Archive for Pop Culture

Wonder Woman based on Margaret Sanger

Wonder WomanOver the weekend, I saw an article on largely unknown facts about comic books or comic book characters. I can’t find it right now, but it was on a click-bait site. It included a fact about Wonder Woman that I hadn’t heard before.

The fact I hadn’t read or heard before? That Margaret Sanger was the basis for Wonder Woman. It may be something that has been widely reported at some point, but I’d never heard it. The creator of the comic even did his best to hide that fact for as long as possible.

A 2014 article in Smithsonian magazine by Jill Lepore confirms the report. In 1942 it was reported that Wonder Woman’s creator was Dr. William Moulton Marston, “an internationally famous psychologist.”

The article includes a quote from Marston that, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.”

Smithsonian notes that Marston’s attitude was a response to the popularity of sexually violent comic books:

But at a time when war was ravaging Europe, comic books celebrated violence, even sexual violence. In 1940, the Chicago Daily News called comics a “national disgrace.” “Ten million copies of these sex-horror serials are sold every month,” wrote the newspaper’s literary editor, calling for parents and teachers to ban the comics, “unless we want a coming generation even more ferocious than the present one.”

Marston was hired as a consultant by the founder of All-American Comics, Maxwell Charles Gaines. Gaines wanted to use Marston to shield him from criticism.

A staff writer named Olive Richard interviewed Marston at his home for Family Circle magazine in 1940.

From that interview, via Smithsonian:

“Some of them are full of torture, kidnapping, sadism, and other cruel business,” she said.

“Unfortunately, that is true,” Marston admitted, but “when a lovely heroine is bound to the stake, comics followers are sure that the rescue will arrive in the nick of time. The reader’s wish is to save the girl, not to see her suffer.”

Lepore goes on to note that “Olive Richard” is the pen name for Olive Byrne, who already lived with Marston and his wife. More on Olive Byrne:

She was also the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most important feminists of the 20th century. In 1916, Sanger and her sister, Ethel Byrne, Olive Byrne’s mother, had opened the first birth-control clinic in the United States. They were both arrested for the illegal distribution of contraception. In jail in 1917, Ethel Byrne went on a hunger strike and nearly died.

Marston and Byrne met when she was a senior at Tufts and he was her psychology professor. They fell in love and he told his wife, Elizabeth Holloway, that Byrne could move in with them or he would be moving out. Marston fathered two children by each of the women in the household between 1928 and 1933. Holloway finally admitted  to Byrne’s sons in 1963 that Marston was their father. Gaines knew none of this when he hired Marston.

In case you’re having trouble keeping up, Lepore notes (via NPR), “So there was his wife, Elizabeth Holloway, his mistress, Olive Byrne and another woman named Marjorie Wilkes Huntley, who kind of was in and out of the family.”

Lepore discussed Sanger as inspiration for Wonder Woman in more detail in an NPR interview from 2014. That interview also notes that the costume for Wonder Woman was inspired by erotic pinup art.

Wonder Woman debuted in All-Star Comics in 1941 and appeared on the cover of Sensation Comics in 1942. In the Smithsonian article, Lepore notes that controversy ensued:

But in March 1942, the National Organization for Decent Literature put Sensation Comics on its blacklist of “Publications Disapproved for Youth” for one reason: “Wonder Woman is not sufficiently dressed.”

From the NPR interview:

But one of the things that’s a defining element of Wonder Woman is that if a man binds her in chains, she loses all of her Amazonian strength. And so in almost every episode of the early comics – the ones that Marston wrote – she’s chained up or she’s roped up. It’s usually chains. And then she has to break free of these chains, and that’s, Marston would always say, in order to signify her emancipation from men. But those chains are really an important part of the feminist and suffrage struggles of the 1910s that Marston was – had a kind of front-row seat for.

Also in the NPR interview, host Terry Gross and Lepore discuss the “big kind of fetishistic, sexual aspect to the bondage and the chains in Wonder Woman.”

