After declaring DC superhero Wonder Woman an honorary ambassador, the United Nations has decided to revoke the fictional character’s title. Her selection in October had been met with some controversy, both inside and out of the U.N., but it’s hard to see this as anything other than a shame.
To be fair, some of the furor over Wonder Woman’s appointment as Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls is pretty understandable. When “Concerned United Nations staff members” created a petition asking that the character be reconsidered for her role, it noted her “overtly sexualized image” as “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” whose American flag-inspired outfit was “not culturally encompassing or sensitive.”
Most damningly, the petition decried 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.” That’s a very fair point.
All that said, condemning Wonder Woman for her appearance and dress is reductive at best. Not that artists haven’t been guilty of sexifying Diana up, but she’s been recognized as a feminist icon at least since Gloria Steinem put her on the cover of Ms. magazine in 1972. And while she’s done her share of supervillain punching (and occasional killing), Wonder Woman has also spent the vast majority her years in the comics defending those in need, supporting women everywhere, and inspiring... everybody. The reaction to Diana’s revoked ambassadorship gives plenty of evidence of why she deserved it so much:
Here’s my biggest problem, though. Earlier in 2016, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed an Angry Bird—as in, from the cellphone game—as an honorary ambassador for the International Day of Happiness. If a stupid cellphone game mascot from 2009 can represent the United Nations, then there should be no question that the greatest female superhero in the world for over 75 years can and should be Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. And that’s a truth you don’t need a golden lasso to uncover.