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Is Tara a "strong" female character?

DeadlyDuo

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If you were to think of a "strong" female character, it's doubtful that Tara would spring to mind. She lacks confidence, she's the least violent member of the scoobies and she really got the short end of the stick when it comes to fashion. Yet ultimately she is probably one of the strongest female characters on the show. She survived an abusive family, her one kill was in the name of protecting Willow and she remained warm and kind instead of becoming cold and hardened. Tara has faced and overcome adversity throughout her life without falling into the depths of despair and yet her strength seems rarely acknowledged if at all.

In Buffy and other movies and television, it seems like a "strong" female character is only recognised by how violent she is or how confident she is, a point emphasised in Buffy with the "girl power" spell. We get the whole "are you ready to be strong" speech right before the potentials go into battle and the montage of the potentials being activated around the world shows several of them gaining confidence once they're activated eg baseball girl, the girl being hit etc.

I've said before about how the "girl power" spell isn't as "empowering women" as the show likes to make out it is due to the fact that it excludes several female characters because they're not "special" enough to have this "strength" bestowed on them. Tara easily displays more strength and fortitude of character than any of the potentials and yet she doesn't get to be "strong" by the show's standards and that feels like a massive disservice to the character.

Thoughts?
 

Oromous

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There are different expressions of strength, but our pop culture (and even just culture to some degree) is informed by the kind of masculine and conspicuous strength displayed by the likes of Arnold and Rambo, resulting in shy and sensitive males being considered as "weak" and even "sissy."

Buffy has done a little better in exploring gender roles, but it's still very much a '90s product with its dated mockery of male homosexuality (see Larry Blaisdell the joke character). So when it comes to defining the female roles and their strength, I'm not surprised at all that Tara still gets the short end of the stick in spite of the more tasteful exploration of female homosexuality through magic as a sexual metaphor.

I've always liked Tara, and I never considered her as weak, even in the single season I've known her from (season 4). She didn't really back down even when she was bullied by Faith in an appalling manner, having her stuttering made fun of. Instead, she was capable enough to sense that Buffy wasn't actually Buffy instead of just breaking down and complaining about it to Willow. Sometimes, strength speaks louder in silence, and Tara has this in spades.
 

Priceless

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Being a Slayer and having the physical strength and leadership qualities that seem to come with that title, is not the only way to be strong. All the women in BtVS have their own kind of strength. Tara is incredibly strong, standing up to her misogynistic family and walking away, without anyone's help, must have taken a great deal of strength. Ending her relationship with Willow must have also taken all her strength, knowing how in love she was with her. She also showed real bravery when faced with Glory, and refused to give up Dawn, even though she must have thought Glory would kill her.
 
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Anyanka Bunny Slayer

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I believe that Tara is one of the strongest characters on the show. I assume that she's an hereditary witch who learned to control her power...a power that was probably far stronger than Willow's. (I also believe that Tara's father killed her mother...I just do)

I think she learned at a very young age that not talking much can be a survival mechanism. And she continued that when she started school. Since she DIDN'T speak much, many of her schoolmates assumed that she was stupid. Which she wasn't, of course...I think her habit of stuttering and looking down came from her childhood.

Her strength was observation, intelligence, empathy, and honesty. She loved Willow enough to tell her, "That's wrong and you shouldn't do it." Or words to that effect.

"The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room." - American Gangster
 

Spanky

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"The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room." - American Gangster

- Yo Brother Where Are You



edit:
Derp. I read it wrong. I thought it said strongest. Strongest one is the weakest is what I thought it said.
 
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Oromous
Oromous
I need to watch that movie.

AlphaFoxtrot

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I was under the impression she put most of her stat points into intelligence and seduction. But no, this show clearly made Buffy and Willow the strong female characters, with Anya and Tara being the average ones.
 
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I often view any so called promotion of a "strong" female character with extreme side eye - because as you say "strong"is usually meant in a very male centric way of strength. Can she hit things? Can she run fast? Can she beat up a boy? A "strong" female character is pretty much a woman or girl who is very blunt and I don't want to say mouthy but ... mouthy, often to the point of being rude and obnoxious but we're told it's cute because she's a girl (actually it's rude on either sex), and who enjoys boys things - often proving that she can do - whatever it is she wants to do - better than all the boys. Yay femnism! Yay girl power!