A woman member of the advisory board for Gaines’ comics even sent a letter of complaint about Wonder Woman’s”“sadistic bits showing women chained, tortured, etc.” and Lepore agrees with her in the story:

She had a point. In episode after episode, Wonder Woman is chained, bound, gagged, lassoed, tied, fettered and manacled. “Great girdle of Aphrodite!” she cries at one point. “Am I tired of being tied up!”

Marston shrugged off the criticism and when Dorothy Roubicek, an editor who actually worked on Wonder Woman, complained, he said:

“Of course I wouldn’t expect Miss Roubicek to understand all this,” Marston wrote Gaines. “After all I have devoted my entire life to working out psychological principles. Miss R. has been in comics only 6 months or so, hasn’t she? And never in psychology.” But “the secret of woman’s allure,” he told Gaines, is that “women enjoy submission—being bound.”

Marston was hiding his relationship with Olive Byrne, his connection to Margaret Sanger, which tied into the images of bondage:

Hidden behind this controversy is one reason for all those chains and ropes, which has to do with the history of the fight for women’s rights. Because Marston kept his true relationship with Olive Byrne a secret, he kept his family’s ties to Margaret Sanger a secret, too. Marston, Byrne and Holloway, and even Harry G. Peter, the artist who drew Wonder Woman, had all been powerfully influenced by the suffrage, feminism and birth control movements. And each of those movements had used chains as a centerpiece of its iconography.

More details on the use of similar art in Sanger-related publications is included on the second page of the Smithsonian article.

Lepore sums up that section with this:

When Marston created Wonder Woman, in 1941, he drew on Sanger’s legacy and inspiration. But he was also determined to keep the influence of Sanger on Wonder Woman a secret.

More on Margaret Sanger:
the Inspiration for Wonder Woman

Wonder WomanMargaret Sanger was the founder of what is now the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

Sanger was known as a free love (e.g. the arrangement already mentioned that her niece was involved in) and birth control activist, but what her supporters want to cover up now is her support for eugenics.

Much of the quotes have been cited before by the modern pro-life movement. I’ll get to them in a moment but I thought that quoting her Wikipedia entry might be a good thing to do, since any edits to her biography there are highly scrutinized due to the controversy surrouding her.

From Wikipedia:

In “The Morality of Birth Control,” a 1921 speech, she divided society into three groups: the “educated and informed” class that regulated the size of their families, the “intelligent and responsible” who desired to control their families in spite of lacking the means or the knowledge, and the “irresponsible and reckless people” whose religious scruples “prevent their exercising control over their numbers.” Sanger concludes, “There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped.”

Sanger’s eugenic policies included an exclusionary immigration policy, free access to birth control methods, and full family planningautonomy for the able-minded, as well as compulsory segregation or sterilization for the “profoundly retarded”. In her book The Pivot of Civilization, she advocated coercion to prevent the “undeniably feeble-minded” from procreating.

 

National Right to Life has written more about Sanger and eugenics:

But if someone is truly “unfit,” he or she is too stupid or out-of-control to stop reproducing voluntarily. So, as Sanger wrote in 1921, governments should “attempt to restrain, either by force or persuasion, the moron and the imbecile from producing his large family of feeble-minded offspring.”

Now you understand Sanger’s support of forced sterilization of the “unfit,” something enthusiastically promoted by many of her friends and collaborators, such as former Planned Parenthood president Alan Guttmacher (after whom Planned Parenthood’s former research arm is named) or Clarence Gamble, who used his fortune to set up sterilization clinics throughout the South and Midwest.

Gamble was proud of his work promoting involuntary sterilization but complained in 1947 that there was much more to do: “For every one man or woman who has been sterilized, there are 40 others who can continue to pour defective genes into the State’s bloodstream to pollute and degrade future generations.”

Some Sanger quotes, from Life News (here and here):

  • “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
  • “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.”
  • “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities.  The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
  • “[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.”
  • “I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan … I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses … I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak … In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered.”
  • I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world – that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they’re born. That to me is the greatest sin – that people can – can commit.

