It’s not that she used her sexuality in exchange for grades that bothers me—it’s that people either overlook it in an attempt to sanitize her character or shame her for it. Both attitudes are harmful.
People have no qualms calling Harley a “whore” or a “slut” for sleeping with her professors, but never shame the professors themselves for a.) having sex with a student, b.) giving out grades unfairly, or c.) being foolish enough to jeopardize their career. IMO, that says a lot about fans’ general attitudes towards sex and women. They don’t shape the male professors because they’re too busy shaming Harley. I’ve also seen this attitude directed towards her after she had sex with Deadshot—there was even a line in a comic that compared her vagina to a clown car.
When people overlook or otherwise ignore Harley’s past, it’s often either because they are uncomfortable with it or because it compromises their fantasy of Harley being this “innocent” and “pure” girl who was suddenly corrupted by Joker. And that makes me angry, tbh. Not only is it picking and choosing aspects of her character instead of embracing Harley entirely, but it implies that her past is something that is shameful and therefore does not fit their idealization of her. And it’s not the unfair gaining of grades that bother them—it’s her amount of partners. They don’t like her having sex with anyone else besides Joker, not because of shipping, but because it compromises her “purity”. Some will say that her past is irrelevant because it took place when she was Harleen instead of Harley, but IMO that is a flimsy excuse for sanitation.
I could care less how many sexual partners Harley—or anyone else, for that matter—has had. It’s people insulting Harley, holding her up to unfair ideals, and trying to turn her into something that she is not that I find upsetting.
I don’t like the iteration of Harley that slept her way through college.
I like it when writers have her be actually smart, and have earned her degree, but she’s still a ditzy weirdo.