Someone on tumblr asked this question:
Which arcs, episodes, moments, etc. do you think are misunderstood in the Buffyverse?
and while I have about forty-five answers to that, I didn't voice them because it really just inspired one rant:
People thinking Buffy needs to get over being the Slayer and just be fine with it and stop complaining, WOMAN! So what that you’re bearing this unbelievable burden of protecting the entire world while still trying to have some sort of life (and raising your teenage sister despite the fact that you’re barely in your twenties) and that when it comes down to it you’re always going to be alone, the only one standing there staring down evil, and SO WHAT that you DIED MULTIPLE TIMES—literally giving your life for the world—AND YOU DON’T EVEN GET PAID OR THANKED FOR IT you’re just expected to do it and to take care of everyone around you all of the time (women’sworkwomen’sworkwomen’swork)? And so what that this setup is obviously designed and maintained by The Patriarchy (in the heavy-handed metaphor form of the Shadow Men + the Watcher’s Council) and that your constant kicking back against that could more generously be read as heroic and feminist, especially in the context of your obvious PTSD/clinical depression? SO WHAT? You just really need to get over that, shut up and quit complaining, go back to the
kitchengraveyard, and just be grateful for your lot in life. Other ladies do it, why can’t you?
And then when you ultimately decide to tear down the entire patriarchal structure by rejecting the kyriarchically-enforced (is that a word? whatever) rule of a single woman standing alone and instead embracing the idea of women sharing power and saving the whole damn world together, you’ll be attacked for that, too. Even though you saved the lives of all the girls you shared that power with. Because you’ll never be good enough. Not ever.
Apparently I had a lot of feelings about this.
But seriously, the more I think about the show, the more obvious the metaphor of Slaying = women's work appears to me. Unpaid, unasked for, unappreciated. Done only by women. The concept that Buffy just needs to make peace with being the Slayer in her pre-"Chosen" world just kills
me, because if she did that, she'd be buckling under and agreeing to live the life that The Patriarchy has forced on her even though she doesn't want it. How can that choice possibly be construed as feminist? To be, the feminism of her actions comes in fighting back
. If she had ever accepted it totally, I think that would have been a betrayal of who she is as a person and also of the show's attempts at feminism, clumsy though they may be at times.
There are lots of reasons why the solution she comes up with in "Chosen" works for me. Not only is she saving all of the rest of the potential Slayers in the world from being ruthlessly slaughtered by the Harbingers, but she's also making a statement and dealing a blow to The Patriarchy. She's saying, "This isn't right. This power should be shared with other women. We should stand together. We don't have to be alone anymore." Because I think that if you pay attention to the show and specifically to Buffy's complaints about the Slayer, it's clear that it isn't the physical power that she hates--she learns just how much she appreciates it in "Helpless," and we see her relish it often. What weighs her down is the burden of being The Only One, The One Girl, She Alone. Standing by herself and staring down evil and knowing that she'll sacrifice her life as often as she's brought back to save the world and that she won't be paid or thanked for it. That she just has to do it, by herself, on top of everything else she has to do in life. That's
what's so awful about being the Slayer, and that is precisely what she defeats in "Chosen." That doesn't meant that it's a perfect solution--we see the fact that potential problems accompany the benefits of this solution in Dana in "Damages," and that's important to remember. But I think that overall it's a beautiful if clumsy metaphor, and it totally works for me. I can't bring myself to hate anything that tells us that it's a powerful and beautiful thing when women share their power with each other.