Sunday, 31 January 2010

Abortion 2nd try...

Another scary article from a feminist website, this time The F Word, addressing the state of abortion 'services' (if you can even call it that!) in Ireland. Once again, apologies for being so lax about this previously.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Buffy part 2

For the second part of my Buffy-thon postage I'd like to address an issue that might be triggering, so beware.

In season 6 of Buffy, our eponymous heroine survives a rape attempt in the episode 'Seeing Red'.

I think it was very important for BTVS to address the issue of rape purely because of the premise of the show: Buffy is strong. She is independent, powerful and beautiful. It demonstrates that it doesn't matter how strong or self-aware you are, you can still be a target. Additionally, the episode deals with rape by someone with whom Buffy has already had a sexual relationship: the vampire, Spike. With stories like this in the news I find a story-line such as this quite pertinent.

The scene is very difficult to watch, Buffy is injured and tells Spike to go away. He tries to 'prove' to her that she wants him by making advances, pushing her to the floor and trying to initiate sex, culminating in her kicking him off and questioning:

"Ask me again why I could never love you"

Buffy is never shown to be 'inviting it'; she is injured, trying to run a bath and he has entered her house. She constantly tells him to 'go away', and 'get off'. She says 'no', demonstrating that 'just say no' isn't always a viable option.

The episode doesn't even overtly make out that Spike is 'evil' as he tries to rape Buffy - he is not in his vampire face, he looks like a man. Thus the power of this scene emphasises that it's not a supernatural evil that causes Spike to rape Buffy, but a human evil, echoing the theme mentioned in my previous post that 'life is the big bad'

The incident inspires Spike to go on a quest to regain his soul as he cannot stand the purgatory of being 'not quite a man and not quite a monster' (my paraphrase). It is used as a development point for Spike's character, but manages to make a commentary on ideas of rape at the same time.

I have to admit, sex as a theme in Buffy isn't quite as empowering as it should be, Buffy uses it almost as a punishment during season 6, her first experience in season 2 causes Angel to become evil and she is portrayed negatively by the fraternity attitudes and reactions of Riley's friends in season 4. Nevertheless, the episode 'Seeing Red' is an important point in the series and demonstrates a strong counter-discourse to commonly held attitudes about rape.

Next up: 'Nice-guy' Warren

Friday, 22 January 2010

Buffy

My complete, utter love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was validated this month upon a re-watching of series 6. This is the first in a series of posts about 'stuff I liked in Buffy'. I'll be doing a bit of an introduction to the series and discussing the representation of a same-sex relationship.

For those not in-the-know, this is the series where Buffy has been brought back from the dead by her best friend, Willow. Buffy, contrary to her friends' beliefs, was pulled out of a 'heaven' dimension and suffers from depression throughout the series. She becomes self-destructive, starting a disastrous relationship with Spike, a violent vampire.

Alongside this, a trio of nerds from Buffy's high school band together to try to take over Sunnydale. The nerds' quest starts off quite naive and quirky but gradually gets more and more disturbing, to the point where Warren, the leader of the trio, shoots both Buffy, (who survives) and Willow's girlfriend Tara (who doesn't).

Willow's rage from the death of her partner sends her into vengeance mode, she goes on to abuse dark magic and ultimately tries to destroy the world, only being saved by her childhood friend, Xander.

In the DVD special features, creator Joss Whedon explains that the 'big bad' of the series is 'life'. In this series, instead of an evil super-strong baddie; it is growing up, life itself and all the associated baggage that has to be overcome.

So, with this in mind, lets talk about lesbians.

Willow and Tara

I love the representation of these two in Buffy. At my first viewing I was surprised that the show would do such a thing, I though it would be simply for shock value and didn't see how it would be relevant to the show. How wrong was I?

Creating a relationship between two women that doesn't sexualise the situation is a fantastic choice for a TV series: Buffy creates a positive image of lesbians and represents same-sex relationships in a natural way. Perhaps other women would disagree with me, but, personally, I find Willow and Tara very engaging as a lesbian couple.

Their relationship is represented in such a way that I feel comfortable using Buffy to introduce the concept of same-sex love to my young daughter.* I concede that the song 'Under your Spell' in the musical episode 'Once More With Feeling' is filthy in imagery and subtle meanings, but I also think that those meanings need an adult brain to decipher them.

Willow and Tara are rarely used for sexual effect, the only instance I can think of is a dream sequence in series 4 that focuses on Xander's view point. Thinking about series 6, the two women show affection, but nothing overly sexual. They are shown in bed a number of times and are shown kissing, but I cannot think of an instance where their relationship is represented for a specifically 'male gaze' purpose.

In conclusion, I love Willow and Tara, I love being able to explain to my daughter that Willow and Tara love each other like Mommy and Daddy do. Admittedly, she just gets excited that they make stars with magic, but hey, it's a start.

*I know some episode of Buffy are completely NOT child friendly, however, I believe three things:
  • 'Once More With Feeling' isn't too gruesome
  • euphemism isn't in her lexicon, and
  • she loves the songs

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Abortion

I think people in the UK really need to see what it can be like to try to get an abortion in areas of the USA.

Scary article from Feministing

Plus, remember - you have to pay for this privilege in the US. Many people can't afford to pay, so charitable organisations raise money for women to get abortions.

And then, of course, there is the doctor who performed MEDICALLY NEEDED late-term abortions. He was shot whilst in church by an anti-abortion activist.

Once again, praise the NHS for all you're worth, in the name of whatever deity/secular icon you prefer.