“Is she or isn’t she a feminist?” The question, it seems, will not go away. The latest figure inspiring the debate is not even a real person. She’s Wonder Woman—the most well-known superheroine in the history of EVER, and she has to be a feminist, right? Well, not according to David Finch, the dude DC Comics just tapped to draw the famous magical-lasso-wielding Amazonian.
In an interview with Comic Book Resource News, Finch (who will be partnering with his wife, comic writer Meredith Finch, on the new installments of the heroine’s adventures) explained how excited he was to reimagine Wonder Woman as a “strong character” but not a “feminist.”
“I think she’s a beautiful, strong character,” he said. “Really, from where I come from, and we’ve talked about this a lot, we want to make sure it’s a book that treats her as a human being first and foremost, but is also respectful of the fact that she represents something more. We want her to be a strong—I don’t want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful, but strong.”
Whether or not Finch wanted his reinvented character to be a feminist, the fact is a feminist is exactly what he got. Wonder Woman is inherently a feminist icon, one of the few household name superheroines amidst a sea of household name superheroes. Her very existence as a character serves to create more gender equality in an (albeit, fictional) male-dominated field of super-heroing.
As a heroine, she is known for her array of powers (telepathy, super-breath, all kinds of acrobatics and martial arts), her awesome weapons (bulletproof bracelets, check, tiara that also can destroy people, check, that infamous lasso, check, the invisible plane, ALL the checks), and, though many writers have made the heroine their own, what has remained a constant throughout most of Wonder Woman’s interpretations and reinterpretations is her superhuman strength and her superheroic heart. (The ’60s version of WW—when she lost her lasso and powers and opened up a boutique—was an exception.)
She combines characteristics that are both conventionally masculine and feminine, and by doing so becomes a character that is not a slave to gender norms, but thinks for herself and creates her own path. As if that weren’t enough proof Wonder Woman as a character has gone on record speaking out for gender equality. Case in point, the comic panel below:
If that weren’t enough, in 1972, Wonder Woman was on the cover of the inaugural issue of Ms. Magazine. An emblem of reclaimed feminism, after founding editor Gloria Steinem successfully lobbied DC Comics to give the superheroine her powers back after the ’60s debacle. “As a little girl, Wonder Woman was the only female superhero, so she was irresistible. She was literally the only game in town, the only hero that made you feel good about yourself,” Steinem explained.
Forty years later, Ms. put Wonder Woman back on the cover. “Wonder Woman has been an enduring symbol of women’s power,” Ms. Magazine’s Kathy Spillar wrote in 2012. “We could imagine no better way to urge women to use their own power–the power of their vote–to stand up for themselves and their rights in the coming elections.”
To his credit, Finch did apologize for his faux pas. In the wake of the Internet’s the uproar this week, he tweeted “I wasn’t saying Wonder Woman isn’t for being equal, and therefore a feminist. I just want her to be a human being, fallible and real.”
With hope, Finch will have taken enough away from this teachable moment and we’ll see that education awesomely displayed in the reinterpretation of the new, and forever feminist Wonder Woman.