This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"die and we blame someone and then do it all again."
11973 members | you are not logged in | 13 August 2020


January 28 2004

Buffy and the new feminism. "The blonde, blue-eyed slayer can do no wrong. Loved by men and boys for her 'hot' looks and admired by women and girls for her butt-kicking antics, Gellar's impact is far-reaching".

Wow, I think this person just totally missed the whole meaning and feel of BtVS. Some of her points are twisted on purpose to make her point. I'm a 39 year old mother of two and I felt Buffy was a great show for girls and boys to watch. Buffy might've had slaying powers but her biggest strength was her mind and her cunning and with the support and love of her friends and family made her unbeatable. The early shows did show her dressed the way this author described (but also greatly exaggerated) but that is what the fashion was. In later seasons Buffy acquired a wonderful style of dressing that was classy and elegant and boys and men still found her beautiful and attractive and girls still admired her.

I'm a 17(almost 18) year old male, and i didn't personally see anything wrong with the outfits buffy wore. Of course i could just be missing the whole feminism issue.........nevermind.
The author of that piece is completely missing the point. Besides that, her credibility was shot with the 'blue-eyed' line. But maybe I pay attention to the details too much.
Her skirts are dangerously short, her breasts are hoisted up around her chin and she topples around in high heels. No wonder girl power is a form of feminism so widely embraced!

Um, this lady is overreacting. Buffy's skirts might have been very short in the first and second season, but she never had big enough breasts to "hoist them around her chin" and I don't ever remembering her heals to be that high. I may be nitpicking here, but the author is using using these things and exaggerating them as evidence that Buffy is a slave.

Her biggest beef against Buffy, says Woodlock, is not that she kicks ass while dressed like a hooker but that, even as she tells young women that they, too have the power to fight back and defend themselves, she is sending a subliminal message that it's a power attainable only by a chosen few.

Buffy was never the one who was sending that message, it was the Watcher's Council who created the "One girl in all the world" thing, something that Buffy finally turned on its head in the last episode, changing everything.

Buffy's strength and ability is the result of a special "gift" she was born with, a birthright. The unsaid message, Woodlock notes, is that "women aren't really capable of fighting back unless they have some sort of magical 'slayer' power.

The point of the show was to portray how being "one slayer in all the world", isolated Buffy from the rest of the world, how she used her special powers to fight the evil of the world while trying to find her place in it. She was created to be a weapon for the games of powerful but frightened men, and she fought against that role til the very end, where she was finally able to grant this power to thousands if not millions of girls around the world, so every one of them could be "special". It's a pretty powerful metaphor.

Apparently, the author never really watched the show. She just looked at the surface.
The blonde, blue-eyed slayer can do no wrong.

Umm, aren't Gellar's eyes green?

Buffy's strength and ability is the result of a special "gift" she was born with, a birthright. The unsaid message, Woodlock notes, is that "women aren't really capable of fighting back unless they have some sort of magical 'slayer' power.

Sure. And Superman implies guys aren't strong unless they're aliens (and in a certified Kryptonite-free zone), David Copperfield proclaimed that we can't be nice guys unless we had a crappy childhood, and the Lord of the Rings was really a cautionary tale about how we can't appreciate danger to entities larger than ourselves unless it's forced on us by an elderly white man with a stick.


[ edited by Dave! on 2004-01-29 07:13 ]
"Umm, aren't Gellar's eyes green?" - Dave!

SMG's eyes are brown. She wore blue contacts for the series. However, in the comics, Buffy's eyes are depicted as green. So, pick your favorite eye color, it's Buffy's.
Unfortunately, there's one line that can't be disputed:

"The other week, I saw an episode of its second or third season and realized how gaunt the already thin Gellar is now."
Every picture I've seen of SMG and everything I've seen her in, her eyes are green/and or hazel. I've never heard of her wearing blue contact lenses for the series and up close shots of her eyes do not look blue at all and there are a lot of close ups.

I just did a quick search on Google for SMGs eye color and all results said her eyes are green and her natural hair color is brown.

[ edited by blwessels on 2004-01-29 07:46 ]
Y'know what's wrong with the Buffy tv series? Women were wearing too many clothes. No, I'm kidding. I'm a kidder. With a slightly more serious tone I'd admit I think the women in BtVS were on the whole too thin. Wearing short skirts and low necklines doesn't really matter if one doesn't have much to show off. It is one of the few criticisms I have regarding the series. I feel it perpetuated and encouraged the illusion that people should be inordinately skin and bones in order to be attractive. I would like to have seen more people on the show who looked, y'know, realistic. Like people one actually meets in real life, as opposed to this distorted and unhealthy deception perpetuated by Hollywood.
I sent hate mail! :D
"With a slightly more serious tone I'd admit I think the women in BtVS were on the whole too thin."

I agree with this but I also found it interesting that when Amber Benson joined the show, a lot of fans criticized her for being too fat, which she clearly is not. Also, when Charisma Carpentar got pregnant, a lot of people were very critical of her, even though it was weight gained because of her pregnancy, and there have even been comments made after she gave birth about her looking heavy. She has since lost the weight but it just shows how critical our society is and why actresses especially want that super thin look.
In general that was one of the most ill-informed articles I've seen in the last year. I feel stupider for having read it.

