From Our ReadersHow Buffy Summers Made Me a FeministFrom Our Readers

Okay, first things first – I’m a guy. Quelle surprise, but the topic of this post which concerns women and feminism might not seem exactly something you’d expect from a dude. However, I’m a bit of a feminist – have been ever since I was eight years old and watched the third season finale of Buffy and decided that a) I basically wanted to be Buffy Summers and/or a Slayer when I was grown up, b) girls were beyond awesome in the butt-kicking category, and c) I wanted to see more girls kicking butt where the boys couldn’t.

Unfortunately, it seem that there’s not a lot of it going around, anywhere I can see. I’m a psychology major in my final year of university studies and am the only guy taking the ‘Gender and Sexuality’ module in my last ever semester – I love it as it lets me channel my inner (and outer) feminist and actually write essays and get into full discussions on it. Heaven. Unfortunately, it was during one of these discussion seminars where there’s plenty of debating and laughter that I discovered how girl power might well be under threat.

We were discussing gender roles and how they affect our day-to-day life and a girl (who shall remain nameless – mainly because I don’t know her name) honest to God said that she thought girls and women had too many rights and freedoms these days.

Seriously.

After immediately challenging her and nearly getting my Tyra-Banks-esque righteous yell on (trust me, I nearly challenged the lovely, equal-rights-championing Banks’ fierceness then and there), I started to think about it – despite all of our supposed freedoms and equalities these days, how fair is gender anyway? Women still earn far less than their male counterparts and there are still countries where women can’t go out without a man’s permission or vote or any of those wonderful civil liberties we love to emulate. Even in areas like music, our favourite best-selling artists might be females (Adele, Rihanna, Britney, Gaga, Beyonce, the list goes on…), they’re still  defined in terms of how they look in some mediums and media. A movie called Sucker Punch last year looked set to right the wrongs of Warner Bros.’ ‘no female leads’ policy, but despite the superb action and visuals, it came across as misogynistic rather than feminist.

The next generation are the ones being affected right now – every advert or TV show or movie that objectifies women into being sexual objects is reinforcing the idea that if you’re not a stereotypically hot girl in her underwear, or if you’re a girl full stop, you’re not gonna get anywhere or people aren’t gonna like or respect you.

Why do I care you ask? It’s not because I grew up in a house of strong, empowered women (I didn’t) or because I had a lot of positive female influences around me as a kid (again, nada) – it’s because I grew up in that brief period of time in the 1990s when girls looked as if they were gonna achieve the same equality that men had enjoyed. Buffy was my idol, Mulan became my favourite Disney movie (and has remained that way to this day) and every girl who popped on TV without being the lead guy’s helpless, damsel-in-distress girlfriend or had some awesome power on her own, I lapped up. I identify with more female characters and girls and women than I do guys – that doesn’t make me less of a man: that makes me secure enough to embrace my role models.

So yeah – this might be just one guy rambling on about how girls need to stand up for their self respect once more. Maybe I’m just hung up on a cult show from the Nineties. But I won’t apologise for being someone who wants to see women being treated with the damn respect they deserve. If you’re a girl or a woman out there who thinks you’re not getting the rights or the respect of men you know, then stand up – if you’re female full stop, do it. You’re amazing. Let the misogynists know.

To paraphrase the last ever episode of Buffy Summers’ adventures in Sunnydale – are you ready to be strong?

You can follow Chris Haigh on Twitter.

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  1. Nice article! And thanks for writing it!
    Its good to know and see that there are men who do understand what feminism is about. Not the hating of men or the downfall of men, but the striving for equality for ALL of us!

  2. I take issue with you writing that being supportive of gender equality “doesn’t make [you] less of a man, but “makes [you] secure enough to embrace [your] role models.” Secure in what, exactly? Your masculinity? Our society approaches the gender binary in such a way that participating in activities coded feminine somehow makes you less masculine, and there’s a real problem with that. So what if it make you less of a “man” (as prescribed by cultural standards)? Would that be such a terrible thing? That statement, “secure in one’s own masculinity,” only serves to marginalize the female gender by suggesting that femininity is inferior. It’s something to thing about.

    Other than that, great article. :) There really aren’t enough feminist men out there.

    • It seems a bit ridiculous to criticise someone for saying ‘secure in their own masculinity’ when no one is quick to judge a woman who is ‘secure in her femininity’. Even a man who is a feminist can WANT to be masculine. There is nothing wrong with being proud or happy to be a man. I think a person must be insecure if you think someone else being secure marginalises you in some way.

    • Yes, sorry for the confusion but by ‘secure’, I meant as a person rather than adhering to one gender norm or another, rather than implying that masculinity is somehow ‘secure’ inherently. Sorry again for any confusion (clearly I’ve got to start writing a touch clearer!) and I’m glad you liked the article. :)

    • I took it to mean “secure enough” as a person. As opposed to insecure. I didn’t assume that secure=masculinity and insecure=femininity. :)

  3. I give Buffy (Joss Whedon) a lot of credit for making me a stronger female. I love Buffy, re-watch the entire series repeatedly and preach the Word of Buffy all day e’ry day. And you’re right: males who support feminism are not “less of a man”, but really some of the strongest men out there.

  4. Not only do I just love Buffy for the genius it is/was but also because of the strong female characters. Tv/Films need more of them and with Jodd Whedon doing so well with The Avengers and Cabin in the Woods (both of which are just awesome) who knwos what he, or people infulenced by him, might come up with.

    *fingers crossed*

    One great current strong female character that I can think of at the moment is Brennan in Bones :)

  5. Hopefully, with the Avengers doing so well…we can hope that Joss is free to write new feminist adventures with a kick-ass leading lady! He knows how to do it right, they just need to stop canceling his shows! :) Great article.

  6. I love male feminists! And to add to your nameless girl, a nameless girl I know supports the faction of male politicians attempting to rule the female body because, and I’m paraphrasing, women aren’t doing a good job with their bodies, so the politicians need to. Yeah. She said that.

    On another note: am I the only person who still thought Sucker Punch was feminist? I mean, these girls leave the male-dominated world for one in which they are bad ass. Sure, they’re scantily clad, but it’s armageddon. And I know it’s not exactly third wave, but the place they’re in isn’t exactly modern. They’re not fighting for equality, they’re fighting for a voice. That takes a little cunning subversion, which those girls have. I think that a lot of people think if girls run around half-naked beating up baddies, they’re being objectified. I think that if a girl is beating up baddies, she’s giving a big finger to objectification.

  7. im currently rewatching buffy for the 20th time. i was thinking a similar thing the other day, i was also thinking about how joss whedon shows tend to have a kick ass chick in them