The Limits of Buffy Feminism

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"And Yet": The Limits of Buffy Feminism [1] In "Doomed" (B4011), Buffy tells her soon-to-be boyfriend Riley that she comes "from a long line of [slayers] that don't live past twenty-five." Treating Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a feminist show, as many critics and the show's producers claim it is, and the character Buffy as its star feminist icon, reveals that in this version of feminism the only viable feminist icon is a young one. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a television show aimed at young people (see Sherryl Vint's embarrassment at enjoying the same show that is "the favorite of 14-year-old girls everywhere," par. 2). It is therefore perhaps only natural that the younger characters are the most vibrant and that the show endorses a child's or adolescent's perspective and often critiques the closemindedness or ineffectuality of adults, as quite a few scholars have noted (see for instance Jowett, Breton and McMaster, Bowers, and Skwire). At the same time, for a show that claims to be pro-female, its portrayal of adults is quite gendered; the central characters are the young people and Giles—an exemplary patriarch—and a revolving cast of expendable women. The adult women have a far lesser chance of attaining and maintaining insider status, or of finding the ability to aid meaningfully in the fight against evil, which is the most important feminist activity of the show. The show's final empowering images suggest that past a certain age, feminism ceases to be an option and women must cede their fight to the next generation. This situation is far worse for those characters and actresses whose bodies come under scrutiny or criticism, whose bodies seem more "womanly" or mature, or whose reproductive potential interferes with the youth narrative; they are shown as helpless counterpoints to the main characters and are punished for their abjected bodies.
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