trypr replied to your quote: Umm…how is Steve Trevor being the first man Diana…I think a lot of people are not sold on the whole Tarzan/Jane thing, or the whole “fall in love at first sight” thing; no more than the idea that a person has a destined/”true” love. Experience, belief and perspective are bound to affect that.
It’s not that, though. It’s not that she fell in love quick because honestly, they can lengthen his stay on the island to draw that out (some treatments have done this) or kick that down the line to their interaction afterwards. It’s always that he was the FIRST guy she saw, and she ran off with him. The accusations that it’s sexist are always about not having met other men first, not about the amount of time it takes. But this is a thing, when a male character who has been isolated and never met a woman meets one and runs off with her.. it’s the cause for chuckling at worst.
Same story idea used with Wonder Woman? It’s a sign of how sexist the narrative is, and used to justify getting rid of the less powerful male love interest.
Well, my experience of this sort of discussion in WW fandom is that opposing sides usually try to paint all disagreement into a corner. For what it’s worth, I agree with you that it’s not categorically sexist but I still feel the way it was written often was; Steve Trevor as a “Prince Charming” figure who implicitly deserved her. That was his role in the narrative, and that was the problem.
Perhaps she meets him, they spend time together, there’s a strong attraction. Perhaps she’s fascinated by the world and wants to go see it, even couples that with an “official” mission to help. And Steve wants to head home and it’s convenient, given it all, that they go together, but he is not her focus. Maybe there’s tension and compromise. Likely it’s not a conventional relationship. I can imagine how it might work, but it’s not team Steve/Diana, as such, and it’s not something which would make Wonder Woman suddenly better, imo.
I’m in the segment of the fanbase that has little investment in Steve Trevor as a love interest: I’ve nothing against her having a “Steve Trevor” as a love interest, but I don’t think it really adds anything, save to give people who do have a vested interest in that an outlet (and why not).
For what it’s worth I think the arguements that he is implicitly undeserving, for whatever reason other than his behaviour in an arc, are nonsense and I’m all for Diana dating/handfasting/whathaveyou non-capes.
I am always interested by and enjoy your passionate and insightful analysis of the character, but it often feels as if there’s a false dichotomy on this issue. Tarzan/Jane and guys running off with the first girl they see: none of that appeals to me and, like a lot of “classic romance”, feels laced with binarist patriarchal messages, or just stupidity, if not explicit sexism. And I don’t think Wonder Woman ever genuinely deconstructed that. Ymmv.
All, right, I have trouble with the latter part of the post because you spell your problem out so well in the first paragraph. Let me bold it for you:but I still feel the way it was written often was; Steve Trevor as a “Prince Charming” figure who implicitly deserved her. That was his role in the narrative, and that was the problem.
“Deserved her.” See where you’re tripped up here? Let me say it once again: Wonder Woman is not a prize.
Wonder Woman is not the person who is deserved or won. Wonder Woman is an inversion of the narrative role where the princess is won through heroism. Wonder Woman is the hero of the narrative.
I’ve discussed this before. Steve is passively desirable and doesn’t earn her because he is MEANT to be passively desirable and she is the active character.
And I’m really not trying to paint you into a corner here, it’s just that it’s a tough attitude to discard. Even though you don’t think he’s implicently undeserving, you still said it bothered you that you were expected to assume he deserved her. And really, I always found it fascinating that despite the fact that he’s uniformly introduced as very good-looking, very supportive of her, extremely good-natured and decorated war veteran many of us still feel he doesn’t “deserve” Wonder Woman. Would you say that of a female love interest for a male character? That, despite being generally portrayed as beautiful and a good person, she has to do something special to deserve the hero?
I’ve seen female love interests derided as undeserving, but that’s usually presented as something they DID that was mean-spirited or cruel that specifically discredited them, not because they were simply seen as a bit bland. With Steve, it’s that somehow he has never done enough to fit the love interest role.
