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Buffy and Feminism in S9

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  • Buffy and Feminism in S9

    What do you feel about Buffy as a Feminist role model/icon in S9? There have been a lot of complaints about her characterization: do you think the choices she'd made have made her less of a Feminist Icon? How about the way she dealt with what Andrew had done to her? Her choice to go for abortion? The fact that she's been saved by a lot of male characters?
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  • #2
    Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
    Say it twice, three times -- it will still be factually incorrect to suggest Buffy is more or less often in danger and in need of help from anyone, male or female, in Season 9 than in previous seasons.
    Is not about being in danger, is about being in danger and being able to get away scot free, to emerge victorious, whatever you want to call it. In season 9 she always loses and always need rescue. She is damseling a lot right now. If you don't see that this is different from TV show, then well... we must had seen different TV shows.

    You basically ignored all presented evidence. This never heppen to her so often in TV show, also she did many heroic things in TV show, but in season 9? No, not at all. Right now she remind me Catwoman from "Batman TAS" and Marion Ravenwood form "Riders of the lost ark" - seemingly tough chicks who always get into trouble and need a manly man to rescue her. Right now she is quite pathetic.

    Originally posted by Stoney View Post
    Personally I will rarely look for literal equality in sex/race/orientation/etc. If there is representation then there is a general stab at realism but to try to always show a statistical equality would just be really false reality. So Buffy has been supported/'saved' in the fights this season by Severin, Koh, Dowling, Spike, Andrew, Billy and Kennedy... why does this matter?
    Well, it matters because Buffy was invented to subvert cliché: "the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie". Buffy was essentially a anti-damsel. Now she is well... just this girl who always need rescue mostly from men. This is quite contradictory to idea of female empowerment, don't you think? Also if your hero - man or female - sucks so much that she/he almost always loses and almost always needs help just to stay alive then... well, this hero is quite pathetic and shouldn't be a protagonist, don't you think?
    Last edited by 1701EarlGrey; 04-06-13, 10:26 AM.

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    • #3
      I think her being about female empowerment is about her being a powerful female but we don't need to see her always succeeding or doing so in isolation from men for that to still be true. A shallow form of female empowerment comes through just disempowering men so I personally feel that disliking how Buffy is behaving this season, having such things as her sudden lack of strategic sense entering into a fight with Severin or Anaheed (a female do note) specifically undermining her day-to-day administration of her life bug you is one thing. Not liking that where Buffy hasn't succeeded she has had some male support I don't think is a good line to draw personally.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Stoney View Post
        I think her being about female empowerment is about her being a powerful female but we don't need to see her always succeeding or doing so in isolation from men for that to still be true. A shallow form of female empowerment comes through just disempowering men so I personally feel that disliking how Buffy is behaving this season, having such things as her sudden lack of strategic sense entering into a fight with Severin or Anaheed (a female do note) specifically undermining her day-to-day administration of her life bug you is one thing. Not liking that where Buffy hasn't succeeded she has had some male support I don't think is a good line to draw personally.
        Disempowering men... who said anything about that? You see we have enough of strong male characters in fiction: Joss Whedon's "Angel", and "Avengers" - only one team member was female - are best exemples of that. Men are not "castrated" in today's fiction, quite the contrary. So do we really need another comic wher supposedly tough chick is constantly beaten up and must be rescued by manly man?

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        • #5
          I'm saying that in Buffy's story what she is doing and how she is doing it is about her characterisation and whether it meets an empowering image. If the friends that support/save her are men/women doesn't matter. Essentially I have no issue with whoever has 'saved' her and certainly don't care about the sex of those that have, I think the question is whether it is a legitimate story arc for her where she isn't at the top of her game and needs saving or if she is just being written badly. Different pov really, that's all. Otherwise you have to factor in that Anaheed who is female has undermined her ability to run her own finances even and Simone, who is female stole her body. I personally find some feminism just becomes reversal sexism so I don't put great weight on whether the cop that stopped Severin was male/female but wonder about why Buffy is making such flakey choices as going to fight him the second time without a strategy that addresses her previous experience fighting him. That is where she came across as not being powerful for me, not when it happened to be a man that saved her the first time.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 1701EarlGrey View Post
            Is not about being in danger, is about being in danger and being able to get away scot free, to emerge victorious, whatever you want to call it. In season 9 she always loses and always need rescue. She is damseling a lot right now. If you don't see that this is different from TV show, then well... we must had seen different TV shows.
            To be honest, I don't think this is being raised as anything other than a wedge issue along the lines of "I don't like Season 9, and I'm going to try to make it politically impossible for you to disagree". If you truly insist on me roflstomping the argument that Buffy is somehow uniquely or in any novel way "helpless" in Season 9 with ridiculous amounts of extrinsic examples from S1 through S8, that's how it has to be. I'm just curmudgeonly enough to do it It'll have to wait until after work, though, because that's a lot of typing for my temperamental EVO.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Stoney View Post
              I'm saying that in Buffy's story what she is doing and how she is doing it is about her characterisation and whether it meets an empowering image. If the friends that support/save her are men/women doesn't matter. Essentially I have no issue with whoever has 'saved' her and certainly don't care about the sex of those that have, I think the question is whether it is a legitimate story arc for her where she isn't at the top of her game and needs saving or if she is just being written badly. Different pov really, that's all. Otherwise you have to factor in that Anaheed who is female has undermined her ability to run her own finances even and Simone, who is female stole her body. I personally find some feminism just becomes reversal sexism so I don't put great weight on whether the cop that stopped Severin was male/female but wonder about why Buffy is making such flakey choices as going to fight him the second time without a strategy that addresses her previous experience fighting him. That is where she came across as not being powerful for me, not when it happened to be a man that saved her the first time.
              I understand your point of view but I don't agree with it. If Buffy was thought out as anti-damsel, as sort of feminist icon and then you see her constantly losing fights and being saved by male characters, then there is something really wrong with this picture... That feminist icon must be non stop rescued by man. Question for girls - is this empowering for you? Also you really can't say that person's sex dosen't metter when entire idea behind "Buffy" was women's empowerment. And for the record Andrew - male - was the first person who stole her body. This was even discussed as allegory for abortion issue, when mostly male politics decided if woman should have right to abortion or not.

