With the anticipation for the forthcoming ‘Wonder Woman’ movie at an all-time high (check out the badass trailer!!) this ambassadorship just makes sense. This year is also the 75th anniversary of the DC Comic book superhero, and to celebrate this milestone, the United Nations have appointed her as an honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson and other guests will make the official announcement at the UN headquarters in New York City, on October 21. According to the Guardian, this ambassadorship will also mark the launch of the UN’s global campaign supporting the 5th Sustainable Development Goal – achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
“Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Providing women and girls with equal access to education, healthcare, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large,” says the UN.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary, the US Postal Service will also release a set of four limited edition Wonder Woman stamps. Not only are we ready for more female superheroes on screen, we are seeing a growing amount of women rising up in their own power around the world. While pretty much everyone on the entire planet is waiting to see whether Americans will elect the first female president and leader of the free world, we can see how Wonder Woman’s resurgence in pop is buoyed on by the current intersectional feminist movement.
Although WW, aka, Diana Prince, an Amazon from the all-female paradise of Themyscira, is getting her first foray onto the big screen in 2017, she has been around since her inception in 1941, by creator William Moulton Marston. She has been seen as a feminist symbol in a number of ways. Wonder Woman appeared on the very first cover of Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine, and according to Jill Lepore in her book ‘The Secret History of Wonder Woman’, she was part of the early campaigns when birth control started to become more popular in the US.
Psychologist William, who developed a systolic-blood-pressure-measuring apparatus, which served as a precursor to the lie-detector (and notably his famed character carries a “lasso of truth”) once described Wonder Woman as “psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world”.
She is much more than just a fictional superhero, she has notably been part of the women’s rights movement throughout the various waves, including today. Most recently, Wonder Woman comic writer Greg Rucka stated in an interview that the famed character was not strictly heterosexual, despite the love story with Steve Trevor many fans are familiar with.
In an interview with Comicosity, he described her as “involving, although not necessarily exclusively, romantic and/or sexual interest toward persons of the same gender”.
“I think it’s more complicated though … when you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due, the answer is, ‘How can they not all be in same-sex relationships?’ Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise. It’s supposed to be paradise. You’re supposed to be able to live happily. You’re supposed to be able … to have a fulfilling, romantic and sexual relationship. And the only options are women. But an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say: ‘You’re gay.’ They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist,” he said.
Writer Matt Kamen from Wired.co.uk describes this aspect of Wonder Woman’s life as “a beloved symbol for LGBT communities, representing both the power of women and an alternative to toxic masculinity.”
In the hetero-normative world of comic books and superheroes, this is a revolution in itself, but we can happily say there are other comics exploring non-gender-binary storylines, allowing readers and fans to become accustomed to a wider range of diverse narratives.
Therefore, Wonder Woman is more than just a symbol of female empowerment, she is a role model, something which one person very familiar with the character definitely agrees with.
Lynda Carter, the actress who played Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the long-running TV series in the 1970’s, told Variety that the dearth of women playing heroic characters on screen is a battle still raging today. Lynda has made appearances in the CW’s ‘Supergirl’ series (not as Wonder Woman, but the US President – naturally!), which is the first TV series based around a female superhero since ‘Wonder Woman’.
“The reason she existed in the first place was that, when she came on the scene, there was nothing for girls to look up to. We’re still fighting the same fight. We still need more female role models. But Wonder Woman is much more than a cartoon character. She’s fighting for truth and justice and the secret self that exists in all women and girls,” said Lynda.
Incorporating Wonder Woman into their fight for global gender equality is a strategic move on behalf of the UN, as it coincides with the pivotal role the DC character will play in the current movement among women in Hollywood. Variety’s Brett Lang writes eloquently on this topics.
“The re-emergence of Wonder Woman, who is celebrating her 75th anniversary this year, comes at a pivotal juncture, as Hollywood is consumed by a fierce debate over the lack of opportunities for women in top executive suites as well as in front of and behind the camera. Though men continue to outrank women on studio lots and are much more frequently employed on high-profile films, things are beginning to change,” he said.
“The female-driven “Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins, will likely be seen as the fulcrum of Hollywood’s strides in this direction,” he added.
At a time when there is so much uncertainly in the world, in politics and the future of equality issues which have been front and center in this election, Wonder Woman’s presence in a number of areas is as appropriate as it is needed. Her core values are truth, justice and equality, which is what those in the gay rights movement, women’s suffrage, women’s liberation movement, civil rights, immigrant rights and many more can identify with.
“The key attributes of Wonder Woman that have been consistent over the years are a belief in justice, equality, wisdom, and peace. As a god who came from Paradise Island, she was conditioned to be suspicious of men, but she very quickly got to a place of fighting for equality and fairness for people of all genders and likes,” said Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. consumer products.
Wonder Woman symbolizes all of the women in the world who have chosen not to conform to the systemic norms handed down by the patriarchy. It is what is most attractive about her, that her path to success isn’t reliant on a man, but instead shows she can work alongside both men and women in equal fashion.
“Wonder Woman symbolizes many of the values of the women’s culture that feminists are now trying to introduce into the mainstream: strength and self-reliance for women; sisterhood and mutual support among women; peacefulness and esteem for human life; a diminishment both of ‘masculine’ aggression and of the belief that violence is the only way of solving conflicts,” wrote Gloria Steinem in her Ms. Magazin essay on the superhero.
It may be a honorary ambassadorship by the UN, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s a natural progression for a pop culture symbol who has embodied the idea of gender equality since her creation. And just because we can, we’re ending this post with the 2017 ‘Wonder Woman’ movie trailer featuring actress Gal Gadot: