Batgirl in Arkham Knight

This is why I no longer read anything from DC Comics

This is a scene from the brand-new video game Batman Arkham Knight, in which Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), after she has been injured and is in a wheelchair, is held captive under the control of the Joker, and is made to kill herself in front of Batman. The scene is “Fake” in that she’s “not really dead” but the scenario is played out to torment Batman in the game so he will become enraged.

And Batman’s reaction – “Scarecrow was punishing me.”

Because this is all about Batman, of course. Never mind that they just used an iconic character from my childhood as grief bait for Batman to get his revenge.

If you are not aware of what “the Killing Joke” is – it’s a controversial, sadistic storyline written for DC Comics by Alan Moore in 1988 where the Joker tortures and rapes Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), then leaves her paralyzed in order to give Batman and Commissioner Gordon anguish. This story entered her “canon,” and Barbara became the wheelchair-bound computer geek Oracle for years and years after, and other women took over the character of Batgirl. Only recently have they “retconned” the storyline to make Barbara Gordon into Batgirl again – except that they left “The Killing Joke” in her storyline and just fixed her paralysis.

Batgirl in Arkham Knight

Women have been angry (with good reason) with the KJ storyline ever since because it takes one of the strongest female superheroes and turns her into a damsel in distress for Batman to rescue. And it’s still part of her storyline today, complete with all the torture scenes intact (although they tone down the rape scene pretty drastically so it’s not as clear anymore that it happened.)

This and the Amazons being killed off in Wonder Woman are two of the worst ideas that DC Comics has ever had, and they continue to double down on those stories instead of recognizing how offensive they are.

So as much as I still love Wonder Woman and Batgirl, to me the idea of them is removed from anything happening at DC Comics today, and I read Marvel Comics instead.

Disturbing Things I’ve Read Today

In the discussion forums on Bleeding Cool, covering an article on sexism in the comics industry, was this little commentary by a fellow who calls himself comics2read:

After this thread (regarding a restraining order against a comic book artist for violence directed at a female comic book artist) and the various Brian Wood threads, the realization has set in that when it comes to my business why should I EVER hire a woman to work for me, all things being even remotely close to equal?

Given that I have less than 15 employees and therefore am free of any and all EEOC concerns, I know I am effectively immune to EEOC lawsuits regardless of what I do. Hiring a woman for a position rather than a man greatly increases the likelihood of various problems not faced if I hire a man. A woman would have to be VASTLY more qualified than every man for a position in order to overcome the increased potential for distraction and disruption to my business.

I 100% agree with you that misconduct, especially violence, toward women should not be tolerated and needs to stop. The only way I can guarantee that never happens at my business is by never having a female employee.

Reading on further through the thread, this guy doubles down on his misogyny by discussing how all women have the tendency to have greater healthcare issues and are likely to become pregnant and leave employment, so it’s their own fault they’re “worth less” as employees than men are.

A couple things spring readily to my mind here…

  1. Lets be clear here: the “misconduct” he’s discussing is a crime, and the men who engage in it in the most dangerous cities in CT are criminals. This guy is saying that he’d rather keep criminals in his employ than women.
  2. Women who are potential victims of “misconduct” are penalized no matter what they do; by being victims of criminal behavior, or by being the potential targets of criminal behavior. So we’re fucked either way.
  3. I don’t know what kind of business this guy runs, but surely there are women who interact with his employees somewhere along the line. What care does this employer take to protect women who are his consumers from the criminals he likes to employ?
  4. Why is it not just as effective to eliminate the men who harass as the women? Wouldn’t it be just as cost effective to fire men who harass, not to mention “the right thing to do” to side with the victims and not the criminals?
  5. If I can discover who this guy is, I can never patronize his business and lead other women to never patronize his business by widely publicizing his point of view. The disruption to his profit that would cause would far outweigh any advantage he gains from never hiring women in the first place.
  6. Nothing prevents women from doing the equal but opposite thing; hiring only other women and no men. If I were running a business that had less than 15 employees, this would be a temptation, just to balance the playing field.

Seriously, WTF?