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The monstrous women of Buffy and Angel part I - Nina and Veruca

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  • The monstrous women of Buffy and Angel part I - Nina and Veruca

    This is an essay by Kelly Gredner who is part of the team of The Nevers Podcast. I have to admit I haven't found the time to read it myself yet. I still wanted to post the link here in case anyone else is interested:

    https://www.hbothenevers.com/post/th...-i-nina-veruca

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  • #2
    I'm going to admit to not finishing the whole thing, so apologies in advance if something I say contradicts anything that shows up later. I just couldn't get through it.

    All this 'feminism' bull that we're being forcefed these days just gets on my last nerve. It's like these so-called feminists only see what they want to see and ignore whatever may get in the way of their point-making.

    The author mentions the sexualization of Veruca and Nina by the camera panning over their naked skin...completely ignoring the fact that they did the same to Oz in Phases! Then they compare it to Willow always being clothed...she's not a werewolf and her character doesn't allow for much skin-revealing. Jesus.

    The author also talks about how the show demonizes Veruca, but makes Oz sympathetic...well, yeah. He's locking himself up every full moon but Veruca is purposely killing. She is the villain.

    Why does everything have to revolve around 'it's cause it's a woman!'? Why can't things just be, because that's just. how. they. are???
    "Gay, straight, retarded, why do we have to put a label on everything?"

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    • #3
      I liked it. I had a few minor gripes - Willow isn't nearly as prudish as people claim, and I cannot fathom why anyone would say the women on Angel are more independant and complex than on Buffy - but I agree with the basic thesis.

      There are, of course, many monstrous men on Buffy. And there is Parker, who appears at about the same time as Veruca.

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      • #4
        Good read. I don't fully understand Creed's Monstrous Women, I've not read the book, but it's mentioned a lot in other things I've read. I would agree that the women, especially on AtS are not treated very well and are predominantly victims for the male heroes to save.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Puppet View Post
          I'm going to admit to not finishing the whole thing, so apologies in advance if something I say contradicts anything that shows up later. I just couldn't get through it.

          All this 'feminism' bull that we're being forcefed these days just gets on my last nerve. It's like these so-called feminists only see what they want to see and ignore whatever may get in the way of their point-making.

          The author mentions the sexualization of Veruca and Nina by the camera panning over their naked skin...completely ignoring the fact that they did the same to Oz in Phases! Then they compare it to Willow always being clothed...she's not a werewolf and her character doesn't allow for much skin-revealing. Jesus.

          The author also talks about how the show demonizes Veruca, but makes Oz sympathetic...well, yeah. He's locking himself up every full moon but Veruca is purposely killing. She is the villain.

          Why does everything have to revolve around 'it's cause it's a woman!'? Why can't things just be, because that's just. how. they. are???

          Why I rarely bother even trying to read meta anymore. Seemed like a clear cherry-picking agenda at play. The only thing I'd agree has merit is the way the rogue characters are usually framed in a more sexualizing manner than the "good" characters.

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          • #6


            We never see Willow in this way as she is a woman of virtue and control; she is under sexualized and underwhelming.
            Cringe, honestly.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by a thing of evil View Post
              Cringe, honestly.
              Did you post a giant picture of the author to demonstrate that she is less sexy than Willow?

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              • #8
                Who is that woman? What is the point of posting that picture? Is it just an attempt to shame a woman for the way she looks?

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                • #9
                  "Veruca has to be seen as a dangerous woman and subdued because she is powerful, has agency, and has control over her monstrousness; thus she is a threat that needs to be taken out by Oz, her male counterpart."

                  Err, what?

                  Veruca doesn't have control over her monstrousness anymore than Oz does. Furthermore, both Oz and Veruca have agency in their decisions but Veruca chooses to jeopardise innocent lives whilst Oz chooses to lock himself up. That's as much as it is about protecting other people as it is Oz not being able to bare the thought of hurting anyone ("Phases", "Beauty and the Beasts") whereas Veruca shows a blatant disregard for human life.

                  My issues with a lot of metas, especially metas with such an obvious agenda, are the way in which they twist plot developments to support what they're saying. Nobody wants to "take Veruca out" because she's a powerful woman with agency. In fact, nobody suggests snuffing Veruca out at all until Oz does so himself. Buffy argues that Veruca has to be stopped because she is brazenly risking innocent lives by refusing to contain herself and then later in the episode Veruca hunts Willow down with the explicit intention to kill her. What would the writer prefer? That the characters respect Veruca's "agency" to kill innocent people so as not to appear misogynistic?

