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Everything Including the Girl: Bisexuality and Batman
by Justine

Someone was commenting on my little live-journal icon, a picture from Birds of Prey where Nightwing takes Oracle to the circus and they're swinging on the trapeze. "Isn't that het? Is that okay, if you're a slash fan?"

Gaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! Sex police!! I HATE these guys! Yes, het is okay if I'm mainly into slash, and men's bodies are okay even if I'm mostly into women's, and getting married is okay, and so is celibacy, and any act of sex can be an act of personal power, okay? I mean, it isn't always. But any of them can be.

I want people to recognize Oracle on sight, because she's so amazing as a character, especially as a character for fen, in the way that Chloe or Tara or Sam Carter has become a character for fen -- the observer, the keeper of secrets, the woman with her own strengths and sensuality just bubbling under her skin. We like those chicks. Or at least I do. (And if you don't, that's okay too, because desire can be an act of personal power, when you control what you want and what you don't.)

So. The redhead is Barbara "Babs" Gordon, daughter of the famous commissioner, and yes, you pre-Crisis types, the original Batgirl -- much as Dick Grayson (Nightwing), her best friend/agent/weakness/lover, was the original Robin. Barbara got shot in the spine by the Joker -- and unlike many of the traumatic injuries suffered by vigilante types, she is not going to get better. She's in a wheelchair, and she can't use her legs. Period.

And no one would have blamed Barbara -- who had already left the vigilante business, who had already decided she was best able to help from within the system -- if she had just become a victim, a sorry example of yeah, that Joker really is a fucking psychopath, isn't he?

But she didn't -- she still had two strong arms, so she learned escrima and self-defense from her wheelchair. And she still had immense organizational capacities, a photographic memory, and a Bat-trained sense for crimefighting -- plus she was a librarian, on the Net at a time when it was still all in ASCII and had newsgroups. Barbara played her strengths, milked her contacts, and healed -- and with a dollop of transformative rage, she became Oracle, information broker for the entire Justice League. She knows more, about more, than anyone else in the DC Universe.

Her superpower is her determination -- nothing else. She's smart, she's capable, she gets the job done, however she needs to do it -- barring the Bat-Family vow to never kill.

Personally? I find that woman sexy. And worth writing about, and criminal to ignore.

Do I think there's a slash relationship between Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne? Hells, yeah -- one of the most intense and complex relationships out there. But I don't get this bashing-the-girl thing. Well, maybe when she's Lana Lang, because that character hasn't proven her power or worth yet. But not when she's Barbara Gordon

Dick's character is almost effortlessly, perfectly bisexual. He has two partners, the Bat and Oracle; one is emotionally numb, the other can't feel her toes. Neither of his partners are particularly good at trusting their feelings -- if Dick inherited Bruce's mission, Babs got Bruce's ability to get lost in the work. In his role as humanizer, as the one who sees behind both his heroes' masks, Dick is their foil -- he forces them both to be themselves in a way they can't be with anyone else.

As for Batman and Oracle, the Bat was directly responsible for helping Oracle find her new identity, and Babs is the only one who can call Bruce on his mistakes with Dick and the rest of the Bat-Family. They're responsible for each other, and Oracle leads the group in Bruce's absence, just as Bruce Wayne's cash funds Barbara Gordon's "research."

That's drama to me, that's interesting -- and I feel seen and understood by their little equilateral triangle. That icon is two things -- Dick and Babs enjoying a moment of relaxation, which is what fandom's about -- and it's also about the big yellow bat across Babs' breasts. Here be demons. You can't escape the consequences of desire.

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