What Wonder Woman means for women and popular culture

Wonder Woman lit up the eyes of movie fans around the globe and her investors alike this summer. DC finally accomplished what they failed to do with two recent superhero movies. DC made money rain and made audience members excited to see a god fight for humans on screen, again.

The biggest headlines about Wonder Woman weren’t the money she made her Hollywood friends, though. It was what her latest adaption meant for women around the world and the representation of feminism in American popular culture.

As I write about women and popular culture this year, I’m going to be referring to Wonder Woman and other female superheroes a lot. Not only are they captivating as a subject, they reveal the most about the status of women in popular media the last 80 years.

Wonder Woman released as a comic book in 1940s America and has received countless reinventions since. The latest adaption cherry picks from each of them in what is intended to be the ultimate Wonder Woman. However, since the 1940s other artists of created a wide variety of wonder women that match and outshine America’s favorite goddess.

Women like Jessica Jones from The Defenders, Ripley from Aliens, Conner from Terminator, and Rey from Star Wars are a few examples of female characters that embody the ideal representation of a woman in a particular era.

Some of the sources I’ll be sampling information from are resources I go back to time-and-time again for a scholarly understanding of women in popular culture. These resources are books, films, and blogs that need to be accessed digitally. The primary sources include:

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

Bitch! Magazine at www.bitchmedia.org

It’s my intention to not only share what I learn and explain shortcuts to the same resources I find valuable, but also explain all of this through a lens that doesn’t naturally understand this stuff.

As a straight white Christian male, I don’t stereotypically ascribe to this sort of content or supposedly have a natural inclination to care. But I choose to find joy in learning about women and popular culture while also changing my world view based on knowledge that convinces me to.

In a way, I’m presenting this material as part of a journey. I’m sharing this information as it shapes me. So, in a similar way as a story from childhood is interesting because it’s told through the eyes of a kid again, I hope these stories about women and popular culture are interesting because their being told by someone in awe and enamored by them in real time.


Lance Lijewski