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Old May 15th, 2006   Peirigill is offline   #1
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Default Wikipedia vote on Diana's sexuality

I'm in the middle of a debate on Wikipedia about Wonder Woman's sexuality, which one of the other contributors has just called to bring to a vote.

Those of you who have already registered as contributors on Wikipedia can vote. (Please feel free to vote with me or against me. The more well-informed voices, the better the resulting consensus.) Non-registered people can still weigh in, if you can cite something relevant.

I'm arguing against a guy who says it's strongly implied and heavily reinforced that Wonder Woman is bisexual. I disagree, based on what I know of her published history. I'm suggesting that Anaya, Iphthime, and arguably Io are lesbian Amazons, and that the Themysciran Amazons have a culture in which lesbianism is normative, but that Diana herself (and Polly and Artemis, for that matter) have been portrayed exclusively as straight.

If someone knows of a published incident where Diana clarified her sexuality, whether bi or straight, please cite it. If someone knows of an out-of-date continuity in which she was bisexual, please cite that. (I'm willing to be proven wrong... but so far all I've seen are vague comments about how there are a "bunch of references," "heavily reinforced," to Diana's alleged attraction to women.)

The wikipedia page is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Li..._comic_fiction.

Please comment and vote!
 
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Old May 15th, 2006   curiouswanderer is offline   #2
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DC has, almost intentionally it seems, stayed out of the debate of Wonder Woman's sexuality. In the sixties, maybe the early fifties, Dr. Frederick Wertham, a psychologist, wrote an extensive book on the evils of comic books called Seduction of the Innocent. In this book he raged about Wonder Woman's culture of lesbianism (as well as Superman's nazi protocols and the obvious pedophilic, homosexual relationship of Batman and Robin.)
From this, the Comics Code Authority was created due to the huge public outcry (not on a national level mind you, but it was still rather loud within the publishing industry) to monitor comics.
Wonder Woman has been shown to have a close relationship with other Amazons (most notable is her recent one with Io) but never to be part of anything that could be considered bi-sexual.
 
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Old May 15th, 2006   James Melanson is offline   #3
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Peregill,

Though I hesitate to venture down this rather perilous road, I thought I'd just pipe in for a second.

Diana has not been portrayed as exclusively anything. she's had crushes on Superman, Harold Campion, and Trevor Barnes that seemed rather adolescent, and based on curiousity. She saw Superman as reminisecent of the Gods-when she realised he was merely human her crush subsided. She was being manipulated by Campion, who was Herakles in disguise, plotting revenge. She was drawn to Trevor Barnes beauty and prettiness. We saw none of these attractions consumated. To the contrary, they all fizzled. She has never been depicted, post crisis, as a sexual being at all. Even pre-crisis, her relationship with Steve Trevor seemed remarkably chaste, given the heavy sexual subtext included by Marston (most of it directed between Diana and other females).

Greg had her say, in a Q+A, that she wasn't dating any guy at present-neither was she dating any girl. She seemed clearly to have had strong feelings for Io (presented mostly through subtext, of course), and seemed clearly aware of Io's romantic intentions.

The amazons were created as the "perfect race" by the Greek Gods. They were pansexual. they fell in love with whomever-gender was irrelevant (as was divinity). Why would their perfect race be exclusively "heterosexual" That's illogical. Particularly given that the concepts of "heterosexuality" and "homosexuality" are fairly recent constructs, and did not exist in the times of the ancient Greeks.

Diana could be anything that any writer wished her to be (well, assuming DC would permit it-her value as a merchandising image is rather significant). Diana is a loving person. Why should that love be bound by the prejudices and gender/sexuality designations of "patriarch's world"? Kinsey argued that sexuality exists on a continuum. It certainly did for the Greek Gods. It's difficult to imagine that their appointed savior would be so different from themselves. They were far too vain for that.

What I see in these discussions is a tendency to want to label Diana as straight, without her having had any sexual experiences at all. That's curious to me. I wonder if it's rooted in our own feelings and social preferences, rather than in the creative possibilities that an ingenious writer could bring to a fictional character. She is fictional after all. The skies the limit. She could be anything. That includes her romantic inclinations as well.
 
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Old May 15th, 2006   James Melanson is offline   #4
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And-if you really wanted to broach the suibject with complete candor-let's not forget that Marston based Wonder Woman on the two women he loved, and with whom he lived in a menage. The two women named their children after one another, and they lived together as a family long after Marston died. Elisabeth really co-created Wonder Woman (though she's never credited). It was her idea to create a female super-hero. And she contributed ideas, even nixing the skirt as impractical. Physically, Wonder Woman was based on their lover Olive Byrne. She had black hair and blue eyes, and was the person that H.G. Peter based Wonder Woman's looks on. She even wore silver Indian bracelets, which became the basis for WW's bracelets.

