• Who is Wonder Woman?


    Ma. Isabel Ongpin

    “WONDER Woman,” the film, has made box-office records not only as the leading grosser on the weekend it opened, and counting, but for the fact that the heroine, a comic book character with super powers, is a woman.

    Additionally, Wonder Woman is not into fighting for the sake of Biff! Bam! and Ka-runch! like the male super characters for whatever reason, but to promote the power of Love and, if necessary, fight for its victory.

    That is the message of this movie—love one another and care for one another so as to avoid wars, fights, stand-offs. But if there are villains, conspiracies and warmongers in the way, then polish them off with Wonder Woman’s trained use of her power assets.

    So, relax and see the movie, enjoy the action and understand the message—the power of Love.

    Wonder Woman was a comic book character created by William Moulton Marston (under the pen name Charles Moulton) in 1941 when the clouds of war were hovering over Europe and would soon engulf not only that continent but Asia. William Marston was a psychologist and is credited with creating the systolic blood pressure test to detect deception (the predecessor of today’s polygraph or lie detector test).

    But he had a collaborator as acknowledged by more than one writer of the time and proved by a photo of her in his laboratory in 1920, his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston.

    Elizabeth, nicknamed Sadie, was a woman ahead of her time. Born in the Isle of Man, she was brought up in Boston, Massachusetts. She was inclined to science but encountered the usual obstacles a woman had to face for educational opportunities in the early 20th century. She could not attend the Bronx School of Science because only men were admitted into the school. She went to a woman’s college and graduated with a B.A. in psychology in 1915 from Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, Massachusetts, considered the oldest women’s college among the so-called Seven Sisters (similar women’s colleges) in the US East Coast.

    Having met, Elizabeth and William both went to Harvard for graduate studies in psychology. Again, she had to attend the women’s college allied with Harvard, Radcliffe, as Harvard was decades away from being co-educational. He gained a doctorate and she a master’s degree in psychology. Elizabeth went on to law school, not Harvard Law because it was still in the rut of male-only students, but Boston University where she was one of three women who graduated from the law school in 1918 .

    Marston worked in a laboratory and taught at university. Elizabeth lectured on law, ethics and psychology at various universities. And she also did the tedious job of indexing documents of 14 Congresses. She became an editor of Encyclopedia Britannica and McCall’s Magazine and eventually got the post of assistant to the chief executive of Metropolitan Life Insurance, one of the biggest insurance companies in the country. I would guess she was doing a lot of executive work there without getting public credit.

    She had two children – Pete and Olive. The Marstons also had a longtime friend who became a partner in their household, Olive Byrne, who had three children of her own. This might have been an unconventional household in the US, but which would not seem too out of place here with our extended families and close friends who become part of the family. Ultimately, Elizabeth adopted Olive’s three children legally. Olive did all the housework and bringing up the children while Elizabeth and William were at work. At one time when William was out of work, Elizabeth was the family breadwinner.

    Her work on the invention of the systolic pressure test came about when she assisted William in his thesis about the correlation of blood pressure to detect deception and she was directly and indirectly listed as his collaborator in this early part of his career.

    When Marston came up with the idea of creating a super character for comics, Elizabeth was consulted. He had the idea that he wanted to have a character that would end warfare, promote goodwill and achieve a world of peace. In a way, it was an elevated idea featuring Love and what a hero should be doing with his powers – promote the idea of Love.

    Elizabeth wholeheartedly approved and is said to have added that the character better be a woman.

    And thus, Wonder Woman.

    Now Mount Holyoke alumnae—of which I disclose that I am one—think Elizabeth was Wonder Woman herself.

    She lived to be 100.


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