The creator of Wonder Woman was living with two lovers, his wife, and their children. He thought women want to be submissive and bound and he admired Sanger, an advocate of free love and eugenics. I can see why he hid all of this from the people behind what became DC Comics.

Rapper involved in Waffle House fight in SC

Waffle House

Fox Carolina reports that rapper Juvenile was involved in an altercation at a Waffle House on Pelham Road in Greenville, South Carolina.

From their report (emphasis added):

A witness told FOX Carolina Juvenile entered the Waffle House restaurant on Pelham Road on Friday night. According to reports, a man in the restaurant said, “Juvenile is here, I guess the hoes are coming.”

Juvenile, who was with his wife, reportedly thought the man had insulted her and became angry.

The witness said Juvenile’s security team pulled him out of the restaurant but he came back in. When the man stood up, Juvenile punched him in the face before his friends joined in the attack, according to the witness.

A waitress at the restaurant reportedly grabbed the sink hose and sprayed down the whole group.

The report indicates that by the time local law enforcement arrived the “scene had cleared.”

Waffle House isn’t the sole scene of Juvenile’s crimes

Juvenile is 41 years old. His real name is Terius Gray and he was born in New Orleans.

He has been involved in hip hop as a rapper since 1991. Gray has also had a limited acting career.

Juvenile’s legal history dates back to at least 2002, when he was charged with assaulting his barber. He suspected the barber of bootlegging his music. Since then, he has been arrested on drug charges and performed community service for being involved in a fight outside a club. In 2010, he received probation after being charged with possession of marijuana. He also was charged with simple possession and speeding in New Orleans in 2011.

Juvenile also is a deadbeat dad.

In 2004, Joy Deleston filed a paternity lawsuit against him. Both parties agreed that he was the father after a DNA test. The lawsuit contended Juvenile was not paying child support for his daughter Jelani. In 2008, Joy Deleston, Jelani, and another of Joy’s children were murdered by Joy’s 17 year old son. Juvenile received criticism for not attending the funeral, but indicated that he didn’t want to be a distraction.

In 2012, a warrant was issued for Juvenile’s arrest for failure to pay child support to Dionne Williams, reportedly the mother of his teenage son. A judge ruled that he could avoid arrest and 90 days in jail if he paid $50,000 immediately.

Rapper DMX involved in police call at SC hotel

DMX

DMX is in the news again, and the police were involved.

According to WSPA:

Spartanburg Police say they responded to a disturbance call at the Marriott Monday morning.

Police say Earl Simmons also known as DMX was there.

They say a report was not filed because everyone had left and there was no criminal action taking place when they got there.

Previously the rapper, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was arrested for possession of marjjuana and served an outstanding warrant in Spartanburg County. He also was stopped for driving under suspension and driving without a license in South Carolina.

There is a voluminous section of the Wikipedia page on the rapper detailing just his legal trouble since 1998. Charges against him have included animal cruelty, drug possession, theft, violation of probation, weapons possession, and assault just to name a few. The ones I listed are on the less serious end of all the charges against him over the past 18 years.

‘Little Obama’ ice cream for sale in Russia

Little ObamaAccording to The Moscow Times, a new ice cream product called Obamka, or Little Obama, is on sale now in the Russian republic of Tatarstan.

It went on sale last month in the city of Naberezhnye Chelny.

A Soviet-era cartoon called Chunga-Changa, about an island inhabited by African children, is reportedly the inspiration for the product.

The product is currently only available locally.

The name of the product isn’t political, according to the manufacturer:

Deputy development director at the Slavitsa ice cream factory Rasil Mustafin, said that the name was not political but chosen due to the product’s chocolate flavor. “There’s no political underpinning. We have no intention to offend anyone,” he said. “Someone at the factory came up with the idea.”

