Wonder Woman appeared on my radar last year when the U.S. Post Office issued Wonder Woman stamps tracing her seventy-five year history.  Comics weren’t available in alternate formats and films and television programs weren’t audio-described when I was young, so I didn’t grow up with this icon.  Now with the buzz about the new movie, directed by a woman, I’ve started thinking what if Wonder Woman had a disability?

Wonder Woman interests me because she goes beyond just being a kickass super hero to represent female empowerment, work with other women to make the world better, face weaknesses, learn from experience and make her mark in a sometimes hostile world. She has empathy and is a pacifist. She’s not afraid to show her femininity.  I nominate these real women who have disabilities for the Spirit of Wonder Woman prize, if there is such a thing:

  • Tammy Duckworth: Iraq war veteran, double amputee, first disabled woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, currently junior Senator from Illinois “And still she persisted” comes to mind when describing this fighter for Americans of all incomes, disabilities, etc.
  • Alice Wong: founder of Disability Visibility Project, a community partnership with StoryCorps and an online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability stories and culture created in 2014. She Facebooks and Tweets more great disability-related articles per day than I can keep up with! She’s also active in the #cripthevote movement to fire up disabled people to get politically active on issues important to them. She has spinal muscular atrophy and appeared at a White House reception by a telepresence robot.
  • Joni Eareckson Tada: Fifty years in a wheelchair have led Joni to share her strength encouragement and Christian wisdom through a myriad of books, radio programs, daily emails, etc. The organization she founded, Joni and Friends, is all about ministries with people with disabilities worldwide. Ministries range from family retreats to providing wheelchairs in third world venues to training church leaders on inclusive practices.
  • Patty Overland, Judith Smith, and Laura Rifkin are the founders of Wry Crips, a theatre company, to give voice to under-represented women with disabilities. In their current play, “Iretonia, a Sci-Fi Fantasy”, each actress develops her own part. The actors include a woman who is blind, two who use power wheelchairs, one who uses a scooter, a woman who lost a leg to childhood illness and uses crutches, and a stroke survivor.

For those of you who say, I’m Not Wonder Woman, Sheila Walsh has written a book to help you find and celebrate the wonderful woman you are!