Rachel's Blog: Spice, Buffy, Women and Identity
I was just digging through an old notebook - I'm trying to come up with something to write in November - when I came across these notes. They're pretty random, but I thought they were interesting enough to type up for you, dear reader. Dates from about mid-2003.
Where the Spice Girls have lied to us:
The notion of Girl Power (not Woman Power) is a false positive for women. Baby, Sporty, Posh, Ginger and Scary (who can be read as Sexy/Exotic Spice) are all passive non-threatening characteristics. Where are Intellectual or Mother Spice? Note that male pop singers can be paternal - Puff Daddy, Daddy Cool, but you don't find maternal ones.
Even Buffy is a false idol. Her "power" is given (forcibly) to her by a group of men. No other identity for Buffy - or any of the other females on the show - is ever throroughly explored, apart from that as girlfriend or weapon of war. She never even cracks a book that has nothing to do with demons, and even then rarely.
Joyce - positive role model - killed off, ditto Tara.
Willow has a talent she can't control and spends a whole year being as self-deprecating as she was as a high school student.
Villains - are the worst always women? Drusilla, Wilow, Faith, Professor Walsh (played God), Sunday (wanted to take Buffy's identity.) Those with power are always men - from The Watchers to The Master and Mayor Wilkins.
Creator Joss Whedon, self-described feminist, has received almost as much media exposure as the show itself. By giving her such an effeminate name as "Buffy" then saying it's OK, she's really powerful. But this is physical power only - she is never portrayed as any kind of intellectual genius ("Nice girl, not too bright"). Created by a guy, but that's OK too - he's a feminist i.e. One of us.
Labelling child-rearing and domestic chores as work is intended to satisfy women and keep them "out of harms way" in terms of society as a whole: art, culture, international relations, university tenure, news gathering...
Yet they remain unpaid jobs - so the satisfaction is supposed to be in what Miriam Dixson calls "substitute gratification".*
What about the natural human desire to find out more about the world and oneself?
It's to do with suppression of identity. Trapping a woman in her home to be subjected only to the messages that the media can give her - which are all about keeping other people happy.
The number of women who compulsively clean and care for others in order to suppress their personal pain - which they believe is unique because of the patriarchal tendency to destroy small community.
Men wage wars on societies which are unlike the ones they find themselves miserable in.
In that same way women are beginning to turn against each other for speaking out against the status quo. Naomi Wolf for example gets her head bitten off every time she suggests that the common social structure is not good or good enough for women/mothers/teenage girls/children.
Outcast groups from society set up thier own elitist universes, marked by highly restrictive codes; snobbishness, intolerance, feelings of superiority. In particular I am thinking of goths, punks, geeks, artists - in short and group with a specialised knowledge and traceable history.
I did warn you it was a random collection of notes. No test, but please feel free to Discuss.
*I'm pretty sure this quote is from Dixson's book The Real Matilda.