And it's such a frigging lie. Because no, women cannot run as fast as men, or hit things as hard as men, or throw as far as man, she would only have a hope of beating up a man if she happens to be an extremely well trained martial artist otherwise he could kill her with one punch. that is the reality of female bodies. The other reality of female bodies of course is far better immune system (recently seen in just how many men compared to women are dying of Covid), far higher pain threshold, far more endurance and ability to go for much longer with inadequate food and water, longer life expectancy and the ability to gestate and birth and the feed an entirely new human being. Neither sexes' bodies are better, they are simply different and are designed to achieve different things - but in a world where only traditionally male achievements are recognised as worthwhile, women come off as looking a bit sh*t. So, in order to show a "strong" woman they have to craft this lie that she is as good at or better than the boys at things boys have a huge physical advantage over her for ... but all that actually does is perpetuate the idea that traditional male achievements and abilities are the worthwhile ones, or even the only ones.

What we need to do is rethink the whole structure. Yes male abilities are wonderful and should be celebrated, but women's abilities - whilst they will never be an Olympic category (a gold medal in famine survival? it's not happening) - are also amazing too. And whilst I'm sure being able to run really fast is lovely, day to day, being able to just shake off the flu is probably more useful. We need to recognise actual female strength instead of insisting that the only 'strength' that matters is the picking heavy stuff up and hitting hard kind.

We also need to recognise that traditional male ambitions are not the only ones that have value. Another version of the "strong female character" is a total b*tch but who is at the very top of her field: the president, the CEO, the queen - I imagine Cersei Lannister was classed as a strong female character. Or Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. We need to learn that housewives can be "strong female characters" too (and not in a trashy Desperate housewives way) or women in minimum wage jobs - you don't have to be aiming for this very patriarchal idea of 'success' in order to be a worthwhile character or human being. (the flip of that is when they write stories about women who were at the top of whatever and then realised more mattered than wealth and success and go on a journey into discovering their femininity or more caring side which also isn't a great archetype (fine if that happens in your life - great, but we don't that many stories about it) and there is little recognition that just ordinary women doing ordinary things and having ordinary successes and failures can be interesting enough to tell a story about.)

I can (but I won't) go into great detail about why the early Disney princess movies (golden age and renaissance) are great works of feminism and the princesses themselves pretty iconic 'strong' women - and why the later incarnation of princesses (where are they far more 'feisty' - which is to say gobby to the point of obnoxiousness and get themselves inveigled in far more physical peril) miss the mark. There is a real idea in t.v and film and books that if a woman isn't swinging a sword and back chatting a man than she must be a passive and hopeless damsel ... and that's pure misogyny, but the belief that this faux 'strong female character' is a feminist portrayal of womanhood is still perpetuated, still telling lies and still causing harm.

So "strong" female characters should be well and truly left in the past with the patriarchal structures that developed her and instead we should concentrate om "well rounded" female characters - women characters who are actual people, with flaws and strengths and aims and goals and interests ... and not a cardboard cut out gobby girl with a sharp left hook, or an ice queen - who are in their own way as 2 dimensional and harmful as 'love interest' characters.

The most feminist thing about Buffy as a show (I would argue it's only claim to feminism) is that it centres a well rounded female character who is allowed to interact with a wide range of other well rounded female characters. They all have strength of character and weaknesses of character - they are allowed to make mistakes and to be the hero, they get to be smart, they get to make mistakes, they each have their own set of abilities and they have their own interests. Tara very much falls into this category - she is very well rounded and has a character arc where she gains a lot of confidence in herself in quite a short space of time, she has her own interests and is knowledgeable, she wants to keep the peace and be supportive to everyone - but at the same time she will stand up for what is right. But at the same time she makes mistakes, sometimes really bad decisions - like blinding her friends to her demon half or going out with Willow. She is an excellent example of a well written and good female character and is absolutely what writers and shows should be setting out to create more of.

