Honor Wonder Woman, But Honor Real Women First

By October 24, 2016


The following is an opinion piece about Wonder Woman becoming an honorary United Nations ambassador.

Last April, a popular vote decided who was going to replace President Andrew Jackson on the American $20 bill. The goal was to choose an influential woman in American history, and there were so many to pick from.

And America chose well. Harriet Tubman, one of the leaders of the “underground railroad” that helped escaped slaves find paths to freedom in non-slave states, will be featured on the currency beginning in the 2020s. It could be said that Tubman should’ve been honored a long time ago – and I agree – but I’m glad that she’s finally being recognized in such a way now.

Imagine, however, if instead of Tubman, instead of Eleanor Roosevelt, instead of late civil rights activist Rosa Parks, the United States came out and announced the person helping to represent powerful women on currency would instead be the late president Laura Roslin.

roslin102416You know President Roslin. She was thrusted into the presidency from an education secretary position after everyone above her was wiped out in the Cylon sneak attack. And she then had to find ways to lead what was left of the human race away from the Twelve Colonies, to what was believed to be a mythical place, Earth.

Yes, she is a fictional character from Battlestar Galactica, but you can’t deny her impact as a woman. Especially since she accomplished so much while also fighting terminal cancer.

It’s silly. We wouldn’t put Laura Roslin on the $20 bill anymore than we would put Jessica Rabbit, or Xena, or Mary Poppins. So why on Earth would we name Wonder Woman the “honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls” to the United Nations?

I love Wonder Woman. I grew up watching Lynda Carter’s version of her, and Gal Gadot’s version was a highlight of Batman v. Superman. However, I would rather have Carter or Gadot holding this ambassadorship before we give it to a fictional character.

I know, I know, what’s the big deal? It’s just an honorary position, with no power. It’s merely a publicity stunt by the United Nations to help get attention for its work to empower women and girls. And it worked, because we’re talking about it.

Yes, I’ll take that. But still, are we so hard up for amazing female role models and leaders that we have to resort to those who aren’t real?

Cristina Gallach, a spokeswoman for the United Nations, told CNN that real-life women and men already work hard each and every day for international body, “fighting for gender equality and the empowerment of women every day.” These included ambassadors like Graga Machel of Mozambique, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, even actresses like Charlize Theron and Harry Potter’s Emma Watson.

I think it’s cool that famous characters like Wonder Woman are being recognized by organizations that we never would imagine when we were all kids. But I also think it’s more cool to honor emerging women and girls not with some fictional character, but with one of the many real role models that exist today. Equality is not fiction, and neither should its leaders be.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.
  • Student of Alchemy

    It’s odd. Were there people complaining like this when Winnie the Pooh or Tinker Bell were appointed as honorary ambassadors? Also, would any real person garner the attention as a fictional icon like Wonder Woman? I mean, I understand the importance of acknowledging real-life women, who Gallach lists above, but it’s pretty clear to me, at least in the US, that people are often more inspired by singular fictional icons than they are by any one living person. I’m not saying that it’s a good thing that fiction is more compelling to many of us, but I think it’s a worthwhile trait to observe and utilize in moving people to positive social change.

    So long as none of the acting human rights efforts, particularly those directed towards improving the lives of women and girls of all ages, are stymied by the UN’s promotional material and efforts related to Wonder Woman, I see this as a positive and practical choice.