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Thread: Feminism and Equality in S8 and S9

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    Well, I always felt a much stronger connective thread between Season 8 and "Kingdom Come" than "Watchmen", and that persisted from 1-40. "Watchmen" I included because I figured more people were probably familiar with it and would recognize the thematic similarities.

    Say, we're going to make a mess of Nikki's well though 1,000 post limit in short order if we stay this far afield. I'm still pretty much of the notion that Joss was looking to cast a wider net than just feminist theory metaphor for that story and that, for the most part, didn't get very far for trying. The world is, in fact, bigger than these things.

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    Default Feminism and Equality in S8 and S9

    Appropriate thread for the interesting discussion going on in the S9 news thread.

    Moving the posts to this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sienna View Post
    I respectfully (and quite fully) disagree with this actually. But probably off-topic? It'd be good to have a space to have a discussion on it as I could make a pretty cogent argument for why (even western) women are still, very much, facing problems of 'patriarchy' and yes, even modern-day 'witch-hunting'. Perhaps not with the same face they wore in the 1800's but there nonetheless. But I don't want to derail the thread, so I'll stop there.
    You can discuss it now that the topic is in the right thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins View Post
    I'm still pretty much of the notion that Joss was looking to cast a wider net than just feminist theory metaphor for that story and that, for the most part, didn't get very far for trying. The world is, in fact, bigger than these things.
    I actually don't disagree. My point was never that it was just about feminism only that it was part of it too. I think it'd be as big of a mistake to say it was just about feminism as it is to say it wasn't about feminism at all. I think the story is layered enough that it's about multiple things and that all these different readings can coexist.
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    Not for nothing, but I've never really found anything particularly destructive about this or that being "girly" or whatever. Just never entered my wiring, I guess. Because it's not like people don't articulate some other criticism of a man as someone being "such a man" -- other than the loose bag of criticisms themselves being different subject matter, 'tis the same. Has never just been sex, either, people do it about race (although in my lifetime it's only been socially acceptable to do for caucasians -- nobody will ever make a sketch comedy called "the blackest kids you know", for instance), and nationality/ethnicity (Irish still = drunk in cliches the world over. Any fans of O'Brian and/or Master and Commander? I always like Crowe's Aubrey dropping an exasperated "now you're talking like an Irishman" on Maturin, who answers "well, I am an Irishman".)

    Anywho, I don't think anybody is going to get themselves anywhere worth going by treating such common forms of speech and mutual sport of what people think about each other in their broadest and most stereotypical senses by figuring you can purge it. The next stereotype of any sort about sex/race/religion/nationality that is successfully expurgated from human interaction will be the first one.

    Entertain the notion, perhaps, that stereotypes are to people as tropes are to fiction, and that Tropes Are Not Good and Tropes Are Not Bad.

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    If you refer to something as being "manly" it is almost ALWAYS meant as a compliment. Whereas, if something is described as being "girly" it is almost always meant as an insult. Big difference. To use examples from BtVS;

    BUFFY
    I know you guys think it's just some big dumb girly thing but I love it

    OZ
    It's not so girly. Ice is cool.


    Let’s dissect that for a moment. Buffy is equating something "girly" with being *dumb* and worthy of ridicule. Oz says ice skating ISN'T "girly" but rather that it's *cool.* In other words; ice is cool because it's NOT girly.

    I don't think it's something David Fury was conscious of when he wrote that scene. It's just an example of how misogyny is imbedded into our everyday language. We say it without even realising what we're perpetuating. Occasionally the writers will be more self-aware, as was the case with Willow/Warren in The Killer In Me;

    WARREN/WILLOW
    Look at me! I'm crying like a girl!


    Crying like a *girl* is meant to be insulting or something to be ashamed of. They deliberately put that language in Willow's mouth (Adam Busch delivers the line) to drive home how she's being transformed into, as she says, a "misogynistic man." But you don’t have to be a blatant misogynist to use that kind of language. Take this example from Go Fish;

    CORDY
    (to Xander)
    Admit it. You ran like a woman.


    And;

    CORDY
    You could go out into the parking lot and practice running like a man.


    Running like a *woman* is considered insulting and Xander should go practice running like a *man* because that’d be far superior, of course. Just like with Buffy in Helpless, Cordy is insulting her own sex and isn't even conscious of it.

    In Nightmares Xander tells Buffy "You're da' man, Buff!" and it's intended to be a compliment. In Surprise Buffy will attempt to defend Giles' thoroughness by saying "it's kind of manly in an obsessive-compulsive kind of way, don't you think?" In Angel Darla tells Buffy to "take it like a man" because the implication is that she's running scared like a woman and this is shameful and embarrassing. When Sunday is beating on Buffy in The Freshman she tells her “don’t take this the wrong way but… you fight like a girl.”

