Take The Bench

If you are a Stephanie Brown fan, you may want to seriously consider skipping this post.

There’s something I’ve been meaning to get off my chest. I hate Stephanie Brown. I fucking hate her guts for reasons I’m about to expound upon.

But before I go any further, disclaimer time: I recognize that many of my readers are fervent Stephanie Brown fans who adore her for perfectly valid and legitimate reasons. Obviously your mileage varies and we can agree to disagree. I perfectly respect your opinion, all I ask is you pay me the same courtesy. And to be clear, I’m not interested in diatribes about why I’m wrong about my opinion or why I should be exalting her ass.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been a huge Batgirl fan for years. I loved Babs as the plucky computer savvy gymnast/ingeniue with the photographic memory. I waited patiently for a new Batgirl for years after she became Oracle. So when Spoiler arrived, I actually had high hopes for the character.

Though she lacked Babs’s brains (vast epic understatement), or gymnastic and martial arts skills, she was a self-made superheroine and I respected that about her. Not only a throwback to say Barbara Gordon but to Spider-Man as well.

After awhile, I simply lost all respect for Spoiler. She became a walking punchline. The girl is a brainless ditz but because she’s a cute blonde, she’s frequently given a pass. I can just see her wrapping her goldilocks around her finger.

The problem I have with Brown is that she’s a wreckless ditz. Bruce was right to tell her to put away the mask and sit her ass down. She’s careless and she nearly gets people killed. Hell in the first issue of the new Batgirl comic, she damn near got the cop killed that she was arriving to rescue. She’s been in the game for years and is still making basic rookie mistakes. Not because she’s operating to the best of her ability and is simply outmatched, but because she’s a moron.

And I’m sorry but this needs to be said. When you’ve been trained by Bruce, Babs, Tim and Cass and you’re STILL a hawt mess, you need to sit your ass down, forever.

While no longer a fan, I could tolerate Steph when she was kept in marginal roles as a sidekick or a guest star in say Robin or Cass’s titles. Because in my opinion, Steph works best as a sidekick where someone with actual skill can keep an eye on her. And I will even go so far to say that I think she would’ve been an excellent Robin because her bumbling ineptitude would’ve been an excellent foil for Bruce’s overachieving stoic demeanor. Night and day and all that. But somehow she managed to even fuck that up.

Let’s not forget that this is the brain surgeon that launched Gotham Gang War and got my man Orpheus murdered.

Oh but that wasn’t her fault!” some of you Stephanie apologists say. “That was out of character for her and an example of writer shoehorn.”

 

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Because Stephanie would never do anything stupid because she’s such a brain surgeon.

“But Stephanie isn’t completely to blame for the Gotham Gang War.”

 

You know what. I actually agree on that.

[Turns to Bruce Wayne]

Yo Bruce! Don’t let me catch you on the streets nowhere. You know you need yo ass kicked.What the fuck were you thinking letting her dumb ass within 100 miles of the fucking Batcave in the first gawd damn place. Oh that’s right. Making with the batdickery and trying to mind fuck Tim by making him jealous with her stank ass. And because of YOUR bullshit, my Negro Orpheus is dead.

I mean yo ass is gonna get fucked up. Those beatdowns from Bane and Hush are gonna look like papercuts when I’m done.

And you’re supposed to be the smart one.

Believe it or not I didn’t always harbor this much animosity towards Brown. But when they tossed Cain aside…..

But the thing that really irks me the most about Stephanie Brown is that she’s the perfect example of white privilege in comics.I was upset when Cain’s original run was canceled. She’s one of the few characters of color who had their own ongoing series and it was one of the best series period, IMHO. Over the years some of the writers were hit or miss with the character (and a few hacks failed immensely) but she was an awesome character in spite of being frequently thrown under the bus. It was refreshing to see a complex three-dimensional WOC with their own series.I especially liked that Cain was a force to be reckoned with in her own right. She was complex and enigmatic and was a force in her own right. She wasn’t some token sidekick to Bruce, in fact she was one of the first characters introduced that was actually superior to Bruce in many respects.

So when Batgirl finally gets her own ongoing series again, they decide to just chuck Cain to the side and hand the mantle over to Brown, who let’s be honest is only getting it because she’s a blonde white girl because it sure as hell ain’t because of any merits.

My reaction:

Couldn’t hand the mantle over to Flamebird, Onyx or some other ingeniue who is remotely competent, but Stephanie Brown. The only thing worse would’ve been Misfit.

*shudders*

It would be one thing if Cain was getting her own separate series and was donning a new costume like Tim did but nope she gets erased like Onyx.

For the past year, I actually read Batgirl. Mainly out of loyalty to the Batgirl legacy and to find out what the hell happened to Cass (which DC promised but never delivered) but I also genuinely wanted to give Stephanie a chance to prove me wrong. With the exception of her putting that worthless bastard Damian Sue on ice (I won’t lie, that was epic), she repeatedly proved my point over and over again.

How incompetent is Stephanie Brown? If I was held hostage and she came to rescue me, I would tell her to take her ass home because I know she would only make matters worse. And if my torturers/captors caught her, I would actually be rooting for them to kick her ass.

How incompetent is Stephanie Brown? Vallery Irons is a superior superheroine. Oh yes. I went there. At least Irons knows when she’s in over her head and is actually resourceful.

