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Was Wonder Woman Ever An Appropriate U.N Ambassador?

Culture

Growing up, my idea of wonder woman was that she was an annoying upstart to the more heroic and infinitely more capable superman, a clumsy and scantily clad woman who cared more about how much of her bosom she showed than how much saving was to be done.


But that’s just me, right?

Wrong.

When the U.N made the decision to appoint honorary brand ambassadorship to one of the first female superheroes back in late October, the reaction was muddied, and the hope for overwhelming support for the appointment was dashed, quickly. Not only were women confused by the imaginary nature of her character - but befuddled also by the fact that here was the U.N, aiming to reach its gender equality goal by 2030, but splaying the message across the world that to attain that goal, one of your #idols would of course be corset donning and airbrushed miss-look-at-my-bum Diana Prince. Hoorah!

The lack of imagination this exemplified at the time astonished many academics and indeed U.N workers alike who couldn’t believe the very thought of this poster pin-up as an aspirational standard set by one of the globe’s foremost governing bodies. Where was the thought, the examination? One look into the archives would have told you that Wonder Woman lost her feministic furor once her creator, Charles Marston died. For the next few decades she petered in and out of jobs decidedly womanly and never dominated nor inspired; as secretary, advice columnist and child minder.

Gal Gadot’s recent cameo as Wonder Woman came as a welcome opposition to the feministic deterrent the character had become after Marston’s death, it was still however, not enough to detract from the simple fact that there were many better choices for the U.N in the first place. What does it say about the state of the gender divide that another more suitable - real symbol could not have been bequeathed the role? And were that the case - would she have lasted longer? It’s been less than two months, and Wonder Woman has already disappeared into the annals of honorary ambassadors, to be replaced, one hopes, with an infinitely more worthy figure.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Perhaps had the U.N waited for after Gadot’s forthcoming movie dedicated entirely to the character — a showcase of what many believe will be 21st century feminism at its finest — the decision would have been greeted with a more positive attitude. Instead they chose the character at a time when the world is begging for a female superhero in reality.

The thought is there- the action however is missing, and indeed begs the question - who would have been better? What woman would have stood up to the condemners, the haute-feminists, me? Hilary, Merkel, Beyonce, Adele, Michelle? The comic world is certainly not chock-full of engaging women but surely there was someone more qualified for the role - Captain Marvel or Elektra? Even at that - the list of potentials is sparse, so why not have chosen a real-life character - a CEO; or an Olympian that defied every definition of gravity we know this year like, for instance, Simone Biles; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or Shonda Rhimes from the writer’s corner?

The list is endless, and the names would roll off anyone’s tongue who has been paying the least bit of attention to the changing pace of feminism in the last 10 years.

It is no joke, nor is it in our imaginations. It is about time those real people who are furthering the cause are recognized for their work - for pushing the boundaries of sexism and paving the way for a future that is no less real than was the suffrage movement in the last century.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.