Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.



October 17, 2014

Katha Pollitt on Wonder Woman's kinky polyfamily origins

The Atlantic


DC Entertainment

Feminist writer Katha Pollitt delves into the character and household that, in 1941, brewed up Wonder Woman as a utopian feminist power-bondage icon. Pollitt draws from Jill Lepore's new book The Secret History of Wonder Woman. Lepore also wrote the magazine articles about Wonder Woman's background that I posted about last month.


...How the underemployed, emotionally demanding [William Moulton] Marston got to remain the overbearing patriarch is a bit of a puzzle.

It can’t have been an easy life, but their big house in Rye, New York, seems to have been a jolly place, with lots of pets, tipsy parties, and, [wife Elizabeth] Holloway said much later, “love making for all.” Still, it is sad to read of the way both women’s ambitions were slowly squelched. Holloway, as smart and energetic as Marston, got a law degree but couldn’t find work in the field. She and [Olive] Byrne each started on the path to a doctorate in psychology, but saw the handwriting on the wall: It was nearly impossible for a woman to get a good academic job, so why continue? Of the two, Byrne seems to have paid the bigger price for their unconventional arrangement. For decades she pretended to be the widow of a fictitious Mr. Richard, a kind of housekeeper or distant relative; ultimately she even allowed Marston and Holloway to adopt her children. The heavy bracelets she wore, so like Wonder Woman’s “bracelets of submission,” were all very well, but socially, a wedding ring was what really counted.

...Marston died in 1947, and though Wonder Woman forged on, she was soon shorn of her feminism.... Holloway and Byrne, on the other hand, lived together happily for 43 more years, raising their children and working, Holloway for Metropolitan Life, Byrne, eventually, as [Margaret] Sanger’s personal secretary. When they visited Sanger in Tucson, they slept in the same room. Perhaps they found their Paradise Island in the end.


Read the whole article: Wonder Woman’s Kinky Feminist Roots (Oct. 14, 2014).

Update Oct. 19: That article is in the print Atlantic. This more penetrating examination of the Marston menage has appeared on the Atlantic's website: The Free Love Experiment That Created Wonder Woman, by Noah Berlatsky.

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