About a week or so ago, Mike (a contributor to this blog, also) texted me about significant female characters, and I replied with a quickie about Batwoman. I’m actually pretty proud of it. I’m still learning more and more about Batwoman and, while I don’t like her as much as I like Batgirl, I’m becoming more fond of her.
Batwoman started out as a Silver-Age answer to the Comic Code’s accusation that Batman was both gay and a pedophile. She was what many female characters in every genre starts out as: a romantic interest. After that, she faded away and was brought back in the 2000s as an redesigned character. Her name is still Kate Kane, she’s still an heiress using her money to fight crime (like ol’ Brucey), and she’s still got red hair. Now, though, she’s been re-imagined as a lesbian with a bitter edge.
Writing a somewhat long text-rant about her to Mike has made me consider the significance of female characters. And, while I’m not as enthralled with Batwoman as I am with Batgirl, I am still drawn to her in times of distress. Now, I don’t mean “distress” in the superhero sense; I’m not about to be killed or maimed. But, lately, I’ve felt powerless. I won’t go into any details, as that is not the point, but Batwoman/Kate Kane has become a sort of representation of an ultimate goal.
Representation in media is a widely discussed and important thing. For a very long time, it’s not something I’ve ever considered for myself or, honestly, thought of as nonsense. This may be because I grew up with a heavy male presence in the shape of my father and brothers (I don’t begrudge that, by the way; it’s merely a hypothesis) and in a very Republican/Conservative home (this I do begrudge a little). As I’ve gotten older and paid more attention to the living literature that is popular culture and media, representation is huge and very real.
I’m not going to attempt to compare my depression and anxiety to racism, homophobia, or, indeed, sexism. I’m extremely lucky that I have not faced sexism, or that I have yet to. However, for me, representation has shown up as someone whose origins are superficial and easily disintegrated. I relate to that. I’m small and insignificant. Often (especially of late), I feel I don’t matter. That, maybe, I’m just a minor plot-point in someone else’s story.
Whenever I see the scarlet splash of Batwoman’s bat-wig against the stark blacks and grays of Gotham, I feel a little more composed. Kinda like she’s home base in a raucous game of tag. All of this may come to nothing. I may keep floating adrift in whatever it is I’m caught in. I like to think I can reemerge as something better.