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The Batgirl of San Diego: Diversity in the DC Universe

Yesterday I was blessed with the opportunity to interview “The Batgirl of San Diego,” a woman who was at this year’s SDCC [San Diego Comic-Con] dressed as Stephanie Brown’s alter-ego. While she was there she appeared at every DC panel and asked questions which were met with responses ranging from indifference to open hostility. Gotham’s Batgirl may have rid the city streets of crime, but San Diego’s fights to ask why there aren’t more women in comics.

She responded with more thoroughness and thoughtfulness than even I expected, so I asked as many questions as I could before our time was up.

Evan: You made quite a scene at this year’s Comic-Con. Could you explain to us in a few short sentences what exactly went down?

SDB [San Diego Batgirl]: I don’t know that I would say that I ‘made a scene.’ I attended several of the DC Comics panels and asked questions about what I saw as a lack of female presence, both in comic books and on the panels. The audience, while receptive initially, eventually seemed to grow angry that I was asking these questions.  The main questions were simple: “Where are the women?” in response to the fact that there was not a single solo title cover featuring a woman in the entire Justice League line-up (though I believe Wonder Woman is supposed to be included), “Are you committed to hiring more women?” in response to the fact that the panels I attended were entirely male with only two exceptions, and one addressed to the room asking whether people there would buy and read a comic written about a strong, intelligent female protagonist.

Evan: Do you believe that DC has a large number of strong female characters?

SDB: The female characters DC has are definitely strong.  But let me give you some statistics presented by another women at one of the panels. She went through and counted, and out of 98 prominent figures on the covers, 27 were women.  Out of 28 single character titles, six were women.  As you can see, about a quarter of the DC universe lead characters are female – which means that the other 75% are male.  On the other hand, there are many existing female characters that aren’t being used or are being underused.  If DC were to bring these existing characters more prominently into the spotlight, it would be easy to make this ratio a little less extreme. Continue reading