Wonder Woman in the “real world” can’t seem to catch the same breaks as her movie counterpart. Gal Gadot’s take on DC Comic’s resident female champion was arguably the highlight of Batman V. Superman and it looks like it might finally do the character justice on screen — despite some claims that the film is a mess. The same can’t be said for the original comic character and the public opinion that follows her.
There was the whole debate over the character’s sexuality in September, which makes sense if you follow the comic history but still seemed to rub folks the wrong way. And now we have the reaction to Wonder Woman becoming an honorary ambassador with the United Nations:
On 21 October 2016, the character of Wonder Woman will be designated as Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, in support of Sustainable Development Goal 5 – to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
The Wonder Woman campaign will highlight what we can collectively achieve if women and girls are empowered – along with examples of women and girls who have made and are making a difference every day by overcoming barriers and beating the odds to reach their goals.
This did not sit well with plenty of folks and it spawned a mixed reaction online and a petition to stop it from happening:
Wonder Woman was created 75 years ago. 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.
At a time when issues such as gender parity in senior roles and the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse of women and girls is at the top of the United Nation’s agenda, including the “He for She” campaign, this appointment is more than surprising. It is alarming that the United Nations would consider using a character with an overtly sexualized image at a time when the headline news in United States and the world is the objectification of women and girls.
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.
The petition currently sits at a little over 2,000 signatures with 5,000 as the goal for action. And it doesn’t help that the UN passed over several real life women during their search for a new secretary general according to Quartz and then turned around to snub women again with their Wonder Woman choice. A choice that makes sense on certain levels, but also courts controversy at a time when gender tensions are high. It also didn’t sit well with many at the event according to the AP (via Mashable), with several staffers turning their backs on the stage and protesting by the entrance.
Safe to say that it is not too fun for the fictional, drawn Wonder Woman at this moment in time. The Gal Gadot version on the other hand is doing great and just got a new image in honor of the character’s 75th anniversary:
The upcoming Patty Jenkins movie also got a little praise from a fellow superhero director and almost Wonder Woman director Joss Whedon, discussing the upcoming film in an interview with Collider:
I want it to be good. The trailer was just wonderful. I’ll probably be disappointed, me more than anybody else, because I’ll be like, “Wow, my version…” or whatever, but I can still get myself up for it. The trailer had her shield and her fire hammer and yep, I’m good, this will be fine, everything is good. Such an image.
Whedon’s version might’ve been cool, but it also might’ve been full of head scissor action that we’ve all really grown tired of over several Avengers films. Still, he’s successfully navigated the big tent pole films and his praise is worthy. Keep it up film Wonder Woman, you’re the only one that people seem to like at the moment.