Missing Wonder Woman found on lunchbox from 1976!

My daughter has been searching and searching for Wonder Woman. She’s always on the lookout. We comb bookstores and toy stores. We couldn’t find her on socks at Stride Rite or at T-shirts at Target or on a birthday cakes at Safeway. It’s possible to find her on the internet, but you’ve got to seek her out. Her image doesn’t appear here and there as my daughter and I go about our day, unlike the ubiquitous Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, male Avengers, and other male superheroes. So my daughter was thrilled when today, we were at my sister’s house and she saw a Superfriends lunchbox sitting on a shelf in my nephew’s room. It’s from 1976. Check out Wonder Woman, front and center!

wonderwoman

On the back? Batgirl, front and center.

batgirl

On the side? Catwoman!

catwoman

Other side? Supergirl!

supergirl

That makes 4 female superheroes. So I wondered, in 1976 was this awesome lunchbox made “for girls”? It does have a purple border. Was purple strictly a “girl” color in ’76 the way it is today? But even if this Superfriends lunch box was meant only for girls, today in 2013, it’s not likely you’ll find a lunchbox with 4 female superheroes on it. Maybe, if you internet search, you’ll find someone selling it somewhere, but it’s not something your daughters and sons will see as they go about their day. In 2013, female superheroes have gone missing from kidworld.

Last week, it was announced that Ben Affleck will play the new Batman. Plastic heroines reacts:

It’s not just that I think Ben Affleck is all wrong for Batman (I do), it’s that Batman and Superman have already had so many feature films that it’s ridiculous.

  • Batman (movies, live action): 1966, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2005, 2008, 2012
  • Superman (movies, live action): 1951, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1987, 2006, 2013

Sixteen in all, if you count the movie Affleck has been tapped for. And we can’t get a single Wonder Woman movie???

 

I remember there was a Supergirl movie when I was a kid. I LOVED seeing her on the screen. Where has Supergirl gone in 2013? My kids don’t even know who she is. My 4 year old keeps asking about Spider-Girl. Instead of telling her she doesn’t exist, I help her draw her and write down the stories she tells me about her. I wish some major movie company and toy maker would help me out spreading narratives of Spider-Girl to kids, not to mention Spider-Woman.

Melissa Silverstein spotted a book on Wonder Woman when she was out with a kid. She posts about the sighting on her blog Women and Hollywood:

I was with my four year old nephew who is obsessed with The Avengers. He only wears Avengers t-shirts and knows all the characters even though he has never seen any of the movies. But that’s the culture. These male superheroes are everywhere and kids pick up on it.  We were in a book store and had lots of time.  We made our way to picture books with superheroes on the cover.  He immediately pointed at the Batman and Superman books.  Right next to those books was a book on Wonder Woman.  I said do you know about Wonder Woman? And he said no.  He had never heard of her. We sat down and read the story and he was really into it.  He thought it was cool that she had a magic lasso and also the book ended with Wonder Woman and Superman rescuing someone together so he got to see that she was a real superhero and could keep up with Superman.I am relaying this story because I am sure there are boys all over the country and the world being exposed to only male superheroes because that is what our mass consumer culture allows us to see. While it would be great for us to have a Wonder Woman film and that would be a great start it will not be enough. That’s the problem with the lack of critical mass we have in our female stories.

Disney execs tell us that they make movie after movie with male protagonists because that’s what kids want to see. Their line is that girls will go see movies about boys but boys won’t go see movies about girls. That’s bullshit. Girls don’t come out of the womb any more open minded or generous than boys. All kids are self-centered, and they all want to see themselves reflected out there. But kids get trained from birth to pay attention to stories about boys, they learn that stories about boys are important and for everyone while stories about girls are just for girls. I wish parents wouldn’t perpetuate this sexism. Read your kids stories and show them movies with strong female protagonists. Get excited about the bravery of the female characters. Don’t ask your kid what movie she wants to see, you choose. Turn on a Miyazaki film. Here’s a list of great movies with female protags. Your kids will get into them when they watch. Let’s all bring back female superheroes and celebrate them much more than before, because even in the seventies, they weren’t around nearly enough.

 

17 thoughts on “Missing Wonder Woman found on lunchbox from 1976!

  1. Do you think you can make up a recommendation page that focuses on female animal characters and protagonists in fictional media (books, comics, video games, TV shows, movies) to go along with your Reader Rec page, Cool Female characters page, and Cool Female Protagonists page? There is a gender disparity among human characters, but there is a greater gender disparity among animal characters.

  2. I realize that the source comics don’t have the social penetration of other media, but here are two separate versions of Spider-Girl.

    http://www.amazon.com/Spider-Girl-No-1-Family-Values/dp/0785146946/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377464723&sr=8-1&keywords=spider-girl

    http://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Spider-Girl-Vol-Whatever-Spider-Man/dp/0785123415/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1377464723&sr=8-7&keywords=spider-girl

    There are a ton of cool female superhero comic books out there for girls and boys. It’s a sad tiny fraction of the total books available, but enough to fill the bin next to my daughter’s bed.

