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Women in Comics: Batgirl

Updated on July 3, 2012
From Batgirl Issue #1
From Batgirl Issue #1

Recently, there has seemed to be an ever-growing war between feminists and comic books. As a female, I do support certain aspects of feminism and I do understand where they are coming from in the current struggle in comics. Many feminists are angered by the unrealistic and provocative portrayal of women in comics. Superheros like Power Girl and Black Canary wear very little clothing, fight in boots with a heel high enough someone like me could barely manage to walk in, and manage to contort their bodies in ways that no real woman ever could. In conclusion: its more about being sexy than having a plot.

However, there are a few superheros who stand out against this current trend of overly busty women. Batgirl happens to be one of them. Batgirl has always been one of my favorite superheros. She is not only acrobatic and strong, but she's smart and sassy. She is independent and is a role model for young girls and women, especially in her return in DC's New 52s.

A brief back story:

Barbara Gordon became Batgirl in the 1960s. She is the daughter of Commissioner James Gordon and apprentice of Batman. That is what she remained for quite some time. However, in the graphic novel “Batman: The Killing Joke” written by Alan Moore, Barbara is shot through her spine by the Joker and is crippled. Down but not out, she returns as Oracle and she uses her intellect to continue assisting Batman and others. She aids in hacking into computer systems, security, and helps keep an eye on the city and where a hero might be needed. Currently, DC released their New 52s and Batgirl has her legs back and is determined to continue protecting Gotham even at the risk of losing her legs again for good.

Barbara Gordon: Oracle
Barbara Gordon: Oracle
From Batgirl Issue #2
From Batgirl Issue #2
From Batgirl Issue #3
From Batgirl Issue #3

Why she stands out:

Batgirl sets out on her own to prove to herself that she can protect the city just as well as Batman or Nightwing, as well as show others that women are just as good as men. She is a strong-willed character that never gives up, but who also doubts herself constantly. That makes her even more relate-able. Women still struggle with what they can and can't do and if they are ever good enough. So does Barbara. She wonders if she should just give up crime fighting, if Gotham would be fine without Batgirl, and if she should choose herself over the people and just live a normal life. Batgirl also makes mistakes, she's clumsy sometimes, she gets hurt and on occasion, she just gets lucky. That makes her great though, because she isn't perfect but she still finds a way to defeat the bad guy. She is a complex character and she deals with more than just issues as Batgirl. She has struggles with relationships and within her family like her strained relationship with her mom and dark secrets from her family's past that haunt her. Yet, she still puts that aside every night to put on her cowl and focus on what's important: the innocent people of Gotham.

In the physical aspect, Batgirl seems to have a balance of beauty, grace, and sexy. Yes, she does have a skin-tight suit, but that's necessary if you're going to be fighting and doing acrobatics from building to building. Her suit covers her entire body unlike the sleeve-less leotards most other females are suited with. She also wears boots. Real boots with bottoms that are more like sneakers rather than heels, boots that any girl would be able to run and jump in. Batgirl is also proportional. Meaning, she doesn't have breasts bigger than her body and she isn't ridiculously skinny, but she is in good shape. She fights like a normal person too, without having to move into awkward and unnecessary positions that most other female heroes are in clearly more for exploitation rather than for the battle.

Batgirl is a female, a hero, and a symbol. She is an inspiration to women to fight for what they believe in and that they can do anything they put their mind to. Yes, she is like Batman, but she's also different. She is her own person with her own style and her own story. She can exist without Batman just like a woman can exist without a man. She is also a symbol of beauty and that women don't need to have large breasts and show off their bodies to be sexy and beautiful.


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      6 years ago

      WHOA,Rachel! You are awesome. Batgirl is too. I definitely voted up.

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      6 years ago

      Now I strongly oppose the feminist movement only because I believe that they have taken out of context what it means to be a woman. It is not that men believe that they are better than women and it is not that women are better than men. But there are things that men can do better that women can't, now go tell that to any feminazi and you will find yourself under fire very fast but they don't understand that good, moral, and truly-Christian men have an understanding that we cannot do everything a woman can. Men cannot survive with women nor women survive without men. We were made by God equal but different, it isn't just a physical thing it's mental and spiritual. We as a human race represent the Bride of Christ, when one thinks of "bride" they think of women. We as the Bride of Christ are to be subjective and obedient as there are things that God sees that man cannot. Same goes for men and women. Men more often know how the world works in a somewhat better way than women, for the most part men are the workers or should be if they even want to call themselves "men". Not saying a woman shouldn't work or have a career but they should not be the primary bank of the house because a woman as a wife and a mother has a moral obligation to be a support to her husband as he is to work hard and she is also meant to be a comfort to her children so that the girls can be raised to act like proper, decent ladies and that the sons may learn how to respect a woman and what to look for when finding a wife. Man and woman have been created for unique purposes by God and when you remove what is natural, things get chaotic, homes are broken, divorces take place (this is fault of both man and woman). But as far as this review goes, I liked it, Batgirl is a great character than CAN show that women CAN do great things and I agree that many and most of all super heroines are way over sexualized. That is why Supergirl is one of my favorites as well. In a lot of ways she reminds me of the female version of Spider-man as she battles with her immaturity and adolescence as a teen. Good article.


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