    Even in a feminist text like BtVS the writers will use language that is deeply embedded with misogyny. Sometimes they're self-aware, sometimes they're not, but it's just a reflection of how society talks and how misogyny very much is internalised into everyday life. To Espenson's credit, she recently tried to subvert this when Devon told Billy that he "fought like a girl" and Billy said he takes it as a compliment, with Devon replying that it was intended as one.

    It's not just about sex/gender. How many times do you hear "that's so gay" being used as a way of insulting somebody? “Gay” = embarrassing, lame, stupid etc. You certainly don't hear people saying "that's so straight", do you? I actually think people are becoming more self-aware about using that term than they are when using gender-coded words as insults, but it's still fairly common.

    I don't think you'll be able to purge it. My point is that when people say we no longer live in a misogynistic or patriarchal society that they’re dead wrong. Sexism is in the very fabric of our culture and we almost all perpetuate it. It’s not just the Warren Mears or Calebs of the world who are easily identified. What I don't understand is how you don't see it as destructive? It just proves that on a subconscious level we've been programmed to see females or feminine interests/attributes as lesser than men or male interests/attributes. How could that not be destructive?
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    Quote Originally Posted by vampmogs View Post
    If you refer to something as being "manly" it is almost ALWAYS meant as a compliment.
    Wasn't talking about that. Was talking about all the ways people refer to men for "being men" that are not complimentary at all. Surely you wouldn't try to sell that you've never seen that? The only thing that varies are the qualities being insulted. You insult someone as being "such a man" or being such a guy about stuff, you're usually treating them as somehow primitive -- stupid, brash, thinking only with the head below, etc. Nothing particularly complimentary about it, depends on usage, same as any other category.

    One of my favorites is "don't talk to me about guilt, I'm Catholic!"

    Not one of the exchanges you quoted bothered me, to be honest. In fact, I'd forgotten the Cordy/Xander one and chuckled anew.

    Even in a feminist text like BtVS the writers will use language that is deeply embedded with misogyny. Sometimes they're self-aware, sometimes they're not, but it's just a reflection of how society talks and how misogyny very much is internalised into everyday life. To Espenson's credit, she recently tried to subvert this when Devon told Billy that he "fought like a girl" and Billy said he takes it as a compliment, with Devon replying that it was intended as one.
    See, and I liked that moment too, and moments I like about that arc are precious indeed. To me, all these things are like "smurf", they are defined purely by context. So a woman saying "hit like a girl" as a jape and a man saying it as a compliment, it's as makes no difference to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins View Post
    Wasn't talking about that. Was talking about all the ways people refer to men for "being men" that are not complimentary at all. Surely you wouldn't try to sell that you've never seen that? The only thing that varies are the qualities being insulted. You insult someone as being "such a man" or being such a guy about stuff, you're usually treating them as somehow primitive -- stupid, brash, thinking only with the head below, etc. Nothing particularly complimentary about it, depends on usage, same as any other category.
    That exists, sure. But nowhere near to the extent that females or feminie qualities/hobbies/interests/even TV shows & movies are dismissed as being inferior. It's also EXTREMELY rare that you'll ever hear a man say such things about their own gender (it's usually women complaining about their boyfriends etc) whereas misogyny is so imbedded into our culture that women will unconsciously bring themselves down – see Buffy equating girlyness with being dumb and mockworthy.

    Also, and people may not want to hear this, but it simply doesn't compare when on the rare occasion being "a man" is meant as an insult because it just doesn't carry the same weight of oppression and inequality that women have suffered through for generations. There is no history of men being suppressed, as for example, in the workplace for decades because women keep making sexist comments towards them. It's for that very reason that it is deemed more acceptable to have a "the whitest kids you know" skit on TV as opposed to "the blackest kids you know" because it's generally considered in poor taste to mock and stereotype people who have been oppressed and subjected to racism for centuries and who still are unfairly disadvantaged in your society today.
    Last edited by vampmogs; 22-04-13 at 01:52 PM.
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    Excuse me for interrupting but I can't help but wonder whether Buffy's hang ups with men is actually the root of all her problems? Buffy having sex with Angel after learning he's Twilight is a perfect example of this. Hasn't anyone wondered why we never got to hear Twilight's plan after he captured Giles? He was about to explain his grand plan but Buffy interrupted him.

