It is not surprising to anyone who knows me that I’m incredibly fond of comic books- and especially DC.
Characters like Penguin, Anarky, The Question, Jason Todd, Lucius Fox, and Cassandra Cain, for example- all captured my heart with relative ease, simply by being so damn fantastic. I even made a video talking about my favorite and least favorite versions of Harley Quinn (which got taken down for copyright violation despite free use) simply because I wanted to!! I may do a follow up at some point too.
But.. There are a lot of things in Superhero Media that I personally really disagree with. So, today, I’m going to sit in front of this laptop and rant about the issue of Dick Grayson’s constant victimization.
Every DC fan knows the meme. “Nightwing’s ass looks like someone put a pumpkin in a pair of Laytex Pants.” The man is hypersexualized constantly, both in universe and by the writers and artists. Hell, in a popular Eat!Bang!Kill!Tour comic- a sibling series to the Harley Quinn cartoon- Harley explicitly refers to Dick as “Tushwing”.
And personally, I don’t think that having a hypersexualized character in a franchize is necessarily a bad thing if done in the spirit of promoting sexual liberation and comfort in one’s appearance. But this is not that.
Because Dick Grayson has been sexually assaulted multiple times in canon, and DC is never going to address that. For levity’s sake, I am going to talk about the three most prominent instances of this horrible occurrence.
The first I wish to discuss was when Mirage- a character with shapeshifting and illusion abilities- shapeshifted into Starfire’s image in order to coerce Grayson into sex. I don’t know if many people are aware of this, but this is actually both coercion and sexual assault, because it involves literal identity theft as well as coercion of consent. This became a point of tension in the comics in regards to Dick’s relationship with Kori’andr, but the trauma of realizing what had happened was never addressed in any truly satisfying capacity.
No, instead they later have Mirage herself get sexually assaulted by the predatory Deathwing, and convince herself that it was the universe punishing her for assaulting Dick. Which is not only just more victim blaming, but also perpetuates just as many double standards as Dick’s assault.
Instance number two, and my least favorite- Tarantula. In the issue this excerpt is taken from, Dick is *literally concussed*. He can’t move, is having trouble speaking, and is in incredible pain. And Tarantula, in no uncertain terms, rapes dick in the middle of a borderline rubble-riddled tragedy zone simply because he cannot fight back.
There is no debating this one. He is wounded. He is unable to fight back. This was sexual assault.
And third is my least favorite DC Animated production of all time, Batman and Harley Quinn. You see this scene? This one in Harley’s run down apartment bedroom?
This scene is why I hate this movie.
It’s not the hackneyed dialogue or the terrible animation that gives Harley an inhumanly freaky ass. No no, the real issue is that Harley kidnaps and proceeds to force herself onto Dick Grayson, which is entirely out of character for her.
“But Shiloh, it looks consensual to me! He even jokes about the ‘Things he does for Gotham’!” Yes, Strawman, excellent point. Except he never gives an explicit and enthusiastic yes, and is currently kidnapped and tied to the bed. This is not a pre-negotiated BDSM session. This is not a situation where consent is possible. The nature of the position, both literal and figurative, is that of a victim.
When is DC going to address how often this happens to Dick? Or how it’s affected him on a mental health level? I don’t think we’ll ever really know.