Batman is widely considered the most realistic of all super-heroes. Everything which he can do he has worked hard to achieve, and in this way he inspires fans as no other hero does. Every hero needs a supporting cast and a collection of villains to battle against and Batman is no different. The first real person capable of emulating Batman in the DC universe was the first Robin, Dick Grayson. Many more have followed, and quite a few of them have been non-powered women – Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Helena Bertinelli, Katherine Kane as heroes, and Selena Kyle (sometimes) and Lady Shiva as villains. Does the Bat-universe lose some degree of reality with so many females? The answer is yes (which doesn’t make me happy as a female fan.) Women fall behind men in almost every athletic sense and while their minds may be strong, their muscles aren’t. I will look at a few areas of athleticism to show this.
Running – Women have come a long way in terms of endurance running, so much so that at one point if there yearly gains held up they would be running marathons faster than men by the around the year 2050. Women’s sprinting is also not lagging too far behind. The fastest 100 m female runner is only a second or so behind most men. Still, even with that considered I am not sure if most females could keep up with most men in this regard. When I was playing high school soccer, the girls team trained hard in running, but when we would train with the boys team they would consistently make us look slow. It is unrealistic to think that any of the Bat-family would train exclusively in any one area, and so the Bat-women would likely lag behind in this respect. But running isn’t all that important, I assume that most of the characters are fast and can outrun the common thugs or even most non-powered supervillains.
Climbing – I used to climb with one of my ex-boyfriends. He was super keen on trying it and I was game to go along with him. Something that most people don’t know about climbing is that initially most women are better at it. The main reason is, generally we aren’t strong enough to lift ourselves with our arms, so we automatically resort to our legs, which is how you have to climb. Men on the other hand, are just about strong enough with arms, and so for the first few times out climbing, they will come home with sore arms, whereas women if they come home with sore anything, have sore legs. This all goes to say that if men stick with it and learn the proper technique, they become much stronger climbers. Of any group of heroes, climbing is probably most important to the Bat-family. They might not use it all the time, but they definitely use it a lot. It isn’t always the stairs or elevator that they use to get to the top of buildings. Still this is a relative non-factor and an area in which the women would be just as effective.
Acrobatics/Gymnastics – This is one facet in which the women might be able to outmatch the men is some respects, though maybe not in the most important ones. Women are generally more flexible than men, and so doing acrobatic things like swinging from a rope or breaking a fall might be easier, but any pure acrobatic or gymnastic movement requiring strength would still be unmatchable by the women.
Fighting - This is the real area where women would be completely outmatched. Does everyone remember in the Hush storyline when Batman was fighting ? A not as powerful tries to punch Batman, and Bruce is fast enough to get a few blocks in with his forearms, before commenting that if he does it again they will probably get broken. Batman is at the height of human conditioning, and his forearms can take a lot of damage. Women on the other hand would never be able to get as much muscle on their forearms, and the amount of damage they could use in blocking would be far less. Blocking is a fairly important skill in fighting, and so the women would be at a loss here as well. I don’t think men have faster reaction times, but the amount of blocking which is possible would be much lower for women. Another important aspect of fighting is power. Have you ever watched any sport played by both men and women? The women’s game seems to be slower with less action. This essentially comes down to power. With fewer and weaker muscles we have less to fire when we have to explode onto something. This includes punches, kicks and so on. Technique will only get you so far to overcome this as well. Imagine Huntress fighting Mike Tyson. She could use all kinds of more advanced moves to hit him, but he will just simply not feel the damage. His body is trained to take it and not be bothered by it. A few blocks by would leave her arms bruised and practically useless.
Theoretically anyone can train themselves as long as they have the willpower, but there are still limits. Canada’s military counterterrorism unit, as close to being superheroes as anyone in the world I suppose (I meant this about counter terrorism units and not Canadians :P) allows women to apply to join. Only one time has a women passed selection training (similar to Navy Seal Hell Week) but she wasn’t picked up because she wouldn’t have been able to fireman carry any of her colleagues (which I would say is a valid reason). She is a triathlete and thus in all around great shape but still was not up to standard. This is maybe the sad truth of the women is the Bat comics, in reality they might try really hard but would often come up short. Coming up short in the comic book world isn’t good either, it makes you either a damsel in distress or that your life is constantly in danger. Whats the point? Maybe none it is the realm of fantasy after all. Still to see the Bat-women using their heads more than their hands would be a lot more realistic.