Batgirl / New 52 Backlash

July 28, 2013

"Amy B" is upset with the "New 52" Batgirl: "What's Wrong With Barbara Gordon as Batgirl ?" - Article at delves into the usual angst over lost continuity when DC's New 52 project cleared the plate in order to build up a new DC Universe continuity. But beyond this untypical complaint, there is the heartfelt criticism over the diminution of a character that no longer contains the admirable traits of the previous version:

"Why all the hate for the decision to revert Barbara Gordon to Batgirl in the New 52? Is it because I'm a fan of the two subsequent Batgirls: Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain? Well, yes. Is it because I miss the disabled representation? Of course. But those reasons, while certainly part of it, don't really explain how revolted I've been by the New 52. It's that I love Babs, too. It's that this change was not some return to glory for her, but rather a slap in the face to all that she represented. Not just as Oracle, but as Batgirl.

...Barbara Gordon became Oracle. And as Oracle, she was so, so much more than she ever was as Batgirl.

To understand how truly progressive this was, I want to have a little bit of a side discussion about ableism. Ableism is, in a nutshell, the belief that people with the most common levels of mental and physical ability are somehow better and more interesting than those with differing abilities; the belief that disabled people are somehow tragic, that their stories are uninteresting and their lives not worth living, that they are somehow less.

But… there's no reason that things should be this way. Why? Because our definition of ability and disability, of what is and isn't normal, is frankly rather arbitrary."

Jim Lee Batgirl

Jim Lee Batgirl. View enlarged.

DC Comics' hyper-sexualization of everything

"Amy B's" analysis of DC Comics' mistreatment of Batgirl is a more humane approach compared to the more general beat-down provided by Laura Hudson at Comics Alliance:

"...[Catwoman and Starfire]...These aren’t those women. They’re how dudes want to imagine those women would be — what Wire creator David Simon called writing “men with t*ts.” They read like men’s voices coming out of women’s faces. Or worse, they read like the straight girls who make out with each other at clubs, not because they enjoy making out with women but because they desperately want guys to pay attention to them.

This is not about these women wanting things; it’s about men wanting to see them do things, and that takes something that really should be empowering — the idea that women can own their sexuality — and transforms it into yet another male fantasy.

...what I keep coming back to is that superhero comics are nothing if not aspirational. They are full of heroes that inspire us to be better, to think more things are possible, to imagine a world where we can become something amazing. But this is what comics like this tell me about myself, as a lady: They tell me that I can be beautiful and powerful, but only if I wear as few clothes as possible. They tell me that I can have exciting adventures, as long as I have enormous breasts that I constantly contort to display to the people around me."

Maybe with these kind of reactions circulating, DC Comics' president Dan Didio and crew will note that there is more than one kind of person buying their product and trim their sails from going further into this one-handed, sleazy sub-genre of superherobooks.

Original Page August 2013