'Wonder Woman' film, talk featured at Janesville library

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Anna Marie Lux
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

JANESVILLE--Little girls in the 1970s sometimes spun themselves around trying to transform into super heroines like actress Lynda Carter.

Carter made her mark as an Amazon princess battling the bad guys in the TV series, “Wonder Woman.”

But long before Hollywood, an artist in the 1940s sketched the comic book character that started it all.

Kapow! Bam! Wonder Woman battled evil.

In the following decades, William Moulton Marston's creation saw many reincarnations.

On Tuesday, March 18, an independent film and discussion at Janesville's Hedberg Public Library will look at female superheroes and other icons of women's power in pop culture. “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines” will explore our country's love affair with comic book heroes. It also will spur questions about how real super women are portrayed in the media.

Traditionally, March is Women's History Month, and the Janesville League of Women Voters sets up an educational display at the library. This year, the group decided to do something different.

“The league's board agreed that 'Wonder Women' would be an intriguing way to involve younger women in a conversation about women's roles in society as expressed in comic books,” said Kay Deupree.

She is on the league's board and a member. Both the league and the library are sponsoring the free program.

Leading the discussion will be Kelly Parks Snider, a Wisconsin activist and artist for social change.

“The film has a lot of takeaways,” Snider said. “Sometimes, people come to learn about women's history. Some look at women's roles and how they've changed. Sometimes, parents bring their children.”

In the last instance, Snider is well prepared to talk about the impact of media and advertising on girls and boys.

The Madison-area woman co-founded Project Girl in 2003 in response to the media's “overwhelming power and pervasive influence over our youth,” she said.

Young people are the media's key targets as advertisers send a volley of messages to make them buy their products. Snider recently offered a workshop to Janesville and Whitewater teachers on the impact of media on young people. She talks nationally on the topic. She also works with young people to raise their awareness about how advertisers target their vulnerabilities.

“There's a lot we can do to push back against this marketing,” she said. “If kids have knowledge, they have the power to make better decisions. Our kids are tired of being bystanders. If we can talk to them about media literacy and get them involved in their schools, they are born activists.”

Snider believes in creating change. When she founded Project Girl, she described the backlash against advertising as a small wave.

“Now, there's a whole alliance of women working in the area,” she said. “I can say the wave is getting bigger. I am happy to say that educators and parents are becoming more aware. Many people are coming together to create change.”


Anna Marie Lux is a columnist for The Gazette. Her columns run Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264 or email amarielux@gazetteextra.com.


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