In my limited experiences in this wonderfully imperfect world we live in, one of the most infuriating retorts is the horrendously overused, “Better late than never.” Every time I hear someone say that, I want rip my ears off punch the nearest brick wall. I’ve said it myself and I want to punch myself whenever it comes out of my mouth.
That said, there are some circumstances where this annoying phrase applies. It’s very true that good things are worth waiting for. Whether it’s a pizza, a cookie, or a lap dance at a strip club, the wait and anticipation can make the end result more satisfying.
Well, some things are just so damn late that you stopped giving a shit years ago. It becomes one of those unspoken taboos, like asking someone about a tattoo they regret or an oddly shaped scar on your ass. Even so, it’s still satisfying on some levels when someone finally gets around to finishing something that should’ve been finished.
Today is one of those days. Today, DC Comics finally came clean about one of the worst kept secrets in all of comics. That’s right. They admitted that Wonder Woman is “queer.”
Let that sink in for a moment. One of the most iconic superheroes of all time, and definitely one of the most iconic female superheroes of all time, is not entirely heterosexual. For most people in 2016, who have already seen same-sex marriage legalized and major gay actors become successful, this is barely worth a raised eyebrow. For noted comic book fans (and romance/erotica fans) like myself, it’s a big fucking deal.
Now I’ve talked about Wonder Woman before on this blog. I’ve explored the hidden BDSM elements of her origins and the unorthodox ideas championed by her creator, William Marston. By and large, these elements were ignored or outright nullified by DC Comics. It wasn’t until recently with the release of Wonder Woman: Earth One that these elements were finally revisited.
As a result, this created kind of a problem for Wonder Woman and by “kind of,” I mean “are you fucking kidding me?” After Marston, DC Comics took Wonder Woman down a very different path. They completely and utterly removed sexuality from her character. Yes, she was a woman. Yes, she was a beautiful woman by almost any standard. However, her sexuality could only ever be assumed and never explored.
This is a problem and not just because it allows fanboys on message boards to ascribe every kind of perverse proclivity to Wonder Woman and believe me, they are pretty damn perverse. The problem is that it removes a critical element from Wonder Woman’s character while sending a terrible message about female characters in general, albeit indirectly.
For most of her history (a good chunk of which was spent distancing her from her BDSM origins), Wonder Woman has been conveyed as a badass female warrior. Now there’s nothing wrong with that in the slightest. There’s definitely a place for badass female warriors in our culture. Woman can, and do, kick ass. They’ve kicked plenty of ass throughout history and that should be celebrated.
The problem with Wonder Woman, as she was developed for most of the 20th century, was that being a badass female warrior meant effectively nullifying her sexuality. That’s not to say she was completely asexual. She did have love interests, the most famous being Steve Trevor.
However, this relationship never developed into the kind of epic love story that other male superheroes enjoyed. Superman got to have a relationship with Lois Lane. Reed Richards got to have a relationship with Sue Storm. Spider-Man got to have a relationship with Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, the Black Cat, and a whole host of other women that would probably qualify him as a man-whore.
For Wonder Woman, though, Steve Trevor has rarely been more than a supporting character. They were never really that intimate. Most of Wonder Woman’s story focused on making her this badass warrior who could hold her own with Superman, Batman, and the rest of the Justice League. So it’s not right to say that Steve Trevor got relegated to the Friend-Zone, but he did get grossly overshadowed.
That’s not to say she didn’t have actual, functioning, intimate relationships with men. For a brief time between 2011 and 2016, Wonder Woman was in a relationship with Superman. It was a pretty serious relationship too. This was a time when he wasn’t with Lois Lane and she had a different role in the comics, but it was as serious a relationship as Wonder Woman has ever had.
It was one of the few times when DC Comics even acknowledged that Wonder Woman had a desire for intimacy. They never show them naked in bed or anything, but they do heavily imply that Superman and Wonder Woman engage in a little super sex. I’ll leave readers to fantasize about what that entails.
Admit it. You’re curious and intrigued by the idea of these two getting frisky. I know I’ve thought about it. Then again, I’ve thought about a lot of crazy sexual things in my life. That actually makes DC’s efforts to limit Wonder Woman’s sexuality all the more egregious.
It’s hard enough that DC goes out of its way to avoid sexual issues with Wonder Woman. They’ll let her get romantic with someone. They’ll even let her get intimate. However, they don’t dare dig a little deeper, as though a woman who grew up on an island of women would be a perfectly functional heterosexual woman.
This is where the context of this news gets pretty asinine. On top of all the taboos surrounding Wonder Woman’s sexuality, there’s the not-so-minor detail of Wonder Woman growing up on an island full of immortal women. Despite every effort by prudish comic creators who wanted Wonder Woman to be a kid-friendly superhero and not a gay icon, there’s only so much anyone can do to avoid the implications.
On an island populated only with women, do they all become lesbians? Do they all become bisexual? These are all questions that DC Comics was all too happy to leave unanswered. They had to know that generations of fans would assume that there would be a lesbian orgy on this island every now and then. It just took them until 2016 to actually acknowledge the possibility.
Greg Rucka, the current writer on the Wonder Woman comic and an accomplished comic book writer in his own right, finally ended DC’s silence. He didn’t put it in terms best reserved for an issue of Hustler, but he does finally put a dent in this old, outdated taboo.
“And when you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due, the answer is, ‘How can they not all be in same sex relationships?’ Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise,” he continued. “But an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say, ‘You’re gay.’ They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist. Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As [artist] Nicola [Scott] and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes.”
It’s painfully true, albeit in a sexy sort of way. Wonder Woman comes from an exotic culture of warrior women, gods, and demigods. Naturally, her approach to sex and her understanding of what means to be gay, straight, or bisexual will be very different.
We need only look at the matriarchal societies in the real world to see just how different our assumptions can be on matters of sex and intimacy. Why should Wonder Woman’s situation be any different? It shouldn’t.
It’s 2016. We have same-sex marriage, gender-neutral bathrooms, and enough lesbian porn to build a small island in the Pacific. The news that Wonder Woman isn’t entirely straight shouldn’t be an issue. It also shouldn’t have taken this long to come out, but better late than never, right?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go punch myself for saying that.