(The New) Batwoman

Batwoman is going to be remade into a lipstick lesbian. My knowledge of DC Comics characters is not as good as that of Marvel Comics characters. This is partially due to the utterly confounding continuity problems that were later magically “resolved” (retconned) in Crisis on Infinite Earths. It’s still confusing, though. Also, I identified more with the mutants in the X-Men series of books than with the superheroes of the DC universe. Having read up on Batwoman on Wikipedia, Silver Age Batwoman seems to have been a stupid character. Utility purse? How lame. She also retired because Batman told her that crime fighting was too dangerous. She remained a minor character and vanished into obscurity, until now.

There is no way that a mainstream superhero comic book with a lesbian featured as a main character could be anything but a lipstick lesbian. Could you imagine mainstream comic book readership buying a comic book based upon a superhero butch lesbian bull dyke, no matter how well-written it was? I couldn’t. I’m betting that Kate Kane turns out to be bisexual later on. That is what the comic book readership will secretly want. Most comic book readers are (still) male, and I’m sure that most of them are of the opinion that “two women are hot, but two women and one man is even hotter” (naturally they imagine that they are that man) mentality.

Returning to Batwoman, or rather character design in general, why do creators insist on putting female superheroes/action stars in high heels? Is that practical for running across rooftops and engaging in hand-to-hand combat? Could they see themselves being comfortable and secure (in terms of balance) enough to wear high heels whilst taking part in physically demanding heroic activities? If they can’t, then why are they putting women in high heels for the same sorts of activities? It’s pure ignorance. Unless they’ve tried to wear spiky heels, done the sorts of things that superheroes do, and can come out of that experience saying, “I prefer wearing high heels to flatter shoes” then they shouldn’t make such horrible costuming decisions. Batwoman looks like she’s ready for a fucking costume party, rather than vigelante-style justice.

[via BBC News, because I am out of the loop.]

  8 comments for “(The New) Batwoman

  1. 30 May 2006 at 16:38

    It’s significant enough that DC are even contemplating introducing a non-hetero character into their superhero continuity. The only sympathetic non-hetero DC character I can even think of, outside the Vertigo line, is Gotham Central’s Detective Renee Montoya, and her outing was controversial to say the least.

    The Batman line has (of recent years) largely been fairly good with its treatment of women, very much along the “sexy but not sexual” line, with there being no doubt that characters such as Oracle (Silver-Age Batgirl, now an information broker since an encounter with the Joker left her confined to a wheelchair) and Batgirl (the current one, Cassandra Cain) are there as characters, not eye candy. Catwoman possibly not so much, but better of recent times as she’s become more central to the story, and in any case it’s kind of her thing.

    I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt on any new character until they give me reason not to.

  2. 30 May 2006 at 20:41

    Thanks for writing this great post. I think it really gets to the heart of the issue.

    I’m not so optimistic (same reasons as you state above). I think you’re right, they’ll turn her into a bisexual wet dream. And if it does come to that, all I can say is that I much rather see a Batwoman be heterosexual woman, rather than a queer woman modeled after men’s sexual fantasies. Just saying that she’s a lesbian (lipstick?!?) and having her fit nicely into her gender role or into the heterosexual paradigm isn’t doing much in regards to diversity.

  3. 30 May 2006 at 22:29

    Further comment, after more investigation.

    Good stuff: the new Batwoman is coming out of the current series 52. 52’s being headlined by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison and Greg Rucka. Admittedly all inherently disqualified from writing a non-hetero female from experience, but nevertheless all coming from good credentials of creating well-fleshed out characters and writing with the level of maturity we expect from top-notch media. (Greg Rucka is the writer who outed Renee Montoya and handled that and its follow-ons so well.)

    Bad stuff: Still nary a female writer in sight for the Bat-line (not counting Gail Simone over on Birds of Prey). Also, the new Batwoman is “romantically linked to Renee Montoya”, which makes a certain horrible sense – of COURSE the only two lesbians in the DCU have to know each other! Much like how the only two black headliners in the Marvel universe recently had to get married…

  4. 31 May 2006 at 14:01

    >why are they putting women in high heels for the same sorts of activities?
    Being able to do much of anything in high heels is a superpower.

  5. 31 May 2006 at 14:04

    Hehe, I knew someone would propose that argument at some point.

  6. skanderberg
    1 June 2006 at 04:35

    Emm highheels to make women taller, as you know the physical aspect is important, to make em glamouress and also cos its a comic.

    Well frankly any portrayal of a lesbian is likely to be a stereotype unless you are a lesbian then you are always imagining experience.
    In some ways I think that being a homosexual forces conformist and stereotyped behaviour onto a person; certainly all such people I have met have the ticks of the herd.
    Also whats wrong with bi-sexuality, yes I can see your fan boy style comment, but in terms of strict narrative it allows greater scope.

    However, that said I think your fan boy loathing is unfair, comics are often a valve for questions in the young. Look at Bryan Singer, a potter of the pink, who saw it as a metaphor for homosexuality and made ace films, or a black friend of mine who sees it in terms of race. So whats wrong if it addresses these things, even if slightly juvenile in approach. And as for lusting after forbidden fruit, well hey… :D

    I think the real complaint should be that comics are flat and dull in general, characterisation is lacking and nothing much can be done. Unless you have talented and committed people working in the industry again.

    Good comics are Strangers in Paradise, 100 Bullets, Frank Miller for pictures.

  7. 1 June 2006 at 06:32

    Hopefully they’ll portray the lesbian aspect of the character in a believeable way, rather than in a way that appeals to what they think stereotypical lesbians act like.

    I guess stereotypes exist for a reason. My gay friends in some ways conform to a stereotype here and there, but not necessarily all of them. I don’t know. It can be hard to extract yourself from a stereotype when someone discovers that you’re part of a certain group.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with bisexuality. I just personally get tired of mens’ reactions to bisexual women. It would provide another interesting dimension to a character, but it can also be a vehicle for male fantasies that I personally dislike, e.g. the idea that bisexual women are always up for a threesome. More generally: the stereotype that bisexuals are unfaithful and untrustworthy, and therefore they’re only good for short time fun, and not long term relationships.

    Though as you said, fantasy is fantasy for a reason. LOL. I’m certainly not immune to fangirlism. :)

    This is true, the X-Men books have that appeal to anyone who doesn’t feel that they’re a part of the mainstream.

    I stopped reading Strangers in Paradise when I stopped buying comics, but it is a good series. I never really got into 100 Bullets as that one emerged when I had already stopped.

    Most superhero comics are pretty dull as you said. I hesitate to read anything of that sort anymore, even the X-books.

    What I am looking forward to is Lost Girls this summer.

  8. 30 December 2006 at 16:03

    I like this new batwoman and i hate batman. i’m glad batmn isn’t in 52 cause i think he is a racist who only help whites

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