              Anaheed... you don't know if she is even telling the truth if she's not Simone's mole...

              Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
              If you truly insist on me roflstomping the argument that Buffy is somehow uniquely or in any novel way "helpless" in Season 9 with ridiculous amounts of extrinsic examples from S1 through S8, that's how it has to be. I'm just curmudgeonly enough to do it
              Because she is! I don't know how can't you see this... But OK, I wait for your arguments:

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              • #8
                Season 1, Episode 2:

                Xander pulls Buffy out of a manhole.

                Season 1, Episode 7:

                Angel saved Buffy from "the Three"

                Season 1, Episode 8:

                Dave saves Buffy from the shower trap.

                Season 1, Episode 12:

                Xander, escorted by Angel no less, saved Buffy from drowning.

                -- to interrupt myself, I'm not only concerned with times Buffy was rescued by men when she was otherwise screwed, but in the fully one third of episodes in Season 1, it just worked out that way.

                Actually, I'll just hold up at the 4 times in Season 1 alone at the moment. I'll bludgeon away at this bogus premise that Season 9 has changed the game somehow, a season at a time as needed
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
                  Season 1, Episode 2:

                  Xander pulls Buffy out of a manhole.

                  Season 1, Episode 7:

                  Angel saved Buffy from "the Three"

                  Season 1, Episode 8:

                  Dave saves Buffy from the shower trap.

                  Season 1, Episode 12:

                  Xander, escorted by Angel no less, saved Buffy from drowning.

                  -- to interrupt myself, I'm not only concerned with times Buffy was rescued by men when she was otherwise screwed, but in the fully one third of episodes in Season 1, it just worked out that way.

                  Actually, I'll just hold up at the 4 times in Season 1 alone at the moment. I'll bludgeon away at this bogus premise that Season 9 has changed the game somehow, a season at a time as needed
                  OK, I will start from obvious..."Prophecy girl". In the end of this episode who single handedly defeated the Master and saved the day? Buffy did. Can you show me something like this in season 9? I'm sure you can't. “I Robot, You Jane” - in this same episode Buffy outsmarted Moloch, defeating someone who was stronger and tougher than her therefore proving than she's not stupid. Again, show me something like this in season 9! “The Harvest” - who in the end outsmarted and killed Luke? Buffy. Did she do this in season 9? No, I don't think so. Only episode on your list when Buffy was truly damseling was "Angel", when Angel indeed saved her in the end, but this episode is anomaly, rather than usual Buffy pattern. Most of the time, she is the one who is saving others and who saves the day in the end, even if before she needs help from some man. And it's only help, not saving damsel who lost a fight and is utterly helpless.

                  And that's how it's always looks in season 9. Can't you see a difference between this and TV show?

