Super: The Whole World Is Waiting For You To Come Out As Bisexual
This week is Bisexual Awareness Week, an annual event intended to raise bisexual visibility and combat the marginalization of people who are attracted to both their own and other genders. Bisexuals face challenges not only within heteronormative mainstream culture, but within LGBTQ culture as well. Their identity is often challenged by straight and gay alike, and they're frequently compartmentalized as straight or gay based on their past, current, or preferred partners. Bisexual Awareness Week exists to challenge these preconceptions.
To mark the occasion, artist Kris Anka posted an image of some of his favorite bisexual comics heroes and villains on Twitter. His picks included John Constantine, Catwoman, Psylocke, Mystique, and Prodigy --- all confirmed on-panel bisexual characters --- plus a sixth character that some fans were surprised to see; Wonder Woman.
Is Wonder Woman bisexual? Almost 75 years after the character's creation by William Moulton Marston and Elizabeth Holloway Marston, it's extraordinary that this is an unresolved question, especially as there's only one way to resolve it.
Wonder Woman comes from a paradise of women; a place where the only intimate romantic relationships are between women. Same-sex relationships are the presumed default of Wonder Woman's world. Now, social expectation does not determine an individual's sexuality, as any queer person can tell you, but it would be a gesture of extreme contrarianism, even contempt, to decide that a hero from a queer culture should be the one major hero to go against expectation and, oh hey, coincidentally conform to our expectation of straightness. Batman isn't the exception to heteronormative Gotham; Superman isn't the exception to heteronormative Krypton. Why should Wonder Woman be the exception to queer Themyscira?
So Wonder Woman is more plausibly attracted to women than to men. But decades of DC stories have told us that she is attracted to men --- Steve Trevor, Batman, Superman, Trevor Barnes and others. So she's either straight or bisexual, right? For many fans --- and many creators, who have gone on the record or dropped little hints over the years --- the latter seems much more plausible than the former, and DC editors are certainly aware of that interpretation.
So why hasn't DC ever said that she's bisexual?
The likely answer is that DC is afraid to do so, because it believes the financial risks may outweigh the financial rewards. Wonder Woman remains one of the publisher's best-known and most merchandizable characters, and DC doesn't want to face the backlash from bigots that such a headline-grabbing confirmation would invite.
The bigots don't have the power they once had --- One Million Moms' pitiful protests against Archie Comics' gay teen Kevin Keller and Northstar's wedding in Astonishing X-Men back in 2012 marked the tipping point in that regard --- but publishers are still finding their confidence, and with Wonder Woman appearing in next year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and then her own movie in 2017, the stakes are as high as they've ever been. This decision may not even be in DC's hands, but in the hands of parent company Warner Bros.
Even if DC did confirm Wonder Woman's bisexuality, it would only guarantee a short term spike of interest in the character. It would be up to DC to manage the momentum, and the publisher may not feel up to that challenge.
But thanks to events like Bisexual Awareness Week, thanks to the progress being made in the media and in the culture for broader acceptance of diverse sexualities, and thanks to a generational shift towards tolerance, I think confirming Wonder Woman's bisexuality now would only place her at the forefront of social change, while simultaneously helping to advance it. Wonder Woman is already an icon to a lot of LGBTQ people precisely because of her feminist ideals and Sapphic subtext. An openly bisexual Wonder Woman would instantly be the most important fictional queer role model in the world.
And in fact, at the rate society is shifting, the publisher may look unpalatably regressive if it doesn't embrace the obvious and establish Wonder Woman's bisexuality. As Marvel discovered when editor-in-chief Axel Alonso prescribed straightness for another divine Greek hero, Hercules, the audience isn't very forgiving of forced heteronormativity. And Hercules didn't even come from Dudes-All-The-Time Island.
Even if DC doesn't commit to Wonder Woman's bisexuality soon, hopefully its editors and executives at least know not to try to insist that Wonder Woman is straight. Her fans know her better than that.
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