    But notice, after Buffy learned Angel was Twilight and she "calmed" down by not killing him...she slept with him. Isn't this a male fantasy that says all a woman wants is sex? I have to wonder whether it was this action by Buffy that was so damaging. I mean, can you imagine if Angel had revealed to Giles "his plan" was to simply have sex with Buffy to bring in the new universe? What would it have meant had he explained this to Giles only to see he was proven right?

    Season Eight was extremely damaging to the ideals of feminism and I'm not seeing how Season Nine is fixing this. No matter how you look at it Buffy still hasn't learned from the damage that was caused last season. The issues with Dawn and Xander are the consequences of that. That's just my two cents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DorothyFan1 View Post
    Excuse me for interrupting but I can't help but wonder whether Buffy's hang ups with men is actually the root of all her problems?
    Do you actually mean that if Buffy switched to women - as in changed hew sexual orientation - the root of all her problems would be eliminated? And that would also fix the problems with comics seasons ?
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    NOTE: This is a chaotic post.

    Local_Max, my sympathies with what your mom is going through. It is a reminder to me that white Western middle-class white collar women aren't monolithic. Our experiences can be very different. I think the only thing I can say is that I've read and heard about experiences like your mother's but I don't see it reflected in my life or the lives' of my friends.

    It's hard to put into words but while I intellectually hear and believe those stories, I don't quite emotionally feel it because that type of career sabotage based on sexism doesn't resemble the men and structures in my life. It makes it difficult for me to feel myself as an oppressed class. Perhaps because it's close to home and that kind of sexism is very subtle and very anecdotal and folks say that I'm oppressed but I actually feel pretty privileged.

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddygirl View Post
    Dipstick, I do see your point about ordinary guys being portrayed as villians but on the other hand the reality is that two likable star athletes who are good students can take cruel disadvantage of a young woman and post it on the internet.

    So in retrospect I don't think it was overkill to show human guys, especially teenaged or yound adult males, behaving like "monsters". And to be fair, many young girls defended the boys I'm referring to on media sites and the young female victim was slut-shamed. There was definitely as sense in the community that while what the two boys had done was wrong, their whole future shouldn't be tainted because of ther actions.
    Reddygirl, it’s not that I don’t find it realistic that human men would be sexist and hurt women. It’s that there were too many examples to the point that it strained credulity. Human boys made highly gendered attacks on women, frequently Buffy, in Some Assembly Required, Larry in Phases, the coach and one of the swimmers in Go Fish, Pete in Beauty and the Beasts, Cordelia’s Rebound Guy and the potential rapists in Helpless, the Trio pretty much throughout S6, Caleb throughout S7, etc. Factor in possessed attacks like Hyna!Xander and crude douchiness with Parker or Warren's gendered offense that fell short of an attack in the creation of the Aprilbot or the Beer Bad guys clearly hoping to take advantage of Buffy and it presents a pretty negative pattern on the everyday guy that Buffy meets up with.

    I just don't see that pattern and even "Ladies, beware" with female MoTWs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Local Maximum View Post
    1. While Buffy is middle-class white woman, many of her army of slayers in s8 are not. S8 was deliberately (if not always successfully) about global issues.
    White American Buffy does lead slayers of other races and ethnicities. When the other slayers are presented positively or generally positively with some rare bad apples like Simone, it is a story about how female empowerment is an international struggle. See Satsu’s difficulties in modern, but more parochial Japan.

    When the other slayers are presented as ungrateful wretches who are the burden on the capital S Slayer Buffy, the series loses all of those points. Season 7 did that a lot.

    3. I think that BtVS works in a complicated way where issues are brought up but discussed from different angles over time, depending on the age of the characters. Anyanka is a villain in her first episode. Then once she's human and her demon, man-punishing past comes up,

    i) she's seemingly not a threat anymore;

    ii) most of her past actions were taken during times in which women *were* more heavily oppressed than they are at present, and Anya(nka)'s extreme views are genuinely a throwback to a different era -- much of the whole point of Anya is that she is far out of step with modern society; and

    iii) Most importantly, the issue of how far women should go to deal with men who hurt them is not really a big theme until post-HS graduation, because the show is dealing with a different level of issues and (more importantly) Buffy's power is much higher there. S3 and 4 have female Little Bads (Faith, Maggie) and s5 and 6 have female Big Bads (Glory, Willow) who mirror Buffy's own struggles.

