The Feminist Perspective of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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The Feminist Perspective of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

In her feminist critique of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Anne Millard Daughtey described Buffy as a show which "obviously promotes female strength and power" (159). Buffy herself is a "symbol of female empowerment" (149); as feminists we can all take comfort in the fact that Buffy "kicks butt and so can we all" (164). Sherryl Vint agrees that Buffy is a "positive role model for young women, one which feminism should celebrate" (para. 3). I find this understanding of Buffy, both the character and the series, to be very problematic, and with this paper I aim to undertake a revised feminist critique of the show, and expose the Buffyverse as the product of a very traditional patriarchal world view which pays lip service to a superficial feminist fashioning. This is not to deny Daughtey and Vint's reading of the Slayer completely; a defining feature of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the liminal position it occupies, at once advocating and refuting positivist feminist readings. However, it is my contention that women in the series are all portrayed in stereotypical ways which have been generated by patriarchy throughout the ages, and all of which serve to empty femininity, leaving the women as functional (fantasy) symbols only: the bluestocking (Willow, Jenny Calendar), the dumb but pretty cheerleader (Cordelia, and to a greater extent Harmony), the witch (Willow, Tara), the sexual hysteric (Dru), the madwoman (Glory).

To return to Irigaray, in the Buffyverse there is "no such thing as woman", only artificial constructions of femininity, a theme neatly encapsulated in the character of Buffy's 'sister' Dawn. Dawn suddenly enters the show in season five in an initially bewildering ser...

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Playden, Zoe Jane. "What you are, what's to come: Feminisms, Citizenship and the Divine". Reading the SIgler: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buff and Angel. Ed. Roy Kaverney. London; New York: Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2002. 120-147.

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Vint, Sherryl. " "Killing us Softly': A Feminist Search for the 'Real'Buffy". Slayage 5. 9 Dec 2002. <http://www.slayage.tv/essays/slayage5/vint.html>

Whedon, Joss. Interview with Tasha Robinson. The Onion AV Club 37.31. 13 Dec 2002. <http://www.theonionavclub.com>

Winslade, J. Lawton. "Teen Witches, Wiccans, and "Wanna Blessed Be's": Pop Culture Magic in Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Slayage 1. 9 Dec. 2002 http://www.slayage.tv/ essays/slayage 1 /winslade.html

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