I went to see Suicide Squad recently. It left me with a dilemma. I wanted to like the movie I really did…but I came home and had to do some digging. You see the relationship between Harley and Joker is no laughing matter.
I loved Harley as a kid. Yeah…I watched the batman cartoon as a kid and I am aghast that my parents let me….but that is an other story. As I said…Harley was cool and amazing to me as a child. So I had to look into the cartoon and the relationship with Joker. What I found was disturbing and vile. It was frankly a bit triggering…and brought up some old hurts. You see I am a domestic abuse surviver.
I am not going to go in to gory detail about it all…let it be known that My father and mother where both very abusive in their individual ways. I grew up with large amounts of mental and emotional abuse. As I got older I found myself a boyfriend. He made it his job to give me a bruise at least daily.
I am telling you this because I want you to understand where I am coming from with this blog entry. I come from experience and from living through some pretty horrible stuff. I still love Harley, And you will understand why when you reach the end of this article.
Harleen Quinzel becomes fascinated with the Joker while working at Arkham asylum and volunteers to help treat him. Harleen falls hopelessly in love with the Joker during their sessions, and she helps him escape from the asylum more than once. When the Joker is returned to Arkham after one of his break outs, the sight of her badly injured love drives Harleen to drastic choices. She ends up quitting her job and putting on a costume to become Harley Quinn, the Joker’s sidekick and girlfriend. Why would a perfectly mentally stable person do all this? Well because she was not. Harley was already a victim of abuse at the hands of her father. She became a psychiatrist because she wanted to understand her father and his choices.
She was the perfect target for the Joker and his manipulations. During there sessions is where he began working her with his charm. She fell for it because she felt she understood him and had great empathy for him. She thought she was seeing the true man behind the mask. This is what abusers do. They see a person’s scars and uses them to their advantage. They do this until their target is so wrapped up they can’t leave without great difficulty.
The comics and the animated cartoon perfectly portray this. Here are a few clips of the cartoon.
Harley and Joker Moments
Harley was manipulated by the Joker, there is no question, but she also made her own decisions. She was the one that decided that abandoning her life for love was a wonderful idea. Idealistic, but not the best choice…I’m honestly not judging here. If someone falls so deep in love they are willing to give up everything for a partner, I wish you love and all the best. Harley’s story did not turn out so rosy. She may have been a psychiatrist but she had demons that haunted her.
This brings us to what I want to address. Our life choices are very much affected by our pasts. We react to our environmental stimuli in ways that have been programmed into us or how we perceive we are expected to react. Some of us are raised to be pleasers and so we default to doing things for people just so they will be happy whether it is good for our health/life/mental state or not.
Harley had daddy issues, he is why she became a psychiatrist after all, and this directly affected her relationship with the Joker. she wanted to help the Joker become a better person because she wanted to do that for her father but could not. I am not going to let Harley off lightly here though…she had her own mind and made her own choices. The Joker did not physically make her pull the trigger and kill people, she did that. Harley had autonomy and she used it in a very questionable way. Even after she broke free of the Joker she continued to be a villain. She hooked up with Poison Ivy and Catwoman! Those three Ladies caused a lot of havoc in Gotham City.
I bring up Harley’s agency because we all have it. Each of us has the power and control to make our own decisions. No one can control you. No one can make you do anything you don’t want to do. Sometimes we have to do some pretty shitty stuff to survive but you don’t have to continue in the shit or wallow in it. I know because I’ve been there. I have been through and done the shit…it was horrid. You can work yourself away from it. I promise you it is completely possible. I was able to with great difficulty but I did it.
Harley was an amazingly strong person. She went through a lot of crap in her life. She came out the other end knowing herself better. The Joker is always going to be a thorn in her side but she has moved on…
This is strength. This is what life is all about. Learning and growing. We can not sit around wallowing in our self pity and wishing things where different. We have to live! Kick the ass of any demons that come up and move on. Harder then it is to say I know…but life is not meant to be easy. It is a challenge and one that we can build ourselves upon.
Forgiveness is paramount. Forgiveness is the food of our souls. As we learn to be easy on ourselves and forgive ourself our mistakes and follies we learn to love. Forgiveness is love, some of the most powerful self-love there is.
I encourage any survivors out there to forgive yourselves. love yourself. Express yourself in wonderful creative and self-loving ways. Don’t stay where you are emotionally and mentally right now…LIVE! Go deep within and find your soul, nourish it and grow it, love it.
My love to you all,