Wonder Woman got fired from the U.N. for being too hot
Back in October, the United Nations announced that it would offer the role of honorary ambassador to promote gender equity to Wonder Woman. The U.N. reserves honorary ambassadorships for fictional characters, who have previously included Winnie the Pooh and Tinker Bell. But for all the hype and enthusiasm this appointment generated on social media, it was announced Tuesday that the U.N. decided to revoke the ambassadorship from Wonder Woman due to controversy over the Amazon’s sultry sexuality.
Opponents of the appointment cited Wonder Woman’s revealing uniform as they argued that her sexuality rendered it impossible for her to be empowering to young women, which is just so misogynistic and insulting that I am genuinely struggling to collect and coherently present my thoughts at present. U.N. staffers who opposed Wonder Woman’s ambassadorship engaged in silent protests and promoted online petitions addressed to the secretary general.
“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,” an online petition that reached roughly 45,000 signatures as of this week read. “Having strong (living, breathing) female role models is a critical aspect of the goal of empowerment of women and girls.”
Two things: 1) isn’t it awfully convenient how no issue was taken with previous fictional characters, who weren’t scantily-clad females? and 2) oops, I didn’t realize that if you’re a woman, whether or not society deems you “empowering” is contingent on the way you dress.
Sure, having men cease to dress female characters and heroines like Wonder Woman in unrealistically skimpy garb to attract and please male audiences would be just dandy. But undermining the feminism of characters like Wonder Woman who empower and inspire young women, just because of the way they’re dressed, doesn’t help. Punishing a woman and telling her that her sexuality inherently disqualifies her from being taken seriously, regarded as a role model, or assuming political roles and trying to contribute to society, is just as paternalistic and destructive.
The fault doesn’t lie with women who choose to dress in a certain way, but with a power dynamic in the entertainment industry that allows men to sexually exploit women however they please for their own financial gain.
Drawing the line between sexual objectification and sexual empowerment for women can admittedly be difficult. Calling out advertisements and entertainment for sexualizing women as a marketing ploy can quickly transform into slut-shaming actresses, models, and all women who dress and behave as they please. Additionally, telling a woman who walks down the street wearing a miniskirt for no reason aside from that she feels like it that she’s “objectifying herself” is hardly less insulting than creating media that panders to the male gaze and establishes offensively unrealistic expectations for the female body, but alas, I digress.
The way women are portrayed in media has long represented patriarchal constructs of women because men have long dominated directing, writing, and other decision-making roles. Offering more of these decision-making roles to women, and creating female characters who don’t purely conform to male standards for female beauty and sexual attractiveness, would certainly help amend the situation.
In October, DC Comics praised the U.N.’s decision to offer the ambassadorship to Wonder Woman. Courtney Simmons, a DC Entertainment spokeswoman, at the time called Wonder Woman a symbol for “peace, justice, and equality” in a statement. “For 75 years she has been a motivating force for many and will continue to be long after the conclusion of her U.N. honorary ambassadorship,” Simmons said.
Ultimately, revoking the ambassadorship from Wonder Woman not only reflects the ongoing tension in popular culture between sexual objectification and empowerment, but the unrealistic demands we make of women and female characters to be perfect in order to be regarded as role models. No male superhero has ever been deemed ineligible to be a role model to boys and young men for wearing underwear over tights, but super heroines and female characters like Wonder Woman must undergo relentless scrutiny and adhere to rigorous standards to be respected. If that doesn’t conclusively prove the lingering, modern pervasiveness of sexist double standards in society, then I don’t know what will.