No question that DC has tried to stay far away from all this. That they've tried to avoid the subtext of women spanking women, bondage between women, and the cry, "Suffering Sappho!" They are trying to sell a comic book with a heroine who has lots of sexual subtext, in a society that spawned Frederic Wertham. But Diana was born from two bisexual women. And Marston included lots of subtext in the book. If we're being really honest here, it's difficult to get away from bisexuality/pansexuality with Wonder Woman. She was born of it.
 
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Old May 15th, 2006   booyah is offline   #5
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agreed James. It's hard labling the sexuality of a character who's never had sex (to my knowledge). Wonder Woman has always been portrayed as a deeply loving character, it's what makes for such a wonderful contrast to her warrior's spirit.
I have no doubt she would share her bed with someone she truly loved, whether man or woman, because she feels love in a way that no person raised in our society could possibly feel or understand. I'ts why she is not overly sexual, jumping into bed with every male character in the DCU, or completley Un sexual, as he was totally willing to share her bed with Clark after battling demons with him for a 1000 years in Vallhalla in Action Comics. Like everything else about Diana, her sexuality is a deep contrast.
 
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Old May 16th, 2006   WonderWatcher is offline   #6
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Historically Diana has had far far more linkage with male characters than female ones.
In fact I think Rucka was the only to introduce any hint of a lesbian subtext into Diana personally through Io's unrequited love for her.
So in my opinion, she is not bi-sexual. QED
Last edited by WonderWatcher; May 16th, 2006 at 04:35 AM.
 
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Old May 16th, 2006   B_n_L is offline   #7
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Yeah, I think you're right about Rucka being the only one to even give cause for speculation, but it seems he's got to have some kind of lesbian subtext (or just plain TEXT) in every title he writes. I'm sure his intentions are good, but I'm just so bitter and cynical, that I can't help but think sometimes that it's straight male wish-fulfillment wrapped in a pretty, high-minded bow. And that's my problem with the idea of Wonder Woman being gay or bi. It would just be WAY too easy to exploit for those purposes, in an industry all too abundant with women being sexually objectified, and a character who herself is so often mistreated, mishandled, and disrespected. It wouldn't be long before it stopped being a story of empowerment and started being something used to disempower and degrade her.
 
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Old May 16th, 2006   UltimateStanlos is offline   #8
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I'm in the middle of a debate on Wikipedia about Wonder Woman's sexuality, which one of the other contributors has just called to bring to a vote.

Those of you who have already registered as contributors on Wikipedia can vote. (Please feel free to vote with me or against me. The more well-informed voices, the better the resulting consensus.) Non-registered people can still weigh in, if you can cite something relevant.

I'm arguing against a guy who says it's strongly implied and heavily reinforced that Wonder Woman is bisexual. I disagree, based on what I know of her published history. I'm suggesting that Anaya, Iphthime, and arguably Io are lesbian Amazons, and that the Themysciran Amazons have a culture in which lesbianism is normative, but that Diana herself (and Polly and Artemis, for that matter) have been portrayed exclusively as straight.

If someone knows of a published incident where Diana clarified her sexuality, whether bi or straight, please cite it. If someone knows of an out-of-date continuity in which she was bisexual, please cite that. (I'm willing to be proven wrong... but so far all I've seen are vague comments about how there are a "bunch of references," "heavily reinforced," to Diana's alleged attraction to women.)

The wikipedia page is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Li..._comic_fiction.

Please comment and vote!
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I don't think the Amazons would have our Western notions on gender roles/identity or fertility. Their ideas would not be informed by world history. Absent slave trading, matters of Estate/Staff tracking, and other baggage, they would probably more resemble a blend of some Native American pre-Euro exposure and early Spartan cultures than the US.

Which is to say, a relationship with a member of the same sex would be more than amenable. The choice would be about things that are actually important to the individual rather than being subservient to what so-called Higher Orders needed to get their dollars.

Which I think is as it should be. But so often is not in our world.
 
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Old May 16th, 2006   Ghaliya is offline   #9
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<respectfully snipped> It would just be WAY too easy to exploit for those purposes, in an industry all too abundant with women being sexually objectified, and a character who herself is so often mistreated, mishandled, and disrespected. It wouldn't be long before it stopped being a story of empowerment and started being something used to disempower and degrade her.
ddf
B_n_L
B_n_L - I hear your concern, but I'm not wanting to make that a reason to not go forward with this. My hope is that if Rucka had continued the storyline it would have been treated with the respect it always had. If anyone could have treated WW with the respect she deserves while entering this new territory it would have been him.

Also, I'm just not willing to shun a move toward inclusivity in reaction to an industry that stereotypically treats women in such an objectified manner. I'd like to see the changes start happening, and this storyline might have been that small beginning.
 
