DISCOURSE DISH: Greg Rucka, Wonder Woman and the Fine Line

After last week’s brief discussion of X-Men fandom, I return to DC dishing.  Because man, DC can’t go two weeks without some kind of discursive nonsense cropping up.  This week, I want to talk about Greg Rucka‘s interview-reveal that Wonder Woman likes women as well as men.

Matt Santori-Griffith conducted the interview in question, and I recommend people try and read the whole thing.  The interview focuses on trying to create a balance.  In telling it, they want to tell the best Wonder Woman story they can.  Of course, that means honestly depicting a legitimately utopic society of all women.

A lot of publications have quoted the following section of the interview, where Greg Rucka makes the ‘reveal’:

Matt Santori-Griffith: I’m going to start off simple and to the point. The Wonder Woman that you and Nicola have introduced to us in “Year One” — is she queer?

Greg Rucka: How are we defining “queer?”

You’re applying a term specifically and talking to an ostensibly cis male (and white to boot), so “queer” to me may not be the same as it is to an out gay man. So, tell me what queer is.

MSG: Fair enough. For the purposes of this conversation, I would define “queer” as involving, although not necessarily exclusively, romantic and/or sexual interest toward persons of the same gender. It’s not the full definition, but it’s the part I’m narrowing in on here.

GR: Then, yes.

Quite a few articles I’ve seen cut the quotations here.  It makes for a good soundbyte, but seems disingenuous considering the rest of the interview.  Immediately following this, Rucka states:

I think it’s more complicated though. This is inherently the problem with Diana: we’ve had a long history of people — for a variety of reasons, including sometimes pure titillation, which I think is the worst reason — say, “Ooo. Look. It’s the Amazons. They’re gay!”

And when you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due, the answer is, “How can they not all be in same sex relationships?” Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise.

It’s supposed to be paradise. You’re supposed to be able to live happily. You’re supposed to be able — in a context where one can live happily, and part of what an individual needs for that happiness is to have a partner — to have a fulfilling, romantic and sexual relationship. And the only options are women.

While this does ignore the concepts of asexuality and aromanticism, it does hit the nail on the head when it comes to the complicated simplicity of Wonder Woman’s origins.

Of course, by our definitions, Wonder Woman is queer.  Rucka goes on to discuss how he wants to make it clear that Diana doesn’t leave Themyscira because she’s “fallen for a guy.”  So he wants to establish that Diana has had previous lovers, and that those lovers were, obviously, women.

Canonically, there are some dialog lines to this effect, like in the image below:

In the lefthandmost panel, background Amazons clearly lust after Diana.  The dialogue implies that Diana has done things, either romantic or sexual, with Kasia, Meghara, and Evrayle.  I want to believe we can call this incontrovertible proof, canonically speaking.

But we live in a world where Marvel can decide at the drop of a hat that Hercules has never had a sexual interest in men.  We live in a world where LGBT characters fall off the radar with unsettling regularity with the Big Two.  Hell, Mystique’s defining romantic relationship got erased wholesale from the movieverse and replaced with a series of heterosexual subplots!  Forgive me for saying that I have trouble trusting even something this explicit.

Because I know that, for all Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott want to avoid fetishization here, we walk a very fine line with stuff like this.

The most we know is that Diana probably has sex with women.

This, unfortunately, falls neatly in with something that WLW see a lot of in mainstream media.  A bisexual woman — whose sexuality conveniently goes unlabeled in the canon — has minor relationships with women.  Then, she meets a man.  When she enters into a relationship with him, that relationship suddenly receives narrative focus.  That relationship defines her romantic life for that story.  This story prevails so often in mainstream media that it bleeds into real life: bisexuality written off as ‘the lesbian phase.’  Parents telling their daughters ‘oh you haven’t met the right man yet.’

I don’t want that for Diana.  Diana should not be a vehicle, intentional or unintentional, for that stereotype.

I recognize that Diana and Steve have something incredibly special.  Steve’s Diana’s Lois Lane.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t develop those previous relationships she had before and after him.  We need to know more about Kasia, about Meghara, about Evrayle.  Does Diana see elements of them in Steve?  What about them made her love them?  Did those relationships mark periods in her life, or did they all flow together?

Greg Rucka says he wants to tell the ‘best Wonder Woman story’ that he can.  I believe him.

But I have to ask him, then, to develop her past the same way he develops her present.  Clark Kent has Lana Lang, after all, and Lori Lemaris — does Diana have women like that in her history?

Could she have women like that in her present?

Tell me those stories, Mr. Rucka.  Because they matter.


Murphy Leigh

Murphy is a vaguely femininish malady who spends most of their time worshipping at the altars of Lois Lane, Chloe Sullivan, Jean Grey, and Wanda Maximoff. Their first confirmable event-memory is Princess Leia at the start of A New Hope. Has more in common with Lex Luthor than Lex Luthor would probably like to admit.

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