  3. The 4 female superheroes on the lunchbox are shown front and center while the male characters are shown on the sides. This is unlike most movie posters, especially these days, which show the male characters front and center and sideline the female characters.

  4. My five-year-old son’s favorite superhero is Wonder Woman. We worked hard to expose him to heroes of both genders, and he picked Wonder Woman as his favorite. Of course, this means he has to endure the taunts of classmates, and we have to explain to him why we can’t find lunch boxes and t-shirts with Wonder Woman (except the occasional Old Navy or Target version in which they change Wonder Woman’s colors to pink and purple–argh!!). For Christmas, he wanted a “Wonder Woman play set” which meant spending $150 to buy a vintage Hall of Justice on eBay –because it included Wonder Woman on the box!

  5. “I remember there was a Supergirl movie when I was a kid. I LOVED seeing her on the screen. Where has Supergirl gone in 2013?”

    The internet tells me that Supergirl, and in particular that movie, is a bit of a joke.

    But I think because female characters are seen as a minority for whatever reason in fiction, the success and failure of female-character driven fiction is viewed differently. I think this Mary Sue article puts it pretty well.

    “So when Sucker Punch performs poorly it’s because audiences don’t like female-led films, not because of of any of the actual faults highlighted in its generally negative reviews. (A few tidbits from Rotten Tomatoes: “Pointless,” “repellent,” “a particularly ambitious exercise in tedium,” “it kind of sucks out your soul while you’re watching it.”) But when Jonah Hex crashes and burns, it’s not because it starrs a guy! And its failure doesn’t make Legendary shy away from comic book movies, either, since they’ve done three since it came out.

    Legendary’s Superman Returns flopped in 2006, but they kept giving comic book movies another shot. Of course they did, because there’s more to the success or failure of a film than a basic thing like what genre it is. But apparently Legendary sees “gender” as a totally valid thing to reject a movie based on… as long as that gender is female.”

    http://www.themarysue.com/legendary-pictures-legend-of-the-red-reaper/

    • Hi Cat,

      I have no idea how “good” the Supergirl movie was, I just remember liking it and liking that it was all about a girl. I also loved Charlie’s Angels for the same reason.

      Margot

      • I’m glad that you enjoyed the movies. I think it’s interesting you picked those two as they’ve been highlighted by the Nostalgia Chick in two of her negative reviews. Of course, I don’t agree with everything she has to say and you should be able to like the movies you like. But as someone who primarily consumes media with at least one female protagonist, it would be nice if all of these books, movies, TV shows were better and lacking the problematic parts. It’s annoying to have to say “I like this in spite of…”

        Did you read the part from The Mary Sue article?

  6. Wow. Can’t you see how your constant focus on women/ girls being left out or second to men INHIBITS your daughters feelings of self worth. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when girls were not empowered at all. However I had a father who told me every day that the world was my oyster- I could do and be anything I wanted. I went on to law school, became an Assistant District Attorney and was the first woman to leave the DA’s office I was in to start her own criminal defense firm. I accomplished every dream I ever had and I did it all in four inch heels, lacy panties and short skirts. No Wonder Woman lunch box or Star War shoes necessary. All I had was a good sense of self worth and never believing for one second that I was LESS than any boy in my way. YOU are doing your daughters a disservice by teaching them otherwise.

  7. 1976 was also smack dab in the middle of the time when the ERA was being ratified. SuperFriends was pretty awful, but one thing I remember about it is that Wonder Woman was RIGHT THERE in the action when it happened. The Hunger Games unequivocally proved last year that the concept that boys will not go to movies with a girl protagonist is false. More than false, it’s an actual lie. The studios KNOW that it is not true. Boys will go to see something that seems exciting and suspenseful and has people who will kick ass, and they genuinely don’t care if it’s a girl who is fulfilling that role. This is *entirely* a self perpetuating myth. When they *ask* boys and young teens they do say this sort of thing. But when they release a movie that has action and adventure and women who fully lead it, the kids go to see the damn thing. Studio executives still seem to think words speak louder than actions.

  8. Margot that lunch box is great!There was the WW TV show in the late seventies staring Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman so it make sense a lunch box with her on it from 1976.To have more toys clothes etc with WW we need a film from a big studio.The animation WW movie from 2009 was excellent BTW any girl-and boy-should see it.I think a problem with making a WW film is that the producers want to be sure they will “get it right”,find the right actress to play the role and be successful so that they can make a sequel and maybe another film with a different female superhero. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/dc-chief-superman-wonder-woman-586081?page=2 Yes there have been many Superman films but there was a huge gap of 2 decades between the 1987 Superman 4 and the Superman Returns that came out 7 years ago-and that film was not a success,the sequel that was to come out in 2009 was canceled.And the producers do not want the relative failure of Superman Returns to happen again with WW.

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