Wonder Woman is UN women's rights icon, but is she too sexy?

A protest website slammed Wonder Woman as "the epitome of a 'pin-up' girl".
A protest website slammed Wonder Woman as "the epitome of a 'pin-up' girl".PHOTO: DC COMICS

UNITED NATIONS • The United Nations has designated Wonder Woman to head a women's rights campaign, drawing angry protests from feminist groups and some UN employees who denounced the appointment of a comic-book character as "ridiculous".

The UN tabbed the fictional superheroine to lead a year-long campaign for the "empowerment of women and girls".

But a website created by protesters slammed Wonder Woman as "the epitome of a 'pin-up' girl" - "a large-breasted white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmering thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif".

Adding to the Hollywood feel, the announcement was made in the presence of actress Lynda Carter, now 65, who played the part on television, and of Ms Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment, the company that owns the rights to the character.

UN undersecretary-general for communications Cristina Gallach described Wonder Woman as "an icon for her commitment to justice, peace and equality".

But several dozen protesters, both women and men, turned their back to the podium, some of them holding up clenched fists.

The campaign launch coincides with the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman's first appearance in a comic book, and ahead of Warner Bros' release of a film centred on the statuesque character next year.

Ms Shazia Rafi, a leader of the She4SG movement, which pushed for a woman to succeed Mr Ban Ki Moon as UN secretary-general, said it was "ridiculous" to have a campaign for women's empowerment be "represented by a cartoon when there are so many real-life women who could have been chosen".

Some 350 UN employees had signed a petition urging Mr Ban to drop the Wonder Woman plan.

Visitors to the protesters' website posted scathing comments, saying "This is a bad joke on all of us", "Absolutely offensive to women" and adding that "To be empowered, women need leadership positions at the UN".

Ms Gallach said what mattered more than Wonder Woman's appearance were "the values and substance that she will represent".

She added that the UN had also appointed several prominent women as "flesh and blood ambassadors", including British actress Emma Watson, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'Wonder Woman is UN women's rights icon, but is she too sexy?'. Print Edition | Subscribe