[Editor’s Note: This article was originally planned for a different time, but after the tragic shooting in a Kentucky school yesterday, we agreed that this article is, sadly, always poignant in America. It is published here unaltered with respect to recent events.]
Just over two years ago on December 9, 2015, I wrote the inaugural “What Would Wonder Woman Do?” article, and it’s topic was Gun Control in America. In the opening of the article I explained just how delicate a topic it is, yet how nonchalant I seem to be about the issue, due to my upbringing; Being raised by two father figures which consisted of a life long police officer and a hunter, guns were merely an every day occurrence to me. I realize that I was and still am more than comfortable with them than most. I believe that to be due in much part to my understanding of them. Both my father & stepfather instilled the responsibility of gun handling at a young age, but it wasn’t until the day I fired a gun for the first time that I truly understood it’s power. Much like George Perez’s Diana of the early 80’s, after firing it I could feel alertness in every cell in my being. With wide eyes similar to those in Perez’s panels, I delicately put the gun down and said, “No one should have that much power.”
NO ONE SHOULD HAVE THAT MUCH POWER
That statement has stayed with me throughout my life. What I observed as a boy, is that essentially any random person was able to harness this extreme power over people; Boiled down to it’s core, it’s the power of life and death. As I dove into Diana’s mythology for the first WWWD about Gun Control, similar sentiments seemed to echo through the decades. Marston’s original Wonder Woman was a remedy to what was essentially an abuse of power happening in the 40’s. Hate, anger, and oppression of patriarchal society had truly reared it’s ugly head in less than admirable ways during WWII. What Dr. Marston observed was that the qualities needed to combat such hate and oppression, were those viewed to be ‘feminine’ and had become despised. It was there his solution was found. “Women’s strong qualities have been despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of superman plus all of the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” And with that, Wonder Woman was born. We learned that her agendas of love and fair play, were probably her most powerful weapons.
Throughout Dr. Marston’s adventures she constantly ministered messages of love and equality, and used her fabulous abilities as the defender of those who couldn’t defend themselves. One of her most memorable and popular abilities was deflecting bullets with her bracelets. In Marston’s comic it was her last and greatest test of readiness for her journey into Patriarchal society. Translation to me? The sheer power of masculine aggression and ego was represented by the most obvious representation of destructive power…a gun. I don’t believe this to be a mistake, and her ability to deflect that masculine energy with ‘feminine’ jewelry, in my opinion, wasn’t a mistake either. Therefore, I don’t think it’s difficult to surmise how Wonder Woman feels about guns, and even with the release of the 2017 Gal Gadot movie, it doesn’t seem that much has changed. But just in case you weren’t clear on that, I put together seven picture/video examples of Wonder Woman handling guns alongside some gun statistics from 2015 (when I wrote the first article) through 2017. Enjoy!
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Season 3, episode 12 – “Gault’s Brain” (1978) we see Lynda Carter’s Amazing Amazon asking to join a sporting round of shooting clay pigeons. After picking up the gun, she takes a beat and hands it back. Then proceeds to throw her ammo instead of shooting it from a gun. After hitting each of her targets she says, “It’s much more sporting that way!” There is a message in this scene…there is ALWAYS an alternative. With the Gun Violence Archive showing a steady rise in incidents each year, we would do good to follow her example for finding alternatives.
Season 3, episode 9 – “The Deadly Dolphin” (1978), Wonder Woman stops a man who is impersonating a police officer. When he pulls a rifle on her, Diana exasperatedly bends the long barrel until it is actually pointing back at him; Almost pointing towards his feet. This imagery reminded me of the old adage, “shooting yourself in the foot”. I can only imagine that her message to him (and us) is that resorting to gun usage to settle issues, injures no one but ourselves. Seeing the Gun Violence Archive total number of injuries continue to increase since 2015, reminds me that we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot.
