Wonder Woman & Slut Shaming

Wonder Woman was created in 1941, at the height of World War II. Since that time, she has become the most famous, indeed, the most iconic heroine ever created. And, unlike many other heroines that have been written since, she is not seen as a hyper-sexualized entity. Rather, she defies the idea that a woman must be dainty and covered to be considered virtuous. She is a warrior woman, an Amazon. And, she’s smart. She is who every other female character is compared to, and nearly all fall short. It’s why we love her because of what she stands for, and why we slut shame anyone who emulates her.

Slut shaming is a phrase that I recently came across as I was scrolling through my Tumblr feed. I found this article written by Geeky Goth Girl, and I got curious about the backlash and responses (found on twitter and otherwise). In that search is where I found the phrase, but I was also happy to note that Gail Simone weighed in against both the offender and his enabler. In its simplest definition, “slut shaming” is the brand of sexism found in the geek community, heavily perpetuated by men, but is not exclusive to them. Women are offenders, too, and I’m going to continue on with the female hypocrisy in a bit, but I want to get on with my discovery of said bigotry first.

It’s short term goal is to expose “fake geek girls,” these are girls who supposedly know nothing of the source material or the fandom, but dress as particular characters in the most promiscuous matter possible. I’ve always called these types (male or female) posers. But, who am I to judge? So, I try not to. The long term goal of slut shaming is to keep women out of the geek community. Slut shaming is not just against the “pretty girls,” but is used against every female who shows interest in a fandom.

Editorial comic by the artist who runs thumbcramps.tumblr.com.

The above comic is geared at how messed up the comic book industry is in regard to its female characters and fans. Though, I don’t necessarily agree with using Wonder Woman in conjunction with this particular argument (women against the companies), Wonder Woman is the most recognizable and beloved, as I state in my introduction. Actually, said conjunction is where the argument is almost derailed for me because no one slut shames Wonder Woman, not even the artists and writers of her comics. Check it:

So, slut shaming, as I’ve discovered, is a special subcategory of sexism. Interestingly, I believe it’s a way that the self-proclaimed bullied– the geeks and nerds who remember oh-so-well the physical and psychological tormenting they (felt they) endured in their adolescent+ years– turn around marginalize a segment of their group. It’s also why you don’t see many geeks/nerds of different races. Slut shaming is also something I noticed in Wonder Woman; rather, I noticed a variation of it.

Spoilers below.

In the New 52 iteration of Wonder Woman, the hypocrisy dealt between women is seen especially in Hera, the Queen of the Gods. She hunts down and kills, or attempts to kill, the women who have had sexual relations with her husband Zeus, and the children these women have with him. That’s how Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Blood opens: a girl is attacked by assassins from Hera, then rescued by Hermes, then rescued some more by Wonder Woman or Diana. This girl was impregnated by Zeus, hence all the trouble. This storyline acts as a nice anchor for everything that stems from it, as it is what we start with, what we end with, and provides the background for what Hera does to Diana’s mother, Hippolyta.

See, turns out, Diana wasn’t made from mud by her mother and then endowed with life from the Gods. That was a cover story that held up during all the years of Wonder Woman as a figure. Then, as happened often in the New 52, her origin is dashed when we discover that Princess Diana is actually the child of Hippolyta and Zeus. Dude.

So, Hera finds out, because of course she does. But, she can’t kill Diana because Diana is too damn powerful. So, she goes and sees Hippolyta and turns her (and all the other Amazons) into snakes. Kind of a reverse Medusa. Now, real quick, Hippolyta allows this to happen because she is loyal to Hera, because Hera is the goddess of women. That’s where this particular brand of slut shaming comes in and how so many women, in real life, are guilty of it. It’s not women holding other women to higher standards, it’s as bat-crap crazy as why men slut shame. It’s territorial, it’s envy, it’s primal. Also, it’s stupid.

Women don’t hold a loyalty to one another the way men hold loyalty to other men. That’s a problem. As I read the comic, I had to ask, “Why does she (Hera) seek vengeance against the women?” The women are not complacent in their relationship to Zeus, as seen in mythology and in this book, Zeus takes on the form of another creature or person. The women are actually a victim, really, because they don’t know who their partner is. Except Hippolyta, she totally knew it was him. Now, when Hera turned all the Amazons into snakes, or right before it, she wasn’t happy about it, or even angry at Hippolyta. The dialogue goes like this (I kept the caps, to be true to the source. I’m not screaming at you.):

Hippolyta: QUEEN HERA…MY GODDESS…FORGIVE ME.

Hera: QUEEN HIPPOLYTA…I WISH I COULD.

Then we find out a few pages that, boom, everyone is snakes and Hera went back to Olympus. The portrayal of Hera as though she were acting on some kind of orders or code is interesting. It’s reflective of how many women seem to be compelled to act against other women. We see this often in rape cases. A girl is raped at a party and is then categorized as a whore. We saw this particularly in Canada and in the recent Steubenville scandal. If you read through those links, or if you know already, Anonymous offered an ultimatum in Canada and CNN has lost so much credibility due to inaction and/or blaming the victim.

Here’s why I like Wonder Woman: you can’t slut shame her. Who she is and how she is won’t allow it. She is also a crusader against it. In the articles I provided throughout this post are more people who recognize how messed up and hypocritical slut shaming is. People who were bullied should be against bullying. Women should be the first defenders of women. Why increase the instability of an already fragile subculture? Each individual, male and female, needs to be a part of the change, and drag the comic book industry and geek culture into it.

BT-dub, Medusa got a really messed up deal, too, but at the hands of Poseidon and Athena. And, here I thought she was cool.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Angel says:

    Thank you so much for putting forth the effort to write this article, you really made me reconsider what I say, how I say it and to whom. Really amazing job.

    Like

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