Friday, 4 November 2016

To All the Wonder Woman Haters


DC's Wonder Woman has just been made the honorary UN Gender Equality Ambassador and people are pissed. Thousands of UN staff actually signed a petition to have the decision revoked  against her to have her removed citing her as: "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".  Oh and also, many people took issue with her being fictional. Well, my lil ol' comic book loving self is offended by those who took offence.


Wonder Woman grew up in Themyscira - a female utopia. SO, there has arguably never been a character that both understands and epitomises female empowerment more than she does. She spends her days fighting for justice and in doing so, dispels all the typical female tropes of a damsel-in-distress. As so eloquently put by actress Gal Gadot (DC Studio's new Wonder Woman) "she has all the strength of a superhero but at the same time she's very sophisticated, loving and has a lot of emotional intelligence".*

So when some UN staff took issue with the fact that she's "a large breasted white woman", my lil ol self did not understand. Yes okay the character was created in the 1940's by a white man but even so, a. all the Wonder Woman art work, even from the 40's celebrates her strength, something that we do not see a lot of even today and b. a lot has changed in terms of de-sexualising her image - particularly seen in the costume changes for the upcoming movie. And what hasn't changed is that Wonder Woman has proven time and time again that she is more than her body. I'd feel confident in speaking on behalf of fans of the comic books when I say that this is not why we like Wonder Woman.


Could the UN have picked another comic book female character of colour to represent gender equality? Absolutely there are many great ones to choose from. But she is undeniably far more internationally recognised for her intelligence and strength than many fictional characters.

Another bone I have to pick, the UN has entire agency dedicated to "contributing to peace and security ... through educational and cultural reform"** - UNESCO. If the United Nations values cultural why now are its staff trying to shun an influential and cultural icon?

If the UN is trying to get women and girls from all over the world to get on board with their work on Gender Equality, they couldn't have picked a better ambassador.
#WithWonderWoman

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