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UN axes Wonder Woman as honorary women's empowerment ambassador

The United Nations will no longer use the comic book superhero Wonder Woman to promote women's empowerment or messages about gender-based violence, the BBC reports. The fictional character was an honorary ambassador for just two months, during which the campaign was heavily criticized due to Wonder Woman's sexualized appearance.

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"It is alarming that the United Nations would consider using a character with an overtly sexualized image at a time when the headline news in United States and the world is the objectification of women and girls," a petition against Wonder Woman's appointment said. The petition additionally called the use of Wonder Woman "not culturally encompassing or sensitive."

Others defended the use of Wonder Woman, with science-fiction blog io9 writing that "condemning Wonder Woman for her appearance and dress is reductive at best. Not that artists haven't been guilty of sexifying [Wonder Woman] up, but she's been recognized as a feminist icon at least since Gloria Steinem put her on the cover of Ms. magazine in 1972. And while she's done her share of supervillain punching (and occasional killing), Wonder Woman has also spent the vast majority her years in the comics defending those in need, supporting women everywhere, and inspiring ... everybody."

The U.N. did not specify exactly why it would stop using Wonder Woman, effective Friday. A spokesperson told Reuters that fictional characters are often only ambassadors for a brief period of time.