This post over at Blog@Newsrama asks what we think about the controversy re: the women in refrigerators syndrome, which by the way, originated not with The Killing Joke, as I understand it, but with the body of Kyle Rayner's girlfriend being found by him in the fridge.
I've been mostly ignoring this latest "outrage" over an old story, but since a lot of people believe, and rightly so in many cases, that women are still not respected in the DCU, I figured I'd write yet another *insightful* post about it. At any rate, this is my opinion and not intended to be treated as anything other than that.
Aside from crippling a sidekick to a character, Batman, who already had Robin, The Killing Joke helped revitalize Barbara Gordon as she transformed herself into Oracle and went from sidekick/guest star to Major Player. She can literally appear in any story in continuity. She has her own book with her own team. Rather than be the helpless female, Babs fought back. True, that was after the fact, but Babs was stuck down at home, in her civilian life, not as Batgirl. So, no, she wasn't given anything heroic to do in the story, because in that story, she was a supporting character. The story, sorry, wasn't about her. It was about Jim, the Joker, and because he's who he is, it was about Batman and his friendship with Jim. Batman was the frontrunner. He was and is one of the "Big 3." Babs, especially then, was not a headliner.
Which brings us to the issue that she was attacked as a helpless female to get back at a male. So what? Jim Gordon has one person in his life someone wanting to get to him could go after: Babs. And Jim, himself, was nabbed and tortured. And has had to live with the guilt over what happened to his daughter. In some ways, Babs had it easier.
It is a fact, unfortunate perhaps, that the best way to strike at someone indirectly, is to go after a loved one, and if there are mostly females in that person's life, it's the females who get to suffer so the males can suffer emotionally. But sometimes, a male gets it. Jason "Robin II" Todd got to die. Even if we'd voted for him to live (I voted for death), he would've had a rough recovery given his injuries, or at least, he should've. Who knows how DC would've handled it. Probably with him bouncing back next issue, as obnoxious as ever. But the fact remains that Jason was a male character getting blown up.
Suffering is part of drama. Sue Dibny gets raped because that's a horror people can relate to in the real world and because neither DC or comics readers are ready for male rape. It was a horrid act that could logically lead to the mindwipe that led indirectly to Identity Crisis. Sue was one of the very few civilians who could have been in that role. Jean, who turned out to be the killer, was one of the few others, someone with inside info, but not one of the team. And Sue was one of the few characters who could have been in the satellite and been unable to fight off Light. Story-wise, it fit.
I am not disgusted by stories that have women harmed, maimed, tortured, or raped. Nor am I disgusted by stories that have those things done to male characters. I AM disgusted by stories that do any of that to either sex for the sheer fun of doing it without a story reason, without a story to go with it. Without a purpose, without the follow-up. Black Canary was tortured in the original Green Arrow series, but then, so was Ollie. Was it less horrible when it was Ollie hanging from the rafters with blood dripping down his body?
All we need, IMO, is to even things out a bit, balance the suffering between the males and the females. But mostly, we need more books with female leads and vulnerable males in their lives. Now, are they bringing back Kate Spencer, the Manhunter, or not?