                  Their description of the story is far removed from the actual plot. Anyone can take a story and spin it into whatever message they choose to if they disregard the plot and disregard the character's intentions. I'd also argue that the writer takes certain 'liberties' with the characters to fit them into whatever narrative they're choosing to tell. For instance, the writer describes Veruca as being "intelligent" and yet we know almost nothing about her. What makes her intelligent? Her internalised misogyny ("I hate chicks who are all 'Does that have dressing on it'")? Her extreme disregard for human life? Her self-centredness? Her desire to kill another girl over a guy she's known a couple of weeks? I'd argue that from what we see of Veruca she's not particularly intelligent at all but by describing her as "intelligent" the writer is trying to paint a certain picture.

                  I'm another who is also pretty stunned that she thinks "AtS" writes better female characters.

                  I doubt I'd be reading anymore of her stuff. Aside from her messaging, I didn't find the writing itself to be particularly well-written or engaging. I think I'll give it a miss.
                  "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

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                  • #10
                    I don't think the issue is that Oz kills Veruca. I think the issue is that Veruca - this sexually empowered and free woman - is written so that he has to.

                    There's a lot of these women in the Buffyverse: Darla, Faith, Vampire Willow... They are monstrous women who bring ruin, corruption and death with their sex, and the more conventional men and women must stop them.

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                    • #11
                      Oh I don't know. I don't think I see Veruca as being anymore "sexually empowered" or "free" then Willow is. The writer argues that Veruca is more empowered than "underwhelming" Willow because she's more overtly sexual on stage but is there any reason to believe that Willow feels disempowered by the clothes she wears or that she feels sexually restrained in any way? Season 4 Willow always comes across to me as someone who has been enjoying a lot of really great sex over the summer ("But here, the energy, the collective intelligence, it's like this force, this penetrating force, and I can just feel my mind opening up--you know?--and letting this place thrust into and spurt knowledge into...") which flows on nicely from how Willow/Oz were written in "Graduation Day"

                      Veruca has always felt like a total cliche to me. And I don't mean that in a bad way as she reminds me of girls I knew in university and she's very well-written, but it's hard for me to take her schtick all that seriously.

                      I understand people's complaints about how Faith's "promiscuity" is interwoven with her villainy in Season 3 but it's also worth pointing out that even when Faith is reformed and a hero again, she never loses that. Her depiction in "Salvage" ("I thought you could use a little release. How'd it feel?" "Just like riding a biker"), "Dirty Girls" ("I was thinking about looking up the guy with a bull whip") and "Chosen" ("What? Oh hell with that! We're going again, baby") are very much in line with her earlier depictions.
                      Last edited by vampmogs; 26-11-19, 10:36 AM.
                      "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

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                      • #12
                        The Buffyverse is a long story, so it is difficult to say something to decisive. Willow is much more sex positive than she is given credit for. All the way back in WttH, she is not shy to tell Buffy about her "sweaty palms." But unlike Veruca, she seems to believe that there should be rules for courting. Whenever she gets to excited, she has Oz to tell her that it isn't time yet.

                        But really ... between Willow and Veruca, Willow is the only true homewrecker. Willow splits up Xander and Cordelia. Veruca technically does not split up Willow and Oz. Willow does not break up with Oz, nor does Oz leave Willow for Veruca. Oz leaves because he has issues with himself that he needs to figure out.

