She Has No Head! – A Love Letter To Buffy
Many of you know that I’m a massive unabashed Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan. I rarely write about Buffy here, I’m not really sure why, but all that changes today. Why today you ask? Well, because Buffy impressed the hell out of me this week and it warrants discussion.
A word of warning, spoilers abound if you are not caught up on the current Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Nine comic book.
Buffy was (and to large a degree remains) my definitive touchstone for a feminist role model. She wasn’t my first (that honor probably goes to Ripley from Alien) nor was she my last – I encounter inspiring new ones with much more regularity than I ever dared to hope (Katniss from Hunger Games, Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo among others) not to mention those that I have discovered rather late in the game – like Wonder Woman. But Buffy remains unique in that she’s been a constant feminist presence in my life for years, one I find I can return to easily, and one who grows and changes with me.
So it was with an anxious mind and heart that I waited these past four weeks to see how her comic book would deal with the ramifications of Buffy learning she was pregnant in the last issue. Would they dare to bring up the still bizarrely taboo A-word? Because I knew it would be a massive betrayal of everything I had grown up with and still believed of the character, and of her creators, for them to not even have the character consider an abortion.
It was with great relief this past week that I read Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Nine #6 and realized that they were not only going to address the subject, but they had devoted an entire issue to the controversial subject matter. Add to that, not only did they address it – in exactly the right way – with the right tone, sensitivity, and with an honest and unflinching realism – but they actually had Buffy decide to get an abortion.
This was huge.
I felt so vindicated, and somehow proud. So often in comics, even comics I love and respect and enjoy, I am ultimately disappointed. Most of the comics I read are ultimately run more by corporations and complicated editorial boards than creators and thus I find a lot more disappointment than I’d like to admit to. So it was really exciting (and unfortunately surprising) to see a comic reward what I already knew to be true so completely.
In boggles my mind that in 2012 abortion is still so controversial. That a decision made in 1973 – nearly 40 years ago – is still such an issue that it can’t even be addressed fictionally without being a huge damn deal. I don’t expect everyone to feel the same way about a sensitive subject like abortion, but I do expect that we should be able to discuss it rationally, and to see it in our stories. I am fine with characters not sharing my same moral compass, or liberal ideals, or making the same decisions I would, in fact that’s in part why we read stories, to experience things beyond ourselves. But to see issues skirted unrealistically in my stories because they are potentially polarizing is a huge misstep that keeps characters and ideas from being relatable, from being something you can fall in love with. How can you fall in love with something you can’t believe in?
For some reason, we don’t yet live in a time where creators who need mainstream success feel they can be brave, bold, and most importantly honest, with regularity, and since we don’t, it makes me particularly thankful for creators like Joss Whedon, publishers like Dark Horse, and books like Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
In a really tough week in comics, this single comic book made for a good day for comics. A good day for characters. A good day for creators. A good day for feminism. And I get to say that far less frequently than I’d like, so thank you, Joss Whedon.