Wonder Woman's Fascinating Origin Story

Historian Jill Lepore on the Secret History of the Iconic Superheroine

August 30, 2015

Since her creation in 1941, Wonder Woman has become one of the most popular superheroes of all time, as well as an beloved icon of second-wave feminism. It also turns out she has a fascinating origin story that intersects with the Women's movement of the early 20th century, the lie detector, and even involves the founders of Planned Parenthood. Historian Jill Lepore tells Steve Paulson about these connections, and talks about Wonder Woman's eccentric creator.



Ms.Lepore speaks far too fast. I could not understand a lot of her talk. What a pity.

I agree with the previous commenter. The historical origins of Wonder Woman are fascinating, but Dr. Lepore not only rattles too fast, she switches tracks multiple times mid-sentence. God help any student trying to take notes in one of her classes. (and I worked with Judith Butler at Berkeley, so that's saying a LOT.) Maybe it's a public speaking or performance anxiety thing, but it's pretty disconcerting for a listener who is truly interested in the subject matter. Forgive me, Dr. Lepore, if this sounds mean, but it was like listening to a coked-up squirrel.

It was wrong for Ms. Lepore to link Margaret Sanger with suffragettes as though they were of one cloth when it came to the women's movement of the early 20th century. The first feminists were not only pro-woman; they were adamently pro-life. They called abortion child murder. Margaret Sanger was more interested in free love, controlling reproduction, and eugenics.