Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Male Feminist pt1

Okay I admit it, I bit off more than I can chew. I've really bitten off more than I can chew this time and the worst of it is that you; denizens of the data flow, you are the ones who have to digest it.

Upon reflection, perhaps things aint all that bad after all.
Because, (after all,) the interweb is an infinite menu and and instant click will take folk far away from this rubbish and onto something more palatable in an electronic nano-thrice.

Well today shall be one of them sloppy posts, so: If the urge should strike you, as you scan the pixels before you, to do this: then my advice is to obey that urge, (instantly).

Still here?-Okay then, I'spose that I might as well begin:

Have a look at this picture.This picture is a bit big<br /> and may take time to load.<br /> If that is the case,<br /> I do apologise. This picture is from 1938 and depicts, in a fairly stagy way, the use of the first systolic pressure lie detector test. The gentleman on the far right is William Moulton Marston. The Lady taking notes is his student, Olive Byrne.

Have a look at Olive; Look familiar? Yes/No? Well there's no real reason why she should, except that, as you may or may not know, as well as inventing the stystolic pressure lie detector test, William Marston also created Wonderwoman, and cited Olive as one of his inspirations.

So let me say that once again:
Mr Marston invented the pre-cursor to the modern polygraph and he also invented the most well-known female super-hero of all time, based on Olive, (observe the bracelets!). How cool is that?

Marston is often referred to as a kind of 'proto-feminist', and at a time when women were regarded almost as children (and granted about as much self-determination), Marston was envisaging a new dawn of female supremacy. His most common quote (on the interveb) is from the American Scholar interview of 1944 where he said:

"Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power... ...Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."

Now that's a pretty cool thing for anyone to be coming out with back in 1944, I think you'd have to admit. Also, on the absolute fabbo-ness front, this man deserves respect for championing comics.

Marston examined comics when other psychologists were queueing up to blame them as a contributer to illiteracy and juvenile delinquency. It was when this intellectual crusade, ( which lead to the infamous 'comic-codes authority'), was in full 'Spanish Inquisition' mode, that Marston celebrated the popularity of the comic book form; seeing it as an opportunity to get kids to read -- and a platform to circulate his feminine supremacist ideal.

Here he addresses it in the same interveiw:

"It’s too bad for us ‘literary’ enthusiasts, but it’s the truth nevertheless -- pictures tell any story more effectively than words....If children will read comics...why isn’t it advisable to give them some constructive comics to read?"

Go on ya good thing Marston me boyo! So is it possible perhaps that William Moulton Marston was simply a brilliant and fantastic person, years ahead of his time and totally under-appreciated? Well.. um.. er... Okay this is where I get into the area of having bitten off more than I can comfortably chew... The answer to the above question is 'Yes!': but, it is a 'Yes!-but...'

As I admitted in the earlier post, I started this whole thing from a position of prejudice. It doesn't show much faith in human nature I guess, but I'm wary of folk who champion causes. I'm even more wary of folk who champion causes that do not seem to further their own self interest in even the smallest way. And a 'male feminist' kinda strikes me as likely phoney.

When I decided yesterday, to have a closer look at William, I was hazily aware that he lived in a menage e trois and that his second 'wife' ( Olive, incidentally): had been one of his students. I also knew that that 'gold-rope-that-made-you-tell-the-truth' didn't come out of nowhere and there was a huge aspect of bondage to his comics and to his psychological philosophy; I knew that an early study with his lie detector was to ask girls ( who, had been through a humiliating 'hazing' ritual,) whether they had enjoyed being beaten up and spanked. Conclusion: 'They loved it really the little tarts!'.

Alright I paraphrase, but my point being that when I decided to have a wee scratch on the surface; I wasn't really expecting to find what you'd call a 'feminist' and certainly, by today's standards, I didn't. But I didn't get a sense of a straight-forward fake either.

I shall have to finish this tomorrow, the computer's acting up and it's too late for me to continue.

I told you I bit off more than I can chew didn't I?


  1. Lets see if i'm following the trail correctly.

    Yesterday you set out by saying that you are prejudiced, that everyone is prejudiced, and that you were going to take some fellow who claims to be a 'feminist' to task.

    Today you admit that you judged William Marston a bit too quickly and after doing research things are now somewhat more muddied.

    In doing this was it your intention to demonstrate a case 'prejudice', a judgement taken before adequete knowledge?

    Also, Marston in this episode is now addressed as a 'proto-feminist' and not a feminist at all.

    Not only that but you have not produced a quote where he labels himself as a 'feminist' at all, maybe such a quote is coming in the next installment or maybe Marston is not the subject of this proposed categorical defenestration?

    Through none of this have you actually yet defined what a 'Feminist' is, so i presume thats coming too?

    'I'm even more wary of folk who champion causes that do not seem to further their own self interest in even the smallest way. And a 'male feminist' kinda strikes me as likely phoney.'

    Unless everything hinges on the inclusion of 'seem' here then it could be argued that a 'male feminist', by advocating equal rights/opportunities for woman, is arguing for a more just and egalitarian society.

    Perhaps the 'male feminist'imagines that such a society would provide a better quality of life for all and therefore advocating woman's rights indirectly benefits him if it reults in such a society coming into being.

    In the case of Marston, most of the quotes and timescale seems to place his actions as taking place during the war when woman needed to be freed up for the workforce.

    A cynic, such as myself, might be taken to argue that Marston's proto-feminism was more for economic and propaganda purposes than from any real zeal for equal rights.

    A parallel can even be drawn to Edward Bernay's co-opting of the woman's-lib movement on the behalf of big tobacco back in 1929.

    Thats right girls light up those torches of freedom.

    Well, this is a real cliff-hanger... how will the Maher get himself out of his self-sealed pickle jar?

    For now, 'Lets all go to the lobby, lets all go to the lobby, lets all go to the lobby and get ourselves some treats'

  2. The comics code authority just died.

    Ding Dong the witch is dead!

    Peace and Hope