    The issues related to Anya and the question of how much the concept of female victimization gives licence to hurt others are introduced in s3, but the show isn't ripe to deal with these issues at this time, and so it's backgrounded and played for comedy, especially because Xander subconsciously thinks men suck and hates himself too. It ripens and falls off the vine in late s6 and early s7, with Entropy and Selfless, the latter of which argues *strongly* that Anya is non-justified and *Anya* realizes this. This is the season in which Buffy comes to a point of peace with former-slayer-killer Spike whom she abused in the previous season, so the concession of the limits of female power resulting from a feeling of victimhood doesn't happen until s7 when it's important to Buffy's story, playing mildly in the background before then.
    I don’t know Local_Max- I still pretty regularly got the impression that while the show did say that Anya’s crimes were very wrong in Selfless and The Wish, the text of the show usually winked at them because it was Female Justice Against the Libidinous Lot of Males.

    I will admit that I can craft a more effective response on why I don't think that the Scoobies or the writing responded effectively to Anya's crimes than than arguing that the writers were motivated by a gendered attempt to regard Anya's crimes less seriously because it was a woman vs. men.

    However I can't escape from this feeling that when Anya discussed exploding men's penises or yelling at Olaf from being as inadequate a toll as he was a boyfriend, it's supposed to come a righteous Carrie Underwood Before He Cheats/9 to 5 "I'm going to change you from a rooster to hen with my pistol!"

    4. Re: Tara in Family, I don't think the show argues that any measures are justified. I do think that Willow et al. forgive Tara too quickly, but Tara acknowledges that it was wrong to cast a spell on her friends and talks at the end of the episode how this episode was her at her worst. But once again I think some of it was that the wrongness of Tara's actions are a bit undersold because Tara's a minor character and the show isn't there yet. Willow and Buffy are the major characters. Tara acts out to hide her "demon" which she has been told she has, but Tara doesn't have that demon.
    IMO, the show calls out Tara putting the spell on the Scoobies- but in a way that demands that the audience feels enough sympathy for Tara's dealings with sexist family members that want to shut off her power that the audience doesn’t want the Scoobies to yell at her and wants them to declare her family and hug her close.

    The show DOES NOT call out Tara for lying about her believed demon nature. The show pretty much acts like Tara continuing to do magic even though, to the best of the her knowledge, magic aggravates her demon-side and is dangerous in her hands is brave spunkiness and a determination to do what feels good to her and is it's analogized to being a closeted lesbian.

    At the end of the episode, Tara reminds the audience that Tara couldn’t be honest with Willow about Tara’s own supposed nature and Tara’s own danger with magic because poor Tara’s family was too terrible to introduce to Willow.

    It's not that Tara doesn't have a dark side, but when it comes right down to it Tara does not have the kind of mystical power and thus the power to hurt or kill that Willow or Buffy have. Family is meant to provide one side of the story and to reinforce some of the themes going on with Buffy and Willow -- in particular, the way *both* end up making huge mistakes and violations of others in an attempt to hide their own perceived darkness -- but the story is going to go on to tell more complex stories with the leads where there is a greater degree of truth to their fears of their own darkness.
    First just because Buffy and Willow became indicted more strictly doesn’t exclude my perception that the story used the meme of female victimization to allow Anya and Tara to provide MoTWs in their assorted centric eps, jokes about carnage, a mystery over who Tara is, and even a political message for Joss's Very Special Pro-Gay Episode. while still keeping their hands clean enough to be very romanticized Scoobies without much disruption.

    The show's reliance on various tropes does ebb and flow. It's stance on rules, magic, redemption, moves like the tide- I think you can say the same thing about its stance on women and power. However as much as we can draw motifs on those changeable topics, I see a similar "women are excused based on their legacy of persecution" motif.

    I’ve never really addressed this point head on but I will now: I always thought that Buffy’s conflicts with her supposed “dark side” were were always rigged to end up on pro-Buffy as the slayer. Buffy made discrete mistakes with her power that were narrowed to specific events (the alley in Dead Things, Faith in Graduation Day). However was there any point in the series where the authorial intent seemed to be saying that Buffy shouldn't have her power and Buffy shouldn't have her power as a feminist hero to fight back against the majority male threats that she sees and deals with? And quite correctly so.

    The show may feel liberty to explore some of Buffy's foibles from a plot perspective but, based on the universe that the show set up and its mission statement, the show correctly felt a need to always return (usually by the end of an episode) that Buffy should be mega-empowered and and should have more confidence that she's using her powers in the right way, albeit with reservations.

