I attended Jessa Crispin’s reading at BookPeople on May 11. I’ve always been a fan of Crispin and had just finished Why I am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto that day.
The audience, mostly female and younger than I had expected, listened as Crispin read aloud some critiques of the book and responded. She then took questions, one of which essentially asked what entertainment do you find acceptable? (One of the more quotable quotes from the book calls modern feminism “a decade-long conversation about which television show is a good television show and which television show is a bad television show.” Which is hilarious.)
It came out that Jessa Crispin does not consider Buffy the Vampire Slayer feminist, mainly due to the savior complex that plagues every superhero movie. She then joked that she could feel the audience turning against her and quickly changed the subject.
Since I just finished watching Buffy in its entirety for the first time, I was part of the wave of support for the feminist reading, which I admit did not sit well with me until the Beer Bad episode. [Spoilers follow.]
I. Beer Bad
Everyone hates Beer Bad; I thought it was hilarious. Not gonna lie, what screamed “feminist” about this episode for me was the cave slayer clubbing a dude over the head. Up until this point (and this is Season Four) I hadn’t really gotten the feminist vibe from the show. Yes, Buffy was a female hero and kicked ass and did it all 20 years ago, but her movie counterpart had done the same thing five years earlier. (I was a huge fan of movie Buffy. I dressed as her for Halloween when I was 10 years old. I drew my girl power from Kristy Swanson.) I really enjoyed Sarah Michelle Gellar’s acting in this one, though. She always got to do a lot of physical stuff as Buffy, yes, but the body movement here was different and showcased her range.
Buffy’s first college relationship was a bad one. A shitty, stupid situation in which we have all unfortunately found ourselves at one time or another, made worse by the fact that she just couldn’t get over him. Parker’s douchebag behavior does give Riley an excuse to punch him, which is awesome. (I also like Riley. A lot. I cried when he helicoptered away from Buffy and I hate that people hate on him. He’s the Aiden–you haters realize that, right?)
But before Riley clocks Parker in Episode 4:7, Buffy gets a shot at him in Episode 4:5 and I don’t know why, it just worked for me. Must have appealed to my troglodyte instincts. Plus, there’s a craft beer theme (in 1999, no less). Foamy!
Here’s the thing: wherever you are in your feminist journey, keep going. Some of us are further along than others. Case in point: I’m 34 and I just figured this out. Buffy was 20 years old when she learned that she was the one with the real power.
Power. I have it. They don’t.
This bothers them. It’s why they attack you and try to make you feel inadequate–because they are afraid you may realize that they need you more than you need them. And the day you figure that out, you’ll be free. It’s not the same as Buffy undergoing the council’s impossible review, but when you quit participating in the systems that oppress you, you’ll see how badly they needed to you to comply.
Bonus: “That’s Riley-speak.”
III. Every Girl
I cried so, so hard at this. And I hated all of the potential slayers. I hated them in the house, I really hated them when they kicked Buffy out of the house, and I was glad when the cockney one died. Still, when every potential slayer in the world got tapped at the same time, I cried like a baby, especially with the little girl at bat.
This is what destroys the savior complex of the show–the idea that it was all leading toward a dispersal of that power, that every one of us could be strong.