Feminism in Buffy (The Badass Vampire Slayer)

Nichole Decker

March 7, 2017

Feminism in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Episode

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a show I grew up watching, and since an early age, I wanted to be a badass like Buffy, even dressing as her for Halloween one year. As a kid, I didn’t know the word feminism, or what it was, so it’s interesting to watch an episode after exposure to feminism and watching the episode in a completely different way.

Parker defines feminism as “… taking women seriously and respectfully. It sets out to reverse a pattern and history of not taking one seriously, a pattern so deeply ingrained that it can seem natural, like mere truth” (149) which I think is part of the reason I found Buffy to be so cool. Growing up, I was always told that men are superheroes, that men will save people from bad guys, etc. but never that women could kill the ‘bad guys’. While Buffy is the “chosen one” to kill the vampires, and she does, there are still moments I saw in this episode that coincide with stereotypical ideas about women- especially teenage girls like Buffy (I believe she was about fifteen years old in the episode we watched in class).

After Buffy leaves some sort of club, she walks home alone at what is assumed a late night hour, and checks to see if someone is following her. (Spoiler: There is. Vampires). This adds to the stereotype that I’ve always been told, “Women shouldn’t walk the streets alone. Especially at night”. This ties into Parker’s statement, “We might admire [Buffy’s] skill and boldness, but when adventure turns to horror and the films send the women to their gruesome fates (no, Buffy doesn’t die), we might wonder if the films punish their heroines for crossing boundaries that women supposedly should never cross” (153), which could relate to either Buffy’s decision to walk alone at night or fight the vampires.

Angel comes out of nowhere and saves Buffy from the vampires, which is to be expected. Parker says “the maelstrom of interpretive possibilities sets characters spinning in a broader cultural dialogue about the history of how we think about gender, what audiences expect, and what we think audiences expect” (154), and I believe even as a young girl, I knew Angel would save her before it happened. Of course I didn’t think anything of it when I was nine, but now I look at it as degrading to women. Buffy even says in the episode, “I am a vampire slayer. It is my job to kill those guys”. She’s a badass chick, so why did her love interest have to come save her? Because that’s what people expect men to do! No matter how tough a women is, they’re never seen as tough as men. I was taught at a young age that if I’m in trouble, or some guy breaks my heart, to let me Dad know and they’ll beat the guy. Why can’t I handle it myself? Because I’m a girl, of course!

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1 Comment

  1. Michael K. Johnson

     /  March 14, 2017

    I don’t know if Parker gives you much to work with in terms of explain the bad-ass-ness of Buffy. If you’re interested in continuing to explore this topic, I might be able to suggest something else to look at terms of feminist approaches to female action heroes.


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