killing-joke

Why Barbara Gordon is Important

Let me start this with one of the biggest secrets I have:

I am a rape victim. 

When I was sixteen, I was raped and abused by my boyfriend. Luckily, I went to boarding school and never had to see him ever again. Unluckily, I fell into an even more abusive relationship where I was mocked, hit, emotionally and sexually abused for over a year. 

Four years later, I’m still am trying to gain back the pieces of myself that I lost in those two years. 

Rape and sexual assault have ever since been a huge impact on my life. Although I thought I was strong and perfectly fine, I wasn’t. It’s taken me years to be sexually comfortable with myself and I’m thankfully in a wonderful relationship with someone who makes sure that I am safe and comfortable at all times. 

Now, to be clear, I hadn’t really read or seen anything Batman until January of this year. 

It was actually my current boyfriend who introduced me to his favorite thing. He gave me his books to read (I read the Long Halloween first and loved it), read books to me that I couldn’t read (I’m slightly dyslexic), and showed me every single movie he could find. My favorite villain is Scarecrow and I adore Carrie Kelley with every ounce of my being. 

Now, one character, in particular, stood out to me. While we were playing Arkham Knight together, I asked more and more about Barbara Gordon. As my boyfriend had explained, she’s Oracle, she’s extremely intelligent, etc. etc. She also used to be Batgirl.

I was a little confused to how she could be Batgirl while in a wheelchair. Was her wheelchair special? How did she fight? Was she just super badass in her wheelchair (I was in a wheelchair for about two months and I could barely move the damn thing)?? 

“Well, she was shot in the spine and then the Joker took naked photos of her.”

This really came as a shock to me. We played through the Batgirl DLC (which you should all buy because it’s amazing) and I just became amazed with her. Barbara is smart, beautiful, and badass– what a total babe, right?

Even more, she reminded me a lot of myself before my sexual assault. I was fierce, did what I wanted no matter what, and strong. 

I ended up purchasing the Killing Joke as my very first comic of my own. It really, truly tore me apart and left me sobbing in my bedroom.

I understand that Barbara was not raped as far as we know. However, she was sexually assaulted and shot, and that really awoke something in me. I started watching more Batgirl shows, reading more about her, a few comics here and there before Barnes and Noble would kick me out because I’m super poor. 

I watched as she picked up her life after something horrible and did not become a victim, but instead a survivor. She still did exactly what she wanted to do: Save Gotham. She used what she still had and built herself up and became an even more badass woman: Oracle. 

Although there is so much out there who see the Killing Joke and Barbara’s sexual and violent assault as a war on women and such, as a rape and abuse victim, I don’t see it like that. I see it as a way to show people, women especially, that even in cases of sexual and violent assaults, you can become an even bigger badass. 

To me, Barbara Gordon has changed me from a rape victim, to a rape survivor. 

10
  1. Brian Bolland himself
  2. Original «Killing Joke» (1988) cover by Brian Bolland
  3. BTAS style art by JackSkelling10
  4. Judge Dredd Megazine #211 (2003) by Frazer Irving
  5. All Hail Megatron #1 (2008) by Casey Coller
  6. Booster Gold v2 #5 (2008) by Dan Jurgens
  7. Darkwing Duck Annual #1 (2011) by James Silvani
  8. Wonderland #3 (2012) by Sean Chen 
  9. Harley’s Killing Joke by memorypalace
  10. Joker (from Death of the Family) by Spidertof