Thursday, February 2, 2012

Is a Hairnet Really a Bad Weapon?

Last class we spent the whole time judging which female characters were “strong”, and I agree that most of them were not what I would want to look up to as a little girl. Since class, though, I have been thinking about the criteria we judged them on, and I’m not sure that was the best way. Mostly, I’ve thought about Batwoman. We considered her submissive and not as strong, but why? One of the reasons was because her weapons – a hair net and cosmetics – were girly. Now, I think girly qualities are important in the superheroines. We should support, not criticize Batwoman’s control of these cliché female weapons. She shows power, even saving Batman, that is wholly rooted in her sex.  Every time we criticized a character it was because of something too feminine. But isn’t that the point, to be a respected hero while not losing their identity as female?        
Other superheroines seemed much more bad ass and commanding than Batwoman, but those women seemed less feminine. Wonder woman shows extreme strength, but looks almost manly. In the comic we first read, she is drawn with broad shoulders and few womanly curves. Why can’t a heroine be strong and still be drawn feminine? This, though, should not be confused with a character like Mary Marvel. She still looks like a little girl, obviously keeping her femininity. The problem with her is that she has no strength or authority. I don’t think we should have to choose between these types of superheroines; strong and less womanly or weak and super feminine. As a society, we should embrace the idea of girl power with heroines using girly weapons. Woman power is shown more through a woman whose weapon is deadly lipstick than using the standard gun. The stereotypical feminine object embodies strength that is unique to the female gender, reminding the readers that this is a powerful woman not just another powerful hero.
              It is important to have these ultra-feminine superheroines, not just female heroes. If all superheroines traded their girlish habitats for the chance to be a hero, that is the message that would be transmitted to society. Girls would be taught that they would have to choose between strength and femininity which I believe undermines the idea of gender equality. Equality should exist but that doesn’t mean a female has to shy away from cosmetics, baking, or doing other girly things to attain the same respect as a man. In conclusion, I take back what I thought in class. Batwoman is more super and influential as a superheroine because she uses a hairnet as a weapon; it is not something that brings her down. 


  1. I think you make a very interesting argument in your post when you discuss the choice between strength and femininity. I agree that a superheroine should not have to forgo her feminine qualities in order to be considered a powerful, extraordinary being. On the other hand, I believe that a hairnet really is a poor tool to give Batwoman to fight crime. There is a difference between being a strong fighter and a weak fighter whether you are a man or a woman. When Batwoman is put in direct comparison with Batman, Batman is more super because he is given higher technology to use against criminals than Batwoman. In giving her a hairnet, the comic book author is insulting women's intelligence and ability to operate technology. I think that femininity should be maintained in a superheroine but should not be used to debilitate her as a character.

  2. I agree with keeping a superheroines femininity. Strong and feminine for a woman should go hand in hand. In fact, Batwoman is not the only heroine that uses cosmetics as weapons. As a huge fan of Kim Possible, I know in her first episode, she used a lipstick tube that shot out a sticky, gum like substance to fight off sharks. Just because weapons are "feminine" or "girly" doesn't mean they don't help a heroine to kick ass. A woman should embrace her femininity. This doesn't however mean that I think a woman can't have manly qualities about her. I appreciate Wonder Womans broad shoulders, because I too have broad shoulders. I do agree that a super heroine can and should be both sexy and strong, but being overly sexy is unrealistic, and shouldn't be the type of image pushed on women.

  3. I disagree with the first comment, in stating that batman is more super for he uses technology--if anything the authors of batwoman are simply showing how resourceful she can be. In our world today women aren't simply one thing, but rather many (for example women have broken the tradition of being either working women or mothers, today they have been able to become both). I feel that the author gave batwoman the hairnet to display to the readers that yes, she is a woman and she is feminine, but that doesn't mean she cannot use her resources to fight crime. Unlike batman who simply pays a lot of money to come up with all this technology. Wonderwoman is simply being portrayed as feminine and smart by using the resources at her disposal.

  4. In my opinion, I don't believe the authors gave Batwoman a hairnet to show her resourcefulness. I agree that Batman has the technology to fight crime because he has a lot of money. But why not give Batwoman money to by technology? Often money can be equated with power, so by giving Batman money, the authors are granting him a kind of societal power. Femininity should be maintained but in this case the authors use it as a limiting factor. I think it would be less insulting to women if they gave her a hot pink machine gun than a hairnet. In conclusion, it comes down to a matter of levels and creating equality between men and women.

  5. I actually agree with Maggie and Inez in this case. I don't think there is a difference between strength and femininity at all. When my sister and I expressed interest in going into Navy ROTC, our friends and family thought we were "too little" and "too sweet" to go into the military. I resented that; just because I am girly does not mean I can't kick ass when the time comes. I think Batwoman is a lot like this situation. She uses her femininity and resourcefulness in fighting scenes, but still defeats bad guys the same way.


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