Today marks the day that the Themyscira’s greatest warrior, Wonder Woman, turns 75 years old and there are all kinds of amazing birthday celebrations happening around the world.
For instance, Justice League director, Zach Snyder, released a new image of the iconic hero from the upcoming movie while delegates of the United Nations opted to make her an official ambassador, although that decision was met with an awful lot of controversy.
It’s actually quite amazing that the character has endured through 75 years in the face of changing times, both for better and for worse. She’s seen woman around the world become more empowered and she’s watched as many have tried to take that power back. For nearly a century she’s been a feminist icon (not always without controversy) and she’s been leading the charge for women in the comic book industry since American psychologist and writer, William Moulton Marston, his wife/co-creator, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, and artist H. G. Peter brought the character to life in All-Star Comics #8 in December of 1941. It’s a fascinating history who’s story has been nearly perfectly reflected in light of the United Nations decision.
As part of a new U.N. initiative to try and empower woman and girls from around the world, the character of Wonder Woman was selected to serve as an honorary ambassador, which makes a lot of sense given her history, however, just like as she has many times before, Princess Diana became the face of international controversy.
Both Gal Gadot and Lynda Carter (both having played Wonder Woman in the past) were in attendance at the U.N. ceremony, but several U.N. ambassadors opted to stage a silent protest in opposition to the appointment.
According to a report from The Guardian, “a petition was created by “Concerned United Nations staff members” asking the UN secretary general to reconsider. It mentioned concerns over her “overtly sexualized image” that is not “culturally encompassing or sensitive.”
This has frequently been a critique of the character and according to the petition, “The bottom line appears to be that the United Nations was unable to find a real-life woman that would be able to champion the rights of ALL women on the issue of gender equality and the fight for their empowerment. The United Nations has decided that Wonder Woman is the role model that women and girls all around the world should look up to.”
The petition had over 1,180 signatures as of this afternoon and protesters inside the U.N. sat with their backs to the ceremony with their fists held in the air. Most of the protesters left halfway through the ceremony.
One anonymous protester told The Guardian, “For something that is this important, you need a woman or a man who can speak, somebody who can travel, somebody who can champion these rights, somebody who is able to have an opinion, somebody that can be interviewed, somebody that can stand up in front of 192 member states and say this is what we would like you to do,” while another explained that, “On every imaginable level, we think she is a poor choice. Wonder Woman’s American flag costume is akin to pop culture imperialism.”
Cristina Gallach, UN under secretary general for communications and public information, explained to the assembly that, “I don’t need to tell you Wonder Woman is an icon. She has been known for justice, peace and equality and we are very pleased that this character will help us reach new audiences with essential messages about empowerment and equality.”
As per usual, this isn’t an easy situation nor is the topic of Wonder Woman always an easy one to breech, however, it’s undeniable that she has served as a hero to many women and girls around the world during her tenure and that’s something that should be treated with a certain level of respect. In fact, what we should do is take the good with the bad and use these things to learn and better ourselves by correcting some of the misguided errors of our past. Instead of reducing Wonder Woman to nothing more than a 75 year old sexual icon from an exotic land, we should look to her as the hero that she has been, is, and could continue to be into the future. If the aesthetic is the villain here, let’s take her lead and conquer it, yet sexuality is also an important feminine virtue and one that shouldn’t be dismissed lightly either. Perhaps one of the things that makes Wonder Woman truly heroic, outside of the comic book world, is that she serves as a muse for important discussions that we call develop and learn from and I suggest we do exactly that.
Happy 75th Birthday Princess Diana “Wonder Woman” Prince and here’s the new image of her that Zach Snyder leaked earlier today.