It’s Monday morning, and as I lean towards wanting my second coffee of the morning, I come across an article about Wonder Woman as a United Nations ambassador, and start to question whether I had enough sleep last night. I didn’t read this incorrectly, the United Nations have actually elected a fictional superhero as the honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls.
My face hurts from glowering at my screen, along with the 2000+ petitioners against electing a cartoon rather than a real-life woman. Not only am I baffled that people thought a character from a comic could represent all women globally, I am also stunned that women are supporting (with the hashtag #WithWonderWoman – is this a joke?) a character who is so clearly the creation of a heteronormative, misogynistic view of the female body. I’m not going to write about Wonder Woman’s (aka Princess Diana of Thermyscira) body shape and the unrealistic expectations for women and girls, because I find the whole ‘real women’ body shaming thing very disturbing and unhealthy for society. Yes it’s rare, but there are women out there with natural size 6 waists, E-cup bras and bubble-butt, just like Wonder Woman. But that’s not the point here…
The choice to anoint Wonder Woman occurred on her 75th birthday at the launch of a social media campaign to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality. As fabulous, sexy and empowered as Wonder Woman looks, she was created by two men – Harry George Peter and William Moulton Marston – who have clearly overly-sexualised Wonder Woman, giving her a sultry pin-up look. Marston claimed to be a women’s rights advocate who was inspired by the leaders of the suffragist movement.
UN official Maher Nasser says:
The focus [of the UN] was on her feminist background, being the first female superhero in a world of male superheroes and that basically she always fought for fairness, justice and peace.
Greg Rucka worked on Wonder Woman for DC Comics throughout the 2000s, and whilst he recently confirmed that Wonder Woman is queer (which is fantastic!), it is impossible to ignore her sexualised body and costume. Fans claim that Wonder Woman is from a feminist utopia, but she looks like a sex doll to me. There’s nothing wrong with showing off your body – I am all about showing-off what your mama gave you – but we cannot claim that this fictional character wasn’t created for the male gaze. She clearly was. Coincidentally, DC Comics is developing a new Wonder Woman comic that will be coming to a cinema screen near you in 2017………
The most disturbing part about this bizarre idea from the UN is that they somehow were unable to find a REAL woman to become ambassador. Of course, protests ensued inside the Ecosoc chamber where the official ceremony took place. An anonymous protester said:
For something that is this important, you need a woman or a man who can speak, somebody who can travel, somebody who can champion these rights, somebody who is able to have an opinion, somebody that can be interviewed, somebody that can stand up in front of 192 member states and say this is what we would like you to do.
The ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls should be a real-life, living and breathing woman who is culturally encompassing (Wonder Woman is white, of course…) and able to raise concerns for women, globally. Perhaps that is exactly the reason why a fictional woman has been honored. Whilst to some women this might seem like a fun campaign in the right direction for young girls, to me it sounds like yet another technique to shut women up and not allow them to have any opinions. Wonder Woman isn’t real, so she can’t talk, she can’t question and she can’t uncover the truth.