Season 2, episode 13 – “Death In Disguise” (1978), Wonder Woman bends an assailant’s gun and utilizes it to shackle the man who just shot at her. The symbolism here for me, was profound. As we continue to utilize this weapon with such ferocity, it enslaves us to our own aggression. Upon noticing the Gun Violence Archive statistics for defensive use continue to increase since 2015, I can’t help but think that even when attempting defense, we are enslaving ourselves to the Marstonian destructive power of guns.
Wonder Woman (2017) – In the feature film’s No Man’s Land scene, we see Gal Gadot’s Diana taking on the full impact of gunfire from the opposing side. Patty Jenkins’ vision delivered to us a visual depiction of Marston’s original intention, which is that our beloved Diana fights on all of our behalves. As our champion, she shields us from the aggression, anger, and hate Marston seemed to associate with guns. Like a modern day centurion, she is our protector in almost the same way a police officer would be today; Only without guns. After seeing the Gun Violence Archive’s statistics on officer involved incidents where the subject was shot or killed, we would all be so glad to have a non-gun wielding advocate as she, on our side.
Wonder Woman has been known to show a little bit of frustration with guns now and then. Two specific modern day examples by Gal Gadot come to mind. In the movie, after enduring the onslaught of gunfire, she takes her shield and literally breaks the machine gun that had opened fire on her earlier, in half. Then, moments later, in hand to hand combat, Diana took the gun of someone who had attempted to shoot her, and broke it across her back. After being shot at so much, one could imagine how annoyed she might begin to feel with a continual onslaught of bullets. With the Gun Violence Archive showing that the number of deaths from guns are increasing annually, frustration is a feeling to which anyone can relate.
The cartoon versions of Wonder Woman don’t seem to let up on these ideas, either. Shannon Farnon, Susan Eisenberg, Rachel Kimsey, and Keri Russel have all given voice to the Amazing Amazon, and have all played their virtual share of bullets and bracelets. Part of why so many women have had a chance to play her in cartoon, is because Wonder Woman is essential to young viewers. Not just because of her message of love and self-empowerment, but also her consistent visual critique of gun usage. Like both Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot’s live action examples, each Wonder Woman cartoon version produced has displayed a distaste for, alternatives to, and consequences of gun use. In the consequences department, one example always seems to catch my eye, and that’s when Keri Russel’s self titled 2009 film’s Wonder Woman deflects a bullet so that it injures one of her assailants. With Wonder Woman’s gun critique message so important to children of all ages, it was especially disheartening to see the Gun Violence Archive statistics slowly increase in the area of teens killed or injured by guns.
WHAT WONDER WOMAN WOULD DO
Like Dr. William Moulton Marston’s original Wonder Woman adventures depict, guns can be great at sport and preparing us for the challenges ahead. However, as the George Perez WW highlighted, that kind of power should only be wielded by those who truly understand the responsibility it carries. I was happy to see our most iconic Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot exemplify the importance of that idea. After writing many of these articles, I’ve come to view Marston’s psychological calling in society to be a healer. One which understood the incredible power of the mind. When we change our minds we can truly change the world. Anything is possible. And he gave us a phenomenal example and template for us to utilize: The example of Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter, Gal Gadot, Shannon Farnon, Susan Eisenberg, Rachel Kimsey, and Keri Russel have all contributed to Wonder Woman’s example. Through it, we are shown that we don’t need a gun to resolve issues or even defend ourselves. The true power is our ability to love. The hate, oppression, and masculine aggression and ego can be deflected with love. We can utilize our powers within to love each other and ourselves to ensure safety for all. So while she may not demand that we change our constitution, I believe What Wonder Woman Would Do is encourage us to live more responsibly for our fellow man and for ourselves. Taking away rights is never the Amazonian way. But coming together in a sense of community and deciding on ways we can legislate to ensure others behave responsibly is exactly what Wonder Woman would do about gun control in America. It’s Love and Fair Play all the way!