Some folks suggested a Team Batgirl, and originally I rolled with that idea, but then it dawned on me. Why should Cass have to share her spotlight with someone inferior than her. Unless Stephanie Brown is going to be relegated to her actual position, bumbling sidekick, I say fuck that shit. Why does the WOC have to share her success? I say let Stephanie join the Birds of Prey and learn how kickass women get down. On second thought, better not, I actually like that team.

I don’t see the writers (other than Bruce Timm and Dwayne McDuffie) making any efforts to make John Stewart anything other than Hal Mighty Whitey Jordan’s token houseslave magical Negro sidekick. They damn sure beat you over the head and make sure you know that Hal Jordan is superior and Stewart is his personal manservant in the comics. I don’t even see anyone making a good faith effort to make Doctor Voodoo a competent sorceror supreme. All they’ve done is make him whiny, timid and reiterate why Stephen Strange is superior by just being him. Because heaven forbid Negroes or other POCs be on equal footing with their caucasian counterparts.

Because what really pisses me off the most about Stephanie Brown having the Batgirl title is that it’s an example of white privilege at its finest or worst:

White Privilege- Only a blonde white girl could start Gotham Gangwar and get rewarded with her own series. Let Cass, Onyx or another WOC pull that shit and see how many fans would be propping them up as a speshul snowflakes who should be.

White Privilege- A WOC can successfully beat the odds and carry her own title for five years and gets thrown under the bus and criticized for being too competent and too exceptional and making it too difficult for her to write. Yet everyone and their grandma is selling their left nut to write the Gawd Damn Batman.

White Privilege-Douchebags like Bella Swan, Scott Pilgrim, Stephanie Brown can be wreckless, incompetent and fuck up time and time again and they will have legions upon legions of apologists to line up and sing their praises. Yet no one blinks an eye at my AWESOME Asian sisters Knives Chau or Cassandra Cain for being thrown under the bus for the sake of a white girl. Nor does anyone so much as shrug a shoulder at the scorn my phenomenal black women like Uhura or DOCTOR Martha Jones catch for being intelligent, fierce, powerful sexy and thinking themselves worthy of being in love with exceptional white men.

White Privilege- White characters get introduced and shoved down our throats and over-exposed whether we want them or not. Yet they barely give POC characters like Azrael, Renee Montoya, the same exposure or care or opportunities and then they wonder why POC characters don’t generate sales.

So when I stress that Stephanie Brown can kiss my black ass and die in a fire, hopefully you can understand why.

God that felt great to get off my chest.

39 thoughts on “Take The Bench

  1. I gave the new Batgirl “reboot” a try, the first 7 issues (which is also the “Batgirl Rising” collection) but it didn’t really take with me. But I’ll be honest, I never really liked Cass either. I think at the time she was introduced (NML) I was ticked off at the way Helena was booted out of the costume (that she originated and Cass inherited). Which actually worked out for the best because Helena is best at being Huntress, calling the Bat-Clan (including Oracle) on its collective crap in that guise. (I won’t talk about her being “tamed” by Oracle, that’s another rant.)

    But more on point, actually Batgirl (aka Barbara– pre the Year One mini) in a lot of the pre-Killing Joke flashback issues is pretty incompetent. She gets her ass handed to her by Catwoman (only to return the favor as Oracle) in that two-shot Batgirl/Catwoman-Oracle/Catwoman. And there’s the DC Firsts issue where she relates her first meeting with Joker to Cass (who, like an idiot busts the Joker out of Arkham in order to fight him). And let’s not forget Huntress Year One where Huntress literally knocks Batgirl off her motorcycle *in mid-air* and steals it. Screwing up seems to be part of the Batgirl legacy (even Helena did it in NML) no matter who’s behind the mask.

    For me, I’d say the problem with Batgirl has less to do with white privilege (although you make a lot of incredibly valid points very articulately) and more to do with male privilege. Even her name, ending in “girl” speaks of someone who needs to be guided, led, and taught the “proper way” to do things. I’ll admit I haven’t read a lot of Cass post-NML, but if I recall correctly, her martial arts prowess was taught to her by her father. And the reason she couldn’t speak was because he didn’t teach her, lest it distract her from becoming the perfect assassin. I know that gets resolved later down the road, but it is tied into her being Batgirl and being *taught* under the protective patriarchal wing of the Bat.

    Or maybe at my age I’m just past Batgirls and more interested in Batwomen and Questions.

    • @slb04

      But that’s just it though, the Batgirl run with Cassandra Cain was epic because Cassandra came into her own and actually debunked the patriarchy and she became the first Batgirl to actually step out of Batman’s shadow and in many respects surpass him which no previous member of the Batman family, had done: Not Dick, not Tim, not Jason, not Babs.

      Yes David Cain abused her and didn’t teach her to speak so she could learn the gift of reading body language. However she repeatedly confronted him on his giving Darth Vader a run for his money as father of the year and repeatedly handed him his ass.

      Cassandra became the greatest martial artist in the DC universe when she actually defeated Lady Shiva in one on one combat and has actually kicked her ass on three separate occasions. Bruce by his own admission has stated that even he has never beaten Shiva in one one combat.

      Cassandra never spoke much or rebelled but when she did it was for a damn good reason and she regularly called Batman, Dick and Tim out on their bullshit. Mainly the former two. In fact, at one point, Batman fired Cass from being Batgirl. Afterwards she went out there and still fought. This led to a confrontation where she and Bruce threw down and scrapped throughout half of Gotham. When it was over, Batman asked “I need to know if you’re loyal to me?”