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                  • #10
                    The problem with Buffy's characterization in season 9 isn't that she occasionally needed to be saved, it's that she's been really bland. Show Buffy was smart and knew how to think on her feet, she was witty and funny, she had emotional depth and a personality - a personality that was not always pleasant, but she was certainly never bland and dull. This Buffy is. Joss has had a lot of stupid plot ideas for the comics, but at least while he was writing for the comics, Buffy did have wit and humor and depth and a certain recognizable Buffyesque quality. Chambliss and Allie don't know how to write Buffy, so all the wit, humor, depth is gone from Buffy's character, and the comic in general. Jeanty's art, with a childlike Buffy who looks stupid half of the time and angry the rest of the time, doesn't help. This Buffy is just a bland blonde girl who can hit things really hard.
                    You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 1701EarlGrey View Post
                      OK, I will start from obvious..."Prophecy girl". In the end of this episode who single handedly defeated the Master and saved the day? Buffy did.
                      Yes, and just as she's had to run away from or been rescued from, in one context or another, pretty much every substantial villain thrown at her before, and then defeated them later. Which as a fact unto itself makes your complaint against Season 9 less credible, not more. We didn't see anything in her initial encounters with Severin that we haven't seen in "Goodbye, Iowa", in "Dirty Girls", etc, ad infinitum. So what is your complaining about, that the season isn't over and she hasn't defeated her adversaries yet? Narrative structure for the loss?

                      Can you show me something like this in season 9? I'm sure you can't. “I Robot, You Jane” - in this same episode Buffy outsmarted Moloch, defeating someone who was stronger and tougher than her therefore proving than she's not stupid. Again, show me something like this in season 9! “The Harvest” - who in the end outsmarted and killed Luke? Buffy. Did she do this in season 9? No, I don't think so. Only episode on your list when Buffy was truly damseling was "Angel", when Angel indeed saved her in the end, but this episode is anomaly, rather than usual Buffy pattern. Most of the time, she is the one who is saving others and who saves the day in the end, even if before she needs help from some man. And it's only help, not saving damsel who lost a fight and is utterly helpless.
                      And the pattern continues -- "in the end", "in the end", "in the end". In progress season is in progress, but the thrust of your complaint here seems to be that it's a failure of feminism that Buffy hasn't anticlimactically defeated her major adversaries by the 4/5th mark. She gets hers back against episodic or seasonal villains at the end of the episode or season. It's pretty much the point of the exercise. Your complaint has not ripened, to borrow a constitutional law term.

                      Again, I did one season. I would have hoped that that would serve as a warning shot across the bow, a "heave to, or try to rationalize and distinguish probably a few dozen examples over the course of Seasons 1 through 8".

                      In Season 9, you have Buffy getting bailed out by Severin (in an obviously justifiable exercise to introduce both his formidability and Buffy's inclination to trust him), and then bailed out from Severin (in the standard, Buffy-formula ready "get the big bad over as a threat to her" device we've seen many times over). Both of which are heavily asterisked by the fact that Buffy was working with a facsimile of her own body that was, pace Anya, not descended from a long line of mystical warriors, but from a toaster oven -- far more cover given to Buffy than in prior seasons martial setbacks (hell, her beatdowns by Glory and her getting whupped fair and square by Rocker Vamp were both in early Season 5, which started on a premise of her coming into hitherto unseen Slayer awesomeness which they went so far as to change stunt teams and fight choreographers to emphasize).

                      Since then... what? Not pummeling Simone in robot-mode, whom she fought to a standstill in her own body, is a slight to the feminist theme? It just falls apart at every turn, your theory. Is she just supposed to roflstomp every single adversary in her first encounter with them?

                      And that's how it's always looks in season 9. Can't you see a difference between this and TV show?
                      Oh, I've seen the difference -- you don't like this, you did like the show. That's the only fact I can see propping up this theory that Buffy is an antifeminist punching bag this season.
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                      • #12
                        I do agree with 1701EarlGrey that Buffy has got her ass kicked more than usual in S9. I'm struggling to think of any issue besides 9.02 where she competently slayed a monster without being helped and/or saved and even that ended in her being arrested. We have an abundance of scenes showing her screwing up (attacking the demon bellhop) or being interrupted (the cop in Issue #12) or being victimised in some way (Apart Of Me) and very few scenes of Buffy being badass, heroic or just plain capable to balance them out. I don’t think we need to compare S9 to the TV series to show how things feel significantly different. One just has to compare this portrayal of Buffy with how she was depicted in S8 to see the stark contrast in how she is being written. S9!Buffy is a far cry from the girl who tore apart a whole faction of gun-toting soldiers, or beat down 3 Alpha Slayers without breaking a sweat, or even after being brutally beaten stared down Twilight and dared him to “church her.” I think the difference is undeniable.

                        However, where I differ from 1701EarlGrey is that I feel that, for the most part, this feels very intentional. I do chalk some of Buffy’s failures up to writer’s convenience (she had to lose to Koh and she got beaten down by Zombire!Slayer to emphasise that she was stronger than usual) and this creates an unfortunate trend that probably isn’t intentional, but a lot of it seems pretty deliberate. Buffy is meant to be off her game this season and Chambliss hung a lantern on that last issue with Willow commenting on Buffy’s lack of confidence since breaking the Seed. Standing up to save Dawn is supposed to have lit a fire inside Buffy again and this coincides with her wielding the Slayer Scythe for the first time since Last Gleaming. So it’s not surprising that she finally started to resemble classic!Buffy when she faced off against D’Hoffryn and the Council (“bring it”) and is shown in the preview pages for #22 slicing and dicing her way through a demon army.

