Uncredited Achievements

William Marston was born in Massachusetts in 1893. He was highly educated with a Ph.D. in psychology and a legal degree from Harvard. While an undergraduate he wrote a film script which was produced. Later he spent time working for Universal Studios.

William had an unconventional life. He was married to his wife Elizabeth, but also lived with another woman, Olive (his love partner). He fathered two children with both women. His wife was the income producer while the other woman took care of the children. A third woman lived with them occasionally.

William discovered the test for systolic blood pressure. When his wife, Elizabeth, pointed out that when she became emotional her blood pressure would rise, William developed the idea that this could be the basis for identifying whether a person is lying. The lie detector that is now in use evolved from this idea. Elizabeth’s contributions went unrecognized.

William was a frequent author of popular psychology essays. It was an interview conducted by his love partner, Olive, that led to his other claim to fame. The interview which was titled “Don’t Laugh at the Comics” drew the attention of the publisher of what would become DC Comics.

DC Comics featured stories of men with superpowers (e.g. Superman, Batman). William’s love partner had the idea of creating a woman with superpowers. The result was Wonder Woman. The qualities given to Wonder Woman were based on the qualities of the two women in his life. William was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame, but no recognition was given to Olive. 

Throughout his career, William benefitted greatly from the ideas of the women in his life although they rarely received credit. Many of his ideas were misogynistic and largely discredited. Unfortunately, they seem to be reappearing in society today.

Elizabeth graduated with a degree in law from Boston University. She had a distinguished career in law, publishing, and business. Olive was the niece of Margaret Sanger but she was raised in an orphanage. She dropped out of a Ph.D. program to raise William’s children. William took her research from her doctoral program and used it as the basis for a book in defense of sexual taboos.

 Just imagine how we might think of someone like William Marston. Do we honor him or hold him up as an example of unwarranted achievements stolen from the women in his life? Could we imagine him as an omen for a society that treats women as inferior and not deserving? While he lived nearly 100 years ago, can we imagine how recent trends in society could be a return of future William Marstons?

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“A woman’s place in history has never been given the attention that it needs to be given, and that’s why we have a lot of the misogyny in our society today.” – Delores Huerta (Author)

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