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Not 100% Joker related but....

Why I support Barbara Gordon as Batgirl

This will give me a whole new host of enemies. I hope not but if I do, it’s not my fault that some would get butt hurt for, le gasp, freedom of thought.

In case you have been living under a rock, the DCnU has announced its brand spanking new Fall sweep which is basically a reboot of the whole DCU. The main gist is that they want to ‘de age’ the characters but still have the important stories will stay intact. One of the ‘casualties’ of this change is Barbara Gordon’s role as Oracle which will cease so that she will be Batgirl once again. Needless to say this has set the blogosphere on fire. As you can imagine, she became a beloved character because she represented not only female characters who could use their brains instead of their bodies to be considered well respected, she became a symbol of sorts for the disabled community. I commend DC and Marvel for being progressive in acknowledging characters from various backgrounds and making them well respected instead of making them cardboard cut-out caricatures a la Speedy Gonzalez (whom I still like by the way).

That is not to say that I do not have my criticisms of DC. I do still get enthusiastic and excited about new projects but there are times when DC has disappointed me but overall, I choose to stay positive about my fandom. Some of the things I am not crazy about

1) The fact that they have not put out collected trades of Catwoman’s 1990s series

2) Stupid, silly crossovers that are more about profit than good writing. Just stop it. I hate them so much that I zone out and end up playing catch up with friends and MBs.

I thoroughly believe that you can enjoy something, love it madly and passionately but still be objective and self critical. For example, I love AC/DC but even I will tell you that they are no Mozart or Bach. It’s just dumb but catchy rock music. We all love a Big Mac but you cannot live off of it. The reason I am writing this blog is because I am trying to find other blogs and posts that are open to the new DCNU coming this Fall but all I get are posts that are laced with words like ‘ableism’ and ‘sexist’ and ‘racist’ because the posters are upset with DC giving Barbara Gordon the ability to give her walking ability again. Gee, I can understand being a little WTF with DCs decision to give Barbara her legs back. She has had that role for half her lifetime.

However, I draw the line at calling the company a bunch of ‘assholes’ (and anyone else who is excited about the new line up AND is happy that Barbara is getting her legs back). I can understand the feeling of nostalgia that Barbara will no longer be a computer hacker sitting in a wheelchair but what about the people who saw the animated series but didn’t read the comics? What about the people who were fine with Barbara in the chair but are OPEN to this new possibility even if they were initially against it? Does that make them ‘fake fans’? Does that make them bigoted assholes? Keep in mind that one of the proponents for this change is a black gay man. The only time I saw positive reaction was in a thread at a major comic book website but I had to stop reading because there came a point where posters were making comparisons to being black/gay to being disabled. As a person who can tick a few of these boxes, I was disgusted that self identified liberals were censoring AND censuring others by calling them names, even if some of the proponents came from a non-white, non-heterosexial, non-male background. When you get to that point, you know something is wrong.

My first exposure to Barbara was the animated series. I did not pick up a comic until nineteen and it was rather late in life that I discovered that the girl with red hair and cowl was in a wheelchair since 1988. I have known Barbara as both Batgirl and Oracle. I cannot really say that I prefer one over the other. For continuity and time’s sake you cannot ignore the impact she made when she lost her legs. Not only did it demonstrate that Joker was a dangerous villain in his own right but it also demonstrated resilience, survival and ultimately metamorphosis in part of Barbara. John Ostrander, Chuck Dixon and Gail Simone breathed new life into an iconic character. Her period as Oracle AND Batgirl cannot be denied. However, there comes a point in time when you have to look at logistics and the big picture:

1) Bruce Wayne had his back broken when Bane hurt him. Eventually he healed.

2) In a world of meta/science/fantasy, it does not make sense that she would stay in the chair when she has opportunities to change that.

3) Show me someone who is not does not wish to have the ability to move again.

I am stressing the very last point because when I look for more reactions to Barbara getting her legs back, I encounter more resistance and negativity even though Gail Simone is on board on the book and has shared her mixed opinions while addressing those who are living as disabled. I will not name names but I will say that for the past two weeks, I have been running into quite a few blogs that go beyond the normal ‘Huff!’ reaction and actually cross over into full vitriol and (I will have to say it) censorship and policing of language because they do not agree with DCs new line up.

Tonight, I will say that I have had enough.