      Cass’s response, “I’m not loyal to you Bruce. I’m loyal to this.” She points at the Bat sigil.

      Babs would’ve never done that. Cass’s entire arc is about going from a weapon to finding her own path, her path, not one picked out by Babs, or Bruce or David Cain, but her own.

      Furthermore, Cass is actually the most superior weapon of the Batclan and arguably garnered Bruce’s respect more than any of them.

      And the fact that she’s a woman of color, THAT NEVER HAPPENS. I would highly recommend you go back and read the Cassandra Cain runs because I think you’ll be quite pleased and while I adore Batwoman and Question, neither can hold a candle to Cass as far as epic badasses go.

      And yes this is EXACTLY about white privilege. Otherwise the established popular WOC wouldn’t get thrown under the bus for the incompetent blonde white girl to get her own series. And Question would’ve had her own ongoing series rather than just a backup in Detective comics.

  2. Can I just say that I love intelligent, respectful discussion? Thank you. At my last visit to my local used book store, they had most of the Cass-Batgirl trades, so I’m going over to see if they’re still there and pick them up. If not, I’ll swing by my LCS. I’m more than willing to have my thinking broadened.

    But another question– can you separate white privilege from (white) patriarchal privilege in this case? Both Batman and Jim Gordon stand as the figures of Authority in Gotham around which all the other capes orbit. Batman’s concept of order & good goes beyond the state (which would seem to render him more liminal) but his Authority is repeatedly deferred to by Gordon. And in an interesting note– when Gotham gets a black police commissioner (post War Games) and he attempts to repudiate Batman’s Authority, he fails at every turn. Turns out smashing the Bat-signal in Gotham does no good. They always have a spare.

    Batman doesn’t deal well with females who attempt to exercise their own autonomy at the (his perceived) expense of his authority. Which is why I love Renee calling Dick the “new wimpy Batman.” Cause Dick doesn’t have a problem with her or “the girls” as Barbara calls them. And Kate Kane, in a move of unparalleled appropriation simply “takes” the Bat mythos and makes it her own, so she might serve the greater good. That’s why I’m alternately hopeful and terrified about Batwoman #0 wherein we see Batwoman through Batman’s (I’m assuming it’s Bruce, because Dick already knows her) eyes. I liked how in “Elegy” she never needed nor did it ever occur to her to seek Batman’s approval.

    As for epic badassness goes… I guess that’s not really a factor for me. Renee’s not a badass because she’s all about asking the questions, finding the answers. But I think I recall Renee more than holding her own against Shiva in the Blacknest Night “Question” tie-in. Then again, maybe Shiva was holding back because she really wanted to fight Black Lantern Charlie. And I’m pretty sure Dinah has kicked her ass at least once, maybe more.

    I do agree that Cass, a character I have (as yet) no affinity for, got thrown under the bus, and I do wish Steph had stayed dead. (One of the best things to come out of the horrorfest of “The Killing Joke” was the emergence of Oracle. A rare case of wounds being permanent.) If only for the simple reason that there *has* to be some limit to the “get out of hell/heaven free card” chaos in the DCU. Because at this rate, Charlie’s going to come back and then we’ll have another WOC (and amazing character) thrown under another bus.

    Anyway, thanks for your time and thoughts.

    S.

    • “can you separate white privilege from (white) patriarchal privilege in this case?”

      Absolutely not. I find it suspicious not to mention disingenuous that you keep trying to dismiss and erase white privilege from the discussion regarding a character of color. This is about race and Stephanie Brown is reaping the benefits of being a blonde white girl. Otherwise Cass, Renee or even Onyx would’ve had their own titles.

      And actually I would argue that Dick fares even less in regards to dealing with females than Bruce. For all his bat dickery, at least Bruce is upfront about it. Dick stayed true to his namesake in his treatment of Cass. He constantly sabotaged her crime-fighting efforts at every turn. Oh he claimed that she couldn’t be trusted, but that didn’t stop him from teaming up with Tarantula and the business that went down with Blockbuster or his coddling of Damian Wayne. The fact is, Dick prided himself as being top dog second only to Bruce. It’s the rebellious first son complex. He went against Bruce and came into his own by his own means whereas Cass is probably more of a machine and a weapon than Bruce is and epitomizes Bruce’s ideal soldier and was arguably his favorite. What’s more, Dick finally found himself no longer top dog of Bruce’s club. So you know his ass wasn’t happy. And let’s not forget the fact that it was Cass who set up the Batman Network to protect Gotham and gathered all of the Gotham heroes when Bruce “died.” What did Dick do? Just take it over and kick her out like a complete ass.

      Oh yeah he might be nice to Renee, Babs and Kate now that he’s the one in power but let’s see that power get threatened and let’s see how open-minded he would be then?

      “And I’m pretty sure Dinah has kicked her ass at least once, maybe more.”

      No she hasn’t. The only thing Dinah has that might get her out of a fight alive against Shiva is the canary cry, Shiva would rip her to shreds. Shiva would destroy Renee. Hell, read Hush and see what she did to Catwoman.

      If Batman can’t take Shiva, then Dinah and Renee sure as hell don’t have a shot.

      Unfortunately, Shiva like Cass isn’t always written accurately because some writers have a problem with woc being dominant.

      See, it really is about white privilege.

      • “If Batman can’t take Shiva, then Dinah and Renee sure as hell don’t have a shot.”

