She has “the beauty of Aphrodite, the wisdom of Athena, the strength of Hercules and the speed of Mercury” and this year she is 75.
Yes, she is Wonder Woman.
She is a founding member of the Justice League, a demigoddess and a warrior princess of the Amazonian people. With her Lasso of Truth, her bullet-deflecting indestructible bracelets and a tiara which serves as a projectile, Wonder Woman came to earth (courtesy of DC Comics) in 1942, just in time to help the USA defeat the horrible Nazis and the nasty Japs and win World War II.
Her real name was Princess Diana of Themyscira and when in mufti and appearing as a sweet, beautiful all-American girl, she is known as Diana Prince.
Who could forget the luscious Linda Carter playing the role in the 1975–1979 TV series? Teenage boys and even grown-up men fancied her and Carter said years after the series that she certainly knew that from the rather explicit letters she got from male fans.
Ginger Rogers, dancing partner of Fred Astaire, once remarked she did everything Fred did except backwards and in high heels and so Wonder Woman could do virtually anything and everything that Superman and Batman and other male superheroes could do without sacrificing her delicate femininity.
This year, a new movie starring Gal Gadot in the title role will celebrate Wonder Woman’s significant milestone. According to Gadot, her character has “many strengths and powers, but at the end of the day, she’s a woman with a lot of emotional intelligence”. I don’t recall Steve Reeves ever saying anything similar about his 1950s Superman.
What Gadot could have added but didn’t is that her character has a splendid bust, a trim waist and shapely legs and wears the same skimpy costume she wore back in 1942. All of that reassures men that Wonder Woman is not some uber-butch lesbian who could change tractor tyres with her teeth and who, therefore, is obviously available for a bit of how’s your father when she is not saving the world.
I do hope that this upcoming feature does restore Wonder Woman’s rightful stature. Sadly, 2016 wasn’t a good year for her.
The men who run the United Nations thought it was frightfully clever for them to appoint Wonder Woman as its “Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls”. They arranged a lovely launch ceremony in October 2016 with Gadot and Carter attending and UN official Maher Nasser informed the media, “The focus [of the UN] was on her feminist background, being the first female superhero in a world of male superheroes and that basically she always fought for fairness, justice and peace.”
Even an old unreconstructed misogynist like me could have predicted the backlash. When it inevitably came from feminists, presumably as a terrible shock to UN bureaucrats, it made me think that if they couldn’t foresee this then their strategies to achieve world peace must be a bit dodgy.
A petition objecting to the decision noted the character’s physique 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 – the epitome of a ‘pin-up’ girl”. It quickly got thousands of signatures. Students of history would be interested to know that feminist objections in 2016 were remarkably similar to objections from moralising male clerics in 1942.
Very quickly, the UN bowed to the inevitable and before the year ended Wonder Woman was dethroned as an Honorary Ambassador. Rather than make themselves look like a lot of sexist pigs, UN officials didn’t give any reason for the abrupt cancellation presumably in the hope — a forlorn hope as it turned out – that nobody would notice.
It didn’t help the UN cause one little bit when at the same time of the Wonder Woman announcement, an analysis showed that nine out of every ten of their senior leadership jobs went to men.
It’s not the first time that the well-meaning UN has adopted a fictional character as an Honorary Ambassador. In 2009, it named Tinker Bell, Peter Pan’s fairy girl friend from Neverland, as its Green Ambassador. Mind you, Tinker — or is that Ms Bell? — has always been drawn with an ample superstructure and a slim, curvy body so perhaps the UN Division For Appointing Honorary Ambassadors has some sort of unhealthy fixation with young female persons of certain dimensions.
I’m a bit surprised that the greenies didn’t object to their character getting diplomatic status from the UN given that it hardly fitted their strictly non-sexist, politically correct mantra. Then again, some would say that they and Tinker are at home among the fairies at the bottom of the garden.
I can’t wait for the upcoming movie. I do hope that its opening credits use opening theme song from the 1970s series, “In your satin tights, fighting for your rights, and the old red white and blue…”
Wouldn’t that be simply, well, wonderful?
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