A SECOND CHANCE FOR WOMEN: Sex and Gender in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Open Access
Author:
Yatron, Cassandra A
Area of Honors:
English
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Keywords:
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • gender
  • queer theory
  • Dracula
  • Willow
  • Mina
  • Lucy
  • sexuality
Abstract:
Even eight years after the television show ended in 2003, Buffy the vampire slayer and her “Scooby Gang” continue their adventures in novels, two comic book series, and in pop culture. In stark contrast to Dracula’s vampire hunter, the male, scientific Abraham Van Helsing, Buffy, a petite, blonde teenage girl takes up the stake as the modern vampire hunter. She and her “Scoobies” challenge stereotypes and slay villains with magic and typically low-tech weapons. Even though Buffy is a horror television show with supernatural villains, many of the “big bads,” as they are referred to in the show, and situations the Scoobies face characterize problems and social issues young adult sometimes have to face in real life. Unlike some teen vampire and classic vampire tales, such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, that display passive women and archaic male chivalry, Buffy’s treatment of women and men, human and supernatural, presents modern gender roles and sexuality to accompany the changing culture. In modern horror films, the “Beautiful Blonde” and the “Final Girl” are typical conventions of the genre, and both Dracula and Buffy include women, who could potentially assume these conventions. In Dracula, the two main female characters, Lucy Westenra and Mina Murry, are the Gothic versions of the “Beautiful Blonde” and the “Final Girl,” but the characters from Buffy assume these roles and alter them for the modern audience. In Dracula, the female vampires mainly signify female sexuality, which the men fear. The female vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, however, only demonstrate what the Buffyverse approves of young women doing. The male vampires with souls attempt redemption, which lead them to physical danger. Angel’s and Spike’s sensitivity and role reversals change them into men who deserve the empowered, modern woman like Buffy. Friendship is important in the show because these ties keep Buffy and Willow from “going dark,” but it is also the source of most of their power. While the Crew of Light exclude Mina from their group, all of the members of the Scoobies are critical to the success of the group, and they share their power and want to spread it.