I support Barbara Gordon getting her legs back (but not too keen on being Batgirl again) for these reasons

1) She has the technology to get it back. Yes, comics are fantasy and not one hundred percent reality based but it is FOCUSED in a realistic realm. You have physical therapy and there are real life stories of people who got the ability to walk again. My mother is a nurse at a local county hospital and she works in the rehab/spinal cord unit. Her job is to get her patients better, to make it so that they can function again without the aid of foreign objects. I have not visited her job but I seriously doubt a lot of these survivors want to stay that way which brings me to my next point:

2) Barbara has expressed the desire to want to walk again. I am not Gail Simone nor do I consider myself the ultimate source on Batgirl/DCU but I can say with full confidence that even she has expressed the desire to walk again. It is a NORMAL, and HEALTHY reaction. When I read posts that criticize the new DCU especially about this, it makes me wonder, do these fans want to keep Barbara in the chair for their own purposes? I can understand that Barbara is a role model for those with disabilities but what is wrong with her with being an aspiration to get better? As I stressed in my previous point, show me someone who wants to stay in the same position that they are in. A lot of the bloggers who complain that DC is making a big mistake by giving Barbara the ability to walk again also claim to be part of the social justice movement and I have seen them go as far as to attack and accuse members with opposing viewpoints of being ‘ableist’. Is it ableist when the character herself, as well as other writers, have made it so that they want Barbara to walk again? Is it ableist for a paraplegic to want to go into physical therapy? That is what it reads like when I read some of these comments, especially coming from self proclaimed liberals who are more concerned with ‘representation’ than evolution, mythology and new possibilities. For example, I did not like Damian Wayne when he showed up and I was disgusted when Jason Todd was brought back. I remember I expressed my opinions on boards without name calling. Nowadays, I do not mind the both. I have accepted that they are both here to stay. They are not my favorites but it does not bother me that they are both here. Likewise, it took me a long time to get used to Cassandra Cain (another character with a disability, a speech impediment and she is Asian). I just plain did not warm up to her but eventually got a couple of Kelley Puckett trades. I can now enjoy the character for who she is. She is not my top favorite but I do not mind her presence now. There was a time when one could say that they did not like Cass Cain without being labeled a ‘racist’ or whatever. I know someone who is bisexual and a racial minority who told me that she does not like Wonder Woman, a character who epitomizes feminism. I seriously doubt that this person is ‘suffering’ from self hate.

As I stated earlier, there is nothing wrong with feeling like the floor was taken beneath your feet. She is a character who has been around for over forty years and has been known by more than one name. I also want to remind people that in order for a character to survive, evolution must take place. Barbara has not only expressed the desire to get out of the chair, but she has also been presented with opportunities to get better. Larry Flynt does not have the option because he is not friends with the Martian Manhunter.

What is stopping her from getting better and why is that a bad thing?

How is DC being ‘discriminatory’ if they give a woman her legs back? There are characters who have disabilities. Over at Marvel, you have Daredevil and Professor X. In DC, you have Cyborg, Vox and a whole host of others. DC also has its share so please, don’t give me that bullshit that DC is being run by a bunch of bigots who hate minorities. What is wrong with giving one woman back what she once had?

IT is NOT discrimination for DC to give Barbara her legs back when you have characters that are POC (I HATE that term as it is not the the 1950s anymore but I have seen Gail Simone use it), gay (Thunder and Grace, Renee Montoya) and non-white (John Stewart, Renee Montoya, Crispus Allen).

It is NOT ableist of DC to give Barbara her legs back. Even if you never saw someone who is disabled complain, how do you know that they have never had that cross their minds? How do you know that they have never expressed the desire to be mobile on their own feet once again? Barbara has expressed these feelings and thoughts. Do some of these bloggers willingly ignore these moments because they want to preserve her in one state so that they have some 'representation' in comics?

The only ableism I am seeing are the small but (too) loud group who want to keep her there for their own personal (and selfish) reasons. Yeah, I went there. As a self described liberal, I am getting tired of reading comments and blogs by posters who call themselves ‘feminists’ and any other social justice label they put on themselves CENSOR opposing viewpoints by calling the other party names and labels just because they do not conform to the same politically correct opinions that they do. I expect that crap from a schoolyard, not a bunch of twenty and thirty somethings. I hate reading comments/posts that stink of ‘if you are not a white middle class able bodied heterosexual male then you are oppressed’. I like message boards because of the free trade of ideas. Geez, I remember at the DC boards years ago you had female, gay, black and straight posters talking about comics and the only time the politics came out was in the general section and the topic had the word ‘Politics’ in it. I never saw accusations of ‘misogyny’ or ‘sexism’ when opposing viewpoints where shared back then.