Little Obama not the only Obama product overseas

little obamaIn 2014, it was reported that Chinese vendors near the Great Wall of China had been forced to temporarily stop selling Obama-Mao t-shirts. The reason for the moratorium was a visit to the area by First Lady Michelle Obama. These shirts depicted President Obama dressed as Chinese Communist icon Mao Zedong. Plenty of other “Obamao” products have been for sale in the People’s Republic.

Obama isn’t alone in this regard there:

As I walked through one hutong, I saw a paper fan sporting the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s face beside the caption: “Do not miss me, I’m already a legend.”

During a 2009 Summit in Russia, there were nesting dolls featuring Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, and Dmitry Medvedev.

When President Obama visited Kenya in 2015, it was seen as, “a prime opportunity for otherwise impoverished citizens to make some fast money selling Obama souvenirs.”

The Wall Street Journal‘s lede in a story on this subject goes into further details:

Kenyan street hawker Enokh Mulure and two friends recently spent about $1,300 on a truckload of Barack Obama mugs, calendars, baseball caps and T-shirts. Mr. Obama is making his first trip to Kenya as president this week, and to Mr. Mulure that means one thing: “Business.”

Yale names college for bigot

YaleYes, Yale voted to retain the name of Calhoun College – named for  John C. Calhoun – this week. All the media attention was on that move, but Yale didn’t succumb to the revisionist trend that includes renaming things and tearing down statues.

However, Yale also announced that they had named two colleges at the same time. One of these was named for Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin, a Founding Father, appears on the $100 bill and is honored in numerous ways across the country – especially in Philadelphia. He had some opinions that could be considered just as controversial as the views of Calhoun that caused some to want to drop his name from a Yale college. My point is not to trash Franklin or move to remove from the $100 bill. I am just demonstrating the absurdity of the positions of revisionists and taking positions to their logical ends.

Franklin made a lot of comments about German immigrants coming to the American colonies during the 1700s. I had heard before he was concerned about Philadelphia becoming predominantly German-speaking and favored a push by some in the city to direct all the immigrants from Germany to go to the surrounding areas that are now the suburbs. When he was younger, he published a German-language newspaper that failed after a year.

Franklin thought Germans were stupid among other things:

“Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation…and as few of the English understand the German Language, and so cannot address them either from the Press or Pulpit, ’tis almost impossible to remove any prejudices they once entertain…Not being used to Liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it…I remember when they modestly declined intermeddling in our Elections, but now they come in droves, and carry all before them, except in one or two Counties…In short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies, as you very judiciously propose, they will soon so out number us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language, and even our Government will become precarious.”

He also didn’t think Germans were white enough, calling them “swarthy”

Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the   English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as   to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our   Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.

24. Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely   white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is   black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new   Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, theSpaniards, Italians,   French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call   a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only   excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People   on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while   we are, as I may call it,Scouring our Planet, by clearing   America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a   brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should   we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of   Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an   Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely   White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for   such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.

As a descendant of some of these German immigrants who came to Pennsylvania before eventually ending up in North Carolina, I could take offense at this. I could demand Franklin be removed from the $100 bill and that his statue be upended everywhere, but I won’t.

I don’t believe in rewriting history and I think Yale did the right thing by not changing the name of Calhoun College. History is history, even with all its warts. You can’t learn from it if you totally blot it out.

Yale students upset about Franklin name

The New York Times reports that actual Yale students were actually upset about the Franklin naming:

Many students were perplexed by the selection of Franklin, who received an honorary degree from Yale. Franklin, like many other founding fathers, was once a slaveholder himself before he became involved in the abolitionist movement. Mr. Salovey explained that Franklin was a “personal hero and role model” of Charles B. Johnson, a businessman and Yale alumnus who donated $250 million to pay for the new buildings — the largest gift in the school’s history — and who suggested the honor.

Of course, the NYT didn’t have any quotes from all the Yale students interviewed about the Franklin name, so I’m not sure that there were that “many” who were “perplexed” by the move.

If these students were upset about a slaveholder (Franklin) who later became an abolitionist, then very few names of any white males prior to 1865 can be used as a name on Yale’s campus.