    Willow is a Buffyverse anomaly, in how the text of the subjugates Willow and seeks to literally disempower her of magic or empower her with magic but boss her on how to use it. However, Buffy, Tara, Cordelia, Fred, and Dawn all generally have stories about how they should have as much power and agency of their powers as they want and can get. Anya has a story about how she should vest her power in management and vizier powers but stop short of selling herself to have power to levy vengeance and violent punishments. The Scoobies' actually annoying legislate over Faith's feelings in post-Alan Finch in S3 but other than that, the rule was that Faith has a right to swing her superpowered fist as long has it stops short of someone's face.

    Meanwhile, sometimes Willow is the redhead Barbara Eden Jeannie- ordered to do magic for her Masters. Sometimes, she's Samantha in Bewitched- instructed by Darrin to limit her witchy powers. Sometimes Willow is a straight-up villain. Sometimes she gets the straight-up Buffyverse "max agency and power for womenz" treatment. And all the spectrums in between.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorotea View Post
    Do you actually mean that if Buffy switched to women - as in changed hew sexual orientation - the root of all her problems would be eliminated? And that would also fix the problems with comics seasons ?
    Or developed better taste in men, perhaps?

    DorothyFan, I'm not really sure how Season 8, taken as a whole, is particularly damaging to feminism. Are you referring just to spacefrakology?

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingofCretins View Post
    Or developed better taste in men, perhaps?

    And that would be ...? You gotta be kidding me , right ? The moment Buffy seriously falls for anything that moves, wearing britches of skirts, or being a hermaphrodite to boot, the poor being ( even if its a paragon of virtues and wears a nimbus) will inevitably turn evol. Because where is the drama of it not happening in Whedonverse?

    On the side note - I genuinely like DF's earnest enthusiasm that does not want to be covered with any fig leaves of 'poor character development' or 'not good enough story'.
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    Dipstick:

    Thanks re: my mom.

    Re: Anya, I think that where it counts the most is what Anya does in the present and these are always shown as wrong if sympathetic. I think that Entropy/Selfless, as a story, couldn't be told if Anya genuinely understood beforehand why her previous actions were capital-W Wrong. In a lot of ways I think that the game with Anya is not that dissimilar to the one with the Trio in season six: play it all for laughs until a moment comes (the frat boys and to a lesser extent the Sluggoth demon for Anya, Katrina for the Trio) where you realize it isn't a joke. The "played for laughs" element is possible because the show *is* a fantasy; I can't stress enough how much the show dances around with its fictional nature to make points about storytelling, and sometimes this means that the literal interpretation of its tone is a bit skewed.

    I do think that Anya's past crimes are treated as funny because of the you-go-girl feminism coupled with the fact that Anya is currently completely powerless -- but it also just doesn't play as real. I think that Anyanka-in-the-past is an outsized instance of exaggerated fantasy female power which can exist precisely because real world women didn't have the power to explode the penises of men who hurt them. Once Anya has actual power in the present frame of the story it is no longer a joke. This even holds for Entropy -- it can be played as funny exactly *because* no non-vengeance demon characters are aware of what she is trying to do and Anya is going to fail. This doesn't change its moral status but female fantasy of vengeance and the reality of vengeance are two different things, hence the difference.

    Re: Tara I agree on much. Though the point is that the closeted lesbian metaphor is meant to represent actual demonization of gay people IRL, you-are-a-monster-going-to-drag-those-around-you-to-hell-into-sinning. How much people should be held accountable for not disclosing how awful they have been told by others they are is complicated. I don't know that Tara entirely believes that she's a demon but she is conflicted and I think the closeted lesbian metaphor does actually work in some (not all) ways.

    Conversely, I mean, wrecking the Goodbye Iowa spell to help find Adam who is out there eviscerating children and removing that potential item from the Scooby toolbox has actual negative consequences that don't get vetted or anything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorotea View Post
    Do you actually mean that if Buffy switched to women - as in changed hew sexual orientation - the root of all her problems would be eliminated? And that would also fix the problems with comics seasons ?
    Of course not...but it hadn't escaped my attention we never got to see that conversation between Buffy and Willow over the Satsu "incident". Granted, that would have been a minefield for the writers not to mention a boobytrap no matter how they tried to walk around the issues involved. I think the Eleanor Roosevelt quip was probably their attempt to get around the uncomfortable issues the Satsu episode caused.

    Nevertheless I think the way Buffy was used so cruelly by Angel is simply something I'm finding hard to swallow and yet I'm being asked to find a way to still believe her actions merits the rallying cry for feminism. It's like forcing jigsaw pieces to fit when they clearly don't. The disturbing question about last season we need to think about was whether it was a deliberate attack on the ideals of feminism or just an unfortunate casualty of very bad story writing.