        This is not necessarily true for any kind of fight with any kind of matchup whatsoever.

        The biggest problem is that most stories involving martial arts or fighting in general are written by people who have limited experience or worldview when it comes to any aspect of actual fighting.

        Thus, any discussion as to “whom can beat who” has to start with that caveat.

        Other than that, I’m not opting for any side in this specific part of the discussion.

        • I have to disagree. And I say this as someone who has studied martial arts for many years.

          If we were talking say about Renee, Kate, Huntress and Catwoman for instance then I would agree with you in regards to the matchup issue. Because as far as skill level goes, they’re around the same area.

          However Batman is a far superior martial artist on a much higher level than Dinah or Renee. Shiva has been repeatedly established as the premiere martial arts expert and assassin in the DCU. And if Batman who is a far superior fighter to Dinah and Renee, can’t take Shiva, then neither can Dinah or Renee.

          Especially considering that even Dinah walks on eggshells when dealing with Shiva because she knows she can’t take her in a fight.

          • But none of that matters. And this is coming from a martial artist that also studies physiology, biology, physics, and has learned to consider other factors than simply levels of skill or experience when it comes to matchups.

            I’ve watched fighters who do not train in Asian martial arts defeat “higher” level Asian-trained martial artists regularly. I’ve watched [and trained] “lower-skilled” fighters defeat “higher-skilled” fighters of the same style far too often. The kind of correlation that you’re using is the same one that is often used in sports when talking about matchups. And its use a predictor of possible outcomes is just as suspect.

            However, the most interesting thing to me has been the exoticization of East Asian martial arts, and the characters that have been created because of American ignorance to culture. Having read the origins of Cass, Shiva, Richard Dragon, and Bronze Tiger, it has become clear that the people who developed these characters simply started slapping Asian sounding things together because they sounded good. Even though there are more writers these days who have taken some form of East Asian martial art, or know someone who has, the cultural ignorance, even today is simply astounding. The martial arts of China and Japan (which American media creators just dartboard together) have been propped on pedestals by people easily awed or by people looking to make a fast dollar (Really…the World’s Greatest DC Kung-Fu Fighter is some random Russian? Really classy).

            Remember, despite any insistence to the contrary, there is no “Perfect Fighter.” Levels of ability are subjective, and get problematic when they are used as determining factors, especially when attempting to override and exclude other factors such as types of fighting experience, patience, timing, dexterity, adaptability, and so on, in making this determination.

            This kind of discussion trainwrecks quickly.

          • “But none of that matters. And this is coming from a martial artist that also studies physiology, biology, physics, and has learned to consider other factors than simply levels of skill or experience when it comes to matchups.”

            And for a man who makes it a point to be superior to his opponents on those factors as well, the fact is Batman is still a superior opponent to the likes of Dinah and Renee so my point still stands.

            “I’ve watched fighters who do not train in Asian martial arts defeat “higher” level Asian-trained martial artists regularly. I’ve watched [and trained] “lower-skilled” fighters defeat “higher-skilled” fighters of the same style far too often. The kind of correlation that you’re using is the same one that is often used in sports when talking about matchups. And its use a predictor of possible outcomes is just as suspect.”

            And if we were talking about a real life fight between say to MMA fighters, your point might be valid, when we’re discussing comics where a man can dress in a batsuit and fight crime 7 nights a week only on one hour of sleep, that argument is DOA, and one doesn’t get to cry no suspension of disbelief.

            “Having read the origins of Cass, Shiva, Richard Dragon, and Bronze Tiger, it has become clear that the people who developed these characters simply started slapping Asian sounding things together because they sounded good.”

            In many cases, I would agree, In Cass’s I wouldn’t. Kelley Puckett, the guy who created her and wrote the early arcs is an accomplished martial artist himself and its showcased in how fluid the action goes and handles Asian martial arts with a level of respect. The others I can’t speak for.

            Actually the greatest DC universe fighter is Cassandra which the editors stated following her victory over (her mother) Lady Shiva.

            “Remember, despite any insistence to the contrary, there is no “Perfect Fighter.” Levels of ability are subjective, and get problematic when they are used as determining factors, especially when attempting to override and exclude other factors such as types of fighting experience, patience, timing, dexterity, adaptability, and so on, in making this determination.

            This kind of discussion trainwrecks quickly.”

            Again this is comics where there are hiearchies which has its own physics and its own laws of reality. Where ordinary humans perform superhuman feats. So trying to apply “real life” to a universe where anything is possible results is what results in epic trainwrecks.

  3. “I find it suspicious not to mention disingenuous that you keep trying to dismiss and erase white privilege from the discussion regarding a character of color. This is about race and Stephanie Brown is reaping the benefits of being a blonde white girl. Otherwise Cass, Renee or even Onyx would’ve had their own titles.”

    I’m sorry you find me suspicious and disingenuous. I’m neither, at least I’m not attempting to be. White privilege is unfortunately implicit in every piece of pop culture that exists. And it needs to be addressed in every piece of pop culture that exists, especially where there is erasure of WoC. I’m not arguing that point.

    What I’m trying to add to (and not erase from) the conversation, apparently badly, is that it’s not just white privilege that erases WoC (but all women) is also white patriarchal privilege. You say yourself:

    “He went against Bruce and came into his own by his own means whereas Cass is probably more of a machine and a weapon than Bruce is and epitomizes Bruce’s ideal soldier and was arguably his favorite.’

