Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Because you're still asking me that question."

Josh Whedon, the creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," did an interview where he was asked, "So why do you write strong female characters?"

He replied, "Because you're still asking me that question."

This became one of Whedon's most famous quotes and really reflects the nature of "Buffy."  Buffy's gender never seems to be a focus of the show.  As a huge "Buffy" fan, there has never been a moment while watching the show where I've connected any of her actions to her gender in either a sexist or empowering way.  Buffy is just Buffy to me.  

Then again, a boy watching the show may not have related to the character in the same way.

However, Whedon's quote does speak directly to our class and society in general.

Whedon's response to the reporter's question is such a powerful statement.  Will there ever be a time in which the gender of a superhero or lead character won't be relevant?  

Probably not.

But why is that?  Is it because women are "inherently unequal" to men?  Or is it because equality and feminism are so heavily focused on?  Do the feminism and equality movements just fuel the idea that women should be viewed differently than men?

Why do people think it's so unusual for Whedon to write strong female characters?  Buffy is not the first strong female lead character, or superhero for that matter.

In terms of our class, we talk a lot about the sexism, empowerment, and gender of the characters we study, and less about their actual story and other characteristics.  If our class was about superheroes in general, do you think we would focus so much on the sexism?  Would we consider male and female superheroes equally, or would we just discuss the impact gender has on the females?

I'm definitely interested in hearing what you guys have to say.  Do you think that feminism fuels inequality?  Do you think that since we "focus" so much on women superheroes in class that it takes away from their actual character?  

I'm not sure what my opinion is on this whole thing, but Whedon's quote definitely speaks to me and makes me think!


  1. I completely agree that in our class we tend to focus on the inequality between male and female superheroes (because it is the topic of our class). However, I do not think it pulls us away from reading and understanding the actual story. By analyzing the ways women are depicted in these comics helps us to better understand the deeper meaning of each character, and it also gives us insight to one of the schools of criticism: feminism. As to the question “Do you think that feminism fuels inequality? Do you think that since we "focus" so much on women superheroes in class that it takes away from their actual character?” I think that it does feminism does fuel inequality; it does not create the inequality (it definitely exists without feminists) but it does add to the touchy subject and further develops and aggravates the feminists’ beliefs and views on male/female inequality.

  2. I think the questions you raised are very interesting. The ones on whether females are "inherently unequal" or whether feminizm fuels being viewed differently. I wouldn't be able to give a full response but my short answer would be males and females are "inherently different" rather than unequal.

  3. It makes sense that focusing on one gender in comic books causes us to examine inequalities between males and females because these inequalities are extremely obvious. Analyzing other things in the comic books beyond gender would be impossible in one semester because there is so much to cover such as racism and other deeper meanings and hidden messages. It is annoying, however, that someone should ask why Josh Whedon writes such strong female characters. No one questions strong male characters and I feel as though people should be used to strong females by now.

  4. I think that's an interesting point that you raised in this blog post. I haven't really noticed Buffy doing anything gender stereotypical either, probably because she's not the stereotypical female. Aside from our characterization of "girl" and "boy," Buffy doesn't do anything extremely girly. But I do think that the fact that Joss Whedon made Buffy a girl has created a new fan base that would not normally be interested in comic book related stories. Buffy could be a very important catalyst to introduce fans to other superheroines like Promethea and Batwoman.

  5. I don't think feminism fuels inequality. I think it merely highlights it with the intent to create gender equality in the future. Also, acknowledging the gender of the superheroines that we discuss in our class makes us aware of gender stereotypes and enlighten us on how things could be if both women and men were treated equally. I understand why uninformed people may think constantly pointing out where girls are treated inferiors may pointless, but the truth is this has to be done. People have become accustomed to a world that subliminally puts men above females, so these injustices must be highlighted for changes to be made. Joss Whedon's creation of Buffy is just one of many ways that steps have been made towards this effort.

  6. Great post, I'm doing my uni dissertation on Buffy and feminism and this is very helpful :)


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