    The answers coming out of Season Nine are not very encouraging in my opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DorothyFan1 View Post

    Nevertheless I think the way Buffy was used so cruelly by Angel is simply something I'm finding hard to swallow
    Since I believe the writers in their assertion that both of the unfortunate couple were used by the Universe in its attempt to 'rebirth itself', I don't for a second think that Buffy was 'used' by Angel, either cruelly or not. And that's why my perspective is different.

    and yet I'm being asked to find a way to still believe her actions merits the rallying cry for feminism. It's like forcing jigsaw pieces to fit when they clearly don't. The disturbing question about last season we need to think about was whether it was a deliberate attack on the ideals of feminism or just an unfortunate casualty of very bad story writing.

    The answers coming out of Season Nine are not very encouraging in my opinion.
    Not a big fan of feminist ideology myself, or any ideology that involves me rallying under any banners for that matter. Yet, even with my rather cynical views of a white, not-western, educated, professional female I think to take BtVS the show as something remotely relating to feminist ideology *after* Seasons 6-7 is ridiculous. As SMG herself once said 'we are loosing her', 'we lost the hero', and I tend to agree with her and accept that from ideological perspective and as a rallying figure Buffy was lost and cannot - and should not be recovered. I believe that was indeed Joss intention actually as he was never truly a subscriber to *any* ideology. He gives you a shiny toy - and he takes it away as easily, or more so. It does not mean Buffy (as a fallen idol of feminism) cannot be sympathized with though.
    “Personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon” ranks as probably the best next-to-last line in TV history. (Granted, I’m not exactly sure what the competition is.) -- A.V. Club

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    With women being ignored or held to impossible double standards (hello Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer) I think the value of feminism has been underestimated and undermined. Seeing Buffy lose that "shiny toy" aspect of feminism isn't exactly good news in my opinion. Women and men more than ever need to see good examples of this. Whether or not Joss subscribes to any sort of creed is not what I'm aiming for here. I'm simply sticking to the merits of the Buffy character and what she means for the larger cultural impact for today. If Buffy is being deliberately tarnished of that shiny toy of feminism then I think alot is lost in the translation.

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    Vamps point about misogyny being embedded in our society is an excellent one.

    Naming a girl Billie, Bobby, Michael, Christopher, Maxwell is perfectly acceptable. Naming a boy Catherine, Melanie, Buffy, Elizabeth isn't.

    Women wearing a man's shirt, coat, tie, tuxedo is fine. A man wearing feminine attire is called a cross dresser.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reddygirl View Post
    Vamps point about misogyny being embedded in our society is an excellent one.

    Naming a girl Billie, Bobby, Michael, Christopher, Maxwell is perfectly acceptable. Naming a boy Catherine, Melanie, Buffy, Elizabeth isn't.

    Women wearing a man's shirt, coat, tie, tuxedo is fine. A man wearing feminine attire is called a cross dresser.
    The Internet allows you to subvert these troupes. You're not limited by who you are...unless of course there are rules put in place that makes it illegal to do this. Regarding boys having girl names I'm recalling Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann was teased mercilessly about having a girl's name. But I see your point about women having men's names not being held to that standard - ex bassist player for the Bangles was Michael Steele. Then there's the whole issue of women characters in movies having names like "Alex" "Joey" and Sigourney Weaver's famous entry in the cultural landscape with "Ripley".

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    Late to the convo, but based on my thoughts when I read the thread (in the other thread) this weekend...

    If ever I'm in doubt of sexism and misogyny continuing into the modern era all I have to do is read a televisionwithoutpity Mad Men thread the day after an episode.

    Ditto The Big Bang Theory thread (and that one always surprises me. Mad Men makes a point of examining sexism and deliberately press hot buttons -- and then some faction of fans for some reason decide to defend the sexism even when the show is critiquing it -- but Big Bang Theory is a lighthearted, happy comedy. Why some of its online fans insist on being annoyingly sexist I do not understand).

    And if those two cases don't convince me, all I have to do is look at Fandom Wanks archive of Supernatural fandom freakouts whenever some recurring female role is cast.

    So I think there is a potential problem in addressing sexism as a zero sum thing, like either it's an issue or it totally is not. That somehow over the last couple of decades it's been made small enough that at some point it was drowned in a bathtub.

    I don't think it's all or nothing here. There's a wide array and many degrees of transgression.

    It's a cake that's not all baked yet.

    Has progress been made? You betcha!
    Do women face today what they did 50 years ago? No!

    That does not by extension mean that because it used to be worse that sexism now is 'okay' by comparison, even if it isn't as common. It's still not okay even if it's not as prevalent in our own specific circumstance.

