Batwoman and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Flickr/<a href="">L-plate big cheese</a> (<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a>).

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Because I don’t often read comics, it had completely slipped my mind that DC Comics’ Batwoman came out as a lesbian in 2006. I was reminded while reading a recent blog by Eric Grignol at, which details the superheroine’s gay-rightsy travails with a policy just like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Grignol describes the storyline:

Readers find that as a young adult, Batwoman is at the top of her class at the United States Military Academy. When it’s discovered that she’s in a lesbian relationship with another student, she’s asked to deny the allegations or be expelled for violation of the military’s code of conduct. She could stay in the military if she’d just tell her commanding officer “what he needed to hear.”

Batwoman’s response? She bravely cites the cadet honor code: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor suffer other to do so. I’m sorry sir, I can’t.”

Refusing to lie about who she is, Batwoman is discharged and forced to leave her potential life of service behind. What follows is depression fueled by drugs and alcohol after sacrificing one part of her identity (military career) for another part (lesbian individual), until finding a redemptive relationship with another woman. Through the whole ordeal, Batwoman never questions her decision to be honest and truthful about her sexual orientation.

Batwoman in a drug-fueled depression prompted by dismissal from the military for her lesbianism? Sign me up. Apparently I’ve been wasting my time watching oil wrestling on The L Word; the most interesting and up-to-date pop cultural explorations of sexuality and society seem to be taking place on the pages of a comic book. I guess this makes Batwoman the Lieutenant Dan Choi of comic characters. Or does it make Lieutenant Dan Choi the Batwoman of real-life “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” abolitionists?

Now if only Batwoman could speak at congressional hearings on the policy slated for next year-ish.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend