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Who is William Moulton Marston?

William Moulton Marston

Some associate William Moulton Marston's name with his 1928 book, The Emotions of Normal People, a seminal work that inspired the william Moulton Marston DiSC Personal Profile System (used by more than 50 million people worldwide).  His many endeavors include the Wonder Woman Comic Book Series; the Lie Detector Test; an influential book on directing film actors; and more.  William Moulton Marston was a giant who left large footprints and a rich legacy that continues to effect people now and in the future.

William Moulton Marston's Original Model and Theory:
DiSC - Dominance, Influence, Submission, & Compliance

is Close to Today's DiSC Model:
DiSC - Dominance, influence, Steadiness, & Conscientiousness

 
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DiSC Classic 2.0 Profile                                   Everything DiSC Workplace Profile

    DiSC Classic Profiles                    Everything DiSC Profiles   

   

You can immediately take the DiSC Profiles Online and discover your
DiSC Style and your Models of Behavior in minutes.
 
Our DiSC Profiles are based on the original theories of
William Moulton Marston.


From Wikipedia...the Free Encyclopedia

William Moulton MarstonDr. William Moulton Marston (May 9, 1893–May 2, 1947) was a psychologist, feminist theorist, creator of the "Wonder Woman" character and comic book writer. Born in Cliftondale, Massachusetts, he obtained a law degree in 1918 and graduated from Harvard with a Ph.D. in Psychology in 1921. After teaching at American University in Washington D.C. Marston traveled to Universal Studios in California in 1929, where he spent a year as Director of Public Services.

Credited with inventing an early form of the "lie detector" (specifically the notion of testing systolic blood pressure to detect deception, which became one component of the polygraph), Marston was also a writer of essays in popular psychology. His best known theory was that there is a male notion of freedom that is inherently anarchic and violent, and an opposing female notion based on "Love Allure" which leads to an ideal state of submission to loving authority. His concerns about the effects of gender stereotyping in popular culture were expressed in a 1943 article:

Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power... The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.

He was married to Elizabeth Holloway, but lived in a polygamous/polyamorous relationship with a former student of his at Tufts College, Olive Byrne [used pseudonym Olive Richard]. Marston had two children with each woman, and the four children and three parents lived together happily. In fact, he and Elizabeth adopted his two sons by Olive.

In an October 25, 1940 interview conducted by Olive and published in Family Circle, titled "Don't Laugh at the Comics", Marston described what he saw as the great educational potential of comic books. This article caught the attention of comics publisher Max Gaines, who hired Marston as an educational consultant for Detective Comics (now DC Comics). Gaines encouraged Marston to create a female comic book hero. Marston came back with a synopsis for a character called "Suprema, the Wonder Woman."

Marston's intentions for the character were plain: he planned to introduce a character who would be "tender, submissive, peaceloving as good women are," combining "all the strength of a Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman." His character was a native of an all-female utopia who became a crime-fighting U.S. government agent, using her superhuman strength and agility, and her ability to force villains to tell the truth by binding them with her magic lasso. Her appearance, including her heavy silver bracelets (which she used to deflect bullets), was based somewhat on Olive Richard.

Comics editor Sheldon Mayer cut the name "Suprema", sticking with "Wonder Woman" as the name of the feature and title character instead. In December 1941, Wonder Woman made her debut in All Star Comics #8. The character's next appearance was in Sensation Comics #1 (January 1942), and six months later the character's eponymous comic book began publication. Wonder Woman has been in print ever since. The stories were initially written by Marston (under the pseudonym Charles Moulton) and illustrated by newspaper artist Harry Peter. During his life Marston had written many articles and books on psychological topics, but his last six years of writing were devoted to his comics creation.

Marston's Wonder Woman is often cited as an early example of bondage themes entering popular culture: physical submission appears again and again throughout Marston's comics work, with Wonder Woman and her criminal opponents frequently being tied up or otherwise restrained, and her Amazonian friends engaging in frequent wrestling and bondage play (possibly based on Marston's earlier research studies on sorority initiations). These elements were softened by later writers of the series. Though Marston had described female nature as submissive, in his other writings and interviews he referred to submission to women as a noble and potentially world-saving practice, leading ideally to the establishment of a matriarchy, and did not shy away from the sexual implications of this:

The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound ... Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society. ... Giving to others, being controlled by them, submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element.

