Wonder Woman’s UN ambassador gig is over following petition

7
18

Wonder-Woman.jpg

Not too long ago, we reported on how Wonder Woman had been named an honorary ambassador for women’s empowerment worldwide at an impressive event at the United Nations.

At the time we also noted the announcement was greeted with some controversy within the UN, as many were upset that this honor was given to a fictional woman while a real women had been turned down for the post of Secretary General of the UN — a title that no woman has ever held.

There was a protest at the event and even a petition to remove Wonder Woman as any kind of spokesperson started up.

Well, now it seems Wonder Woman’s ambassadorship is over, although DC had plans that ran into 2017, when the Wonder Woman movie is slated to be released. It seems the controversy proved too much.

The petition garnered just a tad shy of 45,000 signatures and stated in part:

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. This is the character that the United Nations has decided to represent a globally important issue – that of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. It appears that this character will be promoted as the face of sustainable development goal 5 for the United Nations at large.


While the current version of Wonder Woman seems to have moved on from her days as “the epitome of a pin-up girl,” she just can’t put it behind her. And that’s too bad. The perception of female comics characters as scantily clad pin-ps is very inaccurate these days, but to the casual observer it may not always look that way.

While this seems like a real “they hate us!” moment, there were other aspects of the decision:

The UN did not provide further details as to why the Wonder Woman campaign was ending this week, but spokesman Jeffrey Brez said campaigns using fictional characters often last no longer than a few months.

The designation of Angry Birds, a collection of animated characters that originated in an online video game, as UN climate change envoys in March lasted a single day, he said.

DC Entertainment, which publishes DC Comics, said it was pleased with the exposure Wonder Woman brought to the UN’s global goal to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls by 2030 “as well as elevating the global conversation around the empowerment of women and girls.”


While Wonder Woman may have moved on, the core actions of Sustainable Goal #5, gender quality, are still with us. If you’re upset that Wonder Woman has been benched, the best way to honor her spirit is to pay attention to the goals of her campaign:

CORE ACTIONS:
Speak out against discrimination and limitations on women and girls. Only 9% of news stories raise gender (in)equality issues, while 4% clearly challenge gender stereotypes. Call out sexist language and behaviour. Share positive stories of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Join forces with others against gender-based violence and abuse. 1 in 3 women still experience physical or sexual violence. Speak out against gender-based violence.

Support full and effective participation and equal opportunity for women and girls in leadership in all aspects of life, including the workplace. Women and girls represent half of the world””s population, and therefore half of its potential. Mentor young women and girls.

Ensure all women and girls have access to quality learning. Today, over 63 million girls are out of school. In Areas facing humanitarian and protracted crises, millions drop out before they can complete their education. Demand access to safe, free and quality learning for all girls.

Celebrate women and girls who have and are making a difference every day. Do you know a #RealLifeWonderWoman? Tell us more about her online using the hashtags #RealLifeWonderWoman and #WithWonderWoman.

7 COMMENTS

  1. This seems weird to me. In their statement they make mention that Wonder Woman has changed from the original incarnation and while they take issue with her “current” appearance (although I wouldn’t be surprised if they are conjuring up something based on their memories of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman), couldn’t that mutability be a boon to their cause. I mean wouldn’t it send a powerful message of taking this “pin-up” and forging her into this symbol of empowerment. That is the advantage of a story you can mold the content for your audience.

    Elsewhere I have read that they also take issue with Wonder Woman being fictional and that it diminishes the issue by not promoting a real woman as the ambassador. Now I can certainly see their position, but personally I wonder if they are just splitting hairs. I mean no matter who was chosen they would just be functioning as a symbol, their life reduced to the actions and events relating to this cause. That may be rather bleak view, but one I don’t find entirely unfair.

    There is more such as the malleable nature of a fictional character is wonderful for engaging children, which if you want any lasting change you have reach them. But I am probably being boring enough..

  2. The passions of those who petitioned to have Wonder Woman removed as an honorary UN ambassador are understandable. And it’s vital to bring attention to issues of women’s equality, opportunity and human rights. But this seems like another example of the ‘all or nothing’ attitude in politics these days.