I once listened to Joss Whedon talking about the Buffy film where he said the 'joke' of the film was the everyone treated Buffy like she was some airhead but really she was the most powerful person in the world and so people should listen to and her respect her. And I just thought how much he doesn't get it. No - the "joke" is everyone treats her like she is an airhead but really she is a human being and deserves listening to and respect on those grounds. It is not the fact that she can hit like a mack truck which makes her important - it is the fact that she is important that makes her important. She matters because she is Buffy, not because she is the slayer. So I think the actual feminism of Buffy happens by happy accident rather than design - because design wise it falls into the same traps that all "strong female characters" fall into.

So yeah - Tara has inner strength and inner weaknesses, she is an excellent portrayal of both a woman and a human. She isn't "strong" in the way this show and most media use it to mean, but she is what we should be moving towards in our representation of female characters. She is a character to look up to and aspire to be like. Buffy is as well, of course, but not because she can hit hard, but because of her inner strengths and her attempts to overcome her inner weaknesses. 'Well rounded' is more important than 'strong' and can include female villains as well as heroines and women somewhere in between.

Thank you for attending my TED talk.
 

thrasherpix

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There are many kinds of strength for male and female characters, and they're not all about violence. I now know I was lucky to gravitate to fantasy/scifi as it had plenty of caring (but strong) male characters (some could be a lot like Tara now that I think of it, including characters in stories by Isaac Asimov who was a 2nd wave feminist before 2nd wave feminism was a thing) as well as aggressive women who took no crap, and could be violent. Both could be tricksters rather than warriors or powerful wielders of magic (or technology and super weapons) and those could be the most compelling to me.

Though it wasn't just that genre...I remember in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane that Mario had his lowest score in Constitution (spent plenty of time sick in the hospital) and also had polio who got bullied by the villain, but wow was he a strong character. I don't care that he cried at one point, he still won, and showed more courage than many others in his situation would. And the tricks he could pull off even when sick to save the girl he was falling in love with.

'Course lots about it "wouldn't age well." (Not sure what that means since lots of popular shows today are about reprehensible people who are often admired by audiences, lots of fan service, and the like. Heck, the cartoon Kim Possible was more woke than the live action movie and it wasn't even trying to be, unless you count the first episode of Felix in his wheelchair, and even then story and character took precedence. It just seems arbitrary to me. I've asked others about it, and so far they're as mystified as I am, and suspect it may be arbitrary as much else is.)
 

CHK DeWilSon

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Do I think Tara is a strong female character...

Tara as a woman
I don't think Tara started out as a particular strong woman in terms of her whole identity.
She was a shy and vulnerable young woman but she did show moments of courage and strength from pretty much the beginning in dealing with Thw Gentlemen in Hush alongside Willow becauaw lesser people would have crumbled in the face of that fear and danger.
With the arrival of her family it caused her to revert back to her shy, awkward self because of how her family made her feel but having got to know the scoobies and fall for Willow, it brought a strength within herself to stand up to her fame because it knew she had the support and care from her new friends.
Over the course of her appearances on the series, she grew in stature in finding her true self and became a person/woman who would not let others take advantage of her kindness and good nature. And while being empathetic, she could still make decisions to put herself first when it was warranted.

Tara as a witch
It was clearly stated (well at least to me!) That Tara was a pretty good witch who did practice and showed some talent in what she had and could achieve.
And also that Tara has been practicing for longer than Willow so had a bit more experience.
Even though she was to prove with her capabilities and knowledge that she was a great witch, she didn't have the level of power that Willow has/had.
Tara showed great respect for magic and always question her and Willow's choice in were they for the greater good.
Even though Tara had these powers to do magic, she did not want them to define her as a person nor she want to rely on them in getting what she wanted or needed.
In that instant she had a better appreciation and understanding of the power of what magic can and should be used for making her more powerful than Willow in that sense.

Tara as a female buffyverse character
Tara definitely at times showed her strength and personality as a character particularly in certain moments that wasnt attach to her love interest Willlow.
However I don't think she is such a strong, powerful and memorable character enough on her own stance and do believe she is seen as a strong female character because she was one of the first noticeable lesbian character in a popular tv show and then attach to a beloved all female/lesbian coupling.
Most of major defining aspects involve Willow because that is one of the big reasons for her popularity.
Still I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
 

DeadlyDuo

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I often view any so called promotion of a "strong" female character with extreme side eye - because as you say "strong" is usually meant in a very male centric way of strength. Can she hit things? Can she run fast? Can she beat up a boy?
That's another thing the double standard of female on male violence. A woman is seen as "strong" if she hits men (and Buffy often hit Spike just because she felt like it), yet if a man hit a woman, he's seen as crossing a line that a man shouldn't cross. Even in fight scenes, a male hero will be reluctant to hit a female villain until the point where he has no choice, yet a female hero can go to town on a male villain without batting an eye.