    Think about that. Dick had the opportunity to come into his own, whereas Cass is a “machine” and a “weapon.” I immediately surrender that you know far more about Cass than I do. I’m reading and learning. But when you say that “What did Dick do? Just take it over and kick her out like a complete ass.” you seem to not be able to acknowledge that it’s not just an issue of white privilege but also of male privilege. You see any female character doing that in the DCU? Hell, the JLA was literally ripped out of Dinah’s hands by her own husband.

    As for “Oh yeah he might be nice to Renee, Babs and Kate now that he’s the one in power but let’s see that power get threatened and let’s see how open-minded he would be then?” Honestly, I don’t think any of them (as they have been written thus far, except for Babs maybe) would care. And I don’t think it would stop any of them. That’s what makes their origin stories so important. They are choosing how to define themselves. (I can’t wait until Bruce meets Renee as the Question, because he never liked Charlie.)

    I think we essentially agree on most of the salient points of Cass’ banishment from the DCU. Maybe it’s just a case of approaching the same texts from two different theoretical points of view.

    But this, “Unfortunately, Shiva like Cass isn’t always written accurately because some writers have a problem with woc being dominant.” is just a cop out.

    In a lot of ways, I’m an old school New Critic. The text is the text is the text. Which becomes difficult when you have a multiplicity of authors. That creates a disruption in the text and allows readers to insert their own “accurate” reading of the text. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of points of disruption because it allows me to read texts from the margins (like the ones Cass and Renee are on). But usually these disruptions are within a contained space (say, Season 7 of “ER” or Season 6 of “NYPD Blue”). In comics that’s not the case.

    The characters are essentially as “for hire” as the writers. And sometimes we get lucky. Greg Rucka with Renee and Batwoman. Gail Simone with Scandal Savage. More often we don’t. *glaring at the Wonder Woman run from the end of Rucka’s until now *. And it makes it hard to construct who the character is in the through line. But dismissing things you don’t agree with as not “accurate” is just lazy.

    Is there an institutional bias against PoC? Yes. Is there an institutional bias against WoC? Yes. Is there an institutional bias against LGBT characters? Yes. Is there an institutional bias again female characters? I would argue (and perhaps you wouldn’t) that Yes, there is.

    And let me admit my own bias: I don’t care about 16-year old characters. Blond or not.

    • “I’m sorry you find me suspicious and disingenuous.”

      I’m sorry if you think I’m too dense to see a fauxpology. So add condescending to the list of suspicious and disingenuous.

      “What I’m trying to add to (and not erase from) the conversation, apparently badly, is that it’s not just white privilege that erases WoC (but all women) is also white patriarchal privilege.”

      But you weren’t adding to it, you were repeatedly dismissing it outright or trying to factor white privilege out of the equation, in two separate comments.

      “Think about that. Dick had the opportunity to come into his own, whereas Cass is a “machine” and a “weapon.” ”

      You need to go back and re-read the comments because I specifically stated: “Babs would’ve never done that. Cass’s entire arc is about going from a weapon to finding her own path, her path, not one picked out by Babs, or Bruce or David Cain, but her own.”

      “I immediately surrender that you know far more about Cass than I do.”

      Which is why you should consider stop arguing.

      “Honestly, I don’t think any of them (as they have been written thus far, except for Babs maybe) would care.”

      Way to miss the point entirely. Whether or not they would care isn’t the issue. Cass didn’t care and still continued to kick ass and take names. The fact is that Dick SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN A DOUCHEBAG IN THE FIRST GAWD DAMN PLACE. Whether they approve or not doesn’t matter.

      “I’m reading and learning. But when you say that “What did Dick do? Just take it over and kick her out like a complete ass.” you seem to not be able to acknowledge that it’s not just an issue of white privilege but also of male privilege.”

      “Hell, the JLA was literally ripped out of Dinah’s hands by her own husband.”

      And trust me, a WOC wouldn’t have even been made leader in the first place for simply being a woman and a person of color.

      The difference is Stephanie, the braintrust who started Gotham Gang War still has white privilege even though she’s a woman. Which means she can cry a few white woman tears and all is forgiven. Had Cass or Onyx had pulled that shit, they would’ve been murdered and they would’ve stayed dead. Nobody is denying that sexism is at play. What I’m stating is that race is also a factor. A factor you continue to dismiss and negate.

      “But this, “Unfortunately, Shiva like Cass isn’t always written accurately because some writers have a problem with woc being dominant.” is just a cop out.”

      Are you fucking kidding me? I’m sorry how many comics are out there with POC leads? You think that’s an accident? Go read the Bleeding Awful post about the rampant racefail in comics. Or read the Astonishing X-Men issue where Warren Ellis called all African leaders nuts.

      “The text is the text is the text.” Why this argument is bogus…let me count the ways. Writers frequently come in with different agendas and bigoted viewpoints. Chuck Dixon has been very vocal about his views on LGBTQs and surprise we saw the fail that commenced with Grace Choi and Thunder. Rob Liefeld blatantly stated that he would retcon Shatterstar and Rictor’s relationship the first chance he got, even though everyone knows they were the original Brokeback pair because he couldn’t fathom the thought of Shatterstar being a badass warrior that’s like totally gay.