    Some Bernie Sanders supporters went a similar way. When Bernie wasn’t the Democratic nominee, Hillary wasn’t deemed progressively pure enough. And so those supporters sat on their hands in the general election — not minding that Trump was prepared to roll back all the progress that was made in the cause of equality, environmental protection and social justice over the past 50 years. Well, Trump *did* win and those hard fought progressive victories are now on the chopping block. But hey, at least those die-hard Bernie supporters made their point. But it won them nothing and lost them so much more.

    And now, a role model that could have brought attention and dialogue to the cause of women’s rights has been tossed aside in the name of purity. Wonder Woman is one of a handful of iconic characters that is recognized by cultures and ethnicities around the world, And as such, could have been a powerful messenger for equality, albeit a fictional one.

    What is left in Wonder Woman’s absence? No one. Just faceless statistics and talking points. All true — all needing to be addressed. But no salesperson. Say what you will about Trump, but he won because he was a salesman. Our side needs rockstars to pitch our causes too. Wonder Woman is a rockstar.

    And as far as Wonder Woman’s “overtly sexualized image”, that’s an argument that can and will go around in circles (I don’t think WW’s present incarnation is that way at all), but it’s interesting to note that sex symbols have used their appeal to give visibility to a range of human rights causes (Angelina Jolie’s work for UNICEF and Human Rights Watch, Sting’s work on behalf of saving the rainforest, Bono’s work for Amnesty International, Lady Gaga’s work for AIDS research). Why not use all the tools that we have at our disposal? Even fictional ones? Causes are won by winning hearts and minds. Not by making someone read a declaration of principles.

    Being right isn’t always enough. We have to win to put our ideals into action.

  3. This is so disgusting. That part of the objection had to do with her berbering White and American is truly outrageous.

  4. “[DC] said it was pleased with the exposure Wonder Woman brought to the UN”

    Surely some typo?

    “[DC] said it was pleased with the exposure the UN brought to Wonder Woman”

    Fixed it for you! (But will DC get a partial refund?)

  5. Yes, the big problem with this for me wasn’t the costume or the mere fact that she was a fictional character, so much as that it was so blatantly using a UN initiative purely to sell tickets for the WW movie.

  6. “At the time we also noted the announcement was greeted with some controversy within the UN, as many were upset that this honor was given to a fictional woman while a real women had been turned down for the post of Secretary General of the UN — a title that no woman has ever held.”

    This is a damn good point.

    Why tag this post about the UN finally listening as “They Hate Us!”?

    Complaining about the UN realizing how dismissive the move was *to actual women* is more of a “We Hate Them!” thing.

  7. Simon, LondonKdS, you are correct!

    Also note that the petition was started by concerned United Nations staff members themselves.

    Don’t forget this part of the petition:

    “…Having strong (living, breathing) female role models is a critical aspect of the goal of empowerment of women and girls. If the United Nations would like a list of incredible extraordinary women that would formidably carry out this role, we could surely be able to come up with a list from which the Secretary-General could choose.

    “Since 2007, the Secretary-General has launched campaign after campaign under the banner of the empowerment of women and girls. However, the United Nations cannot on the one hand claim that “providing women and girls with equal access to education, healthcare, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large,” and on the other, award this key ambassadorial role to Wonder Woman, relegating the importance of the issue of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls to the previous appointment of fictional characters for ambassadorial positions, such as Tinkerbell (Ambassador of Green) and Winnie the Pooh (Ambassador of Friendship)…”

    “Some Bernie Sanders supporters went a similar way. When Bernie wasn’t the Democratic nominee, Hillary wasn’t deemed progressively pure enough. ”

    Oh please. The difference between Sanders and Clinton is very, very different from the difference between a real live professional diplomat and a cartoon character.

    “I mean no matter who was chosen they would just be functioning as a symbol, their life reduced to the actions and events relating to this cause. ”

    Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon were not just functioning as symbols. Why claim any future Secretary General of the UN would be?

    When one option has more to do with comics and another option has less to do with comics, it doesn’t automatically make the more-comics-related option better. Claiming that it does automatically make the more-comics-related option better is very shallow and does not make comics look good to anyone outside comics fandom.

Comments are closed.