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August 05, 2016

No, Harley Quinn is Not A Feminist. And So What?

Over at Heat Street, they mention feminist Fun Police getting all angry about a "sexualized" Harley Quinn existing to satisfy the Male Gaze or whatever the hell these bored, life-with-no-challenge-nor-excitement shut-in wallflowers whine about all the time.

Someone quotes Harley Quinn's creator, Paul Dini, responding that Harely Quinn is a feminist.

This is a stupid lie. It is a stupid lie compelled by the shrieking of mad priests who demand comportment with their bizarre religious edicts. But it's still a lie, and we should call lies out for what they are, and then, having done so, take on the bored, drunk, Mommy-Needs-To-Find-A-New-Daddy feminist idiots pushing out this crap.

Here's Emily Zanotti, who then quotes Paul Dini:

Harley has never been the “toy” of more powerful characters. She’s a villain in her own right—murdering, maiming and destroying with the best of what the Batman comics have to offer. Her position in the “Suicide Squad” is earned not by her association with the Joker, but because she’s a hell of a bad guy (or gal). She’s also always been a character with more complex terms. Starting with her origin story—as a doctor treating the Joker in his prison cell at Arkham Asylum—she ultimately chooses her path of destruction; she’s psychotic but struggles with moments of clarity that interrupt her ability to fully integrate into a criminal persona.

Harley’s creator, Paul Dini, may have put it best. Harley is a feminist: “I think Harley’s entire character is based on the concept of choice,” he told CNN this week. “As long as she has that element of choice to either be like the Joker or to get away from him, that defines her life. She’s not a victim who just goes where she’s told to.”

If by "feminist" one means a "strong, empowered woman who can stand on her own without the need for a man, and with her own agency and autonomy," Harley Quinn, in her original conception, is as anti-feminist a character as one could conceive.

She was Joker's Moll -- an infatuated lunatic in love with a violent gangster who followed him around like an obedient puppy (or sexual slave). One of the most important Harley Quinn cartoons (and comic books) was called "Mad Love," which is a reference to Harley's obsessive, lunatic "love" of the demented murderer Joker.

You know the sort of women who date and mate serial killers? That was Harley.

Not only was Harley completely subservient to Joker, but cartoons -- which were mature enough to be interesting for adults, but which were actually designed, content-wise, to be suitable for children -- showed Joker frequently slapping Harley around violently, abusively, only to then show Harley Quinn whining like a kicked puppy hoping to re-earn her master's approval.

Behold, the empowered, feminist Harley Quinn, being slapped so hard by Joker she flies across the room. Then she begs for his approval.

(Interesting episode-- Harley was going to kill Batman and put herself in a position to do so. Batman, knowing Joker's ego would never allow for anyone else to kill Batman, convinced her to contact Joker to let him see the death. Joker, enraged, slaps Harley, and then Harley cries, trying to appease him.)

The violent, co-dependent Harley/Joker relationship is so famously slap-happy that Joker even gives her his patented "Love Tap" in the videogame Injustice.

Basically, he beats her. And she takes it.

It's a central part of the character.

Now later on, because Harley was funny (though inept), and because she was also...


...she therefore got opportunities to stand out more on her own, in different team-ups, and ultimately with the Suicide Squad.

She also stopped being purely inept and gained skills. Because, well, any popular character is going to get a power-up. She got powered up, to the point where she's, ,I don't know, a Catwoman level character, maybe?

Harley is basically two different characters now -- the more self-confident, "empowered" woman you see when she's not with the Joker, and the hopelessly lunatic slave/stalker in thrall to Joker like a clown vampire to her vampire sire.

One could make a case that Harley is sort of feminist, sometimes... except when Joker snaps his fingers and pretends to love her (he doesn't; he's a narcissist and probably homosexual too (see The Dark Knight Returns) and only enjoys the fact that she adores him).

At that point, she becomes a crazy little girl again.

The depiction of the character is schizophrenic -- which is fine, because the character is actually schizophrenic. Harley Under Joker's Thall is not the same as Harley away from the Joker.

But here's the thing:



Harley Quinn is not even a hero. She is, definitionally, a villain.

She is a diagnosable psychotic and psychopathic killer. She's a murderer. She has 90% of the complete lack of empathy for other humans that Joker does (at least when under the spell of the Joker -- when she's on her own, she seems to regain more of her own psyche and becomes more human).

She even willingly took part in this -- one of the most disturbing things Joker (with Harley) had ever done, torturing a young boy until he became a lunatic killer like the Joker.

That is one of the darkest thing ever done by the Joker -- ever.

And Harley was right there beside him, handing Joker the forceps and knives as he tortured a boy into lunacy.

Is it "feminist" to physically torture a kidnapped young boy until he goes insane?