      When writers dismiss canon, history and frikkin common sense, readers are entitled to dismiss their tripe as BS. There’s a reason why no one is reading Spider-Man anymore because Quesada has pissed away nearly 40 years of canon and replaced it with a racist, sexist, homophobic, hackneyed, masturabatory editor-inserted fantasy memoir.

      Or better yet that bullshit sexist piece of shit known as X-Women where Storm is written to act nonchalantly and flattered while this trollish pirate continuously attempts to rape her.

      So that argument, dead on arrival.

      And if you honestly think that Renee can last five seconds against Shiva, then you seriously need your head examined because that’s like arguing that Perry White can take Darkseid in an arm-wrestling match. Particularly when you by your own admission aren’t familiar with the characters and have cited inaccurate information.

      “Canary has totally beaten Shiva.”

      “Yes. Is there an institutional bias again female characters? I would argue (and perhaps you wouldn’t) that Yes, there is.”

      I’m gonna need you to leave the mindreading to Professor X, because you continue to fail, just as you’ve done throughout this entire comment. I’m also going to need you to take your head out of your ass and cease with your not so veiled insults. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been arguing how a WOMAN OF COLOR has been on the receiving end of oppression. What? WOC don’t count as real women like those white women do?

      It’s called intersectionality. Do go back and read the resources provided on this site, because you are fucking up something fierce.

      “And let me admit my own bias: I don’t care about 16-year old characters. Blond or not.”

      Which is convenient seeing as Stephanie is in college and not 16.

      And now that you’ve shown your racism all throughout this thread, I’m gonna need you to take the bench as well.

  4. I’m not a comics follower, but it seems to me there might be a very simple, obvious reason WHY the ditzy blond has staying power she doesn’t deserve. A ditzy blond fits well into our constructs of sexual availability, unlike a no-nonsense ass-kicker. Of course, there are a whole lot of degrading, sexually-available-women-of-color stereotypes, too, but Cass doesn’t fit those molds (e.g., not a subservient geisha).

    A very quick search on Google images is *ahem* revealing. A lot of people who buy these books probably really like to fantasize about a ditzy blond Batgirl.

    • That’s a valid point. But even if WOC were sexually available and adhered to degrading stereotypes, they still wouldn’t get their own titles.

      WOC tend to get the vixenized treatment because the white fanboys running the industry think that white women are the ultimate standards of beauty.

      So white privilege still wins out.

      • In my limited reading of comics/graphic novels, I notice that the women are usually either hyper sexy or are idealized and pedestaled (or both), probably because the whole industry is by and for men (nothing new there–welcome to western civilization). But yeah, almost all the women of color I can recall would have been even MORE of an exotic object. Given the usual portrayal of women, thats saying a lot! This Cass character sounds like she was different. Sounds like in terms of both race and gender, she was way ahead of the comics industry. An industry I have even less interest in after reading this post And the comments, I’ve gotta say.

        I do feel a little bad for Stephanie Brown, though, (and now I’m talking about her as if she’s real… derf) because she was resurrected and dropped in a situation beyond her abilities probably just to serve as a lust object for adolescent boys. She was pregnant once, right? She MUST be a slut. Awesome!

        And I admit, probably because I’m white and have been aware of sexism longer, the sexism is more visible to me than the white privilege.

        • “This Cass character sounds like she was different. Sounds like in terms of both race and gender, she was way ahead of the comics industry. An industry I have even less interest in after reading this post And the comments, I’ve gotta say.”

          She was and for lack of better description, she was treated with the same care and respect that’s usually reserved for straight cis white male characters.

          And for a woman and a person of color to have one of the best written and critically acclaimed titles bar none, that was epic in and of itself.

          “She was pregnant once, right? She MUST be a slut. ”

          Yeah that fail has commenced more than once and while I’m not a fan of the character, I don’t co-sign on that shit at all.

          • Being way out in front of the pack when you’re not identified with the dominant race, gender, sexuality, etc, is the surest way to get iced. Or to at least get the biggest target on your back. Exhibit A: the President of the USA.

            The slut comment was sarcasm, aimed at what I believe to the be target market for comics in the U.S.: adolescent boys who didn’t make the football team, and are ignored by the hot girls, and who harbor revenge fantasies against both.

  5. I wasn’t arguing. I thought I was discussing and sharing ideas about the intersections of racism and sexism. But it’s your rant, and I do very sincerely apologize (with no condescension and no disingenuity) for upsetting you. I don’t appreciate you calling me a racist, because you don’t know what racial mix I am. I’m someone who actually doesn’t really disagree with you, whether you choose to see it or not. And the arrogance with which you tell me to “take the bench” just reeks of institutional sexism. It’s your sandbox. Enjoy it.

    (And actually, I was 16 when I was in college.)

  6. “I wasn’t arguing. I thought I was discussing and sharing ideas about the intersections of racism and sexism.”

    No you weren’t. However I will tell you what you were doing.

    1. Twice you attempted to dismiss and negate the racism that women of color endure from the discussion with this tripe about it’s not about white privilege, it’s about patriarchy when repeatedly it was established that the characters were being discriminated against for being WOMEN of COLOR.

    2. You continuously argued about Cassandra Cain when you by your own admission a) DO NOT LIKE THE CHARACTER b) DO NOT KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT HER. Rather than shutting the fuck up, you continuously made an ass of yourself.

    “I do very sincerely apologize (with no condescension and no disingenuity) for upsetting you.”

    Do learn what a fauxpology is (http://idealisticpragmatist.blogspot.com/2005/06/when-apology-is-not-apology.html) AND STOP DOING THAT SHIT!!!!

