It WAS a Man’s World
by Saab Lofton
“I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist.”
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky on that balmy spring day and yet there had been just enough wind to keep the many flags in front of the United Nations building waving. Delegates from dozens of countries milled about as they discussed various issues of the day; an ambassador from East Timor argued with an Indonesian over the latter’s oppression of the former while a similar debate raged between an Israeli and a Palestinian. However, business as usual came to an abrupt halt once the front door slammed wide open and a phalanx of statuesque women in ancient Grecian armor filed in to form a gauntlet down its central hall. Each held a shield adorned with a golden eagle with one hand and wielded a seven foot long spear with the other.
When U.N. security made the mistake of attempting to dispel the aforementioned gauntlet formation, they were either ignored or sent sprawling to the floor with a quick smack to the head — and before reinforcements could arrive to arrest these ladies in arms, it became apparent that their intention had been to clear a path for the woman who commanded them: A flawless beauty wearing a tiara and draped in an indigo, star spangled, ceremonial gown then stepped in from outside and regally strolled between the two rows of armored maidens with a stern expression on her lovely face until she reached the speaker’s podium within the U.N.’s general assembly. Initially, the sight of such a procession disturbed those in attendance but everyone began to settle down soon enough once this dignitary was recognized.
“I’m Princess Diana of Themyscira, but you’re probably more familiar with the title the media gave me, Wonder Woman.”
A hush fell over the crowd upon hearing this, except an anonymous individual cried out at that moment, “I love you!”
“I love you too,” Wonder Woman replied with a faint, half hearted smile, “and don’t mind my Amazon sisters; so as long they’re not provoked you’ll be fine. Anyway, I’m here to petition for Themyscira’s admittance as a member state …” For the better part of an hour, she proceeded to make her case, but afterwards, several delegates and members of the press trepidatiously approached the Amazons surrounding the princess with a barrage of questions (or complaints).
“How can you claim to be for equal rights when you don’t allow any men to go to Paradise Island?” A correspondent from FOX News demanded to know.
“Paradise Island?” Wonder Woman’s head cocked to one side in confusion.
“Oh, yeah,” the correspondent sneered, “any place with thousands of hotties like you running around in loincloths all day must be paradise!”
“As I explained on stage,” Wonder Woman narrowed her eyes and glared, “it’s because of our sacred covenant with the goddesses of Olympus; after Heracles seduced and betrayed my mother, Queen Hippolyta, the Amazons were enslaved — so as penance, every Amazon must wear these invulnerable bracelets as an eternal reminder of how men once bound us and we can’t ever let so much as one man set a single foot on Themyscira. Ever.”
“Or else ..?”
“Or else we’ll begin to age — and since we haven’t aged in over a millennia, we’d soon wither to dust …” One could tell Wonder Woman felt uncomfortable revealing such a thing.
“Are you trying to claim that Heracles, Mount Olympus and all those other Greek myths are real?” A reporter from the Christian Science Monitor glowered.
“I’m not telling you what to believe,” Wonder Woman assured, “I’m only saying what we believe.”
“So how old are you, anyway?”
“Three thousand, two hundred and sixty,” Wonder Woman responded nonchalantly but was then stunned to find that her answer caused jaws to drop and eyes to widen in astonishment, “what? I’m serious.”
“Are you also serious about taking in female refugees from war zones?” A woman from CNN wondered. “Given the amount of atrocities committed against women, Themyscira might find itself completely overwhelmed.”
“Not really, since those who agree to live with us must be willing to leave their husbands and sons behind,” Wonder Woman replied, “but you’re right, it is a concern, which is exactly why we applied for member status; the United Nations has the necessary infrastructure to screen applicants for amnesty and–”
“–you’re trying to steal our women away,” an Islamic emissary from the United Arab Emirates interrupted and pointed an accusing finger at the princess, “so you can make lesbians out of them!”
Wonder Woman sighed and rolled her eyes. “As part of our sacred covenant, all Amazons must remain celibate, so to us, sexual orientation is irrelevant. Besides, they’re not ‘your’ women to begin with!”
