April 25, 2005

Strong Women as characters

Frances H. Early states in "Staking Her Claim: Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Transgressive Woman Warrior that, " In the last several years, the rise of the indomitable tough woman has become an especially pronounced feature of television "episodics." The age of the tough-gal action show seems at hand, and women, warriors such as, Xena, the Warrior Princess, La Femme Nikita, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have become wildly popular, especially among young North Americans." (11)

I agree with this statement. All of the series listed above I watched and enjoyed. I can even admit that I was slightly addicted to the internal and external struggles of these characters. Nikita's inability to develop relationships with anyone outside the center or even her struggle with her relationship with Michael her co-operative. It was intense and extreme, but more importantly it was a woman going through it not a man. However, she was strong, independent, intelligent and beautiful, but she still had absolutely no control over her own life and what she did with it. Men commanded her around, men controlled everything; with Michael he was in control not her.

Xena was a different story all together. Xena fought all the men she encountered and more often than not eventually conquered them and some of them were Gods. What I found most interesting about Xena's character was the fact that she was beautiful and fearless. Yet, she could not keep a man around. Could be due to her constant battle for her life, or because she killed all the men around her, or because she was more interesting in her trusty sidekick Gabriel. Still, this series and the Nikita series sent the message that strong women can't have it all.

As for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, John Whedon the creator of the show states his objective, "If I can make teenage boys comfortable with a girl who takes charge of a situation without their knowing that's what's happening," Whedon insists, "it's better than sitting down selling them on feminism" (quoted in Bellafante, 83)

In this show Buffy at first was not in control of who she was. Giles had to inform her that she was the slayer by fate and destiny. She denied who she was and did not want to accept this, especially as a 16 year old, but once she did she took control. And Giles was not her father, or her sergeant, he was more of a mentor and guide.

What made this story so successful was the realism factor. I know Buffy is a super hero and kills demons and vampires, which is of course not real. However, the pressures of dealing with high school and teenage issues like popularity, fitting in, and friendship is very real and we have all gone through it at one time or another. And this is what made Buffy vulnerable and all the more attractive, because yes she was a slayer and saved the world with her friends on the daily, but she was an outcast because of it and struggle with this throughout the entire series.

Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer are extremely important to the generation because of the messages within the show, and I was upset to see it come to an end.

Posted by Denishia Salter at April 25, 2005 10:07 AM

Denishia, you've made a good point. We wouldn't really like these strong women if they actually got what they wanted. This reminds me of the "supermom" phenomenon of the 80s, when women were supposed to "bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never never let you forget you're a man". That was the slogan for a perfume or some other product that showed the same women wearing a power suit, a homey-looking bathrobe, and something sexy. I have no idea what the product is, but that song has wedged itself into my brain almost as deeply as the Oscar Mayer Weiner song.

Okay, I just googled it and found out it was the perfume Enjoli. There's a vidcap at this URL


Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at April 29, 2005 04:05 PM

The name of the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not John Whedon it's "Joss" Whedon. Good points though.

Posted by: J. Robinson at April 2, 2006 07:53 AM
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