Reflection: Rorschach, Women, and Sex

Throughout the first five chapters, Rorschach seems to hold a very negative opinion of sex, and especially female sex workers. On the very first page, he writes in his journal about “the accumulated filth of all their sex and murder,” referring to the city’s “vermin,” and I thought that it was unusual and a bit extreme for him to list sex before murder in a list of horrible things. In that same panel, he makes it clear that he sees whores as people who aren’t worth saving. He later mentions “the reek of fornication,” despite being a guy who cares extremely little about his own smell or hygiene, and states that he doesn’t like the graffiti of a couple that he thinks is engaging in “sexual foreplay.” Most interesting of all is when we see him putting on his mask, he says that he can now become himself, “free from fear or weakness or lust.” It is very clear that Rorschach is adverse to sex.


In chapter 6, we find out why: his mother was a prostitute who abused him. While she did not sexually abuse him, it seems that her association with sex has forever turned Rorschach off from it, and he holds extreme distaste for anyone in the same profession. This has affected some of his relationships with women, since he looks down upon sexual promiscuity and thus does not approve of the original Silent Specter and is suspicious of things like a possible affair brewing between Dan and Laurie. He even finds handling female clothing unpleasant.


I appreciate how Alan Moore handled Rorschach’s issues with sexuality, because I have seen far too many inferior writers jump to “this character despises women” when faced with a similar backstory. There are people in real life like that, but in fiction, which already has plenty of issues with female representation (especially in comics), that sort of thing gets old, fast. Rorschach definitely does not hate women as a whole, and acknowledges the rape of women as a terrible thing deserving of his retribution. His two awakenings to the horrors of the world both involve female victims, so it seems that he has no problem viewing women as people and even identifies with the victim of the kidnapping case. He takes that case on specifically because when he thinks of the little girl being abused and frightened, he remembers his own childhood and sets out to rescue her from that.


I think the complexity of this issue adds a lot of depth to Rorschach’s character. I look forward to seeing how he develops in future chapters.