America's Wonder Woman Handed Pink Slip by U.N. after Protests of Over Her Ambassadorship

Sunday, December 18, 2016
(graphic: McMillan Digital Art/Getty Images)

By Mark Kennedy, AP Entertainment Writer


NEW YORK (AP) — The comic book heroine Wonder Woman has been abruptly fired from her honorary ambassador job at the United Nations following protests from both inside and outside the world organization that a white, skimpily dressed American prone to violence wasn't the best role model for girls.


Rheal LeBlanc, head of press and external relations, said Tuesday the appointment of Wonder Woman as an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls would end this week, a move that come less than two months after a splashy ceremony at the U.N., which attracted actresses Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman in the 1970s TV series, and Gal Gadot, who has taken on the role in the forthcoming "Wonder Woman" film.


Critics said the appointment was tone deaf at a time when real women are fighting against sexual exploitation and abuse, and that there were plenty of real heroines that could be the face for gender equality. At the time of the appointment, there was no indication it would end so quickly.


"It's ending because it's ending. And it was always meant to end," U.N. spokesman Jeffrey A. Brez told The Associated Press. "The objective was to reach out to Wonder Woman's fans and I think we did a great job of that."


In a statement, DC Entertainment, which owns the Wonder Woman title, said it was "extremely pleased with the awareness that this partnership brought" as well as "elevating the global conversation around the empowerment of women and girls." It added that Wonder Woman, who turned 75 this year, "stands for peace, justice and equality."


Wonder Woman's image was to be used by the U.N. on social media platforms to promote women's empowerment, including on gender-based violence and the fuller participation of women in public life. Defenders of the decision pointed to the character's pioneering, feminist roots and her muscular bravery.


But an online petition, started by U.N. staffers and signed by more than 44,000 people, asked the secretary-general to reconsider the appointment, saying the message the U.N. was "sending to the world with this appointment is extremely disappointing." And during the Oct. 21 ceremony at the U.N., many staffers silently turned their back to the stage, some with their fists in the air.


The Wonder Woman appointment came after many women were dismayed that another man, Antonio Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, was chosen to be the next secretary-general, even though more than half the candidates were women.


Several critics took issue with Wonder Woman's skimpy outfit, arguing that the world might not embrace a scantily clad character in a thigh-baring bodysuit with an American flag motif and knee-high boots.


Honorary ambassadors — as opposed to goodwill ambassadors like Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway — are fictional characters. The U.N. previously tapped Winnie the Pooh to be an honorary Ambassador of Friendship in 1998 and Tinker Bell as the honorary Ambassador of Green in 2009.


To Learn More:

Protests Erupt Over Naming of Sexy U.S. Comic Book Character as U.N. Ambassador for Female Empowerment (by Somini Sengupta, New York Times)


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