“No sex? Well, so much for it being Paradise Island!” That FOX correspondent quipped.
“I think that’s all for now …” With a slight gesture, an irritated Wonder Woman instructed the Amazons under her command to head for the nearest exit.
Days later, a psychotic genius of a scientist named Winslow Schott — also known as the Toyman — unleashed an onslaught of what appeared to be an army of wind up soldiers, except they were far from mere playthings; each doll was equipped with a miniature rifle which actually fired live rounds …
… and even though these bullets were smaller than seeds, the wounds caused by them proved to be most lethal, which is why the Justice League had been called in: Batman deduced where Schott’s laboratory was hidden and apprehended the nefarious inventor. The Flash ran in and out of the line of fire in order to rescue would be targets in the blink of an eye so no one else would die. Superman hovered overhead and incinerated entire platoons of toy soldiers from afar with beams of heat vision. Aquaman summoned a colossal octopus from the seven seas’ darkest depths to wait by the docks with its maw gaped open so it could swallow those so-called toys which had been smashed by Wonder Woman.
“This hardly seems worthy of us,” Wonder Woman lamented as she deflected tiny-yet-deadly bullets with those bracelets of hers, “granted, only we can handle a supervillain like the Toyman, but there are so many other, bigger dangers that deserve our attention. For instance, did you know that domestic violence is the number one health risk for women between 15 and 44?”
“Not to mention all the pollution in the ocean,” Aquaman added as he telepathically ordered that sea creature to use its tentacles to scoop up and consume hundreds of toy soldiers, “I just hope eating these things doesn’t upset its stomach.”
“I heard that!” After discerning what was said with his peerless hearing, Superman descended from where he had been hovering and joined the conversation. “Need I remind you two that we’re not supposed to interfere with the destiny of Humanity; if the Human race chooses to end domestic violence or to stop polluting the ocean, that’s great, but those are things Humans can do themselves — without the interference of superpowered beings …”
“That’s not fair,” Wonder Woman crumpled a stray toy soldier with her bare hand into a ball, “mortals may be willing but they’re usually not able to solve these problems! We have to ‘interfere,’ as you put it!”
The Flash had been shuttling back and forth from the city streets littered with the remnants of toy soldiers to the waterfront so he too could hurl them down the throat of Aquaman’s leviathan, but then came his childish addition to this discourse: “Is Wonder Woman trying to get us into politics again? Enough with the preaching, reverend!”
“Shut up, Wally!” Out of frustration, Wonder Woman inadvertently committed a major faux pas by publicly referring to the Flash by his secret identity.
Superman then landed by Wonder Woman’s side and laid a consoling hand on her shoulder. “Remember that African American superhero, Black Lightning? Well, don’t repeat his mistake; he tried to provide free electricity for the ghetto one winter and got burnt out,” Superman sounded ominous, “in more ways than one.”
The thought of what happened to their fallen comrade caused Wonder Woman to lower her head in sorrow.
“We have to strike a balance between protecting people and becoming too great a force in their lives,” Superman appealed to Wonder Woman’s sense of restraint, “legally speaking, we’re essentially vigilantes, so the last thing we need is for people to be afraid that the Justice League will overstep its bounds and take over–”
“–all right, all right,” Wonder Woman cut him off and fanned her hands as if in an act of surrender, “you’ve made your point, Kal-El.”
“Please don’t call me that,” Superman looked around to see if any of the citizenry were within earshot, “by some one-in-a-million fluke, Kryptonians happen to resemble Humans, and I’m sure that’s why my father sent me here, but I prefer to blend in; I don’t like reminding people that I’m from another planet.”
Once the last of the toy soldiers were devoured by the monstrous mollusk Aquaman beckoned, Wonder Woman left the scene to be alone — she couldn’t literally fly the way Superman can, but those slim, shapely legs were paradoxically powerful enough to jump a mile into the air and a few miles in front of her …
… leaping in this manner was how Wonder Woman gained an aerial view of a schoolyard beating in progress. From what her heightened eyesight could tell, a little girl was being accosted by several male bullies, so she came to a nearby landing and thoroughly frightened those ruffians in the process.