With regards to the very thin people on BtVS, I think you have to pick your battles on television. People, in general, wouldn't watch a show with "realistic" looking actors. Hopefully someday we, as a culture, can get to that place they would...but we certainly aren't there now. I think that the thematic message is far more important anyway, and to deny the incredible feminist message of Buffy just because you have some objection to the way the actors looked is beyond ludicrous, and more than a little shallow.
In all the years watching the series I never once thought 'ooh she/he is too thin' or 'too fat'. (Well, maybe the demon Balthazar was a little on the chubby side.) Maybe I'm from a generation where things like that didn't really matter yet. (But then my parents seem to have picked up the habit, so it can't be an age thing.)

Weight discussions annoy me quite a bit. They have nothing to do with the story.
Well, frankly any woman who uses the phrase "dresses like a hooker" doesn't have a very keen sense of what feminism is. It's about breaking down the patriarchal barriers that constrict us all--men, women and anyone of the combination. Using terms like hooker as an insult are decidedly classist and misogynist.

I too did a feminist critique when I first began watching. I thought, "Oh, she's supposed to be this superhero but when men are superheroes they generally hone their skills themselves and don't need trainers and the like..." blah blah blah. But, of course, I didn't judge it on one or two episodes as the author of the article did and I found the message was really that she was exceptionally stronger than those before her because she worked with a team of people. Now THAT is a feminist message. There's no such thing as a hero who's going to solve all the problems, we all need to find our own strengths and work together. These people who don't read theory and then publish pieces denigrating some sector of women drive me batty. Grrr argh!
In all fairness to the author of this article, she didn't make all those terrible comments...she was reporting the terribly misguided comments of another person. It seems from the article, that she disagrees with the quotes in question. I think she just does a terrible job of debating the issues.
I guess REAL feminists hate sex and try to look as unattractive as possible while insisting, despite all the evidence, that there is no physical disparity between men and women.

Who’da thunk?
"Loved by men and boys for her 'hot' looks and admired by women and girls for her butt-kicking antics..."
Heeey! I'm a guy, and I liked her for her butt-kicking antics! Enough of this gender profiling.

(I also like the non-frosted side of Mini-Wheats.)
Something tells me the author is not so familiar with episodes that discuss the burden Buffy faces from being a vampire slayer. “Prophecy Girl”, “Earshot”, “The Prom”, and “The Gift” are such episodes that come to mind at this moment. This was always a recurring theme on BtVS. It tells us that life is going to be a struggle no matter what gifts or beauty or whatever we might be blessed with. That message rings very true, and Buffy’s slaying powers are an important element of the show for that reason. Just watch the clock tower scene in “Earshot”, and you’ll see what I mean.
You also have to love how she completely glosses over the fact that Buffy is filled with positive female role-models apart from Buffy herself.

Willow, Tara, Joyce, Jenny Calendar. Even Dawn gave girls someone they could identify with the last few seasons. Dawn may have screwed up a time or two or three, but just like every other character in the Buffyverse, it's bound to happen because she's human.

I may be damning myself by calling Dawn a positive role-model. I know a lot of people consider her a whiny teenie brat. And she was. A whiny teen-ager, trying to find her place in a world she wasn't born into, trying to cope with the loss of her mother, trying to live up to being the sister of the Chosen One, left an orphan when her sister sacrificed her life to save her own, the same sister who would have rather been dead than alive for a year after she was brought back to life, the same sister who was so distant while trying to save the world and train slayer wannabes. (how about that run-on sentence!)

Um...back completely on topic. It sounds to me like this woman isn't a real fan of Buffy anyways. Just some Mother who feels slightly annoyed that she has to sit through the show while her daughter watches. Maybe if she took the time, or had the facilities, to see the deeper themes and complexities she'd have a different opinion. Instead she's basing her opinion on what she sees and hears while peeking out from behind her latest issue of the Utne Reader.
Buffy's strength and ability is the result of a special "gift" she was born with, a birthright. The unsaid message, Woodlock notes, is that "women aren't really capable of fighting back unless they have some sort of magical 'slayer' power."

This has to be the paragraph that annoyed me the most. To me, Buffy has always been a show about a group of outsiders who are far more powerful than anyone gives them credit for. That's the strongest message in the show if you ask me, and the thing that many fans relate to the most. Anyone who has ever felt different or underestimated -- whether it's because you're too beautiful to be taken seriously, too nerdy, overweight, gay, whatever -- the show sends a message that those "outsiders" are the most powerful group in the world. Saying that the series is trying to tell me that you have to be beautiful, blonde and born with superpowers to fight back is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

Side note to Haborym: Nice defense of Dawn there, she's certainly underappreciated.
blech. It's not feminist to say or imply that girls can't be feminine if they want to be 'empowered.' In fact it's disempowering. Let a girl be what she wants to be, that's the point of feminism.
i like what bookrats had to say.
I think the weight issue is valid at wife and I loved when Tara joined the show because, as my wife said, "She looks normal."

Jewel Staite had to GAIN weight to play Kaylee in Firefly...good lord, what did she look like before?

Before I finally saw the light about Buffy I thought guys watched it because it was a hot chick in tight pants kicking I tell people "I watch it because it examines and tackles all the great themes of great literature and, sacrifice, sorrow, betrayal, honor, duty, loss, valor, death, and it does it while making you laugh your guts out all at that same time..."

So I guess, being 48 year old Roman Catholic, conservative communciations executive, I don't fit the writer's notion of the male Buffy viewer.

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home