A "strong" female character is pretty much a woman or girl who is very blunt and I don't want to say mouthy but ... mouthy, often to the point of being rude and obnoxious but we're told it's cute because she's a girl (actually it's rude on either sex), and who enjoys boys things - often proving that she can do - whatever it is she wants to do - better than all the boys. Yay femnism! Yay girl power!
This is basically Kennedy in a nutshell. Tara is "stronger" than Kennedy due to the adversity she's overcome, yet Kennedy is the one who gets to be "strong" because of her self-entitlement and attitude who is in the "special" club.

I can (but I won't) go into great detail about why the early Disney princess movies (golden age and renaissance) are great works of feminism and the princesses themselves pretty iconic 'strong' women - and why the later incarnation of princesses (where are they far more 'feisty' - which is to say gobby to the point of obnoxiousness and get themselves inveigled in far more physical peril) miss the mark.
I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Disney princesses.

There is a real idea in t.v and film and books that if a woman isn't swinging a sword and back chatting a man than she must be a passive and hopeless damsel ... and that's pure misogyny, but the belief that this faux 'strong female character' is a feminist portrayal of womanhood is still perpetuated, still telling lies and still causing harm.
So true. Radical feminism is just as bad as misogyny in my view, it's basically gone from men telling women how they should behave to radical feminists (the ones who tend to be very anti-man) wanting to tell women ow to behave yet claiming it's "progress" because "feminism".

She isn't "strong" in the way this show and most media use it to mean, but she is what we should be moving towards in our representation of female characters. She is a character to look up to and aspire to be like. Buffy is as well, of course, but not because she can hit hard, but because of her inner strengths and her attempts to overcome her inner weaknesses. 'Well rounded' is more important than 'strong' and can include female villains as well as heroines and women somewhere in between.
Agreed. Film and television portrayals of men and women need to reflect reality and the variance of different strengths within a gender rather than just focussing on physical strength and how well somebody can fight.
 

Athene

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I consider a strong female character to mean a character who is strong in a way that females aren't normally shown to be. So strong for a female character.
Tara is strong emotionally and she's also really clever, resourceful and morally strong but she wouldn't be my first thought for strong female character.
That's why I love the idea of Slayers- Buffy is strong physically and emotionally and that's more rare for female characters.
 

The Bronze

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The most feminist thing about Buffy as a show (I would argue it's only claim to feminism) is that it centres a well rounded female character who is allowed to interact with a wide range of other well rounded female characters
I'd change that to just "wide range of other well rounded characters". Always closest to where I'd put my interpretation of feminism in entertainment. Write a good batch of characters and you're halfway there. Think it's why I have a high bar for shows I can get into. Also why I don't get the hype for "groundbreaking" stuff like Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel.

Buffy had a great set of characters, men and women. So when a show serves up a bland set of characters I rarely make it through a couple of episodes. Then with the hype now every time there's a female lead, I'm like yeah that's not new is it any good?
 
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That's another thing the double standard of female on male violence. A woman is seen as "strong" if she hits men (and Buffy often hit Spike just because she felt like it), yet if a man hit a woman, he's seen as crossing a line that a man shouldn't cross. Even in fight scenes, a male hero will be reluctant to hit a female villain until the point where he has no choice, yet a female hero can go to town on a male villain without batting an eye.
That's because real world sensibilities are applied to a show which is lying about the real world and pretending that women are as strong as men. Whilst all violence is terrible and no, women should never hit men, the fact is that in the real world a woman - with no weapons, far less upper body strength, far less weight behind her and a much shorter reach cannot do much in the way of physical harm to a man. She just can't. A woman can hit a man with all her might, she will probably hurt her fist more than she hurts his nose. Conversely, a man is literally capable of killing a woman with one well aimed blow of his bare fist to her skull (shows like Buffy may actually skew our realisation and understanding of these physical differences) . A woman can lose control and get into a screaming fit and repeatedly hit a man - if he so chooses, he can simply use his greater reach and his superior strength to restrain her - so she can do no damage at all. If he lets her get close enough to hit him (and that would be a choice he can make- because of that greater reach) ... he'll get a bit bruised and more pissed off. A man getting into the same rage though ... by the time he's done, she will be at best suffering broken bones and black eyes, at worst she will be dead on the floor. That just is how much stronger men are, it shouldn't be minimised - the average man is between 50% and 100% stronger than the average woman. It needs to be accepted, respected and taken into account.