About male readers, he later wrote: "Give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they'll be proud to become her willing slaves!"

William Moulton Marston died of cancer on May 2, 1947 in Rye, New York. After his death, Elizabeth and Olive continued to live together until Olive's death in the late 1980s; Elizabeth died in 1993, aged 100.


William Marston

As the inventor of the lie detector, William Marston wielded massive influence over the development of American society, but that was nothing compared to the impact he made when he created the comic book character of Wonder Woman.

If he was writing comic books today, Marston would be eaten alive by the morality police. A college professor, Marston was fascinated by sexual bondage and lived openly in a menage-a-trois with his wife and a young student.

As a graduate student at Harvard around the turn of the 20th century, Marston helped develop the principles which would eventually form the basis for the polygraph machine. Marston found correspondences between lying and blood pressure. In 1915, he built a device to measure changes in blood pressure and equate them to truthfulness, with the assistance of sophisticated questioning techniques.

Marston's research quickly caught the eye of the federal government, including the FBI and the Department of War, which wanted to use his techniques to question prisoners during World War I. Marston was called in to consult on the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping case, but his contribution was rejected by the judge.

Although his invention was quickly surpassed by more sophisticated devices, Marston remained a fervent advocate of the technology. He settled into a career as a psychologist and teacher. Marston married in 1915, then in 1920, he met an attractive young student, who moved in with the couple as husband and wife and wife (but without a formal marriage contract).

Marston's sexual ethics were based on a theory of gender characteristics that classed men as aggressive and conflict-oriented, and woman as "alluring" and submissive.

Marston claimed that his vision of women's submissiveness was actually empowering. Although many guys who like dominating women are prone to such claims, Marston made an effort to expand and explain his vision through his literary output.

Marston's first effort was the 1932 novel Venus With Us, a sexcapade starring Julius Caesar and many, many women. Marston cranked out a few more popular books (in addition to his prodigious academic output), but nothing clicked.

He had more success as an adviser to the literate and famous, acting as a consultant to Hollywood studios and later to D.C. Comics, home of such American icons as Sargon the Sorcerer, Dr. Occult, Slam Bradley and the Star-Spangled Kid (with Stripesy), as well as a cast of second-stringers that included some guys named Batman and Superman.

During a conversation with an editor at D.C., Marston pitched his idea for a female superhero who would provide a role model for girls, displaying what he believed to be the most powerful feminine qualities -- sexual allure and "domination via submission," in which women made themselves so irresistible to men that men would willingly allow women to rule them. Or that men would sublimate their aggressive impulses by submitting to erotic bondage, which would then empower women. Or that women could be physically strong but still sexy, and that their strength wasn't compromised if they got tied to beds by supervillains on a regular basis.

Or something like that. The overarching point was that bondage was good, and that society would be well-served by inculcating prepubescent boys and girls with images of bondage. As Marston himself attempted to explain it:

Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with the strength of Superman plus all of the allure of a good and beautiful woman.

With these philosophical underpinnings, Wonder Woman debuted in 1941 as a bizarre mix of progressive feminism and hot bondage action. Wonder Woman's superpowers were roughly equivalent to those of Superman, who had debuted a couple years earlier. (In the those days, Superman was somewhat less omnipotent than his later incarnations.)

Her costume consisted of a bustier, a tiny skirt, manacles on her wrists and a pair of red, knee-high boots with spiked heels, all in the colors and patterns of the American flag to boot. Wonder Woman also carried a golden lasso for binding her opponents and making them submit to her loving allure.

Week after week, Marston placed Wonder Woman into peril and bondage, even featuring several bondage scenes within a single story when he got carried away. Wonder Woman frequently found herself tied to beds, or bound by the wrists with her ass in the air, but sometimes she got to play the dominatrix as well, tying up men and women individually or in groups. Marston's editors were vaguely suspicious -- wink wink, nudge nudge -- that there might be a sexual subtext to all this imagery.