Maybe I ought not ask.

If the feminist assholes have decided that even a PSYCHOPATHIC WEAK-WILLED LUNATIC STALKER MURDERESS cannot be depicted anything but the most heroic, strong-willed Grrl Power terms, are they not simply saying flat-out that no female characters except for noble kick-ass superheroes are allowed to exist at all?

Think about that rule applied to male characters. Imagine if Men's Rights Advocates had more power in our society, and were as lunatic as feminists.

That means that... Oh, Hannibal Lecter? Forbidden. Not "masculinist" enough.

Captain Ahab? Not masculinist enough -- his obsesiveness degrades his own agency and self control. Banned.

Darth Vader? Come on. A true masculinist hero can't be handicapped -- he must be whole-bodied with strict comic-book heroic proportions, nine heads high with shoulders twice as wide as the hips.

The Joker? Definitely not the "masculinist" ideal -- often depicted as having an actual homoerotic crush on Batman. His obsession with Batman (a true "masculinist" hero, except for him being such a femme baby whining about his dead parents all the time) shows Joker to have no agency and to basically be the pawn of another Sexual Spirit entirely.

Feminists are now demanding -- not essentially, but literally -- that any depiction of a woman that isn't 100% "positive" and "empowered" be socially disapproved to the point of a flat social ban.

Even the villainesses. Even the female characters who are, per their official comic-book write-ups, demented psychotic psychopaths completely in thrall to he dark charisma of a serial killer-- these two must be depicted only as strong, stand-on-her-own-to-feet, Bring-Home-The-Bacon Alpha Girls.

She's not supposed to be a Good Role Model for Girls, you psychopaths. She has very deep psychological problems. She is obsessive romantic/sexual love with a serial killer, to the point where she becomes a serial killer herself.

Her occasional redeeming moments are just this broken toy of a woman grabbing hold of some of her sanity and some of her humanity.

But she doesn't have much of it-- and this just comes in flashes (and basically, whenever writers need to make her the hero, for story purposes).

And if you even read the comics in the first place, instead of just watching trailers on YouTube and pretending to be Totally Into Comic Books Serious You Guys, you'd already know this.

But you don't -- because you're not actually fans of anything. You're just pitious dullards hungry for validation and willing to do whatever is necessary to extract that validation from men.

Rather like Harley Quinn, as a matter of fact.

For god's sake! Not every character needs to be role model you can look up to and emulate!

Hannibal Lecter is an interesting character -- yet not one men should necessarily champion as a pinnacle of Masculinist empowerment.

Is this where we are now?


How about this: How about we just put on the uplifting, pro-social Barney the Dinosaur theme song and play that 7000 times a day until we all go crazy?

By the Way: I really don't mean to pick on Emily Zanotti or Paul Dini. I think they're wrong. I even think they're actually kind of lying.

But I understand the reason for the lie: Because they want to push back against the never ending criticisms of the Social Justice Warriors.

But I don't think this is the right way to do it. Lying advances nothing. Lying, in fact, validates their paradigm, by agreeing on the essential claim that "Yes, of course, all popular female characters must represent the Feminine, Feminist Ideal."

But that itself is the lie --No, not all female characters must or should comport themselves to that strict and silly politicized standard.

Female characters can and should be flawed. They can even be -- get this -- weak.

This is especially true of female characters who are, by definition, LUNATIC PSYCHOTIC VILLAINS.

The right way to push back against these claims is to insist they explain where this "rule" they assert came from, and in what Holy Book it can be found.

The right way to push back is not to claim that Harley is a feminist, but question this absurd, reductivist, childish, anti-intellectual and hyperpoliticizied claim that any female character who appears in a movie must be Batman With Tits.

This Guy Said It In a Paragraph:

109 Reading Io9 during the great "Oh my God, have you seen the size of Spiderwoman's ass!?!" controversy, I learned that there are a whole lot of people who think that the only purpose of art or entertainment is propaganda. Posted by: the guy that moves pianos for a living

Spot on: Yes, you religious lunatics, the purpose of art is not solely to advance your cult dogmas.

One is even permitted -- get this -- to enjoy art that offends your religious maniac sensibilities.

And sometimes, creators even create art without really caring what your fucking Holy Books have to say about it.

Crazy, huh?

Oh: And as for the idea that Harley is some kind of physically-idealized figure designed to appeal to the opposite sex, and dressed to show her charms off -- well, we can't have that in a comic book movie.

No, we certainly can't have any of that base-appeal-to-the-opposite sex in a comic book film.

That, you see, would be bad. The idea of sexualizing a comic book character for the voyeuristic pleasure of opposite-gendered fans is simply repulsive.

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posted by Ace at 07:00 PM

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