“I know you boys don’t want to take me on.” Wonder Woman went out of her way to come across as intimidating as possible.
As the scared rascals scattered in every direction, the Princess of Themyscira knelt before the girl and politely extended her hand so it could be shaken. “My name is Diana, what’s yours?”
“D-Deborah,” the pre-teen responded with apprehension while dutifully returning the handshake.
“Well, Deborah, I don’t think they’ll be bothering you again.”
“You’re wrong, they will!” Deborah spat back with contempt. “And you’re not going to be around to save me when they do, Wonder Woman! God! I hate being a girl!” She then angrily spun on her heel and stormed off.
Wonder Woman slowly rose from where she had been kneeling and nursed the pain of a broken heart — Deborah’s brutal honesty (not to mention that unfortunate self-hatred) wounded her more than any supervillain ever could. So the Amazon resolved that, come what may, something would be done about it.
Over the next couple of months, Wonder Woman abstained from attending Justice League meetings and extracted the absolute most out of her celebrity status as not only a superheroine but a head of state so she could promote a unique brand of militant feminism. If advertisements needed to be paid for, items from Themyscira’s vast treasury (usually an ancient Grecian vase or statue) would be sold to a museum. If a talk show reached a nationwide audience, an appearance was made, and on such a show, an explanation of the Amazon’s stances had been offered …
“Yes, I’m well aware of how some men view me and that’s fine — so long as they look with their eyes and not with their hands; I don’t want to have to put anyone in the hospital,” Wonder Woman felt ever so slightly self-conscious about the revealing ensemble she wore, “in case you’re wondering, I wear this as often as I do because it’s easier to maneuver in during a fight.”
“I see,” Oprah Winfrey nodded as she stroked her chin, “so do you have a problem with prostitution or pornography?”
“So long as it’s limited to consenting adults, no,” Wonder Woman all but blushed, “but for the benefit of women who do not befit the dominant cultural beauty standard, there needs to be a lot more options than simply being pretty. Women are half of this planet’s population and yet less than 20 female world leaders are in power. We only hold 16% of the seats in the United States Congress, a measly 3% of the positions of actual clout in the media, less than 10% of sports is devoted to female athletes, and of the 250 top grossing movies produced in the past year, a sparse 7% were directed by women.”
“So what’s to be done about this?”
“Effective immediately, Amazon soldiers will be available in every major city to teach martial arts to any woman who wishes to learn, since a lot of our problem stems from a dangerous lack of self-esteem; a woman who can defend herself is obviously less likely to doubt her ability to achieve great things,” Wonder Woman clenched her fist as a show of strength, “further more, the Amazons under my command will also be stationed in key strategic locations which are notorious for acts of violence against women — namely the Congo, where warring gangs rape women at whim, and of course, parts of the Middle East …”
The live studio audience seemed aghast by this.
“Is Themyscira declaring war on Africa and Islam?” Oprah stammered.
“Not at all,” Wonder Woman took a breath before continuing, “but we will serve as, for lack of a better word, bodyguards and offer protection to any woman who needs it since the police of these countries clearly haven’t been able to get the job done.”
“So you’re taking the law into your own hands.”
“No, I’m upholding the law,” Wonder Woman insisted, “as I always have.”
The Princess of Themyscira didn’t simply assign Amazons to defend women around the world. Being the most powerful amongst them — gifted by the goddesses of Olympus as Wonder Woman was — she led by example and took an active part in her campaign. However, doing so triggered an international incident.
