With Suicide Squad now in cinemas, it’s more than likely that you’ve seen images and videos of actress Margot Robbie as famous character Harley Quinn posted everywhere on social media. The anticipation around Robbie’s portrayal of Harley has driven the marketing campaign for Suicide Squad, but it appears that the movie has made a mess of the character by blatant sexualisation.
Since her role in The Wolf of Wall Street, Robbie has rarely had a part in a film that doesn’t obsess over her body or focus on male perceptions of her. This is no different with Suicide Squad – you only have to watch the trailer to see the obvious sexual objectification of her character.
Since its release, the film has received feedback from fans and critics alike, concerning the sexualisation of Harley’s character. It’s great that Harley promotes women having the freedom to wear whatever they want – by breaking away from her life with The Joker she has a new sense of independence in the film. However if you look closely, her outfit is overly-sexualised. Harley is in underwear for a large fraction of the film – the back of her jacket reads “property of joker”, her top says “daddy’s lil monster” and her choker states “puddin'”.
There are also flashbacks of Harley and the Joker together highlighting their ‘love’ (or abusive relationship). You discover that she worked as a prison shrink and fell for The Joker as a demented patient, who ended up physically torturing her and seducing her into self-harm and insanity. Held captive by him in one of the film’s most provocative scenes, she asks if he’s going to kill her and he promises he’ll only hurt her. He later offers her as a sexual gift to a colleague, proving that her character in the film exists largely to do with male dominance and sexual objectification.
Marvel has attempted to make Harley Quinn seem a strong female character by promoting violence against women through sexualisation and objectification, exposing these ideas and themes to young women in audiences. #SheIsMoreThan an object for male pleasure.
Have you seen Suicide Squad yet? If so, let us know what you think in the comments!
– S x