If they had bothered to read Marston's academic writings, his editors might have been more suspicious. If they had happened to read his high-profile interviews with national magazines in which he enthusiastically boasted that he was subliminally implanting bondage imagery in the minds of American youth, well, they might have been even more suspicious. But Wonder Woman had become one of D.C.'s best-selling comic books, so the editors were content to let these issues fall by the wayside.

Marston wrote Wonder Woman until his death in 1947, reaping significant profits for himself and his heirs thanks to a savvy contract (unlike those signed by the creators of Batman and Superman, which left said creators virtually destitute while D.C. reaped billions in revenue over the course of decades).

Interestingly, Marston's fetishes didn't become an issue during the virulent anti-comics backlash of the 1950s. Although comics were demonized for corrupting the morals of children, the main complaints leveled against Wonder Woman had more to do with her uppity feminism than her B&D overtones.

Wonder Woman has been a mainstay of DC Comics since her debut, but her popularity waned once she was separated from her B&D roots.

She enjoyed a brief resurgence in the 1970s, first as a feminist icon and subsequently as a bimbo-esque TV action star, but she never regained the power she wielded as a 1940s-era submissive, alluring free-spirit sex kitten.

So was Marston an altruistic genius conducting a radical experiment in social engineering, or just a dirty old man getting his rocks off? History has not yet rendered its judgment, and neither will the Rotten Library. We will simply note that the first generation of Wonder Woman readers entered young adulthood in the 1960s -- a decade Marston would have loved had he lived to see it.

There may be hope yet for the Amazon princess. In 2005, Joss Whedon -- creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- announced he would write and direct a new Wonder Woman movie. Based on his previous work, Whedon probably has a better-than-average chance to recreate Marston's kinky-yet-empowering worldview. And he's less smug than Quentin Tarantino.


William Moulton Marston

Psychologist, Feminist theorist, inventor and comic-strip writer, William Moulton Marston was born in Cliftondale, Massachusetts May 9, 1893. He obtained a law degree in 1918 and graduated from Harvard with a Ph.D. in Psychology in 1921. After teaching at American University in Washington, D.C., Marston traveled to Universal Studios in California in 1929, where he spent a year as Director of Public Services.

Inventor of the systolic blood-pressure test (the basis of the polygraph, or 'lie detector'), Marston was also a writer of essays in popular psychology. His best known theory was that there is a male notion of freedom that is inherently anarchic and violent, and an opposing female notion based on 'Love Allure' which leads to an ideal state of submission to loving authority. His concerns about the effects of gender-stereotyping in popular culture were expressed in a 1943 article:

'Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power... The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.'

In 1940 Marston had become an educational consultant for Detective Comics (now DC Comics), the publisher of the "Batman", and "Superman" comix series. Max Gaines, then head of Detective Comics, encouraged Marston to create a female comic book hero, which Marston did under the pseudonym 'Charles Moulton'.

In December 1941, "Wonder Woman" made her debut in "All Star Comics" #8. The character's next appearance was in "Sensation Comics" #1 (January 1942), and six months later the character’s eponymous comic book began publication. Wonder Woman has been in print ever since. The stories were initially written by Marston and illustrated by artist Harry Peter.

During his life Marston had written many of articles and books on psychological topics, but his last 6 years of writing were devoted to his comix creation.

William Moulton Marston died of cancer May 2, 1947 in Rye, New York.

written by Andy Etris


 

William Marston’s Secret Identity
The Strange Private Life of Wonder Woman’s Creator

by Nick Gillespie

From their inception, comic books, like other forms of mass entertainment, have had detractors. None is more famous--or more fondly remembered--than Fredric Wertham, the child psychiatrist and author of Seduction of the Innocent, Who charged that comic books turned their readers into juvenile delinquents and sexual deviants. If Wertham, who died in 1981, hadn't existed, he would have surely been invented by a clever satirist looking for a sex-obsessed, puritanical foil.

A true arch-enemy of the form, Wertham's critique of comics went beyond criminological concerns: Comics didn't just pervert children, you see, but ruined their ability to appreciate fine literature and art later on in life. He argued that tales about Batman--not to mention Tales from the Crypt--were like heavily seasoned food that destroyed young aesthetic palates before they could be trained to appreciate delicate, refined fare. Shakespeare, he fretted, just couldn't follow Superman.

