Could The CW's Casting of Ruby Rose As Batwoman Actually Be Deemed Jewish Erasure? 

Earlier this week, The CW announced that it cast Ruby Rose to play Batwoman in the upcoming crossover event and impending titular series for the crime-fighting BA. Batwoman’s casting is a notable milestone in television history, seeing as Kate Kane, an open lesbian, will be portrayed by a lesbian actress. While fans are praising The CW’s decision to (thankfully) celebrate Batwoman’s sexuality, fans are also claiming that the network has erased her Jewish identity.

Although Batwoman was initially introduced in DC Comics as Kathy Kane in 1956, she had very minor roles in a few Batman comics and Detective Comics. Since 2007, Kate Kane has donned the bat-themed latex, complete with a redheaded wig sewn into her costume (because Batwoman is that extra). And beyond Kate’s open lesbian identity in the comics, she’s also Jewish.

Seemingly, her Jewish identity might not seem very prominent in her titular comic series, but it is. Beyond practicing the religion in her non-caped life, Batwoman’s identity also crosses over into her professional life as a superhero—where she’s become irate and even attacked criminals who were trying to cause physical or emotional harm to other Jewish people, particularly in DC Bombshells #3.

Batwoman’s Jewish identity is just as vital to her character as her sexual identity is, and fans are using their social media platforms to vocalize their concern that The CW didn’t cast a Jewish lesbian actress to portray Kate Kane.

Shortly after news broke that Ruby Rose will play Batwoman, fans started to use the #KeepKateJewish hashtag to verbalize their disappointment that Kate Kane’s Jewish identity might be erased in the upcoming series.

One user notes that Jewish lesbian actresses exist, and The CW should have cast a Jewish lesbian actress to portray the character.

Another user writes that Batwoman’s Judaism is fundamental to who she is as a character, so much so that her faith even impacted the color of her suit—which should show how important Kane’s faith is to her.

According to Writeups, an online encyclopedia of fandom-based characters, even one of the colors of Batwoman’s suit was inspired by Jewish culture. “The color red was chosen as the second color of the Batwoman suit for cabalistic reasons. It is the color associated with the fifth sefirah, Gevurah, symbolizing strength and divine justice in the Tree of Life. It’s also always a good color for night operations,” Writeups expands.

Whereas, another user writes, “Being Jewish is an integral part of Kate Kane’s identity and erasing is not only disrespectful but also incredibly problematic #KeepKateJewish.”

For some fans, Ruby Rose’s casting seems like the Batwoman series might be trying to distance itself from Kate Kane’s Jewish identity, which can be perceived as anti-Semitic erasure. Although certain movies and television series, like Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, has helped muffle the Jewish women stereotypes in cinema, Jewish erasure, especially for Jewish women, is still prevalent in films—especially in comic-book-derived movies like the X-Men franchise.

After the Maximoff twins’ Jewish and Romani identities were omitted from their story arcs in the MCU, it’s easy to see how fans can be pensive about the recent casting of Batwoman.

Healthy representation is important, so while fan can be happy that Batwoman’s lesbian identity is being celebrated in her television debut, they can also be perturbed that her Jewish identity might have been squandered. Like it’s paramount that a lesbian actress portrays a lesbian character so that aspect of Kane’s identity is represented respectfully, casting a Jewish lesbian actress could help present Batwoman’s canonically Jewish identity instead of falling victim to the apparent canon erasure trope in superhero movies.