Professor Marston & the Wonder Women

This page written circa 28 January, 2024.

Sitting in Betta Meats, alias Earl's Juke Joint, "a rollicking bar [that] honours the juke joints of the Deep South" according to Broadsheet, Eric and I drank fascinating cocktails and reflected that we have been friends for 50 years, give or take a week. Our paths must have crossed at Harry Messel's Science School, but we only got to know each other at the mathematics school at ANU, January 5.00 decades ago. As durable relationships go, this must rate up there.

I was married to Kay for 25 years. That durability surprised me, indeed continues to surprise me. I felt from the time of being with Carolyne that monogamy should not be something to which one commits, but rather something that happens when there is a relationship of sufficient passion and potential durability. This view is neatly consistent with the "ethical non monogamy" movement. ENM has been rising in the popular literature under that name for at least a decade. As Relationships NSW note, "ENM is the umbrella term for many open relationship styles". I discover I am at the "monogamish" (thank you Dan Savage for that word) rather than the polyamourous end of the spectrum. (There is a truly entertaining and informative podcast interview of Dan Savage by Ezra Klein from the NYT, to which I encourage you to listen, at least for the first 40 minutes.)

One of several spectacular moments in Professor Marston involves his wife Elizabeth telling Olive that "if you fuck my husband I will kill you", and subsequently being called to account for violating her own stated principles. Jealousy can be flattering. The outburst is consistent with Elizabeth's other character traits, to be exposed in the "new stove" scene much later in the film, and the relationship. Marston's relationships outlived him.

This tendency to durable relationships seems to be a defining characteristic of your humble author. I have kept in contact with Nicholas since primary school, putting that friendship at about 5.7 decades. Not bad considering that I have just 6.75 decades as I type this. Behind Eric comes some small clusters, arising around the transition into university at 4.9 decades (e.g., Andrew, Tony), into Tolsoc at 4.8 (e.g., Stephen, Donna), and into Wesley at 4.7 (e.g., Vicki, Peter). There have been unexpected and unrecoverable crashes (e.g., Lissa, Warwick). I would dearly like to understand those. The given reasons do not hold up to scrutiny.

Having seen Marston, I rewatched the recent Gal Gadot Wonder Woman film that appeared in the same year. It is easier to follow after digesting the true biography and theory of WW's creator. Sadly it absolutely misses all the profound psychological theory behind Marston's original creation... and so all the sexual links and emotional lessons employed to exemplify inducement, dominance, submission, and compliance. Marston rates 7.0 on IMDb, WW 7.3; on Rotten Tomatoes it is similar, 87/93. Reflects the plebian audience's preference for action over insight.

The picture I hope to paint here is that ENM by no means conflicts with reliability or faithfulness. Ah, but then Dan Savage could have told you that already.

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