    I remember years ago being in a fannish discussion where some (Southern) woman said that all Southern men were sexist. I disagreed with her. Hey, I'm Southern too, and it hasn't been my experience. However, in my interaction with her I realized when she was saying "all" she was referring primarily to the men in her family. And I realized that in many ways, I was doing the same thing. Our first template is what we experience at home and we then take that into the world. In my home, I grew up with a mother who ran her own business and a sister who had been encouraged to pursue a professional degree (as I was myself) and despite my Dad being in his mid-seventies now, I truly, honestly cannot wrap my head around the thought of my father ever being sexist. Period. It just isn't him, and he set my template. I'm lucky. My father is a bone deep, decent man and hasn't a sexist bone in his body. But, hey, he had a template too, because he was the boy child coming behind seven sisters and a mother who ran the household -- including the family business -- during WWII. So he had a pretty female positive template.

    Anyway, my experience with the woman I was speaking with re: Southern male sexism and myself was a realization that we're primarily basing our ground floor concept on the people we knew and were related to, and that's more specific than universal... even if to us it appeared to be universal based on what we knew.

    ...which is why, I think class, social standing, income, race, etc. are also it's inescapably part of the discussion, because these are also factors in whether or not we, personally, have felt personally impacted or whether we have some degree of personal blind spot or priviledge. Our personal experience may not be the universal experience and it's probably best not to invalidate someone else's experience as 'less real' than our own.

    I mean, I don't believe myself to have been unduly hampered by sexism in my life. I've been pretty lucky. Then again, I also recognize that I'm in a profession where women still only make up 30% of the student body in college curriculum (and only 20% of the actual profession.... which, yeah, curious that). Still, as a rule, I don't blame specific sexism for this so much as wonder whether it may be influenced by cultural gender expectations. Honestly, I don't know that's the case (and suspect in many ways it is not). On the other hand, I don't think it's entirely NOT the case either. The truth is it's still not uncommon for me to walk onto a job site it to be assumed that I'm the interior decorator... because that's somewhat closer to the gender assumption. Still. (Believe it or not).

    The truth is, whenever I've actually been confronted by real, true bonafide sexism, I'm blindsided by it. It's NOT my expectation. If it's the Spanish Inquisition, I'm never expecting it.

    I think much like assuming the universal 'all' are like the people I grew up with, the assumed 'all' in life is usually a default assumption of thinking 'most people' thinking as lot lie "I think". It's human nature. I think most of us do that...assume that most people think like we do. So when you run afoul of someone who really, truly does not, it's a shock.

    I still remember feeling dumbfounded seven years ago when a VP at the firm where I used to work piped up one day (TO MY FACE!) declaring that the Bible says that women were placed on earth to SERVE and OBEY men and that's why he was 'superior' to any female employee at the firm. That's the way it should/HAS to be. He said that to me. To my face. In front of co-workers! And he was being dead serious.

    Now, what makes that 'today' rather than a few decades ago is that I wrote an official complaint, lodged it with the Sr. Partners, and then I got another freaking job AND LEFT! (He also was subsequently fired, but more for his offending a client than for being a sexist weasel to co-workers). But, yeah, I got the hell out of that firm after he showed up so, yay, there was a good economy. And yay that we've reached a time where I felt empowered tell the guy off, lodge a complaint, and get the hell out. That said, yeah that was virulent sexism in my face from that guy. (And another of the VP's confessed that they had been warned before hiring the @$$hole, that he had a history for doing things like that (confessing VP called it 'a propensity to abuse co-workers') and they hired him anyway! Knowing the guy was a sexist troll).

    So, I'm not at all about crying that sexism limits me (it doesn't!) or claiming powerlessness (I absolutely am not powerless!). Still, it's a whole other kettle of fish to extend that to saying that sexism doesn't exist or isn't still virulent in some certain instances to this day. It does. It can. And it's still pretty darn ugly if you're unfortunate enough to run into it.

    So it's not an either/or thing. Because 'it's not the way that I live my life' does not mean that 'it isn't real,' or it isn't something others have -- or may yet -- experience. All of these things can be, and can be true to varying degrees.

    And, honestly, the first thing I thought when reading about how women aren't sexist against women (okay the second. The first was the Fandom Wank archives full of misogynist freakouts by the darker corners of the Supernatural fandom) But the second thought was those two utterly ridiculous op-eds written this last year by Phyllis Schlafley's neice, where she argues that the 'problem' with modern society and with men is that we women aren't coddling men enough and thus are emasculating the dears. (The title of one of these (national!) op-eds included the statement that "Men and Women Are Not Equal" which argued that it is the 'nature' of women to be dominated by men (and if we don't go along with that, we're breaking the natural order of things and it's all. women's. fault.) This wasn't written 'decades ago." This was written THIS LAST WINTER.