Which it mostly is - people recognise men hitting women is worse than vice versa in the same way that they recognise adults hitting children is worse than the opposite way around. A power differential that great must be held to a different standard, it's pretty self explanatory as to why. All violence is wrong - but the more serious harm you can do the more seriously it should be taken, and the victims ability to fight back on a fair footing - or not - should be taken into account as well. But despite the standard society accepts, we still get 2 women killed per week in the UK alone by their significant other (more in lock down). And unless you believe women are murdering men at a rate of 2 a week and are just extremely good at lugging these dead weight bodies into the garden at the dead of night and burying them under the patio without anyone noticing - there is not comparable figures the other way. Despite the fact that men should be more wary of hitting women than the other way around, they do it far more often (and ONS statistics blow out of the water any claims that men just don't tell people and women get away with it more - men are MORE likely to report domestic violence than women, they are more likely to downplay their own part in it - whereas female victims are more likely to take more of the blame on themselves and women - whilst getting arrested far less often for all crimes - can expect higher sentencing for the same crime. But whereas women are likely to be in prison for shop lifting and drug possession, men are in for much more serious crimes - so have longer sentences, so the average male sentence appears longer than average female sentences - but are not when compared like crime for like crime. Men really do just commit more violence.)

When you get a show like Buffy - where a lie is being told that a woman is as effective as men when it comes to violence, we still carry over that real world knowledge. So even though we 'know' Buffy can hit harder than everyone else, we still see a six foot man hitting a little girl. It's why the AR in Seeing Red played so badly with audiences, because the writers thought they could get away with it because we all knew Buffy could stop Spike at any time - but they didn't take into account what the visual would still look like. So Buffy can hit men with impunity whereas men hitting her back are treated as if they have done something wrong and it seems like a double standard - within the show it is - but it is because all that real world baggage comes with it. This is part of this reason why we need to get away from the idea of 'strong' and 'worthwhile' being linked to how hard you can hit. Because in order to portray women as 'strong' and 'worthwhile' she has to be able to hit a man, but real world sensibilities tell us that the audience will not like it if he hits her back - and why would they? A ridiculous number of women are living with DV, they don't want to see it on their fantasy T.V shows.

