Paradise Island first appeared with Wonder Woman in All Star Comics #8 in December of 1941. Since then, it has often been referred to as a “feminist utopia.”
Please stop doing this. Paradise Island is not a feminist utopia.
“Feminism” is a complex term that encompasses a collection of ideologies, but for our purposes, lets just start with the Merriam-Webster definition:
“the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”
There is no equality between the sexes on Paradise Island. Men are so disfranchised that they’re not even allowed to step foot on the island’s shores.
Wonder Woman’s creator, Dr. William Moulton Marston, used the character to express some very problematic views on gender. To Marston, women weren’t men’s equals, but their betters. He didn’t create Paradise Island to show that women can govern; he purposely created it to demonstrate his belief that they could inherently govern better.
It may sound nice to some, but this is not a true feminist utopia. A true feminist utopia is built on equality rather than exclusion.
If a matriarchy is no more equal than a patriarchy, then a matriarchy with a monarch is especially problematic.
We began with a dictionary definition of feminism, but lets expand to a more intersectional definition. This approach advocates not only equality between the sexes, but between all disfranchised groups (i.e. an end to sexism, racism, classism, ableism, etc.).
Hopefully you can see how a hereditary monarchy has some inherent class issues.
Calling Paradise Island a feminist utopia doesn’t just annoy me; it does a disservice to the feminist movement, distorts the term, and misrepresents its goals.
So can we please all agree to stop calling Paradise Island a feminist utopia?