Though I’m a child of the ‘90s, growing up I watched a lot of reruns of television shows from the seventies and eighties. One of those television shows was Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter.
Wonder Woman enthralled me as she ran around in a glorified swimsuit and saved people with bullet-deflecting bracelets. I raced into the house after school, not even bothering to shed my book bag, to catch at least part of an episode.
When DC announced a Wonder Woman movie in the works, I could have floated from sheer joy. Now a woman myself, I decided I would look into the origins of this Amazonian super hero. I thought that it would help me connect better with the character. After all, learning that Captain America came from the pen of a Jew helped me to appreciate him even more.
What I learned, though, caused the exact opposite reaction.
Comics came into being in 1933 as the brainchild of Maxwell Charles Gaines, founder of DC Comics, and they had their share of critics. The Chicago Daily News called them “a national disgrace” because the books celebrated all sorts of violence, including sexual violence. In 1940, Gaines hired psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston as part of an editorial advisory board to both improve the comics and defend against critics.
Marston appeared as the perfect choice. He had three degrees from Harvard, including a PhD in psychology, and served as a consulting psychologist for Universal Pictures. History also credits him as the inventor of the lie detector, which is ironic since his very life was a lie.
Marston decided that the comics’ worst offense was not the violence they contained but their “bloodcurdling masculinity”. To solve that, he decided to create a female superhero. In 1941, Wonder Woman appeared in the first DC comic. Her proclaimed purpose was to, among other things, inspire self-confidence in girls and to show that women are not inferior to men.
This sounds wonderful until one looks a little closer.
In 1915, Marston married feminist Elizabeth Holloway. Ten years later, he fell in love with one of his university students, Olive Byrne. It wasn’t long before he brought her into his house and so began his great polygamous lie. Holloway called it “love-making for all”. Eventually, both Elizabeth and Olive gave birth to Marston’s four children. When anyone asked (including government census-takers), they said Olive was Marston’s widowed sister-in-law (source).
His two sons by Olive didn’t even know Marston was their father until 1963, long after Marston had died and after Elizabeth made the now-grown men promise to never raise the subject again.
But the secrets don’t stop there. Olive Byrne wasn’t just any university student. She was the niece of Margaret Sanger, champion of birth control and foundress of Planned Parenthood. Her mother, Ethel Byrne, nearly died of a hunger strike while in prison for helping Sanger open a birth control clinic.
In 1937, when the American Medical Association finally endorsed birth control, Dr. Marston held a press conference where he predicted that women would one day rule the world. He gave a list of six happy and influential people: Sanger ranked number two.
Marston later said, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.” Given that Margaret Sanger was on his list of six happy, influential people, we can well imagine the type of woman he felt should rule the world.
It’s vital to point out that Sanger isn’t only tied to birth control and the abortion mill known as Planned Parenthood. She also was a part of the eugenics movement.
Eugenics, simply put, is the so-called science of improving the human race through controlled breeding. In fact, Hitler performed his own form of eugenics to try to create a master Arian race.
Sanger wrote many articles on eugenics and its ties to birth control. Her articles include “Some Moral Aspects of Eugenics” (June 1920), “The Eugenic Conscience” (February 1921), “The Purpose of Eugenics” (December 1924), “Birth Control and Positive Eugenics” (July 1925) and “Birth Control: The True Eugenics” (August 1928).
In an article she wrote for The Birth Control Review, she said, “While I personally believe in the sterilization of the feeble-minded, the insane and syphilitic, I have not been able to discover that these measures are more than superficial deterrents when applied to the constantly growing stream of the unfit. They are excellent means of meeting a certain phase of the situation, but I believe in regard to these, as in regard to other eugenic means, that they do not go to the bottom of the matter.”
In another place, she calls eugenics without birth control a house built on sand. She also listed several diseases that rendered a person unfit to be a parent. Among those on that list are tuberculosis, cancer, gonorrhea, and mental illness.
From 1900 to as late as 1970, immigrants, people of color, poor people, unmarried mothers, the disabled, and the mentally ill were forcibly sterilized in 32 states. In California alone, 20,000 men and women were sterilized through the Asexualization Act of 1909. All of this was part of the eugenics movement in which Sanger took part and to which she contributed through her Birth Control League that came to be known as Planned Parenthood.
Here’s another frightening statistic to bring this home. Since 1973, legal abortions have killed more African Americans in utero than AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined. Who’s the largest abortion provider? Planned Parenthood.
When Wonder Woman hit theaters, all of my friends went to see it. But when I looked at that Amazonian kicking butt and defending freedom, all I could think about was a man living a polygamous lie and a woman with more blood on her conscience than Hitler himself. It turned my stomach. I honestly don’t think I can watch that movie and keep down my popcorn. I think I’ll have a pass on this cog of the feminist propaganda machine.
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