                        I'm not a fan of how Buffy has been written in S9 at all. I share all of TimeTravellingBunny's about how Buffy's charisma has been sucked dry and that Chambliss has made her bland and two-dimensional. I've said this before and I'll say it again, the difference is how she's written from 9.01-9.02 is undeniable and evidence that even in “free fall” Buffy can still be charismatic, witty and funny. So I do think her poor characterisation has made her inadequacies more noticeable in S9. I also agree that Jeanty’s poor art (Buffy is either crying or angry) doesn’t help and does a disservice to a character that was enriched by SMG’s strong performance. But Buffy is meant to have been off her game for most of the season and I wouldn't go as far to call it "anti-feminist." I also don't have any issue with Buffy being saved by men in particular.
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                        • #13
                          Great post mogs. I think King's point that we are not at season end yet fits in with what you are pointing out in the writing intention, but yes, the writing weaknesses have probably added in some unintentional to the mix that hasn't helped.

                          Although she was a bot!Buffy at the time, as I remember it we did have Buffy refuse to be restricted to staying on the bugship whilst she thought she was pregnant and when she came out fighting she saved both Dowling and then Spike from the zompires.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                            Great post mogs. I think King's point that we are not at season end yet fits in with what you are pointing out in the writing intention, but yes, the writing weaknesses have probably added in some unintentional to the mix that hasn't helped.

                            Although she was a bot!Buffy at the time, as I remember it we did have Buffy refuse to be restricted to staying on the bugship whilst she thought she was pregnant and when she came out fighting she saved both Dowling and then Spike from the zompires.
                            Being robo doesn't make her a supernatural invalid, true, but... c'mon, she's not Real Deal Holyfield in that tinker toy, either. I think it's mickey mouse to deem her as having been turned into a wimp because she is fighting with a later-revealed handicap.

                            And, let's not forget where that rescue effort rather infamously ended up, the aforementioned later reveal. I mean, how on her game can she have been? "You're arm's off!
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                            • #15
                              I have no issue with men lending Buffy a hand and even making strategic differences. Equality is equal.

                              My issue with the comics has been that they seem to constantly undermine Buffy's agency.

                              -- Season 8 was apparently intended as a backlash against the empowerment of Slayers.
                              -- Twangel deliberately sought to keep Buffy away from decisions.
                              -- Twangel's entire plan was to undermine Buffy both professionally and personally until she was so demoralized that she couldn't trust her own compass.
                              -- Twangel's plan was for HIM to bring about HER ascension.
                              -- Buffy is so blinded that, even after having begun an apocalypse killing untold redshirts, she sighs when Twangel shows up to end the freaking universe and murder Giles (so, apparently, the fact that she's been systemically 'beaten down' and undermined is instantaneously dismissed and demands no credulity because... *sigh*).
                              -- Buffy ends the season as outcast who runs and hides, cries, and feels ashamed.
                              -- The next season then starts with Buffy recklessly drinking herself blotto (she thinks) because... she can't 'deal'(?)
                              -- No, turns out Buffy was in fact ROOFIED.
                              -- Buffy is found in classic 'date rape' cliche (having actually been roofied and...).
                              -- Buffy's body was LITERALLY usurped.
                              -- Buffy basically shrugs because, while not happy about it, she 'understands' why a man literally stole her body from her without consent because...
                              -- He gave her Barbie's Ikea Dreamhouse(!) to 'play house' in (or at least he gave it to her body. Her mind was elsewhere). And, apparently, this doesn't disturb her anywhere near as much as it disturbs me.
                              -- Then she discovers that she cannot balance her 'calling' with a paying career.
                              -- Oh, and others have had to be paying her rent for her to boot...because twenty-two to twenty-five(?) year old Buffy can't handle such things.


                              So, yeah, I have some quibbles with the so-called 'feminism' in the comic.

                              However, men aiding Buffy isn't where my quibbles are.

                              Undermining her competency and repeatedly stealing her agency are a constant in the comics and, worse, it seems to not particularly bother her and happens fairly consequence free.

                              Meanwhile, Buffy is written incredibly passive, such that her 90% of her story is reacting to events because she's not driving the story anywhere in particular.

                              Other than general, amorphous 'normal' (and whatever that might mean to her. That's pretty much left up to reader's interpretation because we're only given limited access to her feelings) what in the heck does she even want for herself... and what on earth is she willing to do to work to achieve it? Is there an identifiable goal here other than preserving a doesn't-make-her-happy status quo because it's better than an apocalypse? That would be an active way to drive story rather than it always being about what other people are doing that she must eventually -- though usually belatedly -- REact to.
                              Last edited by shipperx; 11-06-13, 06:42 PM.
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