(I had originally promised myself that I would wait until I finished reading the book to talk about it, but have since been overruled by what feels like a thousand unhappy gremlins using chopsticks to lacerate my reproductive system.)
Real question for the general public: in any instance of official comic book publication, do superheroes ever have to navigate crime fighting, world saving, and monthly bleeding at the same time?
I am reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, and although we (read: Lepore and I) have yet to discuss anything related to Wonder Woman as a character, my current state of being gives me no choice in the matter. Does Princess Diana have some sort of Herculean hold on her uterine tubes, or is she literally too Amazonian to feel that kind of pain? Or, alternatively, could we assume that like the person, her menstrual cycle is also super and as a result a terrible enemy to Amazonians everywhere? Perhaps I’m jumping the gun here, because I haven’t quite forged ahead in this book, but there has to be something somewhere that provides this kind of information for the DC universe.
Not everyone who reads this experiences a menstrual cycle, and even those who do experience a menstrual cycle will feel it differently from the person next to them. It does make me wonder (*heh*) how our experiences with this cycle of natural proportions would have been influenced if more historical role models provided a form of commentary on it? Wonder Woman first appeared in print in January of 1942, following American entry into World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. American women took the place of men in factories and industry to contribute to the war effort, gaining a new sense of independence and purpose beyond the conventional housewifery of the early 20th century. Why, then, couldn’t Wonder Woman have tackled the menstrual cycle in popular culture?
The simple answer is a surprise to no one, I think: although our Amazonian champion was a woman by design, her creator, William Moulton Marston, was not. He was a staunch supporter of suffragists, and their history inspired his creation of Wonder Woman. Marston’s professional life and private life were also a touch unconventional — the inventor of the lie detector test also definitely had a poly-amorous relationship with his wife and Olive Byrne. Despite that, there remains a distinct gap in Diana’s daily (or monthly) life.
Perhaps the assumption is that periods are a normal part of life, and drawing attention to it takes away from other areas of personal fulfillment. Then again, when someone has to deal with a constant headache during the day or a racking cough, it has the potential of being included into their personal narrative of the day. All’s I’m saying is that when the only way to describe my pain to someone is by sending images of an alien hosting a WWE wrestling match in my uterus, it makes me think WWWWD: What Would Wonder Woman Do?
Menstrual as F–k