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Gal Gadot Isn’t Here For Your Wonder Woman Slut-Shaming

Since her first appearance in All Star Comics #8 in 1941, Wonder Woman has always stood for equality, peace, diplomacy, and female empowerment. (Her nemesis is literally the god of war, Ares.) So, in a move that made perfect sense to anyone who has ever read a Wonder Woman comic, the United Nations named the iconic superhero an honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls in October. The campaign’s stated goal was to “achieve gender equality,” which sounded like a noble goal perfectly in line with Wonder Woman’s own mission statement.

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However, after just two months on the job, the international organization ended the Wonder Woman campaign last week following backlash from people who condemned Diana of Themyscira as “a large-breasted white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring bodysuit with an American flag motif and knee-high boots.” Her critics objected to the idea of a fictional superhero character as a suitable representative for the U.N., despite Winnie the Pooh’s inclusion as an international ambassador of Friendship Day in 1998. And he doesn’t even wear pants.

In a recent interview with Time, Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot, who attended the October ceremony, addressed the controversy: “There are so many horrible things that are going on in the world, and this is what you’re protesting, seriously?”

“When people argue that Wonder Woman should ‘cover up,’ I don’t quite get it,” Gadot added. “They say, ‘If she’s smart and strong, she can’t also be sexy.’ That’s not fair. Why can’t she be all of the above?”

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It’s not that Wonder Woman’s costume hasn’t been hotly debated over the years. While her male counterparts get full-body suits lined with Kevlar, Diana typically fights in a metal bustier, skirt, and knee-high boots. Writer Greg Rucka, who is currently exploring the Amazonian hero’s origin story in his ongoing Year One series, told Time, “I get frustrated when I’m given [an illustration of] Diana in three-inch heels, because she can’t fight like that. I have an easier time with her flying than fighting in three-inch heels or dental-floss bottoms. I like the costume for the movie because Gal can actually run and jump and kick in that.”

Still, Wonder Woman’s critics fundamentally don’t understand her as a character, and more importantly, they don’t fully grasp the kind of impact she’s had on marginalized readers. Wonder Woman has always, for example, been a queer icon. Just last year, in Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, she officiated a wedding between two women and schooled Clark Kent on the issue of gay marriage. “Clark, my country is all women,” she told the farm boy. “To us, it’s not gay marriage, it’s just marriage.”

Gail Simone, writer of Batgirl, Birds of Prey, and Wonder Woman, said she was “heartsick” over the U.N.’s decision to pull Wonder Woman’s campaign, tweeting, “Wonder Woman saves LGBTQ lives. I have had untold numbers of gay men, non-binary teens, and transfolk tell me that Diana kept them going. That she spoke to them directly. I’ve lost count of the gay, bi- and poly women who have shrines to her in their homes, for the message of acceptance she gives.”

While it’s unfortunate that Diana’s ambassadorship at the U.N. ended early, with Patty Jenkins’s anticipated Wonder Woman movie hitting theatres in summer 2017, her job as a beacon of hope for young women, girls, boys, and the LGBTQ community is far from over.

INNERSPACE CLIPS