Wonder Woman: A How To Guide for Little Jewish Girls
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
February 26, 2011
Wonder Woman really is a feminist icon, Cyndi Freeman points out in her one-woman show. And after you see Wonder Woman: A How To Guide For Little Jewish Girls you will probably agree.
Freeman relates how in the ‘70s she learned to assert herself despite a loud family not interested in what she had to say. The TV show of Wonder Woman starring Lynda Carter set an example. To set the record straight, the first season of the show was set (like the original 1940s comic books), during World War II. Wonder Woman routinely got herself out of trouble and showed the Nazis who was boss. Only later was the TV show moved from CBS to ABC and set in the present, with a quite different feel. Freeman tells how Wonder Woman got her on the path to founding a feminist theater company and celebrating her body through burlesque performance.
Equally fascinating for me was the section on Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston. He is also known for creating the polygraph test (not so different from Wonder Woman’s “lasso of truth”), which he believed would show people how to live life being more true to themselves. Wonder Woman (modeled after the ancient Amazons but violent only when pursuing justice) was an idea of how women could lead the world better than the men who had recently caused two world wars. And, should anyone say that a man can’t be a feminist, Marston lived with two women in a polyamorous relationship and created his heroine in tribute to his indomitable wife Elizabeth (who lived to be 102). Interviews with Marston’s family provide some more wonderful anecdotes.
Freeman’s performance is inspiring, uplifting, and ends with a little burlesque. She relates how a history of breast cancer in her family has led doctors to suggest a double mastectomy and hysterectomy, despite her not having cancer. Why would I want to cut out everything that makes me a woman?, she asks. A profoundly moving question indeed. Hats off to accomplished playwright/performer David Drake for directing this show with so much unapologetic love for life.