Other Voices

Why we need Wonder Woman’s help today

Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on television, speaks during a U.N. meeting to designate Wonder Woman as an "Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls," Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 at U.N. headquarters.
Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on television, speaks during a U.N. meeting to designate Wonder Woman as an "Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls," Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 at U.N. headquarters. AP

Almost weekly, I get to geek out with strangers about Wonder Woman.

Women and girls hear me talking about the warrior and they want to chime in. They express excitement for the movie that’s due out June 2, but what they usually want to talk about is how Wonder Woman was their childhood role model — one they still carry a torch for today.

And now she is finally becoming an actual poster child for female empowerment.

On Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary, Oct. 21, the United Nations named the Amazon warrior the Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

This historic appointment is in support of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, mainly goal No. 5 — achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

“The campaign is about women and girls everywhere, who are wonder women in their own right, and the men and boys who support their struggle for gender equality, bringing about positive change in their homes, workplace, communities, countries and the world together,” the U.N. said in a news release.

For 75 years, Wonder Woman has been internationally loved. And even though we had to put up with the constant sexualization of the warrior, one thing remained the same: You don’t mess with Wonder Woman.

She has saved Superman and Batman countless times. She is seen in the DC comics universe as an unstoppable force, one that tangles with the darkest foes. She even faced off against Superman (and Batman for that matter) and left them in her dust.

Wonder Woman symbolizes not only strength but also the inner power one gets from being confident, intelligent and brave.

Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment, said at the U.N.’s official designation ceremony that Wonder Woman shows not what girls can do, but what girls already do.

The little girls at the conference watching in awe should say it all: We need Wonder Woman.

Not just girls and boys need her as a role model. We need her as a badge of honor. Especially this year. Especially when sexism is so prevalent.

The last few years have been discouraging for women.

Feminism somehow became annoying and misunderstood. Reported sexual crimes against college students increased.

Convicted rapists received reduced punishments. Women’s reproductive rights have been manhandled or stymied.

Now we have a presidential candidate bragging about sexual assault. And we have government leaders, mainly white men, brushing it aside.

We have powerful women like Michelle Obama, Emma Watson, Malala Yousafzai, Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson fighting the good fight, but we need more.

Sexism isn’t women chasing an imaginary monster, as some men would want us to believe. It’s the tangible threat that can trap us all.

Some believe we are “overreacting.” But a man drove backward on a city street just to catcall me this month.

Another waited outside my car one evening.

I’ve had friends who have been demeaned, harassed, abused emotionally and physically, roofied and sexually assaulted.

Most women, even if they haven’t suffered these abuses themselves, know women who have. That’s the heartbreaking part.

Although Wonder Woman is fictional, she has a real effect on girls, women and their allies today.

Wonder Woman is immortal in more ways than one, and we need her brand of unbreakable, iconic courage to fight the toxicity of sexism and empower women and girls.

Critics can question why the U.N. picked a fictional character, especially one usually portrayed as scantily clad. Why not someone real?

Indeed, some critics are circulating a petition to remove Wonder Woman and appoint a powerful woman who already evokes change.

Ava DuVernay, Roxane Gay, Elizabeth Warren, Amal Clooney and Sheryl Sandberg, just to name a few, would be fantastic role models.

But Wonder Woman, with her unadulterated fight-for-justice attitude, translates and resonates with a wider audience.

Despite her appearance, no other woman more than Wonder Woman — real or imaginary — has been such a steady role model internationally for 75 years.

Sara Pintilie is a Star-Telegram editorial writer and columnist.

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