Today, you would be very hard pressed to express an opinion that does not conform to a feminist/racial/disabled stance without being labeled something negative even if your own personal viewpoints are far from that. You would be labeled a misogynist racist pig even if you were a card carrying member of NOW and the NAACP. Likewise, those who are happy with Barbara getting the ability to walk again are labeled insensitive dolts even if we see her character and history as Oracle, hacker extraordinare, is an integral and important part of who she is.

At the time of this writing, who is to say that Barbara will not be using her computer skills as Batgirl? Who is to say that maybe she will take off the cowl but still go by the name of Oracle and still have the ability to walk? Who is to say that maybe six or ten issues down the line, Babs will realize ‘I am too old for this’ and give the cowl to Cassie or Stephanie and work behind the scenes once again? This is called character development, people, not mother-effing oppression! I am happy that Barbara is getting to be able to walk again but I am not too one hundred percent keen on her being Batgirl. You have at least two people who can work that title. Plus, the name Batgirl has a more youthful tone to it and Barbara is no longer twenty years old. Even the title Batwoman is a bit…eh. Nonetheless, I am very curious to see what Gail Simone brings to the table. She cherishes the character and I trust her.

As I stated in my previous post, I will not count my chickens before they hatch. Right now, I am interested in what will happen. The fact that Gail Simone is on board for the project gives me comfort knowing that she is going to do the character justice. It’s just sad seeing people, some of them are her own fans, accuse her of being a bigoted homophobe and insensitive to disabled readers because she is ‘for’ the project. Even if Barbara was not going to get her legs back, she will always be a respected character who went from junior partner to her own person. At this point, I doubt Barbara Gordon Batgirl will have to answer to Batman. Based on a post at CBR from an insider, there will be no erasing of key stories and moments. I am hoping and confident that Bruce won’t treat Barbara like a little girl who needs a mentor because if he was, then the anger would be understandable.

And finally, I want to touch upon the heart of this post. The reason why I am writing this entry is because I went to look for some more reactions to the new DCU look and was hoping for some more positive feedback.

Sad to say that was not the case and I had the unfortunate experience of running into a blog that beautifully stated ‘I think you are an asshole if you think DC is not sexist/bigoted and you want Barbara to get her legs back’. This poster claims to be disabled. I don’t care who you are or where you come from but when you use childish language like that and claim to represent feminism and social justice, you are only doing that to make yourself look better. The only ‘asshole’ here is yourself. I browsed this blog assuming I had ran into one rant but found it to be full of self pity rather than something I could learn from.

I know someone who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair and there have been times where I completely forgot that they were disabled. This person never made a big deal about it the way some people do today. He gets my respect because he does not make a big deal of his disability. He does not want charity or special treatment unlike said blogger who seems to contradict themselves by saying that they want ‘equal treatment’ but still ‘other’ themselves. It is grossly hypocritical and I am tired of these people trying to speak for others. That is not teaching empowerment, that is just teaching self victimhood.

It’s scary because these are the types of personalities who think they speak for people like me. As a female with a Hispanic background, eating disordered history with a touch depression and a few other things, I hate it when self proclaimed ‘liberals’ want to put it in my head that I am an ‘oppressed’ minority and that if I do not subscribe to the feminist/POC/disabled/school of thought, then I am ‘self hating’ and a ‘bigot’. I hate feeling like I have been asleep for over twenty five years and that I am somehow unintelligent because I don’t see men as rapists and because I want to see someone with a disability thrive and get better. As a minority in more than one sense, I would rather blend in with the crowd than have someone point out my skin color and what my indoor plumbing looks like.

As a Latina female comic book reader, I don’t want people to obsess over my gender or my race or any ‘otherness’ you want to put onto me. The way I see it, you are only oppressed if you allow yourself to be and I refuse to do that. I am glad I was not born black in the sixties in the South. I am glad I was not born in the Middle Ages where a woman’s option was limited to either motherhood or to join a convent or be burned at the stake. I am glad I was not around where my only contribution to the world was to serve as a deposit so that the tribe could grow.

I refuse to let some self pitying asshole call me a ‘bigot’ because I want to see a female character succeed.

I am happy that Barbara will walk again. Yeah! I am happy that she will get a chance to undo what the Joker did to her (and hopefully kick his ass after that dismal BOP storyline from 2008). I am happy that I can see Barbara go on her adventures under the cowl in present time. Gail Simone is penning it. This should be seen as a good thing. I can’t wait to see what happens. If anyone can find me good links with positive feedback on Barbara as Batgirl I would greatly appreciate it. I need to erase ‘teh stooppid’ from my head.



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