Blog Post

Wonder Woman . . . and Planned Parenthood?

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

There’s nothing that Planned Parenthood would like more than to jump on the Wonder Woman bandwagon, but this production is hardly the epitome of the old-school feminism that inspired the story nearly 75 years ago.

According to various news outlets, a cinema chain known as Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which has 16 theaters in Texas and 10 other locations across the country, hosted women-only screenings of Wonder Woman where everyone in the venue – including staff and projectionists – are women.

It was a great marketing gimmick, especially when it kicked off a controversy accusing the company of discriminating against men, negative criticism which only served to draw more attention to the screenings which were quickly sold out. At the very end of an article about the screening wars that appeared on Jezebel, the writer mentioned that proceeds from the screenings were going to Planned Parenthood.

It was hard not to notice that this information was posted at the very end of a story promoting the vitriolic I-hate-all-men feminism of the 1960s that was thankfully pronounced dead before many of us were even born. Frankly, it made me wonder if the mention of Planned Parenthood was buried in the article because the nation’s largest abortion provider is becoming radioactive even to their own fan base.

Perhaps, but those of us who don’t ascribe to feminism based on hate, or want to contribute to a company whose main source of income comes from the wholesale slaughter of innocent human life, can simply skip Alamo Drafthouse screenings. After all, just about every theater on the planet is showing this blockbuster film right now, so who needs them?

Another interesting connection between Wonder Woman and Planned Parenthood is also getting short shrift in the news these days. According to a book entitled, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, the man responsible for creating the story of Wonder Woman in the 1940’s, William Moulton Marston, was having an affair with the niece of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and was apparently fascinated with both Sanger and the suffragist movement of his time.

Like Sanger, Marston was also of the anything-goes crowd when it came to human sexuality. He believed all fantasies are harmless unless someone is getting hurt. This could explain why he was involved in a menage a trois with his wife Sadie Elizabeth Holloway and Olive Byrne, who was Margaret Sanger’s niece. Byrne was the daughter of Sanger’s sister, Ethel Byrne, who helped to found what would become Planned Parenthood.

Even the ultra-liberal New York Times referred to Marston as a “vaguely creepy” guy who was “a Harvard graduate, a feminist and a psychologist who invented the lie detector test. He was also a huckster, a polyamorist (one and sometimes two other women lived with him and his wife), a serial liar and a bondage super-enthusiast.”

He was also a comic book writer. And one day he decided that the comic strips of the day were dominated by violent male characters. Why not create a new kind of superpower who would conquer with love rather than violence.

He bounced the idea off his wife, Elizabeth, who said, “Fine, but make her a woman.”

This is how Wonder Woman was born.

Although some like to say he modeled Wonder Woman on Margaret Sanger, a self-professed eugenicist who practically abandoned her own children, we can hardly say she was a woman who conquered by love.

And considering this history, how delightfully ironic it is to note that the woman chosen by Warner Brothers to play Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, recently posted a meme on her Instagram account that reads, “I grow humans. What’s your superpower?”

Not exactly Sangeresque.

Nor is her description of the character that Marston created nearly 75 years ago. “She has so many strengths and powers, but at the end of the day she's a woman with a lot of emotional intelligence. She's loving,” Gadot said.

In other words, the strength of Wonder Woman is her authentic femininity.

" . . .[I]t's all her heart—that's her strength. I think women are amazing for being able to show what they feel. I admire women who do. I think it's a mistake when women cover their emotions to look tough. I say let's own who we are and use it as a strength.”

Regardless of what kind of woman Marston was trying to portray in Wonder Woman, Gadot is much closer to John Paul II’s New Feminism, which calls upon women to reject the temptation of imitating models of “male domination” by stifling their femininity, than to anyone Margaret Sanger could identify with.

I think it's obvious who won this battle for the feminist crown.

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