                        Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                        I understand people's complaints about how Faith's "promiscuity" is interwoven with her villainy in Season 3 but it's also worth pointing out that even when Faith is reformed and a hero again, she never loses that. Her depiction in "Salvage" ("I thought you could use a little release. How'd it feel?" "Just like riding a biker"), "Dirty Girls" ("I was thinking about looking up the guy with a bull whip") and "Chosen" ("What? Oh hell with that! We're going again, baby") are very much in line with her earlier depictions.
                        Both yes and no, I think. She becomes less sexually ambiguous. She stops asking Buffy about the itch in her nethers. And it feels like Robin is slyly trying to introduce her to a more traditional relationship style with his teasing. It feels like monogamy will be the next step in Faith's rehabilitation.
                        Last edited by Willow from Buffy; 26-11-19, 11:31 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Willow from Buffy View Post
                          The Buffyverse is a long story, so it is difficult to say something to decisive. Willow is much more sex positive than she is given credit for. All the way back in WttH, she is not shy to tell Buffy about her "sweaty palms." But unlike Veruca, she seems to believe that there should be rules for courting. Whenever she gets to excited, she has Oz to tell her that it isn't time yet.
                          I kind of got the impression that the writer was implying someone who is more outwardly sexual or dresses more provocatively is automatically more empowered or free. Her description of Willow as "underwhelming" suggests her own biases in regards to this, which is fine. But Willow clearly has sex on the brain in "The Freshman", is incredibly excited over Buffy/Parker sex in "Harsh Light of Day" and is quick to point out that Buffy's "lusty feelings" are not wrong, and propositions Oz for a morning quickie in "Wild at Heart." Not to mention that Willow will go on to explore other sexual possibilities with Tara later in the season. I see little to suggest that Season 4 Willow is sexually suppressed in anyway or that her attire is in anyway demonstrative of how sexually disempowered or unfree she is.

                          Interestingly, for right or wrong, a lot of people would associate sexually experimenting/exploring gay sex in college as someone being sexually adventurous and open-minded, and yet, Willow covers up more and more as the season progresses. In early Season 4 she shows off much more skin (particularly in "Living Conditions" with that short skirt and fishnet-looking top hanging off her bare shoulder) whereas she starts wearing knitted sweaters and long skirts right down to the ankles as she falls for Tara. This is probably reflective of the fact that Willow's choice in attire has very little to do with how sexually empowered/disempowered she is and goes directly against stereotype. Of course Veruca herself makes a nasty remark about Willow's clothing ("nice shirt!") and I think she's also guilty of underestimating or misreading Willow because of her outward appearance ("Wow. For a second there I thought you were actually going to play rough"/"You don't have the stones" "You don't know what I have")

                          Both yes and no, I think. She becomes less sexually ambiguous. She stops asking Buffy about the itch in her nethers. And it feels like Robin is slyly trying to introduce her to a more traditional relationship style with his teasing. It feels like monogamy will be the next step in Faith's rehabilitation.
                          True. Although, it's difficult to parse Faith's 'promiscuity' with her trust issues, particularly with men. I can understand the interpretation that heroic Faith is 'monogmamised' (not a real word, I know) or 'tamed' in some way but, on the other hand, many of the reasons Faith chose to sleep around as opposed to settle down is because she had serious issues with trusting men ("what... what do you want from her?"/"All men are beasts, Buffy") and not because she simply enjoyed the freedom of many partners as opposed to one committed partner. From that perspective, I can understand why Faith heading towards monogamy was intended to be a positive step forward for her because it meant that she had found someone who she was willing to trust and open herself up to.

                          Ultimately, these are such rich characters that you could really look at their stories from multiple different perspectives. I think it's why metas with one clear agenda often grate on people because in order to make a point you do sometimes have to flatten characters or pigeonhole them into a certain role.
                          Last edited by vampmogs; 26-11-19, 12:14 PM.
                          "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

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                          • #14
                            Since I've read it now I somehwat regret posting the link :-)

                            The fact that Veruca thinks it is okay to kill humans doesn't make her an "unruly woman". It has nothing to do with her gender. There are many werwolves who kill. It's wrong, no matter if the werewolf in question is male or female. The fact that Nina chooses to let herself be caged during full moon doesn't make her a "proper woman". Its has nothing to do with her gender at all. She is being responsible and taking precautions so no one gets hurt or killed. It's the right thing do do no matter if she is a woman or a man.

                            The reason why the writers did not choose to depict Veruca as a "tragic werwolf" is simply because Oz already fulfilled that role. There is only a limited number of tragic werewolves whose struggle with their curse you can explore in a show which mainly focuses on a Vampire Slayer and her struggles.

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                            • #15
                              I always figured Willow covered up more as S4 progressed for the same reason Buffy did. It apparently gets cold sometimes in SD. Buffy starts S4 out wearing backless outfits and ends it in sweaters and pants. Just like most seasons.

                              I think the core of what the author is getting at is the pattern in which the dangerous or bad girls are outwardly sexual. They do have a point there but you have to ignore that while the good girls don't constantly make sexual comments, they are just as sexual, though less sexualiized. But Anya is always making those comments and both Buffy and Willow aren't adverse to making them, either.

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