Dr. Harleen Quinzel is a noble figure in the Batman Universe. Despite this, she is mostly portrayed as an object in most media. In the movie "#Suicide Squad," her shirt labels her “”Daddy's Lil’ Monster”” and they downsized her weapon from a huge mallet to a Louisville Slugger thinner than her impossibly small waist. You won't find a figurine of her that does not exaggerate her curves, and worst of all, the merchandise tends to romanticize her relationship with the Joker.

This is a very accurate representation of what is like to be a woman, especially in a STEM field. The worst part of all of this mischaracterization is that Harley does have a positive and healthy romantic relationship that people refuse to celebrate.

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Poison Ivy and #harley quinn are very clearly together in many of the comic adaptations, but why won't pop culture pick up on this beautiful and healthy relationship? Why is it that the abusive relationship of Harley and the Joker sell so well?

Heteronormativity and biphobia

Even within LGBTQ+ communities, there is biphobia. This is the idea that people who are bisexual are wrong or immoral. Arguments are often about the need to pick a side/gender, or they are really gay or straight and claiming this other identity for attention. Another unfortunately common idea is that bisexuality is synonymous with being promiscuous and that it's greedy to be attracted to more than one gender. The sad fact is it's easier to sell an unhealthy relationship between a man and a woman than it is a healthy, loving, open relationship between two women.

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Mental illness and stigma

"Sorry, the voices" -- Harley Quinn, "Suicide Squad": Especially in the newest adaptations, Harley appropriates the symptoms of many different mental illnesses. These are almost always used as a punchline. It's not funny to play on already stigmatized illnesses as a joke. This could be an opportunity to give Harley a new obstacle to bravely face, despite the stigma from society. It's such a great opportunity for writers to be critical of mental health stigma that is prevalent in society, but instead, it is used for cheesy lines and offensive jokes.

Objectification of women in STEM

Women are not allowed be leaders and their expertise is constantly questioned. On average a woman over her lifetime earns one degree lower than a man. Someone like Harley who has a Ph.D. in Psychology should be making the same as male co-workers with a Masters degree.

Harley is a real role model. She survives getting objectified and having her #Character flatten just like real women deal with daily: to be put down, have your skills questioned, and your labor underappreciated.

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Her character is dismembered and torn down for popular media consumption. She had been watered down to fit the palette of heteronormative and patriarchal society that plays down the accomplishments of women and makes them an accessory to the male they are paired to.

“"And here you thought I was just another bubble-headed, blonde bimbo. Ha! Jokes on you! I'm not even a real blonde.”" - Harley Quinn, "Batman the Animated Series" (Harlequinade,1994).