Demigoddess and Amazonian warrior princess Wonder Woman has been in the press a lot lately. She’s officially been recognized as bisexual, and of course her short tenure as United Nations Ambassador for women and girls has been rife with controversy, with tens of thousands of people signing a petition claiming her scantily clad image and body measurements render her “inappropriate” as a spokeswoman. (While the ambassadorship seemed to have ended on a sour note, a UN spokesperson maintained that the partnership was meant to be short, and that its end was not a result of the backlash.)
Well, in an interview with the New York Times, Lynda Carter, who portrayed the heroine from 1975 to 1979, had some words for the critics trying to disempower the character.
When asked by the paper about the concept of what a “feminist icon” should look like, she took the opportunity to agree that one person, much less a comic book character shouldn’t be and cannot be entirely representative of something like “gender equality,” but also reminded people that Wonder Woman, by nature of being a comic book character, is “archetypal.” She also discussed some of the more sexist critiques of Wonder Woman:
It’s the ultimate sexist thing to say that’s all you can see, when you think about Wonder Woman, all you can think about is a sex object.
It’s true: The idea that all female superheroes are somehow innately sex objects is a deeply sexist idea that permeates our culture, from all the Sexiest Superheroines listicles to the way the characters are so often depicted. Don’t forget that Wonder Woman was created by a polyamorous man specifically to be a feminist, pro-woman (and potentially pro-BDSM) answer to early superheroes. Just because more recent artists (mostly male) may or may not consider breasts as solely sexual objects rather than anatomical features like an arm or a leg and present them as such doesn’t mean that, well, they are.
I never really thought of Wonder Woman as a super-racy character. She wasn’t out there being predatory. She was saying: “You have a problem with a strong woman? I am who I am, get over it.” I never played her as mousy. I played her being for women, not against men. For fair play and fair pay.
Carter also addressed Wonder Woman’s “skimpy outfits”:
Yeah, so? Superman had a skintight outfit that showed every little ripple, didn’t he? Doesn’t he have a great big bulge in his crotch? Hello! So why don’t they complain about that? And who says Wonder Woman is “white”? I’m half-Mexican. Gal Gadot is Israeli. The character is an Amazonian princess, not “American.” They’re trying to put her in a box, and she’s not in a box.
Listen, listen Lynda, I mean, I’m personally still #TeamGinaTorres for Wonder Woman, and will probably not stop being #TeamGinaTorres until I die. (Sorry Gal, but hey you did get the gig.) Anyway, Carter was then asked about her recent role on CW’s Supergirl as President (of the United States). Of course, there was some serious pantsuit nation inspiration:
It was Hillary. I’ve known Hillary Clinton for 35 years. She is the kindest, most wonderful human being, she has an infectious personality and smile and warmth and personality and true nature. She grew up in a time where you had a be a certain way to be taken seriously. Now you can be whoever you want. You don’t have to be serious. You can be feminine and powerful at the same time.
Wonder Woman may no longer be a UN Ambassador, but she’s still a champion for women and girls. Mind you, not the only champion, but one that gives us a complex empowered take on womanhood as any other.