The U.S. State Department estimates that 700,000 to 2 million women and girls (some as young as five) are smuggled across borders each year and bought or sold for sexual purposes. Shocking in scope, this modern day slavery is not only one of the most horrific Human rights issues of our time, it’s also a significant health issue, since such enslavement hastens the spread of AIDS and other diseases. Eastern Europe has emerged as a major point of origin for the burgeoning black market that auctions women and children as if they are chattel. Human traffickers have little trouble maneuvering in places where it’s easy to bribe underpaid customs officers and that’s how the trouble started …
… in the small, impoverished country of Moldova — sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine — Wonder Woman discovered a brothel which doubles as a hub for the aforementioned trafficking. The plan had been to free the females trapped within it, but the problem was what passed for a police force had been so well bribed that it actually protected this house of ill repute …
… and when, one night, she easily tossed aside the police officers who stood between her and that den of iniquity, the Moldovan government contacted the Justice League with the claim that a supervillainess had been wrecking havoc.
By the time Wonder Woman could locate and liberate the teenagers who were locked in a dark, filthy cellar below the bordello, she heard a familiar voice blare from above. “Diana, this ends now! Come on out! You know you can’t hide from my X-Ray vision!”
The Princess of Themyscira emerged with a dozen tortured girls in tow and she even held one of them in her arms. “Let me guess: The Moldovans told you I attacked the police, well, it’s not that simple–”
“–I don’t want to hear it,” Superman landed with a thud as the Flash’s rapid approach on foot screeched to a halt, and in the distance, Batman lurked amidst the shadows, “it’s bad enough your Amazons have been viciously assaulting alleged Congolese rapists–”
“–not one of them have died,” Wonder Woman was quick to point out.
“That’s good , but that’s not the point,” Superman grimaced with chagrin, “you’ve crossed the line and I’ve got orders to bring you in for questioning.”
As fate would have it, the so-called “massage parlor” happened to be near the Dniester River, which leads directly to the Black Sea, so Aquaman had access to the water. Once she noticed that he too had come to arrest her, Wonder Woman appealed to the only other beneficiary of Greek mythology.
“Aquaman, you’ve been blessed by Poseidon just as I’ve been blessed by Hera, Athena and Aphrodite — so you of all people should understand the ideals I’m fighting for,” Wonder Woman implored, “besides, how much garbage and toxic waste did you have to swim through in order to get here?”
“Forget it, lady,” the Flash smugly smirked, “Aquaman’s not going to take your side!”
A tense moment passed before Aquaman broke the silence. “I won’t side with you, Diana, but I don’t have to fight you either.” And with that, the King of Atlantis dove back into the river and headed towards the sea.
“I’ll get him,” Superman took to the air after Aquaman but gave the following order prior to departing, “don’t let her leave.”
“Listen to me, my little Amazons,” Wonder Woman spoke to the abused teens in flawless Moldovan, “I want you to run as fast as you can and find someplace safe to hide. It’s about to get very nasty here.”
As the twelve traumatized adolescents scrambled in search of safety and seclusion, Wonder Woman stood alone against two of her teammates. “Wally? Bruce? I’m begging you: Don’t do this.”
“I don’t care if none of these people speak English,” the Flash growled, “Batman and I wear masks for a reason; quit calling us by our real names in public!” Wonder Woman suddenly found herself in the center of a cyclone because the Flash ran around her in a circular manner. She soon started to float a bit due to the centrifugal force and even felt light headed since the vortex’s vacuum deprived the area of air.
Wonder Woman might have passed out from a lack of oxygen had it not been for her Lasso of Truth — knowing that the Flash needed both feet on the ground for his superspeed to be effective, she cast that lariat forth until it tripped him. From there, she quickly hog tied the scarlet speedster so he wouldn’t be able to gain any footing …
… and courtesy of the lasso’s mystical properties, the Flash began babbling about how he always secretly lusted after Wonder Woman …
“Well, that leaves you, Batman !” Wonder Woman called out. “I know you’re skulking in the darkness out there!” She peered deeply into the hilly forests surrounding the illegal brothel and realized that a stealthy master of ninjutsu such as the caped crusader could be hiding anywhere …
… that’s how he was able to catch her by surprise — after sneaking up from behind, Batman managed to spray a paste onto Wonder Woman’s bracelets. “According to ‘Aphrodite’s Law,’ you’ll lose your strength if you’re chained by a male,” Batman gloated.