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Old May 16th, 2006   Ghaliya is offline   #10
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Historically Diana has had far far more linkage with male characters than female ones.
In fact I think Rucka was the only to introduce any hint of a lesbian subtext into Diana personally through Io's unrequited love for her.
So in my opinion, she is not bi-sexual. QED
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I'm not sure we can say that Io's love would have been unrequited in absence of market pressures.
 
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Old May 17th, 2006   WonderWatcher is offline   #11
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I'm not sure we can say that Io's love would have been unrequited in absence of market pressures.
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Well, it will certainly be unrequited in the absence of Rucka .

Maybe if Greg's run had continued he would have got Io and Diana together. I found the scenes we had between them very touching BUT having Diana take it beyond a loving friendship would still be changing her sexuality that was established in her long back-story.
 
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Old May 17th, 2006   Fletcher Hawke is offline   #12
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There was an issue of Justice League Task Force. All-woman team. Diana, Gypsy, J'onn in drag. A few others. One of the team asks Diana how the Amazons can possibly get along without men. She smiles and says, "There's a reason it's called Paradise Island."


That's about as close to a specific reference as I can think of. Not exactly conclusive.
 
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Old May 17th, 2006   Ghaliya is offline   #13
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Well, it will certainly be unrequited in the absence of Rucka .
ddf
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lol, touche!

Maybe if Greg's run had continued he would have got Io and Diana together. I found the scenes we had between them very touching BUT having Diana take it beyond a loving friendship would still be changing her sexuality that was established in her long back-story.
ddf
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And sexuality is fluid. I guess that's why I'm confused by some of the discussions that she has always been one way, and can never be another. When I read Rucka's run my take was that she could be bisexual, it seemed obvious to me. Both from her comments and from the fact the io/diana arc was started with Diana kissing her on the cheek and asking her to stay past her planned time (only for the party, I'm not suggesting anything more - lol). I take this as interest on Diana's part because she never did that with anyone else. This is the point at which I noticed the arc. Everything after that built upon that.

Could Diana have done all those things during the arc only for Io and for none other because she is a loving individual? I guess, but I took the absence of this for others as a clue that there was something beyond friendship building - but was never realized or let to grow before the run ended.

Ah well, this has been hashed out for months before. We could talk this to death!

And now I use this smilie because I don't know what it is but it looks interesting:
 
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Old May 17th, 2006   Peirigill is offline   #14
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Interesting comments, all; thanks!

If I can address just a couple...

I agree that Marston's personal life is relevant to the creation of the character, but not definitive to the character's portrayal. It's pretty obvious that Marston was more than a little interested in bondage, for example, but the fact that Diana and other women got tied up a LOT, and assuming for sake of argument that Marston was into bondage himself, does NOT mean that Wonder Woman as a character enjoyed bondage. It's simply a motif that carried over from Marston's personal experience onto the page, without translating directly to the character.

Billy, Mary, and Freddy got tied and gagged a lot, as well, because preventing them from saying "Shazam" left them powerless; but we don't thereby conclude that they must all be bondage aficionados. Similarly, just because Phil Jimenez is gay doesn't mean that Trevor Barnes was gay, for example, even though much of Trevor's personality and character clearly were shaped by Phil's personal social philosophy and romanticized notions of what kinds of things make a guy attractive.

I appreciate the concern with not "labeling," but with all due respect, labels have a useful and important function, so long as we remember that there are limits to their usefulness. Trying to divide people into introverts and extroverts is of fairly little use, in my opinion, because the terms are vague and people often exhibit both traits in different aspects of their lives - and yet, that distinction is a staple in personality tests. Dividing people into "gay" and "straight" is a far more clean-cut distinction, in practice; most (though not all) of us readily categorize ourselves as gay or straight, with "bisexual" adequately covering most cases of in-between. If you really want to get your hands dirty, you could also say that "male" and "female" itself isn't a clean-cut distinction, with cases of androgen insensitivity, people who pass as the opposite sex, intersexed and hermaphroditic people, and other types of transgendered folk; and yet, if I were compiling a list of female JLA members, we wouldn't quibble about how gender identity is fluid; we'd exclude the Martian Manhunter even though he's capable of taking on a female form.

In this particular case, the question is fairly straightforward: do we have good reason, based on Diana's published history, to say whether she has same-sex attractions or not? If yes, then she belongs on the list of LGBT comics characters; if not, then no.