    So is the question whether there's some societal backlash? Or whether it's remotely possible that someone out there could feel a desire to backlash?

    Well, whether one thinks there is one or whether one is likely probably delves into personal politics and/or personal experiences and thus different people will reach different conclusions.

    But if the question is whether it is at least possible that someone or some group COULD? Is it possible that some individual or reactionary faction could backlash against female empowerment... well, I'm just going to point to Phyllis Schlafly's neice as exhibit A... and then the troll of a VP in my old firm as exhibit B.

    They may be the more rare zebras that ubiquitous horses, but they aren't unicorns... because they exist.

    Now, to bring this back to Buffyverse, if the argument is that Joss's 'female power backlash' wasn't particularly well developed in Season 8? That's an entirely different question.

    Frankly, I was underwhelmed by the way it was handled and felt it was underdeveloped or rather developed less than convincingly. ( I also have all sorts of criticism over the way they didn't explain why vampires were suddenly seen by the public as the 'good guys.' It was rushed and also unconvincing).

    Also, to be perfectly honest, I didn't find the story itself to to be pro-feminist. Season 8's plot had Dawn being serially abused by her boyfriend and then the 'reveal' is that she 'deserved it' because she was unfaithful to the guy who was turning her into all manner of creatures against her will. Yeah, that totally 'deserves' being turned into a series of ridiculous creatures that she had no control over.

    And then there's Angel and his 'beat Buffy down' scheme and the way that the story turns on the pivot of after Angel beat Buffy down, after he professionally and personally undermined her -- deliberately for an extended period of time -- that she was written to throw everything over and 'willingly' falling under his glow (either that or she got roofied by the universe. Neither option strikes me as 'girl power, yay!') If there was a message to that, it feels like a terribly passive-aggressive one.

    Anyway, if the argument re: sexist backlash against slayers is that it was simplified and somewhat cliched? Well, that's absolutely worth discussing and is a defensible POV, I think. In fact, I think there are a few people around who have said as much many times.

    If, however, the point that sexist backlash isn't a real thing in this day and age...well, I don't think you can go that far. I just... don't.

    Is it as pervasive as it once was? No.
    Is it as ubiquitous? Heck no!
    We have made a great deal of progress.
    ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE TRUE (thank God).

    But because that's true, doesn't mean that sexism (both real and pernicious) has completely ceased to be. While more rare, it's definitely not eradicated.

    The good and the bad both exist. It's not all or nothing here. Embrace the progress, recognize that there's still things that could change for the better. It's not a zero sum game. The bad is still worth pointing out. The good is worth praising.

    And we can always hope that the comics do better, because wouldn't that be a relief.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DorothyFan1 View Post
    The Internet allows you to subvert these troupes. You're not limited by who you are...unless of course there are rules put in place that makes it illegal to do this. Regarding boys having girl names I'm recalling Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann was teased mercilessly about having a girl's name. But I see your point about women having men's names not being held to that standard - ex bassist player for the Bangles was Michael Steele. Then there's the whole issue of women characters in movies having names like "Alex" "Joey" and Sigourney Weaver's famous entry in the cultural landscape with "Ripley".

    The internet is a very good example of why the job of feminism is very, very far from over. Female commentators online are often exposed to very violent rhetoric and sexist harrassment for entering into debates or simply putting forward their opinions.

    A good recent example was media commentator Anita Sarkeesian: http://www.feministfrequency.com/about/.

    Anita has developed a series of very popular short videos on tropes in popular culture. Some time ago she announced her intention to develop a series of videos exploring representations of women in gaming. The response - simply for saying she wanted to develop the videos - was sickening. Thousands of vile, sexist comments; a game encouraging people to beat-up a photo of her; comments threatening to rape her, kill her. Seriously horrible stuff. If you haven't read about this, and have the stomach to, there's an article about it here: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/in...rassment-looks.

    I wish this was a one-off occurrence too, but unfortunately it is very common with online women commentators and has the effect of intimidating and silencing female voices in popular spaces. Twitter is horrible for it.

    In this context, I think saying that 'witch hunting' and 'patriarchal oppression' is a thing of the past is premature. It is very, very alive and has migrated to the virtual world with the rest of us.

    Vampmogs and Reddygirl also make brilliant points about embedded sexism and how it resides even in our language.

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