Growing up, I’ve learned to see excuses the same way I see zits and hangovers. I hate that they’re there. They’re often unavoidable. There are very few good ones, if any, and the best we can do is make a concerted effort to avoid them.
That said, there are a few particular excuses that make me want to punch the nearest brick wall and throw a brick through the nearest window. Within the top five of those excuses, and there are times when it’s at the very top, is the one that amounts to something like this:
“She’s just too sexy to take seriously.”
Read that sentence again. Try to read it with a straight face, as hard a task at that might be. Under what circumstances does that excuse make sense? Under what circumstances does it not warrant punching someone in the dick? It’s hard to come up with one off the top of my head.
Unfortunately, the fine folks at the United Nations, as in the same organization that has failed miserably to stop massacres, genocides, and child sex trafficking, decided to use that infuriating excuse when they dropped Wonder Woman as their ambassador for women and girls.
I wish this were a joke. I wish this were one of my crazy thought experiments. This is really happening. The United Nations and in all their inept, prudish wisdom, responded to a petition that made this argument:
“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” is not an appropriate spokeswoman for gender equity at the United Nations.
Yes, they really said that. Apparently, a woman who has large breasts and doesn’t dress like a nun on Christmas is not appropriate. A woman who is beautiful and sexy is somehow disqualified from being a symbol of freedom and empowerment to women and girls. I guess it would be just too traumatic for women and girls to be inspired by someone that might actually look good naked.
Since this is probably too much for certain folks at the United Nations, or those who put together this bullshit petition, to understand, let me address a few of their concerns.
Has Wonder Woman ever told girls that they have to look as good as her? Hell no!
Has Wonder Woman ever told girls they have to be sexual in a certain way? Hell no!
Has Wonder Woman ever told girls they have to dress in sexy clothes to be empowered? Hell no!
With this in mind, how the hell is a badass warrior women who protects the innocent and fights injustice not worthy of being a role model to girls everywhere?
I’m trying to wrap my head around this. I’m trying to be polite about it. I can only try so hard, I’m afraid.
Now I understand there are some repressive, overtly patriarchal cultures in the world where women have just a few additional rights over dogs and pets. In those cultures, a woman showing her ankles is akin to Madonna shaving her pubic hair during the Super Bowl halftime show.
I’ve even tried to put this kind of repression into a context when I revealed the inner-workings of a misogynistic man. There are some powerful, non-political forces driving misogyny in this world and they don’t need some vast, patriarchal conspiracy to support. A lot of this sentiment comes down to economics, health, and social norms that govern how men seek sex from women and how women respond to those efforts.
However, none of those forces factored into this decision. None even showed up in the petition, which around 45,000 people signed. To put that into context, over 60,000 people bought the November 2016 issue of Wonder Woman. Even if you suck at math, you know the difference between those two numbers is not trivial.
The primary argument in this petition is that Wonder Woman is too much of a pin-up girl. Too many men want to have sex with her. Too many men fantasize about her. How can she possibly be a role model to young women and girls all over the world?
There’s a very simple answer to that question. I’ll try to frame it in the least vulgar way possible. It goes something like this:
“WHAT THE FUCK DOES BEING SEXY HAVE TO DO WITH BEING A GODDAMN ROLE MODEL?”
I’m sorry. That really was the least vulgar way I could’ve said that. Anything else would’ve risked a fine from the FCC.
I don’t doubt that Wonder Woman is beautiful. By almost every objective standard, she wields above-average beauty. Given her origin, which involves Greek Gods and divine forces, that makes perfect sense. Even in ancient mythology, beauty is kind of a big deal. Just ask Helen of Troy.
Beyond her origins though, Wonder Woman’s beauty is rarely an issue in terms of what she does and how she carries herself. She doesn’t flaunt her sexuality. She doesn’t distract her enemies by flashing her tits or something. She’s a warrior. She comes from a culture of warriors. That’s how she fights injustice and she’s been doing it since 1942.
To call Wonder Woman just another pin-up girl isn’t just insulting to her. It’s insulting to the actual pin-up girls within the comic book world. I’m not just talking about Starfire either, a character whose sex-positive persona would probably make the UN faint in horror.
Ladies, gentlemen, and those of unspecified gender, I give you Power Girl.
Notice anything distinct about her appearance? Maybe a couple of things?
If that’s not enough, here’s Emma Frost of the X-men.
Still not convinced? Well here’s another female hero named Vixen. Seriously, that’s her actual name.
See the pattern here? Do I really need to explain why these women qualify as pin-up girls? Hell, Emma Frost was an actual stripper at one point. Power Girl has actually used her big boobs to her advantage at times. These are female characters that channel their sexuality for justice and it’s a beautiful thing. Apparently, the UN just doesn’t appreciate such beauty.
Even so, that’s still a bullshit excuse to lump Wonder Woman in the same category. There are characters who do use their sexuality as a tactic of sorts. Wonder Woman does not. She is a warrior. She’ll fight an army of Nazis, zombies, and aliens before she even pretends to show a nipple.
Women who use their sexuality as a weapon have been part of our society for centuries. Just ask Cleopatra. However, even in the 21st century, our asses still clench at the thought of a woman just having the potential to use such a weapon. What’s that say about the state of women and how we approach women’s issues?
Regardless of United Nation’s bullshit excuses, Wonder Woman is still an icon. She’s still a role model. She still embodies so many of the traits we associate with the strengths of women and femininity. If that’s not enough for the United Nations, then that’s their problem.