So true. Radical feminism is just as bad as misogyny in my view, it's basically gone from men telling women how they should behave to radical feminists (the ones who tend to be very anti-man) wanting to tell women ow to behave yet claiming it's "progress" because "feminism"
Radical feminism is not extremist feminism (I'm not sure there is such a thing as "extremist feminism" - no doubt there is a pathological man hater out there who calls herself a feminist but she is as fringe and as rare as members of Isis are to normal Muslims, probably more so). It has absolutely nothing to do with hating men, or telling women how to behave. Radical comes from the Latin "radix" - meaning "the root" (also where we get the word radish from) and - in a nutshell - this school of feminism is about recognising that we can never have equality in a world that is built on inherently patriarchal lines, therefore we need to tear down all the patriarchal edifices and structures (from the root - hence 'radical') and start from scratch (it recognises this is easier said then done.) What I said earlier about changing the way we view 'strength' and what is deemed 'valuable and worthwhile' was an example of radical feminism (because I am a radical feminist, it is a prism through which I view life and no - I don't hate men). As the world is inherently patriarchal and women's role in it has been designed - for centuries - to be of use to men, whether making babies, making homes or just looking decorative, we need to acknowledge that all the choices we make are filtered through societal brainwashing. So whether we think 'yay gender roles - embrace femininity and make babies' or 'femininity sucks, I want to be the president and any woman without ambition is an embarrassment' this has all come from a society that puts women at the bottom of the hierarchy as nurturing. baby making machines. Rather than tell women what to do, which path to choose, radical feminism just acknowledges the hierarchy and the brainwashing and says 'you know what - either is fine, but acknowledge why you're doing what you're doing and take whatever steps you need to protect yourself so that you're not misused and abused at home or at work.'
The other major school of feminism is 'liberal feminism' and - in a nut shell - this is lean in feminism, getting women to equality by tinkering around the edges and acting more like men (being more assertive, getting women into boardrooms etc) Now, they're not dogmatic and is perfectly possible to believe some tenets of one and some tenets of the other - but essentially, they are two opposing schools of thought.
Another big difference is that liberal feminism is 'choice' feminism - which is essentially celebrating every choice a woman makes because she chose it and therefore she is 'empowered' whereas radical feminism acknowledges that that choice was not made in a vacuum and that not all choices are good ones, even when women are making them. And when a woman's "choice" is harming other women, she will be called out by the rad fems.
"strong female characters" - the Kennedy type - are an example of liberal feminism. Make them loud, make them aggressive, make them hit hard, make them in charge, denigrate and mock softer and more passive seeming women, because that is no way to get ahead in the world. But as has been discussed on this thread, that causes problems - it only values male strength and expects women to be able to do the impossible with regards to male physical prowess and ape male behaviour, it creates a double standard in the way male and female characters can interact because it is both trying to ignore reality whilst allowing for real world sensibilities.
Hence my suggestion we just change the way we think about strength and start aiming for three dimensional portrayals of people, rather than coding our heroes with masculine skills. That takes a lot more effort than simply writing a woman who always has a witty put down for her hapless male sidekick and can punch like a mack truck, but it is more lasting and positive change. But because it is more effort - shows are going to stick with the easy option, which has wider effects on everyone who then consumes the media - it continues to shape our view of the world in this inherently patriarchal, male supremacist way - whilst lying to girls about what their bodies are capable of, what they can feasibly do and making men feel aggrieved because the easiest way to 'empower' a fictional woman is to make the fictional man look dumb. Then everyone looks around the real world, where we still only value typical male strengths and masculine pursuits (in part thanks to what we see on the television), and see that real women are incapable of these feats and that men aren't dumb and are capable... and that doesn't leave women any place good in the fight for equality. It's perhaps not surprising that as we get more 'empowered' female characters in film and T.V we are also seeing a huge rise of numbers in the manosphere: the bitter little MGTOWS, PUAS, MRAs and Incels.

No school of feminism is anti-male though, for the simple fact that feminism is not about men. It is about centring women. It's always about women. Rad fems tend towards class based analysis and they recognise that women as a class are oppressed by men as a class - but that has nothing to do with disliking individual men, or thinking they are oppressed by the men in their life, if they are not being oppressed by them. My dad does not oppress me, there are some things he fundamentally doesn't understand about my life as a woman - but that isn't oppression, it's mildly irritating at worst. The problem happens when - because men as a class hold the balance of power - they as a group with that power don't understand or appreciate problems facing women, underestimate them or refuse to listen (sometimes these problems are created by men themselves, sometimes they are biological) women end up being discriminated against and have less access to public space, facilities and getting themselves heard. Saying "men in power create barriers for women" is not about hating men, it is about raising up women.
Similarly collating all the evidence of male violence against women is not about blame or hatred, it isn't about the men at all, it is about getting women the help they need. Because feminism is always about women.
And whilst it is true that men actually commit far more violence against each other than they do against women ... that just isn't in feminism's remit. Feminism is about women. Presenting rad fems with data on male on male violence is a bit like going down to the donkey sanctuary and asking them what they're doing to protect abandoned cats. Of course they care, of course they sympathise ... but they're really all about the donkeys. So is feminism all about the women. It is a sign of the patriarchal culture we live in that explaining women are primarily concerned about women and therefore male violence against themselves is not in their remit is seen as shocking and selfish, or an act of hatred or exclusion - because women are always expected to put everyone else ahead of themselves. But the point of feminism is ... well, to centre women - and a rad fem will do so unashamedly. It does not mean she does not love and appreciate the men in her life or mean she thinks bad things about men in general.