If Wertham was the Lex Luthor of comics, hell-bent on their total annihilation, then William Moulton Marston was their Man of Steel, dedicated to championing their cause Marston was a Harvard-trained psychologist who had a law degree to go along with his Ph.D. In the '20s and '30s, Marston was best known as a tireless advocate of the polygraph--he developed an early lie detector machine--and he lobbied unsuccessfully for its use in the courts.

Never one to slough off publicity, Marston even appeared in a 1938 Gillette razor blade advertisement that used a lie detector test to discover men's "true" feelings about various shaving aids. (The "scientific shaving tests," which measured subjects' subconscious reactions, overwhelmingly found that Gillette blades minimized the subtle "emotional disturbances" caused by competitors' products.)

In 1941, under the pseudonym Charles Moulton, Marston created the first great female comic book hero, Wonder Woman, a displaced Amazon princess who helped the Allies defeat the Axis Powers while seeking romance on the side. (Unsurprisingly, Wertham was appalled by the character, which he denounced for its "lesbian overtones.") Unlike most intellectuals, Marston celebrated the popularity of the comic book form and saw it as an opportunity to get kids to read--and to circulate radical feminist notions. Writing in Phi Beta Kappa's journal, The American Scholar, in the early '40s, he noted: "It's too bad for us 'literary' enthusiasts, but it's the truth nevertheless--pictures tell any story more effectively than words.... If children will read comics... .why isn't it advisable to give them some constructive comics to read?"

For Marston, the most "constructive" comics were those that laid the groundwork for what he insisted was the coming age of "American matriarchy" in which "women would take over the rule of the country, politically and economically."

As Les Daniels recounts in the fully enjoyable and always fascinating new book, Wonder Woman: The Complete History (Chronicle Books): "Marston believed women were less susceptible than men to the negative traits of aggression and acquisitiveness, and could come to control the comparatively unruly male sex by alluring them.... He was convinced that as political and economic equality became a reality women could and would use sexual enslavement to achieve domination over men, who would happily submit to their loving authority."

Such notions, suggests Daniels, help explain some of Wonder Woman s crime-fighting accoutrements, especially her "magic lasso" that--shades of a lie detector!--forces men to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Marston's personal life was every bit as unconventional as his ideas about matriarchy; if nothing else, the details make one wonder about his fixation on liberated women. In 1915, the same year he graduated from Harvard, Marston married a Mt. Holyoke grad named Elizabeth Holloway, who went on to earn an M.A. and law degree, and to assist him in his psychological research. In the late '20s, when teaching at Tufts University, Marston met a student named Olive Richard, who moved in with him and his wife.

Marston had two children by each woman and he and his wife formally adopted his children by Richard. "It was an arrangement where they [all] lived together fairly harmoniously," one of Marston's sons told Daniels. A business associate vouched for Marston's offbeat arrangement, remembering him as "the most remarkable host, with a lovely bunch of kids from different wives...all living together like one big family--everybody very happy and all good, decent people."

Whether Marston's feminist utopia, which Daniels calls "simultaneously daring and touchingly naive," has come to pass, his contribution to popular culture has endured. By the time of his death in 1947, Wonder Woman was already a household name (and a cottage industry), appearing in various comic books and newspaper strips; she remains a vibrant part of popular culture, whether as a feminist icon, the hero of a campy late-'70s action-adventure show, or the subject of Strength of Will, a graphic novel by Alex Ross coming this fall from DC Comics.

Marston made at least one other contribution to popular culture that, while perhaps less eye-catching than his full-figured, superpowered Amazon, is no less significant.

In influential venues as diverse as The American Scholar and Family Circle, he anticipated, in what might charitably be called comic book prose, much that is taken for granted among contemporary scholars of cultural studies. He argued that mass forms such as comics deserve something other than opprobrium and scorn -- and he suggested that like other, more accepted forms of creative expression, comics can sometimes touch "the tender spots of universal human desires and aspirations...[and] speak to the innermost ears of the wishful self."