The argument for including her is that there is subtext and innuendo, and that as the representative of a predominantly lesbian culture (which was explicitly established by Perez), that Diana herself must count as lesbian. The first argument seems too weak to me, because I don't see the innuendo that others are claiming, and (very frustratingly to me) no one has bothered to give a specific example. I'm pretty open-minded about this; I was willing, for example, to allow that the Golden Age Doc Mid-Nite might be gay, on the grounds that no published story ever showed him demonstrating any attraction to women, even his nurse Myra, who was attracted to him, and I saw innuendo in the Flash episode recounting Jay Garrick's nuptials, in which Doc commented that he had never had the same trouble with girlfriends that the other JSA members had. Hardly conclusive, but enough to open the door. I just haven't seen the same innuendo with Diana. I'm surprised to see that someone thought she showed attraction to Io. In my reading, it's obvious Io was attracted to Diana, because she stuttered and got clumsy in her presence; Diana acted towards Io the way she'd act towards any comrade. We've seen Diana being attracted to men - flirting with Aquaman ("my Lord King"), stumbling like a schoolgirl with Trevor Barnes, and so on. I didn't see anything of the like with Io. In fact, my impression was that Diana was oblivious to Io's attraction. But hey, your mileage may vary. I wish we could find out what Rucka actually intended to convey.

The second argument - that Diana, coming from a lesbian culture, must be lesbian - seems extremely weak to me. Phil Jimenez pointed out on the Wikipedia talk page that that's the same argument that says kids raised by gay parents will turn out gay themselves. Besides, Perez explicitly told us that most Themyscirans were lesbian, but not all, and we've seen Diana, Hippolyta, and Artemis all demonstrate opposite-sex attractions. Lesbianism may be normative on Themyscira, but it's not universally binding (no bondage puns intended). Also, consider the real-world example of West Hollywood. It's a city with a substantial gay population and a strong, explicit commitment to gay rights, and yet that doesn't prove that the Mayor is necessarily gay even though he or she represents that community.

There's an argument that says that Diana is sexually open to everyone, that she transcends gender distinctions, and so is bisexual by default. I just don't see the force of this argument; it applies to EVERY character. I'm not denying the eventual possibility; for example, there's no reason Nightwing couldn't at some point have a romantic and sexual relationship with a guy, or Piper do the same with a woman, at which point we'd count them as bisexual. But - for the moment - there's nothing in their known history that suggests that they are attracted to men as well as women. The purely speculative, theoretical possibility of being bisexual isn't meaningful here, which is why the fluidity of sexuality isn't really relevant.

The real nail in the coffin for me is that Diana, as an incarnation of truth, who regularly uses her lasso on herself in order to be absolutely truthful with herself, wouldn't be aware of any same-sex attractions. Doc Mid-Nite might have been in denial, but Wonder Woman shouldn't be capable of being in denial. Nor would she have any reason to be closeted. It's been her mission to bring female empowerment and Themysciran culture to Patriarch's world. If she had been attracted to someone, why wouldn't she have acted on it, or at least acknowledged it, as she has acknowledged her attraction to a healthy number of men?

It's a fun discussion - I'm just frankly surprised at how many people disagree with me. As a gay reader with a strong interest in seeing gay characters portrayed in comics, I'm usually the one accused of having a biased view and reading in homosexuality where it doesn't really exist.
Last edited by Peirigill; May 17th, 2006 at 04:06 PM.
 
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Old May 17th, 2006   Peirigill is offline   #15
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I don't think the Amazons would have our Western notions on gender roles/identity or fertility. Their ideas would not be informed by world history. Absent slave trading, matters of Estate/Staff tracking, and other baggage, they would probably more resemble a blend of some Native American pre-Euro exposure and early Spartan cultures than the US.

Which is to say, a relationship with a member of the same sex would be more than amenable. The choice would be about things that are actually important to the individual rather than being subservient to what so-called Higher Orders needed to get their dollars.

Which I think is as it should be. But so often is not in our world.
ddf
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Agreed - Diana probably wouldn't think in categories of hetero- and homosexuality. That's why I'm treating it as a question as to whom she's been attracted.

At this point, we've seen attraction or romantic involvement (in various continuities) with Steve Trevor, Mer-Boy, Bird-Boy, Superman, Champion, Aquaman, Rama, Trevor Barnes, and Batman. Not one woman yet. And yet the fact that Diana wouldn't feel constrained by American cultural norms, categories, and conventions ought to suggest that she'd be more visible in her attraction to a woman, not less.
 
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Old May 17th, 2006   Peirigill is offline   #16
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agreed James. It's hard labling the sexuality of a character who's never had sex (to my knowledge).
ddf
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I knew I was gay long before I had sex with anyone. Why should sexuality be undefined until consummation? Heck, if a man only slept with his wife, but still fantasized about men, I'd still call him bisexual.

Diana's opposite-sex attractions have been numerous. Her same-sex attractions are entirely fan speculation. Why not label her "straight" until such time as she demonstrates same-sex attraction, whether she consummates it or not?
 
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