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The new resurgence of Wonder Woman and the women’s movement in labour and birth

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By Elizabeth Uliana

With the release of the new Wonder Woman movie hitting our theatres, I began asking myself about the meaning and relevance of Wonder Woman for today’s generations of girls and the past generations of girls/women that were brought up with this iconic comic heroine.

I remember playing as a kid and fighting over who was going to be Wonder Woman because Electra Woman and Dyna Girl just didn’t have the same kind of prowess about them, and Cat Woman was just way too evil! So, what was it about Wonder Woman that I found so appealing?

For a start, she was original, the most popular and strongest female comic book superheroes of all time who possessed female super powers.

 

In my eyes, as a little girl, not only was she stylish, but she had everything going for her and conjured up for me images of strength, confidence, power, capability, beauty and intelligence. As a girl, I wanted to identify with these characteristics and grow up to be just like her. As a woman, I wanted to display these qualities at work, as a mother and in my relationships and be perceived as capable, confident and strong. But what I found most attractive about Wonder Woman was that in all her power, strength and glory her most admirable virtue was her compassion and caring nature. Even though she was statuesque her allure was in her femininity and warmth.

 

 

But what I like most about all our superheroes, is they all have ‘imperfections’. Just like they all have secret identities, they too have their own secret vulnerabilities which make them appear human and once again more appealing to our sense of identity.  The man of steel, Superman’s, most famous vulnerability was Kryptonite and his affection for Lois Lane. This weakness he had for Lois Lane is also one of his greatest virtues: love and compassion. Wonder Woman’s vulnerability lay in her own defence armour that she wore. These super defensive weapons that she used to protect herself and others with, could also be used offensively against her where she could be bound by her own lasso, whilst being robbed by her superpowers and strength if her golden cuff link bracelets were linked or hooked up by chains.

This juxtaposition of ‘Superheroes greatest strengths’ and ‘vulnerabilities’ is what made our superheroes stronger and their impressions long lasting for generations of girls/boys living on until our adulthood.

You might be asking yourselves “what does Wonder Woman have to do with Calmbirth or having a baby?” The moral of my story is that all mothers around the world are Wonder Women everyday and display Wonder Woman qualities in giving birth, as mothers, in their jobs, as partners in their relationships, with their families and in their lives.

Labour and birth is a time when women experience both superhero powers and vulnerabilities. Just like our superhero, Wonder Woman, the ‘Achilles heel’ and vulnerabilities for some mum’s can appear shortly after their baby is born.

It’s only once your baby is born that we, as new mums discover and wrestle with a variety of our own vulnerabilities.

  • For some new mums these vulnerabilities may be their sheer exhaustion from lack of sleep caused by their unsettled new born baby.
  • She may be feeling unsupported by her partner, her family and friends, leaving her feeling lonely, isolated, withdrawn, misunderstood and feeling disconnected from her partner and family.
  • She may be suffering in silence from post natal depression and anxiety because she may not recognise the signs that she is post natally depressed.
  • Or she may just be feeling scared, anxious and overwhelmed about the unknown challengers that motherhood brings.
  • She might be feeling insecure and struggling with the loss of power and control that a new born can bring to a home and family, leaving her feeling out of control, inadequate in coping with the daily stresses and demands of a new baby and motherhood, feeling incapable of doing a good job and feeling like she’s failing.
  • She might be feeling guilty because she has gone back to work part time and has had to put her baby into childcare.
  • She might be finding breast feeding challenging, painful and constantly worrying if the baby has had enough to eat.
  • Or it might be that her maternal instincts have not quite kicked in yet, and she is struggling to attach and bond with her baby.

Ladies, if you can identify and have experienced any of these vulnerabilities, then you are ‘Super Human’ and you are not alone. You’ve all heard the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child”, don’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of intelligence and strength because you know that this support and sense of community and love, especially in the fast paced, digital and isolated world we live in today, is necessary to give our children the best start in life.

  • Rest when the baby is sleeping.Seek medical assistance if you are depressed or feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
  • Talk to your partner and tell them how you are feeling and what they can do to help and support you.
  • And most importantly, don’t be your ‘own worst enemy’, remember to be kind, loving and accepting of yourself embracing all your imperfections.

Like all good fables and comics, Wonder Woman’s message was about the empowerment of women, women supporting other women and reclaiming their bodies and mental states. At the moment there is a new resurgence in the labour, birth and mothering movement (which the feminist movement clearly neglected) which is all about empowering women in pregnancy, labour and birth.

In February 1941, the man who created Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, who was a feminist, psychologist and the inventor of the lie detector machine, submitted a draft of his first script, explaining the “Under meaning” of Wonder Woman’s Amazonian origins in ancient Greece, where men had kept women in chains, until they broke free and escaped. “The New Women” thus freed and strengthened by supporting themselves (on paradise Island) where they developed enormous physical and mental power. This comic, he said, was meant to chronicle “a great movement now under-way – the growth in the power of women. Taken from: The surprising origin of Wonder Woman

Calmbirth is all about empowerment! Empowering women and couples with knowledge and confidence so that they can have an empowering and positive birth experience. Empowering women to believe in themselves, their bodies, their ability to birth and believe in their partners. And remember, that your greatest weakness can also be your greatest strength and most admirable virtue.

So to answer my question, I think the rise of the new Wonder Woman is a great reminder that we ‘all’ have a little ‘Wonder Woman’ in us. It’s as relevant today, as it was years ago and I’m glad that my little girl and future generations of girls have a powerful icon to look up to expanding the possibilities of what women can be and achieve even in birth!

 

 

 

 

 

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