In 1967 the character of “Wonder Woman” was brought from the comic book to the small screen in a pilot titled “Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince.” The pilot never aired on television and the project to bring Wonder Woman to TV ended until it resurfaced in 1974.
Wonder Woman seemed to personify the spread of feminism sweeping across the United States in the late 1960’s. By 1967 the National Organization of Women (NOW), which formed in 1966, was focused on the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment giving women equal rights as men in all states (which was later passed by Congress in the 1970’s).
Women were breaking free from their traditional roles, of keeping a clean house, respectable children, pleasing their spouses. I have mental images of women going out grocery shopping in prim hats, bell shaped wool coats, ascots and heels. Women were becoming less focused on these ideals of elegance in all areas of ones life and focusing on equality.
Feminism was a moving force everywhere, including the running community.
The Wonder Woman of the running community was the Kathrine Switzer, the “Marathon Woman.”
In 1967 Switzer was the first female to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entry. She registered for the race as “K.V. Switzer.” Her gender was overlooked, as it was against the rules for females to compete, and was issued a number. She was discovered on the course by Jock Semple, a race official. Semple chased Switzer and attempted to physically remove her from the race. She reports he yelled at her to “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers.” Switzer’s boyfriend was running with her and pushed Semple away. The photographs made headlines:
Women were still banned from competing in the Boston Marathon until 1972 after 5 years of fighting.
Switzer states, “When I go to the Boston Marathon now I have wet shoulders – women fall into my arms crying. They’re weeping for joy because running has changed their lives. They feel like they can do anything.”
Switzer was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011 for empowering women through the world of running.
I have ran 4 marathons. I am preparing for my fifth. It has never even crossed my mind that at one time, I would not have been allowed to compete in a marathon. From the strong daring work of the women before me, including my Wonder Woman, Kathrine Switzer the “Marathon Woman,” I have the opportunity to run in an event that I was previously banned from. And I am forever grateful.