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I can’t believe no one has said this yet, but the idea that The Joker actually raped Barbara Gordon is controversial, to say the least. It has never been confirmed, and is really only one way of reading the novel at best.

This of course is not to mention that nothing in The Joker’s characterization throughout the comics to that point had ever suggested he has any sexual interest at all, so it’s very easy to read that part in The Killing Joke simply as it was shown — that he shot her, stripped her naked and took photos of it. In fact, any such sexual assault would be almost a diametric opposite of The Joker’s character, who has never been portrayed as a sexual predator.

Looked at in a vacuum, you’re right that The Killing Joke, and more specifically The Joker, used the violence against Barbara Gordon as a play against her father — the male character — and we should want more for female characters. The only problem with that is that The Killing Joke was canonized and what happened to Barbara Gordon did have an immense impact on her character. It’s surprising to see that this article doesn’t once mention that she became Oracle after these events, not only overcoming the terrible tragedy that occurred, but becoming a role model for women and differently abled people. So it’s inappropriate to analyze this The Killing Joke in a vacuum like this.

Don’t get me wrong: this movie was crap, and the additional storyline involving Barbara Gordon was unnecessary, sexist garbage, and you’ll hear no argument from me that suggests anything otherwise. While we’re talking about The Joker’s characterization, this film version of The Killing Joke characterized Barbara Gordon as a whiny student with a crush on her teacher, which has never been who Barbara Gordon is, and that has never been the dynamic between she and Batman. That’s all fair to point out.

The only issue I take with your article is that you treat that Barbara Gordon was raped by the Joker as a given, and it fails to analyze how this event shaped and further her character in future depictions.

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