The TRUE Kinky History Of Wonder Woman You've Never Heard (Until NOW!)

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The True Story Of BDSM & Polyamory Behind The Real-Life ORIGINAL Wonder Woman
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There's A LOT more to Princess Diana of Themyscira than meets the eye...

Most people have no idea that one of the best stories about an empowered, sexually liberated woman and wife is found not in, but behind the pages of one of the world's most famous comic book characters — Wonder Woman.

It all began when Elizabeth "Sadie" Holloway Marston married William Marston in 1915.

Elizabeth completed a Bachelor's degree in psychology from Mt. Holyoke, attended law school at Boston University and worked throughout the rest of her life, first in the executive administration of a life insurance company, then as an editor of law journals and finally as a lecturer in psychology and law.

So where's the sex? The kink? The comic books?

Elizabeth's husband, William wasn't only a psychologist but also the inventor of some of the technology behind the polygraph (or lie detector) that measures physiological responses as a way to detect falsehoods.

William also once gave an influential interview to one of his female students, Olive, in which he stated that he saw the newly emerging phenomenon of comic books as something important and valuable. That interview gained William the attention of comic book publishers.

Soon after he developed an idea for a new kind of comic book superhero, one who would use powers of love, truth, and honesty to prevail. At Elizabeth's recommendation, her husband proposed the character as a female ...

And Wonder Woman — originally known as Suprema — was born.


Growing up, I had a thing for Wonder Woman.

I'm partial to brunettes, and Linda Carter in the '70s was the best thing on television, at least as far as I was concerned.

Funnily enough, my wife (a brunette) says that she loved Linda Carter's role as well, because, in those days of Farrah Fawcett, there weren't a lot of brown-haired women being put forth as beautiful, strong and sexy.

Related: 8 Inspiring 'Wonder Woman' Moments That Will Change Hollywood Forever

Wonder Woman became a favorite of my wife, and many other dark-haired young women, who wanted to see themselves as beautiful without the help of Clairol's Nice 'n Easy Honey Blonde hair color.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the hisotry of Wonder Woman — and that the character had a kinky, sexy, past!

No, not on the Themyscira, the island of Amazonian women Wonder Woman hails from, but in the home of her creators, William and Elizabeth Marston.

With Elizabeth's consent and support, William brought that same former student, Olive Byrne, into their home, where she lived with Elizabeth and William as their wife. William even had children with both Olive and Elizabeth, and he and Elizabeth formally adopted his children by Olive.

William was a strong supporter of feminist ideals and female empowerment.


In many of the early Wonder Woman comic books, Wonder Woman encourages women to stand up for themselves, learn to fight and be strong enough that they won't have to either be scared of or depend on men. William explained that while he believed female nature is inherently submissive, the world might be a better place if women ruled it.

And he also noted that men love submitting to strong, powerful and alluring women ...

What sorts of submission went on in the Marston bedroom?

Surprisingly, details of this unconventional polyamorous relationship have never been publicly revealed.

And even more surprisingly, the family's privacy has been appropriately respected. Although they worked and lived in socially conservative times and places in the Northeast United States — New York and Boston — this non-monogamous, non-vanilla marriage was regarded as pleasant and refreshing, though somewhat naïve, by peers.

Early Wonder Woman comics were filled with depictions of women in bondage, bound, stripped, gagged and tortured.

In her 2014 book, The Secret History Of Wonder Woman, historian Jill Lepore writes:

“Not a comic book in which Wonder Woman appeared, and hardly a page, lacked a scene of bondage. In episode after episode, Wonder Woman is chained, bound, gagged, lassoed, tied, fettered and manacled. She’s locked in an electric cage. She’s winched into a straitjacket, from head to toe. Her eyes and mouth are taped shut. She’s roped and then confined in a glass box and dropped into the ocean. She’s locked in a bank vault. She’s tied to railroad tracks. She’s pinned to a wall. Once, so that she can be both entirely bound and movable, her fettered feet are welded to roller skates. ‘Great girdle of Aphrodite!’ she cries. ‘Am I tired of being tied up!’”

Wonder Woman ended up strapped down and tied up in almost every episode, but she always broke free.

Wonder Woman's appearance — statuesque, brunette, and strong, wearing thick, manacle-like bracelets — is supposedly modeled after Olive, so it's not hard to imagine that perhaps Olive, who didn't work and stayed home caring for the family's children, was a "bottom" or "submissive" in the relationship.

But then, who was the top?

Elizabeth was known as an independent, take-no-shit woman throughout her life.

How Stuff Works

In an article from her alma mater, Boston University, their granddaughter remembered Elizabeth often saying to her, "Angel child, never, never be beholden to any man, ever."

Elizabeth was already independent and educated when she married William. And in fact, though her husband got a lot of the glory, his stability seems to have been a bit questionable. He hopped from job to job and was actually unemployed for many years, leaving the family completely supported by Elizabeth.

After William died in 1947, Elizabeth continued to work until 1958, supporting herself, Olive, and their children, and putting all of their children through college. Olive passed away in the late '90s, and Elizabeth herself passed away in 1993, at the remarkable age of 100-years-old.

It is this part of the story that almost brings tears to my eyes.


The Eternal Wonder Woman

This powerful, strong-willed and sexy woman never once bowed down to society, to gender stereotypes or to social expectations of marriage. She was the matriarch, caregiver, and breadwinner for her entire family for nearly 50 years. Wow. Now that's wonderful.

And she did all of this decades before feminism, sexual liberation or equal rights were even on the horizon.

Was Elizabeth gay or bisexual? Was she a top, a bottom or a switch? Did she live with Olive as a wife, a lover, a submissive, or merely a sister? Did Elizabeth dominate both Olive AND her husband? 

Or was Elizabeth one of those powerful, dominant personalities who gain some measure of peace and momentary escape by being submissive to Olive or William (or both) during sex?

Were BDSM and sadomasochistic play a part of their lives or merely a part of William's fantasy life?

These are marvelous unanswered questions which should probably remain unanswered.

And they're provocative questions, not because of the salacious details, but because they celebrate the life and success of a wondrously admirable and empowered woman.

Related: Which Superheroine Are You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

Elizabeth, with all this delightful history of kink, is a marvelous role model for the ability to shatter stereotypes by being a sexually self-determining wife, mother, lover, leader, lawyer, psychologist, executive, writer, and teacher.

She is proof that you, too, can live a life of marital and sexual nonconformity while remaining successful, loving, and respected.

William might have invented Wonder Woman, and might even have made the character look like Olive, but it was Elizabeth "Sadie" Holloway Marston who lived the life of Wonder Woman. Not by fighting crime, but by being strong, unbroken, loving, and true to herself and her loved ones.

David J. Ley, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on issues related to sexuality and mental health who has been published in the Los Angeles Times and Playboy and invited to appear on television with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Phil, among others. His controversial second book, "The Myth of Sex Addiction," challenged the concept of sexual addiction and explored a different model of male sexuality — triggering a firestorm of debate and allowing people to finally challenge the media hype behind this pseudo-disorder. His latest book, "Ethical Porn For Dicks: A Man's Guide To Responsible Viewing Pleasure," uses a natural question/answer format to offer men a non-judgmental way to discover how to view and use pornography responsibly.

This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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