In the realm of social justice, we have a gamut of battles to fight. Take your pick. Feminism. LGBTQ rights. Racism. You can’t go nearly anywhere without one of these topics being at the forefront. Look at politics. Look at Hollywood. Look at sports. It’s everywhere as we continue to fight the good fight for equality. The problem comes, however, when the fight becomes more about superiority than it is equality. While yes, these people have been oppressed for years, suddenly oppressing the oppressors (who may or may not have done any oppressing at all themselves) does not make it right. In an interesting story about a virus unleashed in Gotham that only targets men, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey tackles the notion of true equality in feminism. And it does so brilliantly.
Somehow, before this arc, Batgirl and her crew made friends with Catwoman and (sort of) Poison Ivy. They’ve reached out to them and Harley Quinn when a virus suddenly infects all the men in Gotham, but none of the women. Huntress is worried about Nightwing (must take place before their breakup), Batgirl is worried about her dad, Catwoman is worried about Batman, and Black Canary fears for Ollie. Poison Ivy doesn’t really have someone special, but she agrees that men are worth turning to the good side to save. And of course, Harley is fighting for her beloved Mr. J. Eventually, Wonder Woman, Gotham Girl, Batwoman, and other ladies of Gotham come together to sort out this disease and who is spreading it. Thanks to Oliver’s willingness to be bait, they get some leads.
Yeah, I laughed pretty hard right there, because the police officer has a pretty damn good point. If men were taken out, crime would drop significantly. The cult responsible for attempting to eradicate all men also has some pretty damn good points; fears that all of us, as women, have experienced at one time or another.
You know, I would love to imagine a world where I’m not thinking of how I’m dressed or how alert I am when I walk somewhere by myself. My hair is always in a bun or a ponytail, and I’m sick of people telling me I’ve given rapists an easy handle to grab. I shouldn’t have to change how I wear my hair or what clothes I’m wearing to potentially ward off an attack. Somewhere along the way, we (as a society) have allowed men to think they aren’t in control of their urges, and therefore we (as women) need to find ways to subvert them. Somehow, some of these idiots never learned what “no” means, and they’ve learned that if they want something they can just take it. We’re finally seeing all of that unravel in Hollywood, and it’s about time.
That said, getting rid of men wouldn’t free us from judgment. Are you kidding me? Women are our own harshest critics.
While all of that would be pretty to think, the solution isn’t to oppress and incapacitate an entire gender, no matter how much that gender oppressed us for centuries. Are we fighting for equality or superiority? The Benson women lay it all out better than I ever could.
Contrary to popular feminist belief, misandry (yes, that is a thing!) is not feminism. (Neither is calling something misogynist when it’s actually sexist. Just throwing that one out there.) And that is what this team of super heroes and villains is fighting for—equality for all. We can’t achieve equality by simply destroying the oppressors; we can’t become the very thing we’re supposed to be fighting against, and I think that’s lost quite a bit these days.
Julie Benson and Shawna Benson have brilliantly and beautifully illustrated exactly that point. Now if only we can internalize that point and spread the message.