By Claire Zillman
December 13, 2016

This year has been a doozy for supporters of gender equality and women’s advancement, even beyond Hillary Clinton’s defeat and Donald Trump’s victory. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, was ousted from power, and South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun-hye, now seems poised to meet that same fate. The IMF’s first female chief, Christine Lagarde, is currently engulfed in a trial that could jeopardize her future. The number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 sank from 24 to 21. And some bright, still rising business stars—Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer—have plummeted like fireballs back to earth.

So grab hold and don’t let go of this tiny victory: a cartoon character in a bustier, underpants, and cape will no longer represent female empowerment. That’s right, the UN has canned Wonder Woman from her role as an honorary ambassador.

You may recall that in October, after rejecting seven qualified, real-life female candidates for secretary general in favor of yet another man—one more black mark for women in 2016—the body decided it was a good idea to appoint fictional heroine Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador for “the empowerment of women and girls.” UN staffers were rightfully outraged, and nearly 45,000 people signed a petition that said Wonder Woman’s image as “a large-breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit” sent the wrong message. The organization went ahead with its plans in October, but it seems Wonder Woman’s reign will end rather abruptly this Friday.

The UN hasn’t explained the move other than to say that fictional characters’ campaigns are sometimes brief, so let’s just allow the unspoken logic of the decision to fill the vast, vast void of good news for women on the world stage.

 

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