    “I don’t appreciate you calling me a racist, because you don’t know what racial mix I am.”

    Riiiiight because if you were a POC that would totally give you a pass on your racist comments (can we not have white privilege in the discussion).

    Besides your dismissal of racism, white privilege, sense of entitlement, and your proverbial white woman tears, kinda gives you away.

    “I’m someone who actually doesn’t really disagree with you, whether you choose to see it or not.”

    And yet you keep arguing when you get called out on your bullshit.

    “And the arrogance with which you tell me to “take the bench” just reeks of institutional sexism.”

    Nice try but that’s the oldest trick in the Speshul White Wymnz Playbook. The second you all get called out on your racism/heterosexism, you wanna cry sexism whether it exists or not.

    “THE BIG BAD NEGRO IS BEING SOOOOOOO MEAN TO ME.”

    “It’s your sandbox. Enjoy it.”

    You did read the hometraining link right? Because:

    Because if you say something ignorant . . .

    We will
    we will
    mock you.

    “(And actually, I was 16 when I was in college.)”

    Wow, you’re not Stephanie Brown and we’ve established she’s not that bright. And you clearly have a lot more to learn. So the bench is that way, go sitcho ass down.

  7. Wow, I came here from a link from the other thread about the 10 arguments with white people, expecting to see someone erasing racism with sexism, but all I got was someone being a holier-than-though douche.

    Maybe I’m not as literate in these issues as you — and therefore obviously deserve your vicious denigration and condescension for daring to participate — but I read all of slb04’s comments and I didn’t see erasure, I saw addition.

    And perhaps it comes down to a misunderstanding, that when you said ‘WOC’, slb04 thought your emphasis was on the Colour only, and not really on the Woman. Slb04 simply wanted to add emphasis in the discussion to the sexist aspects of the intersectionality. It didn’t sound like dismissal to me at all, it sounded like slb04 wholly accepted the racist aspects.

    I’m not sure why the OP felt that the charge of racism was being threatened by the explicit addressing of sexism in the greater Batgirl context as well.

    As for the ‘fauxpology’. Firstly, slb04 said ‘for upsetting you’, which, though doesn’t outline what slb04 thinks they actually did to offend, does still make it quite clear that slb04 recognises that their actions were insensitive, ill-conceived and reproachable. slb04 did NOT say ‘sorry you were upset’ in the passive voice.

    So here is someone who may not be well versed in the concept of fauxpology, actually apologising, but because the OP decides instead that slb04’s statement sounded too faux, the OP accuses them of being suspicious, disingenuous and condescending, and in doing so turns what seemed to me like an interesting discussion, into a fight.

    So may I add judgmental and paranoid to self-righteous aggression?

      • Yeh, I apologise for
        a) overstepping my bounds and overstaying my non-welcome, since my post very clearly goes against some of the blog rules,

        and b) for getting angry at the tone stuff. I still disagree with that, but then who cares what i disagree with?

        c) being too aggressive and also insensitive. I am sorry for writing ‘paranoid’ up there, it crossed a line. It’s not the OP’s fault that slb04 didn’t do more to distinguish their comments from the average level of faux and racism out there, that the OP has every right to assume.

        Sorry for being a self-righteous dick..

    • LMAO! Wait a sec. You came here from a link from MY POST about 10 Conversations I’m Sick Of Having With White People and you engage in the very fail that I called out in that post.

      And on top of that you engage in personal attacks against a POC calling out racism and misogyny and white privilege.

      *Points and laughs at you*

      That’s is some wizard level fail right there.

      You are OBVIOUSLY not as literate in these issues by your own admission so rather arguing over something you clearly have no clue about, you can take the bench too and get your 101 on.

      Also you may want to go and ACTUALLY READ the link entitled ACT LIKE YOU GOT SOME HOME TRAINING, because your comment is in violation of multiple fuckups.

      By the way, I don’t give a rat’s ass what your opinion is about slb04’s stance. The fact is, she made an ignorant comment about erasing white privilege from the discussion about a woman of color being on the receiving end of RACISM AND SEXISM. And the pretty blonde white female character got ahead at the WOC’s expense because of WHITE PRIVILEGE.

      But I find it interesting that both you and she imply that sexism and feminism only applies to white women and that woman of color couldn’t possibly face both SEXISM AND RACISM. Which is what was being called out.

      But clearly reading isn’t one of your strong suits and on top of that you’re arguing about issues that you are not educated on by your own admission. Your privilege, do check it. And your fail do stop.

  8. Am I blocked now? I mean, I should be, for violating the blog rules, so I’m sorry for coming here and being my own self-righteous dick.

    I’d also like to apologise for saying ‘paranoid’. I crossed a line. It’s not the OP’s fault that slb04 didnt distinguish their comments enough from the general level of racism out there, which people have the right to assume.

    The fact actually is that you misunderstood both slb04 and now me, after we obviously did, and continue to, misunderstand you, and the exchange degenerated into a fight, inspired it seems by oppression olympics.

    If Stephanie were as competent as Cassandra, the issue would be only about race and not gender also. In that case, would you have used POC instead of WOC? Is that a convention used to signal the operating discrimination vectors?

