real world as Diana Prince, Wonder Woman's Super Powers included speed, strength, stamina and flight.   Far ahead of his  time, Marston, the visionary,  also gave Wonder Woman the ability to communicate with animals (pre-dating all the contemporary animal whisperers) and the courage and skill to fight hand-to-hand. Her weapons included typical, but souped-up feminine accessories: special power bracelets, a gold tiara (serving as both a dagger and a boomerang) and a Lasso of Truth, preventing liars from fibbing (something akin to Marston's lie-detector, one would think). In describing his heroine,  Marston wrote, "Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe rule the world." Later, Marston explained Wonder Woman represented a new female ideal; a woman "with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman." Marston sagely made sure Wonder Woman's powers derived from both her brain and brawn;  from her superior mind to her athletic muscles and limbs. After his death in the late 1940s, Wonder Woman's powers were further enhanced by a number of other writers and artists. Her newer powers included super breath, ventriloquism, and mental telepathy (which, as far I am concerned, does work wonders). Wonder Woman's story-lines continued well into the 1960s and 1970s, and beyond. A very early feminist icon, Wonder Woman did not mind being one of the boys (she hung out with Superman and Batman as one the "Trinity" of DC characters), so long as she could right wrongs, compel the truth and restore the natural order of peace, love and equality. She was separate, but equal. And the Big Boys didn't seem to mind. During the last three decades, Wonder Woman, and her feminine brand of power, fell out of favor, or so it seems to me.  In the 1980-'90s, the Masters of the Universe (almost exclusively male) concentrated their version of super powers on making the stock market rise and their boats float. Women somewhat abruptly stopped campaigning for equal power and equal rights. The days of demands for strident Equal Rights were over: not with a bang, but a whimper.  Except for a few TV shows here and there (The Bionic Woman, Alias, for two), women heroic female cultural icons took a back-seat to the pretty women who could bring criminals to justice through detective work (hard science).As usual, in these formula shows, women are always working with men, alongside them, and often as their assistants. Few are the women in leading power roles in TV (The Medium,The Closer are two exceptions). The entertainment industry knows this. "Going back to 'Police Woman' in 1974, it's been far more accepted for a woman to carry a show than it was for a woman to carry a movie," says DC Comics senior vp Gregory Noveck. But along with the rest of the sea changes we are experiencing, expect to see more women in power in the future (on and off the screen), as they step up at the helm to offer their solutions to the World's problems. Lately I've seen a number of reports and new research showing the influence and heroism exhibited by the right women in the right place at the right time. Take the lone sound financial institution left in largely bankrupt Iceland. It is owned and operated by women. Take the no-nonsense leaders of Germany and New Zealand (for two), our Secretary of State (the indefatigable Hilary Clinton), and the growing number of female CEOs at top American companies, including Pepsi, Kraft, Sara Lee. These women, in power positions, are fearless when it comes to speaking their minds and exerting their leadership.  Research shows women generally make decisions based on what's best for the company (or the Country) not how much money they can make on the deal.  One TV reporter ventured a guess the Economy might have done better (less worse) if more women had been on the floor of the stock exchange during the past several years to temper the raging male hormones (I didn't make this up; there's scientific research that backs this up). I raised my children to be gender-blind, and it seems to have worked for me and many others, because it's the 20s-something Y generation is now opening the windows and the doors to more and more  women. Many in this younger generation don't like the word "feminism" so they have created their own term, "Bellism" and major goals to promote beauty as both internal and external, and only one aspect of a woman's power. To see what these new goals are, check out the gutsy, new website, I Am That Girl. For now, let's follow the progress and examples set by contemporary, true-life heroines who are making an impact on the world.  Among them - Jane Goodall, Oprah Winfrey, Christiane Amanpour, Cindy Sherman, Angelina Jolie, and so many more.  Those named and those not mentioned are blazing the trail for other women (and men) to follow. Their abilities are clearly feminine in origin; to protect the vulnerable, to shed light on the truth, to educate the uneducated, to save endangered species, including animals and rain-forests, to provide for starving refugees, to put the U.S. back at the forefront of all that is right and good, for starters. Their bravery, dedication and discipline does not go unnoticed; they are the Wonder Women William Moulton Marston so believed in. "I have seen strange things and they color the mind..." Gertrude Bell,an authority on the Middle East, particularly Iraq, in the early 1900s. With special thanks to the song, "Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places" (Waylon Jennings), to the Skirball Museum, Los Angeles, and its comic book exhibit, Lynda Carter, and "Gertrude of Arabia" Bell. For more information on females who changed the world, visit the book, Cool Women, edited by Pam Nelson. Also, check out the newly revamped Wonder Woman, announced recently.

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Sy Kravitz
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Posted on May 24, 2009
Robert Morgan
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Posted on May 23, 2009
Sy Kravitz
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Posted on Apr 23, 2009

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Sy Kravitz

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