“It’s all about the letter of the law with you, isn’t it, Bruce?” Wonder Woman examined the adhesive which bound her wrists together. “Well, it’s all about the letter of the law with Amazons as well. You said it yourself: ‘Chained,’ not glued!” The Princess of Themyscira then snapped the strands of plaster Batman had applied, and with a sharp jab, she rendered him unconscious.
Aquaman can swim almost as fast as Superman can fly, so it took some time for the Kryptonian to catch up with the Atlantean. Once he did — somewhere off the eastern coast of Bulgaria — the man of steel pleaded for the marine marvel to cease this dereliction of duty, but to no avail. In fact, Aquaman resented the attempt, so the two of them wrestled in the depths of the Black Sea until it occurred to him that Batman and the Flash might need his help.
Much as it pained Superman to do so, he released the ocean overlord and flew back to Moldova — where a brief perusal with his telescopic vision allowed him to see a pair of masked compatriots sprawled across the terrain in defeat. “You may have beaten them, Diana, but you won’t beat me!”
Wonder Woman was not looking forward to this: In anticipation of such an encounter, she contemplated acquiring a fragment of Kryptonite — the radioactive remains of Superman’s lost homeworld — except someone as honorable as her had no desire to murder Earth’s greatest protector, so one of the most colossal battles in history would be fought on Moldovan soil.
Each punch produced a sonic boom and every slam to the ground felt like a quake. In terms of sheer brute force, both opponents were evenly matched because of something the Princess of Themyscira was hesitant to admit: According to myth, her mother, Queen Hippolyta, had been “seduced” by Heracles, but what isn’t mentioned was the daughter begat from that tragic union and this accounted for the strength she wielded.
Upon realizing how much of a stalemate this conflict was becoming, Superman reluctantly decided to use powers he possessed that she didn’t, such as heat vision, which burned her severely. “Aarrrgh!”
“Have you … had enough?” Superman gasped from exhaustion and struggled to keep from doubling over. “If you don’t stand down … I’ll freeze you … with my superbreath.”
“Assuming you can catch your breath,” Wonder Woman cradled a scalded leg but maintained a defiant stance, “do your worst, Kal-El.”
“You know … I won’t kill you,” Superman asserted between feeble attempts to deeply inhale, “you’ll just be frozen … in suspended animation … and I’ll defrost you … after you’re in custody.”
However, before the last son of Krypton could collect enough air in his lungs to blow a sufficiently icy blast at the Princess of Themyscira, he couldn’t help but notice that at least a hundred heavily armed Amazons in full body armor were heading straight for him. While they couldn’t leap as high or as far as their commander, it didn’t take long for them to surround the Kryptonian.
With dozens of magically enhanced swords and spears aimed at him, Superman surrendered and fell to his knees. “Well, I suppose … the Calvary has arrived …”
“I’m not about going to jail because I fought some corrupt police officers who’re in the pocket of sex traffickers,” Wonder Woman found it hard to stand on her burnt limb but did so anyway since the Amazons she commanded were watching, “and while I’ve got your full attention, let me tell you something: You once said you prefer to blend in; that you don’t like reminding people that you’re from another planet. Well, that’s selfish and inconsiderate of you! As bad as pale skinned women have it, tan and brown skinned women have it ten times worse, but if people were reminded that we’re not alone; that aliens like you do in fact exist outside of science fiction, then that would unite the Human race!”
“You don’t understand … after I made my first public appearance,” Superman continued to nurse his bruises, “after Lois Lane reported … that I was from Krypton … a Ku Klux Klansman … was so distraught … that he committed suicide …”
“So?” Wonder Woman angrily limped towards the fallen Kryptonian. “One inbred retard kills himself because he can’t handle finding out that white men don’t rule the universe and you use his worthless ass as an excuse to cover up the truth? Some hero you are! Well, I’m going to the media and I’m telling everybody!”
“Don’t do it,” Superman tried to rise so he could stop Wonder Woman but all those Amazons kept him in check, “telling the public … that aliens exist … could cause a riot …”
Without acknowledging Superman’s warning, Wonder Woman wearily staggered into the Moldovan horizon.