    Otherwise I don’t see how you can claim:

    “woman of color couldn’t possibly face both SEXISM AND RACISM. Which is what was being called out.”

    because you barely mentioned the gender aspects. You conflated gender and race aspects, eg with

    “White Privilege- A WOC can successfully beat the odds and carry her own title for five years and gets thrown under the bus and criticized for being too competent and too exceptional and making it too difficult for her to write. Yet everyone and their grandma is selling their left nut to write the Gawd Damn Batman.”

    If you contrasted Cassandra to a white female hero who is as competent but didn’t get axed for being too hard to write, then fine. But you compared her to Batman, who is not female.

    • There was no misunderstanding. You and slb04 made yourselves perfectly clear.

      If neither of you understand that as a WOMAN OF COLOR, Cass faces BOTH racism and sexism and that a white woman will have white privilege over her ESPECIALLY after I made abundantly clear in the post, then the thing to do is educate yourselves, get your 101 on and stop talking back to people who are educated on these matters and know what the fuck they’re talking about.

      slb04 demanded white privilege be taken out of the discussion and anyone who knows anything about racism 101 would know why that demand is 10 kinds of fucked up. That’s why she got called out and that’s why she got her fee fees hurt when she got checked. She had plenty of opportunities to apologize, clarify and/or correct her position. She opted not to but instead engage in passive aggressive fauxgressive racism.

      Where YOU fucked up is that had you bothered to read the 10 Conversations post, you would’ve known why stepping on here and showing your ass in the manner you did was the worst thing you could’ve done because said behavior was EXACTLY what I called out in the 10 Conversations in the first place.

      And who the fuck linked you to that post anyway? That’s what I want to know.

      Not only that, you by your own admission stated that you are not well-versed on these issues, which is fine. But rather than asking for clarification or doing your goddamn 101 to figure out what the fuck was going on and why her ass was being called out, YOU came on to this post and attacked and insulted me without cause. Not only were you wrong in how you handled it, but you were wrong about the fucking argument in the first place. You were backing the wrong team.

      Did I come on to your blog and insult and attack you? Huh?

      Not only that but you didn’t even bother to read the rules of this space before attacking a minority on a minority space. Not only did you attack me, but you pissed on a minority space by not having the decency to read our policies here.

      You just rolled on here with all your arrogance thinking you were going to put someone in their place when you even admitted that you aren’t educated on these issues and you have repeatedly shown THAT YOU DON’T READ.

      People like you are the reason why we have to set up a space like Ars Marginal in the first fucking place. Because when we do speak out on issues like RACISM AND SEXISM. You can always count on some privileged mofo to show up and attack and derail the discussion. Didn’t read any of the damn posts or policies, has done no 101 educating but you’re going to argue anyway about something you’re clearly ignorant on.

      As I said before, take the bench and sitcho ass down.

  9. Pingback: 10 Conversations On Racism I’m Sick Of Having With White People « The Speed of Dreams

  10. Hi. I realize this is an old post I’m commenting on. I found this blog post in a very round-about way of following links in other blog posts until I eventually clicked the link in the sidebar of a post on People of Color Organize to the “10 conversations” post. I just want to say that this is a great analysis of the situation.

    I always figured that Cassandra Cain was thrown aside to make way for Katherine Kane* in a sort of “token swapping” – cash in a WOC hero and get a white lesbian one, and this left the Batgirl mantle open and some Stephanie Brown partisan decided to fill it. Even while looking at it with what I thought was a critical eye, I never considered the white privilege aspect in how that was just sort of allowed to happen without any real thought to whether or not the character could carry the mantle on her own merits, or how she might step up and grow into it.

    *This is not a dig against Kate Kane and her right to exist as a character. I love her. But I also can’t imagine that her existence doesn’t come up as an argument against giving Renee her own title when the question of The Question is raised internally at DC: “We already have a lesbian headlining a bat-family book. How many do we need?”

    That they picked the wealthy white lesbian who was introduced out of left field over the character who’s had almost two decades of character growth and just had a transformative story arc that gave her a legacy heroic identity that had always belonged to a straight white guy is probably not something that’s addressed in those conversations.

    Renee Montoya’s the Question. This should be a bigger deal than Batwoman is considering how much of DC’s adult audience “grew up” with her.

    • The Batgirl Steph/Cass situation was a separate matter from Batwoman.

      The only connection between the two is that they almost put Barbara back in the role of Batgirl but she was too popular as Oracle and it would be redundant in many respects.

      On the one hand I can understand why Batwoman got more hype from a character standpoint because anyone associated with Batman is going to probably carry more weight than the Question.

      However Renee Montoya already had a strong following and should’ve gotten her own series as well and the fact that she didn’t reeks of racism, misogyny and homophobia. Especially considering that 52 would’ve been the perfect platform to give her her own series.

      But this is DC, so what else is new?

      *shrugs shoulders*

  11. Thank you so much for writing this!
    There’s always been someting that has irked me about Stephanie, but I never knew what it was. When I voiced about to some of my tumblr friends, they immediately said I was being sexist, only thinking of Tim Drake(who’s my favorite Robin, although the convo was never about him…), and not giving her a chance because she a girl.
    Her being a girl was never it. I just never liked the way she was written. So when I saw post of her being “just perf lol” or “omg she’s sooo cool” along with people fangirling/fanboying Damian Wayne(another one I can’t seem to like because of unsympathic woobie reasons), I kind of scratched my head at this.
    And I know this article is old, but I just wanted to say something, and applaud you for finally clearing up what it was that annoyed me about Ms Brown.

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