Occasionally in the 90s we’d get a cartoon that would dedicate at least one episode to feminism or at least some vague notion of female empowerment. Batman: The Animated Series is no exception, and the episode “Harley and Ivy” is definitely one of my all-time favorites—after all, it introduced me to my absolute favorite femslash pairing. The episode in general does some great things, but it’s also still pretty problematic. At the heart of these problems is how we get feminism promoted to us through two female villains, causing it to look more like straw feminism than actual feminism. Despite that, though, this episode addresses everything from sexism to abusive relationships, street harassment, and female friendships.
When I first started getting into American comics fandom, a friend of mine took it upon himself to instruct me in the ways of learning about Batman. He lent me Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween, and The Dark Knight Returns, and sent me off to learn about Bruce Wayne. To augment these, I also acquired the entirety of Batman: The Animated Series to help in my journey. And say what you want about the literary value of those three comics—I enjoyed them immensely, but I feel like I got a much better handle on the Batman mythology and rogues gallery from B:TAS than I got from the books.