When Gloria Steinem and Samuel Delany clashed over Wonder Woman


Ann Matsuuchi's paper Wonder Woman Wears Pants: Wonder Woman, Feminism and the 1972 “Women’s Lib” Issue [PDF], published in Monash University's journal Colloquy, looks at the weird history of the Wonder Woman arc that Samuel Delany wrote, which was meant to culminate with Wonder Woman confronting anti-abortion demonstrators, and which was killed by Gloria Steinem, who didn't know where things were headed, but hated the fact that Delany had taken away Wonder Woman's traditional costume.

I came up with a six-issue story arc, each with a different villain: the first was a corrupt department store owner; the second was the head of a supermarket chain who tries to squash a women's food co- operative. Another villain was a college advisor who really felt a woman's place was in the home and who assumed if you were a bright woman, then something was probably wrong with you psychologically, and so forth. It worked up to a gang of male thugs trying to squash an abortion clinic staffed by women surgeons. And Wonder Woman was going to do battle with each of these and triumph. [Samuel Delany]

Delany’s fictional approach here considers, never assumes, the politics that inform daily life: how we eat, sleep and fuck. These mundane issues rarely arise in the universe of comic book superheroes. Wonder Woman faces an immediate need to “sell out” in order to support herself. The story proceeds in a manner that is at times as blunt and didactic as the traditional comic books often were, but identity and its formation is questioned here in a manner tied materially to everyday life. [Ann Matsuuchi]

(Thanks, Br!)
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