I can’t believe I have to fucking write this. I can’t believe that there are enough edgy feminazi radicals out there online claiming that Buffy The Vampire Slayer is antifeminist garbage and that Joss Whedon is a misogynistic poser, that I have to write this article. But here I am, publishing this so all those man-hating dipshits will maybe shut the fuck up. (I highly doubt it.)
First of all, I would like to say that Whedon never wrote Buffy with the intention of it being some big pro-woman crusade. But to call the show sexist is straight up ridiculous, and it pisses me off.
Now, to those of you who claim that Buffy is a “pseudo-feminist” show because the female protagonist takes on a traditionally male role as a warrior, well…you’re neither wrong nor right. Yes, a strong female character doesn’t mean a girl who goes around punching everyone. But Buffy’s role as the Slayer isn’t her defining characteristic; she is a living, breathing, three dimensional character. To reduce Buffy to just an action hero is selling her character, and the point of the show, very short.
So what makes a strong character?
Depth. And Buffy is a very deep character. She has fears and dreams and beliefs. She changes over time and undergoes real development. The entire theme is about Buffy and her growth, not killing monsters. To only see that side of the show ignoring all the deeper meaning of it. But most importantly, despite all her supernatural power, she is human, capable of weakness and flaws.
This is how you write a strong character.
Now, what about Buffy’s romantic relationships?
First off, I would just like to state for the record, once and for all:
FALLING IN LOVE WITH A MAN DOES NOT INHERENTLY MEAN A WOMAN IS WEAK, CODEPENDENT, OR SUBMISSIVE.
Glad I got that off my chest.
Buffy and Angel: did Buffy let her relationship with Angel take over her life for a while? Yes. That was the whole point of season 2 (“you can’t afford to be a slave to your passions”). But this was made obvious (unless, again, you’re ignoring the deeper meaning), and Buffy eventually realized she would have to sacrifice that relationship to get on with her life and her work, and this point is illustrated when she literally kills Angel to save the world. When Angel comes back, their relationship stays on a much more healthy level, until Buffy and Angel realize they can’t keep up the pretense forever, and part ways. See, that is not an example of a woman being weak and letting her love for a man take her over. It’s a story about a teenager and their first love affair, and maturing past it.
Buffy and Riley (I’m skipping over Scott Hope and Parker): there is a reason everyone hates Riley – he’s a whiner baby, who’s so insecure in his own masculinity, that he craves Buffy being dependent on him. And she simply isn’t. So he throws a tantrum and leaves her. Does Xander blame Buffy for everything that went wrong in that relationship? Yes. But, again, to those who are simply watching the show at the surface level and ignoring the deeper meaning, instead of really thinking for themselves, don’t realize that Xander was meant to be considered wrong. Anything Xander says about any of Buffy’s relationships should always be taken with a grain of salt. People who don’t realize that are mindless sheeple, blinding accepting what the narrative tells them to believe. Of course the breakup isn’t Buffy’s fault – it’s Riley’s. Buffy is the strong one, the independent one, and Riley couldn’t handle that. How exactly is that weakness on Buffy’s part?
Buffy and Spike: this relationship was OBVIOUSLY portrayed as unhealthy (at least in season 6), and anyone who doesn’t get that is clearly an idiot. Buffy is in a place of depression and self-loathing, and is using her physical relationship with Spike as a substitute for truly being happy. That’s the point. But when Buffy regains her strength again, she is no longer dependent on Spike – she’s able to stand on her own two feet.
Now let’s go over the role of the Slayer – it’s about power. One girl in all the world who was given the power to stop the forces of evil by a group of men. Yes, Buffy’s power comes from men. And to boot, there’s a patriarchal council of “Watchers” that facilitates the Slayer in her role. That sounds misogynistic on the surface, but look at what happens in the show. In “Helpless”, an episode all about gender and power dynamics, Buffy realizes the corruption of the Watchers’ Council, and in the “Graduation” two-parter, Buffy rejects the Council’s meddling. In season 7’s “Lies My Parents Told Me”, Buffy literally shuts the door on Giles’s guidance after she realizes she has outgrown him, claiming that he’s “taught her everything she needs to know”. And in the finale, Buffy literally takes back the power of the Slayer for herself from those men who created the First Slayer all those years ago and shares it with the rest of the Slayer line, creating strong women (both physically and spiritually) all over the world. Women taking power back from men – in what universe is that message antifeminist?
And I’ve only talked about Buffy herself in this article – I haven’t even touched Willow, Anya, Cordelia, Dawn, Tara, or Faith. Buffy is unquestionably a show that is dominated by strong female characters.
So for the love of God, quit saying that Buffy The Vampire Slayer is sexist and that Joss Whedon is the Antichrist. ~TRL