[Rant]: Why Wonder Woman Deserves Better Than To Be Fired For Her Big Boobs

(I was considering titling this post “I Wish Wonder Woman Were Here To Crush Your Sexist Heads Between Her Godly Thighs, asshats”, but luckily Diana’s taught me to be better than that.)

Warning: This is a long post. I have a lot of feelings about this issue, and very few of them are positive.

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As I’m sure many of you know, the United Nations recently revoked their honorary ambassadorship from Wonder Woman after thousands of protestors voiced their concerns about her unsuitability for the role.

If you’re sitting here wondering what the Holy Athena is going on, check out these two articles from TIME (another long, angry article) and Dose (shorter, but doesn’t really encompass the range of opinions and issues surrounding the outcry).

As far as I could tell, the argument against granting recognition to the female superhero was twofold: Firstly, and this has been debated in depth in the two articles above, people deemed Diana “too sexy” to be in such a prominent position. (Um, okay then.) And secondly, some feminists are justifying this opinion by pointing out flaws in her characterisation and history.

Now, I’m not going to pretend I have an unbiased opinion on this issue. Wonder Woman has been one of my idols for years – my determination to mimic her quiet strength and unapologetic individuality was probably the main reason I managed not to slip into Dr Psycho mode in my last few years of high school. Nonetheless, I can acknowledge that she’s a flawed character created in a misogynistic setting that undoubtedly influenced her story, appearance and a large portion of her personality.

Despite my personal ties to the character, and despite her dodgy background, I still consider Wonder Woman a major feminist icon, largely because of her ability, regardless of her flaws, to inspire and empower real-life women for over 75 years.

Which is why, when I heard about the public response to one of DC’s greatest heroines, I was livid. Here was a figure that exuded strength in tandem with her femininity rather than in spite of it. That had experienced sexual marginalisation despite having saved the world on countless occasions. That had taught young girls (and boys) that they could be beautiful, intelligent, independent, resourceful, and unapologetic of their gender. And yet, despite all of this, she’s been stripped of recognition in an act that seems all too familiar to women everywhere.

Like I said before, it’s ignorant to pretend that Wonder Woman isn’t flawed. She is. Undoubtedly so. She was created by a man who, despite believing in women’s liberation, was involved in a notoriously kinky polyamorous relationship that seeped into Wonder Woman’s plot in numerous ways – most notably the bondage undertones of Diana’s use of the Lasso of Truth, and the frequent appearance of the heroine bound in chains. (If you find this stuff interesting, read The Secret History of Wonder Woman. It’s brilliant.) Not that any of this is particularly abhorrent; it just doesn’t fit in with the modern feminist’s idea of an empowering character.

That is, in a perfect world, the perfect female superhero should have been created by a woman who overcame the sexist boundaries set by the comic book industry in the 1950s, was beautiful without appealing to the male gaze, preferably defied heteronormativity through her sexual orientation and gender, and was non-white so that she could expose and educate her audience about issues connected to race as well as gender.

And honestly, that character sounds phenomenal. I’d read the shit out of her story, and I don’t doubt that millions of others would, too.

However, that character doesn’t exist. Not in the public eye, anyway. (Comics are getting far better in terms of representation, eg. Kamala Khan as Ms Marvel, but unfortunately those characters aren’t popular enough to get the media attention they deserve just yet.) And overlooking a capable, powerful, empowering female influence because she doesn’t tick all the boxes of the “perfect feminist icon” is extremely dangerous. Not because you’re acknowledging her downfalls, which is necessary and important, but because what you’re effectively saying is, “If we can’t have the perfect woman, we don’t want one at all.”

Ultimately, you’re robbing young girls of the opportunity to see a woman gain recognition on a worldwide scale, and to see themselves in her while still being able to acknowledge those areas in which she is not yet perfect.

Despite all of this, the war against Wonder Woman doesn’t anger me because people are pointing out her flaws. (Do it. Highlight her weaknesses. Question her history. Argue about the rampant sexism that accompanied a changeover in writers and artists towards the end of her New 52 arc. Please, engage with the character rather than going along with the popular opinion.) It angers me because the focus of arguments against her is, in most circumstances, her appearance.

In particular, the core reasoning for revoking Wonder Woman’s ambassadorship is that she’s “too sexy”. And this – this insolent, misogynistic, conservative, completely irrelevant statement – is what makes me want to go on a completely un-Wonder Woman-like murderous rampage. Because for far too long, women have been brainwashed into believing that, somehow, outward appearances including weight, breast-to-waist ratios, height, clothing, race, and even hair colour have some bearing on their intelligence. In other words, if you’re smart, you must be frumpy with glasses and mousy hair. If you’re a sexy blonde bombshell, you’re as good as brainless. Being a hot rocket scientist is “the perfect package”, but you can’t be independent, too, because then you’re intimidating.

What I’m saying is this: Wonder Woman exemplifies a woman whose intelligence is not negated by her outer beauty, whose compassion comes as a result of her strong sense of her own integrity, and whose status as a warrior is strengthened, not weakened, by her status as a princess. By reprimanding her for being “too sexy”, for wearing skimpy outfits and for having big boobs, you’re sending a pretty clear message about the expression of female sexuality.

From my experience of Wonder Woman, she’d have a fair amount to say about the sexism behind that message. And she’d have no problem tying you up to educate you about certain topical issues like rape culture and feminism, looking damn hot as she did so.

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{Side note: The petition site against Wonder Woman argued that “the character’s current iteration is that of 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.” And to that I say, current iteration?

Because her late New 52 design isn’t so scantily clad at all:

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Slaying (literally and figuratively) in her least skimpy costume ever.

And her Rebirth design shows her more muscular than ever, and straying from her “pin-up girl” body of the 1960s:

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WW’s thighs alone could crush the patriarchy in a matter of seconds.

And even though Gal Gadot sports knee-high boots and a skimpy (but armoured and reminiscent of ancient Greek battle wear – can we give her that much?) costume, she doesn’t appear to be white, large-breasted, or of impossible proportions. Nor does her costume bear an American flag motif – only the eagle, globally symbolic of freedom:

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“Please, tell me more about how much you loved me in those star-spangled booty shorts.”

So, uh, suck it.}

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