Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An epitaph to Harley Quinn

On my best days, I am a miniscule voice of dissent - a tiny, near inconsequential reverberation of noise in the hustle and bustle that comprises the daily, ruckus-filled bric-a-brac of human existence.

Today, I hope, will be one of those best days.

Lately my righteous anger radar has registered a spike in the cosplay sector. Specifically, the double-edged sword that is "women must dress sexily to accurately portray female heroines and yet, in doing so, they objectify themselves and therefore incur scrutiny."

In the scheme of things, it is a minor injustice - a mustard stain on the blood-soaked cloth that is gender inequality - so I've let others spew rhetoric while I've remained silent. I felt it best, as I've had nothing pertinent to add to the conversation.

But today it was brought to my attention that those responsible for the super sexy femme fatales we presently recognize as female superheroes - those giants among men who brought us XX heroines/supervillains Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Black Canary - those self-same promoters of the idea that female sexuality is oxymoronically equal to empowerment and vulnerability, to innocence and guilt... These paragons among men, who package and sell gender and sex stereotypes to our youth of both sexes...have started a contest. A contest to engage the young reader. A contest to elicit his or her creative response. A contest with an unusual call.

A contest to draw a character beloved by many.

Harley Quinn.

Naked.

Committing suicide.

...

I am tempted to end here. Furious. Literally angered to the point of silence, because the levels of "wrong" related to this contest are so glaringly obvious as to need no words of explanation. But silence now would moot my goal - my accomplishment on my best days - my miniscule voice of dissent.

To be silent might in some way be seen as complacent. Or worse. Accepting.

Please be assured, I am neither.

...

Generally speaking, I write quickly and well when moved - either positively or negatively - by something. But today, I find myself listing the consequences of sexualized violence toward women (or violence toward women in general), espousing its wrongs, which are compounded when we consider that this specific circumstance is marketed toward children - and then promptly deleting every sentence. Because my arguments prior to this point have been about the problem en masse, and that, in and of itself, is a problem.

You see, you can espouse the horrors of a certain action to a subset of the population all you like, and, while some will agree with you, many will write off the arguments as "someone else's problem."

As with rape, murder, and genocide, no one seems to care until you give the atrocity a face it can recognize. Knowing this, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Harley Quinn:

In loving memory of Dr. Harleen Francis Quinzel, Sept. 11, 1992 - Sept. 11, 2013.

A stand out for both brains and athleticism, Harleen is remembered by classmates and colleagues as a star student, an agile gymnast, and the ultimate caregiver. As a therapist, Harleen dedicated her life and career to serving those Gothamites whom society shunned as "lost causes." Sympathetic and thoughtful, Dr. Quinn was able to reach patients deemed by others in the medical profession as "unreachable."

Her ability to relate to her patients proved both her salvation and demise, as the close bond she forged with "The Joker" granted her unprecedented insight into the mind of madness. In this void she found and forged Harley Quinn, an unendingly devoted companion to a man under whom she would suffer much abuse.

Despite numerous abuses by "The Joker" and battles with law enforcement, Dr. Quinn met her end today - on her 21st birthday - not at the will of a psychopath or by a policeman's bullet. And not, as some have reported, by her own hand. Rather, Dr. Quinn met her untimely demise at the hands of a group so heinous - so undeniably evil - that the perpetrators dare not show their faces. They hide behind the guise of "entertainment," conscripting children to do the dirty deed, not even under the cloak of darkness that shields both the guilty and the innocent.

No.

Her killers remain at large, protected by shady lawyers and a seedy marketing campaign.

While it's rumored that Batman is on the case, what's known is that Dr. Quinn was lain to rest today. Due to controversy, the location of her burial will be kept from the public, but at least one admirer already discovered the site. Just under the numbered cross, a bouquet of red and black roses. The card reads "Mr. J."

...

We live in a world of injustice. Almost every article I read (and certainly the majority of news I cover in my publication) attests to the fact that nothing in life is fair. Which is why we need heroes. Heroes like Batman, who, despite tiring of pursuing her for her many offenses, would never have ended the life of Dr. Quinn.

I do not know if there will be justice for Harleen Quinn. But what I do know is that Batman would never stand for this. And that Wonder Woman, with her spectacular strength and lasso of truth, would fight this. That Black Canary would wail for this.

And that DC should be ashamed of this because even Lex Luthor never sunk so low.

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