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Wonder Woman, Sex and Comic Book Double Standards (Editorial)

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Wonder Woman and Sex. It’s always Wonder Woman and sex, isn’t it?

A few weeks back on FanBros, we discussed the news that Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette had teamed up to work on Wonder Woman: Earth One. While we were in awe of the stunning sample art that had been released, we were also troubled to hear that Diana would be “getting her va-voom back.” At the time, I took issue with the fact that writers all too often get tripped up on sex appeal and forget that Wonder Woman is a warrior. Although I am a huge fan of Morrison’s work (his Batman run from 2009-2010 is EVERYTHING), I worried that once again we were going to get a watered down story that focused more on Diana’s bust than her brain.

But yesterday, Yanick Paquette gave a brilliant and insightful interview with Dork Shelf, where he set the record straight about some of the things we can expect in Wonder Woman: Earth One and also the double standards that women in comics face when it comes to sex.

For starters, Paquette is aware of the fine line between a female character being sexy and being exploited:

“I’m going to [draw] it as sensual as I can, but there’s always the potential trap of ‘Am I just listening to my animalistic voice that would push me to exploit the female form to the detriment of what we’re trying to say?’ I’m aware of all that, and I’m guessing on the writing level, it’s the same. With any other writer, I would feel unsure but not with Grant.”

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There will be bondage! Paquette confirmed that he and Morrison would be bringing back the bondage theme that was popular in Wonder Woman comics during the 1940’s. However, he stated that Morrison was looking for a way to not only modernize it, but to use the bondage theme as a form of female empowerment. Paquette acknowledged that Wonder Woman has become more than just a beloved character, she is a symbol for feminism. By bringing in sex and, yes, bondage, it reasserts the idea that it is okay for women to have a healthy sexual appetite.

Paquette elaborated more on this by pointing out the blatant double standards in comics when it comes to sex:

“It seems women aren’t allowed their rightful sexual empowerment beyond the moral comfort of the asexual angel/Madonna/mother role. An openly professed sexual appetite would have you classified as, well, a slut or something. I think it’s unfair. Just imagine the reverse scenario with Iron Man. He’s going out with all these women — every night it’s a new babe, a top model. She’s waking up [thinking] ‘Oh what a crazy night!’ but he’s already gone, doing some superheroing. Everybody’s happy with this and no mother thinks twice before buying Iron Man toys for their kids. Guys wish they could be Iron Man. But what if Wonder Woman would have a new boy toy every night for her own enjoyment? She certainly could, I mean, she’s Wonder Woman! How do you think the public would perceive her then? Will mothers still buy Wonder Woman lunch boxes for their daughters? Feminism did a lot for equality of sex, but clearly in that example, the equation can’t be reversed without a scandal. Obviously male and female moral rights to their own sexuality are far from equal.” 

A completely valid and important point. Could Wonder Woman really ever have a healthy and active sex life without it becoming fodder for Fox News? And what of women who want to be like her? Do we truly think they wouldn’t be labeled sluts? I have my doubts.

Paquette also went into detail about the changes he made to Wonder Woman’s icon costume, stating that he removed the iconic American flag theme and instead incorporated a Greek influence:

“The animal associated to Aphrodite is a dove so instead of an eagle on [Wonder Woman’s] breastplate, it will be more of a dove. It’s not the American eagle, it’s the Aphrodite dove. Stuff that creates [the letter] W is by accident, so it’s not like she already has a letter of the alphabet on her [costume]. In the end I’ve created a structure so it feels inevitable for Wonder Woman to look the way she does.”

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Wonder Woman: Earth One doesn’t have a release date yet, although Morrison and Paquette were initially offered the project three years ago. But if this stunning visual frame depicting Hippolyta defeating Hercules is any indication of what we can expect, I think it’ll be worth the wait.

  • omar lee

    I think in comics and shows woman are shown to be weak, silly over sexed. I wonder if the writers hate women or don’t have a clue about them. I would like to see more women power from a leader perspective not just some side kick. Also i thought that safety isn’t guaranteed was a cool movie. I just didn’t like the creepy old guy watching a high school football game part. Hopefully things will change girl power rocks.

    • Jamie Righetti

      I’ve been meaning to check out that movie! But I agree – I have high hopes for this Wonder Woman comic.

  • I’m thinking Grant will do the character justice.

    • Jamie Righetti

      Yeah, I’m definitely a fan of his work and this interview eased my fears of her being sexpoilted for sure.

  • Wow, I didn’t know Paquette is doing the art. His work on Batman Inc was awesome. I know Morrison will do Justice to Diana Prince. The JLA he wrote in the 90’s is probably one of my favorite interpretations of DC characters including Superman with a mullet.