Actors Gal Gadot and Lynda Carter on Friday made appearances at the Hall of Justice to commemorate the naming of the DC Comics character they've both portrayed as the ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls worldwide.
Er … sorry … did I say Hall of Justice? Silly me. I meant the United Nations in Manhattan. You know, the headquarters of the actual real-life institution upholding human rights, international peace and security, economic development and, if choosing a comic book character as an ambassador is any indication, the ultimate destruction of Mr. Mxyzptlk.
Announced last week, the appointment has been received with "Yay Women!" cheers from some, and dumbfounded shock followed by sheer indignation from others. Members of the shock-and-indignation crowd protested at today's UN ceremony.
It's possible that the U.N.'s decision wouldn't have rubbed so many people the wrong way had Aquaman ever been tapped to represent the U.N. Division for Oceans and the Law of the Sea.
Instead there is now a lot of dissent even among U.N. staff. An online petition from "Concerned United Nations Staff Members" calls for the U.N. to reconsider its choice. Despite an embrace of the character as feminist icon at times (heck, she was on the first Ms. magazine cover in '72), she is often perceived more as a sex object than a formidable female. As the petition notes:
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.
Put the sex object stuff aside, and one of the world's most respected bodies designating a fantastical character with superpowers as a role model for women and girls says to many people, female or male, "Sorry, we just couldn't find a real woman we thought was worth looking up to."
The petition's authors say as much, offering to supply a "list of incredible extraordinary women that would formidably carry out this role" if the Secretary-General were interested.
One has to wonder, why Wonder Woman? If the U.N. really had to go with a fictitious character, why not Barbie? At least she's had real professions -- surgeon (1973), firefighter (1995), even UNICEF Summit diplomat (1990). Well, let's just hope the U.N. has enough magic lassos to distribute to women and girls in its next aid convoy.