Happy 75th anniversary, Wonder Woman! On or about 75 years ago today, Wonder Woman debuted in All-Star Comics #8 in a brief story written by William Moulton Marston with art by H.G. Peter. The story introduced the utopian Paradise Island, home of the mythical Amazons who departed the world of men thousands of years ago because of the constant greed and wars of men. When an American pilot crash landed on the island, Athena and Aphrodite told Queen Hippolyte that an Amazon champion must be chosen to return him to America and help the Allies fight the Axis forces of tyranny. Diana, princess of the Amazons, became this champion, and the world’s most famous heroine was born.
Since then, Wonder Woman’s become a beloved icon the world over. As the best known female superhero in a genre dominated by men, she’s been the go-to favourite for generations of girls who grew up seeing her in comics and television shows. She’s a feminist icon as well. Wonder Woman was created to demonstrate the superiority of women, and embodied the strength inherent in women that Marston contended would soon lead to a matriarchal revolution in America. She later became a mascot of the women’s liberation movement when Ms. Magazine put her on its first cover in 1972, and she’s spent decades teaching her fans to be strong, kind, and brave.
In recognition of Wonder Woman’s iconic status, the United Nations celebrated Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary today by naming her an “Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was on hand for the event, as were DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, TV’s original Wonder Woman Lynda Carter, and star of the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, Gal Gadot. Both Wonder Women spoke at the ceremony, with Carter proclaiming that “Wonder Woman lives in every woman,” and Gadot saying that “Wonder Woman is a fighter, better than most, but it’s what she fights for that is important.”
The role is a good fit for Wonder Woman, who worked at the United Nations in the comics starting in Wonder Woman #204 in 1973. Here she is getting a job as a linguist from a dude who clearly wished one of the other, less dowdy gals was more qualified. Ah, sexism. Wonder Woman’s constant foe:
As Wonder Woman, she’s made several comic book appearances at the UN in the decades since to speak about global issues and advocate for peace.
And now she’s a UN Ambassador for real, as part of their “Stand Up for the Empowerment of Women and Girls Everywhere” campaign. The program seeks to speak out against discrimination and limitations on women and girls, work against gender-based violence and abuse, support full and effective participation and equal opportunity for women and girls in leadership in all aspects of life, including the workplace, ensure all women and girls have access to quality learning, and celebrate women and girls who have and are making a difference every day. You can learn more about the campaign and what you can do to help at the United Nations website.
I think that Wonder Woman is a great choice to be the face of this campaign. Some have taken issue with her honorary appointment, arguing that her small outfit and her exaggerated proportions in certain incarnations make her a poor role model for young girls. But Wonder Woman has been inspiring women and girls for decades, and at her core she represents all of the values the campaign seeks to promote. There is a power in Wonder Woman that resonates all over the world, and it often serves to bring out the best in those who admire her and all she stands for.
With a great comic book on the stands and a movie on the horizon, it’s a fantastic time to be a Wonder Woman fan, and her UN appointment is a cherry on the top of what should be an excellent 75th year for Wonder Woman. All of the celebrations and attention are much deserved, and it’s wonderful to see that yet another generation of young fans will be inspired by Wonder Woman moving forward.