And you can argue that Wonder Woman never properly deconstructed classical romance, but that would be because it hasn’t had a chance to since Steve was removed at the end of the Bronze Age. The writing techniques were just maturing then. They missed the last thirty years when we were really playing with superheroes, and most of the knock-offs of WW from then have been paired with a Superman knock-off, we only just NOW have a WW analogue with a Steve analogue in Supurbia. The opportunity to turn classical romance on it’s heel is something Steve added to the narrative. Steve also, as a military officer, represents patriarchal authority and demonstrates that a force like Wonder Woman can overrule and command respect and adoration from patriarchal authority, and transform it.
Even amidst the sexism of the 40s, 50s and 60s, the mere fact that it reversed the roles and Diana was the active prince dragon-fighting character put a different dynamic on it. Every story was about Diana, about the things she does, and they show her taking the lead and being the active director in a relationship with a man.
That was revolutionary, even as written by Bob Kanigher.
In the 40s, in the middle of wartime, there would be scenes with General Darnell, Colonel Trevor and other high-ranking military officers standing around listening to Wonder Woman’s ideas. That in itself is amazing. What is even more amazing is when you stop to think that she is the girlfriend of one of these officers, and she is not being written off and he has no problem whatsoever with his girlfriend being better at his job than he is.
And that’s why we still need him in the narrative, because even today we have parts written out of movies because they feel an action heroine saving her husband emasculates him. With Steve we have a guy who is uniformly happy with being outmatched in the “manly ways” by not just a woman but a woman he’s involved with, and retains a traditionally masculine demeanor. This is pretty much the only character who plays this role to a heroine of iconic status, and it is a tragedy we never got to see him developed in the modern-story-telling line as we did Lois Lane.
I think there’s enough of him in the old pre-Crisis stories to get a personality with merits and flaws across, he’s not simply a bland Prince Charming cipher. And the way he was set up originally, as a handsome brave man with a record of having been a war hero was to make him as desirable as your standard female love interest was. It was really the Bronze Age and the post-Crisis era that developed the hell out of these characters, and Steve was consigned to a mere 60 issues of the Bronze Age. (He does come off rather well in them.)
My apologies, I should have qualified that comment better.
I meant to fault the implicit idea that he either does or does not deserve her, as well: A person is not a prize, I agree. That was also my intention when I wrote that painting him as “undeserving” was nonsense. However, when I have read pre-crisis Wonder Woman stories, the way in which their relationships is presented seems, to me, to treat her (and him) exactly that way. He may not be a completely bland Prince Charming cipher but the point of the Prince Charming figure is that he is your “reward” (or you are his), he is person you end up with. The narrative always assumes that, to my eyes: it is partly a consequence of the period, yes. And it’s implicitly patriarchal.
Lois and Clark have had the same historical problem, except we’ve had some modern writers actually write them well. And Lois was always a far better developed character than Steve, as you point out. But I would still have to be very picky about which modern writers.
You could certainly write a male love interest named Steve Trevor, even as the first man she met, who would work. But personally, I don’t find many merits in the pre-Crisis depictions of him, though I know what you are getting at.
It’s pathetic that Hollywood (and enough of it’s audience) remains convinced that the accomplishment of women undermines the endeavour of men, but even if you have him in the role you describe it still seems to play into a dated, binary gender narrative to me. Even if you reverse the roles it remains so, and I’m not convinced that depicting conventionally masculine men being comfortable with women who can exceed them in conventionally masculine fields really addresses the problem. It still reinforces a hierarchy of gendered accomplishment and we just as easily end up with “Strong Female Characters” instead of/as well as “Strong Male Characters”. It even seems a mistake to present her accomplishments through the lens of that kind of relationship: if that is the intent.
That’s not to say it’d be a bad thing to have Steve as a LI with positive conventionally masculine characteristics, you can obviously go further than leaving him as a cipher. I just don’t agree it’s a radical or especially transformative move for the comic these days, and outside that; having him play into his traditional role is problematic, from my perspective.
16 Notes/ Hide
- daniphantomgone likes this
- daniphantomgone reblogged this from ragnell
- hetti-butler reblogged this from trypr
- bohemianartlabs likes this
- austencollins likes this
- therearecertainshadesoflimelight likes this
- kathryn-eliza likes this
- britt-ish likes this
- ragnell reblogged this from trypr and added:
- trypr reblogged this from ragnell and added:
- cacchieressa likes this
- swatkat reblogged this from ragnell and added:
- swatkat likes this
- ragnell posted this