In 2016, the year leading up to the release of her eponymous movie, Wonder Woman was named the United Nations’ Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. The initiative was announced in October, which also coincided with the 75th anniversary of her comic book debut. It was designed to promote the UN’s goals of gender equality and female empowerment in five areas:
- Speaking out against discrimination and limitations on women and girls;
- Joining forces with others against gender-based violence and abuse;
- Supporting full and effective participation and equal opportunity for women and girls in leadership in all spheres of life – including the workplace;
- Ensuring all women and girls have access to quality learning, and:
- Sharing examples of real life women and girls who are making a difference every day.
Totally a job for Wonder Woman!
The U.N. held a ceremony at their New York headquarters to commemorate the event. Gal Gadot and Lynda Carter, the two actresses who had portrayed Wonder Woman onscreen, and Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment, all spoke. Also in attendance were movie director Patty Jenkins and Christie Marston, William and Elizabeth’s granddaughter.
Here’s Lynda Carter’s inspiring speech.
It was a beautiful event, but Diana’s tenure as a real-world ambassador was short-lived.
“Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent warrior woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots–the epitome of a pin-up girl.”
You might think it was some dick-swinging idiot misogynist that objected, but no… The enemy came from within. Self-proclaimed feminists turned their backs to the crowd who attended the celebration of female empowerment, rejecting the Amazon’s appointment in solidarity with their own self-righteous indignation. On their petition website, these concerned U.N. Staffers wrote:
In other words, Wonder Woman’s breast size and clothing disqualified her from serving as an inspiration, regardless of her historic contributions to the women’s movement. This attack seems even more insane considering that previous honorary ambassadors included an Angry Bird of mind-numbing video game fame, famous health advocate Winnie the Pooh, and noted feminist of realistic physical proportions—Tinkerbell. After the outcry, Wonder Woman was removed from her post for failing to adhere to dress code.
In response, Nicola Scott, the artist responsible for the aborted campaign’s stunning imagery, wrote an op-ed, in which she noted that Wonder Woman’s costume had been originally conceived as a rejection of fashion conformity and that the Amazon so inspired feminist Gloria Steinem that she featured her and her satin tights on the cover of Ms. Magazine‘s debut issue. In the letter, Scott also rightly pointed out that as a fictitious character Wonder Woman has “the ability to cross borders and boundaries that real people can’t. [Her] accessibility and interest to children help spread important goals to younger generations.” Archetypal symbols can reach beyond anything a mere mortal can muster.
Wonder Woman’s role as real-world ambassador was an inspired idea and a tragic missed opportunity. With the success of the film, the United Nations’ message might have reached beyond anything it ever had before. Alas, once again people shortsightedly fought for their limitations–and kept them.