I'd change that to just "wide range of other well rounded characters". Always closest to where I'd put my interpretation of feminism in entertainment. Write a good batch of characters and you're halfway there.
I feel like I've said this to death but ... feminism is about women. Well rounded male characters are great, they're even necessary for good story telling, but they have nothing to do with feminism. If Buffy was a well rounded female character who only interacted with well rounded male characters it would not be a feminist show (such as it is) she would simply be the Smurfette. that isn't to say it wouldn't be good - it just wouldn't be feminist. A show does not have to have feminist credentials to be good. If Buffy was a well rounded female character who ONLY interacted with well rounded female characters, it would be a feminist show (such as it is) - because it centres on women. Which isn't to say it would be any good at all - it might be dreadful - but it would be feminist. Being feminist doesn't mean the show will be entertaining and enjoyable. The Bechdale test exists purely because female to female interactions in movies and T.V are so rare - upping the number of well rounded male characters and having female characters interact with them doesn't help at all.
The only thing you need for feminism is ... females.


.
 
Priceless
Priceless
You are wrong about Faith, but you are right about Radical Feminism
K
katmobile
I'd argue TERFs have a root in misandry but mostly I agree. Buffy feminism is flawed especially as regards non white women but I do like that Buffy, Tara, Willow and Cordy are all strong in different ways.

DeadlyDuo

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the fact is that in the real world a woman - with no weapons, far less upper body strength, far less weight behind her and a much shorter reach cannot do much in the way of physical harm to a man.
I disagree. Women have sharp nails, eyes and balls are very much a weak spot on a man, plus you don't know how strong the woman is. A female bodybuilder is likely to do a lot of damage to an average man. You've also got to take into account height, a tall woman can easily hold her own against a short man, plus if the man has an existing injury that gives him a weak spot, that too can be used against him.

There are many factors that can affect how much damage a woman can do to a man. A blanket "women are helpless against men" can't be applied because it isn't true.

She just can't. A woman can hit a man with all her might, she will probably hurt her fist more than she hurts his nose.
Disagree. Women can vicious. Men can be beaten by women if they don't fight back because they don't want to get accused of domestic abuse which some female abusers threaten to do. Amber Heard tried to frame Johnny Depp for domestic abuse when in fact she was the one abusing him.

Conversely, a man is literally capable of killing a woman with one well aimed blow of his bare fist to her skull
A woman can do the same to a man if she hits a weak point which is normally the back of the head. Again, it's all dependent on the woman in question.

A woman can lose control and get into a screaming fit and repeatedly hit a man - if he so chooses, he can simply use his greater reach and his superior strength to restrain her - so she can do no damage at all.
Disagree. This line of thinking is implying that men are choosing to allow themselves to be abused by women because by your logic they can "choose" to stop her. That's like saying an abused woman can "choose" to walk away from an abusive relationship yet "chooses" to stay. And again, what's to stop a woman claiming domestic abuse against a man? If she's gone into a screaming fit and repeatedly hitting him, that's going to take some force to restrain her eg the man grabs her wrists tightly to stop her hitting him. That's likely to leave bruises, something the woman would then use against the man.

If he lets her get close enough to hit him (and that would be a choice he can make- because of that greater reach) ... he'll get a bit bruised and more pissed off.
So how exactly is he supposed to stop her. Push her? Grab her? How exactly is a man supposed to stop a angry woman from hurting him without some use of force since asking her kindly to stop isn't going to work once she's in a "screaming fit".

A man getting into the same rage though ... by the time he's done, she will be at best suffering broken bones and black eyes, at worst she will be dead on the floor. That just is how much stronger men are, it shouldn't be minimised - the average man is between 50% and 100% stronger than the average woman. It needs to be accepted, respected and taken into account.
It seems like you're trying to justify women hitting men. You're basically say men shouldn't hit women because they could kill them (fair enough) but you're also saying that if a woman hits a man he'll just "get a bit bruised and more pissed off". You're basically paying a game of "that's worse than that so that would be more acceptable than that because the outcome won't be as bad as that".

Which it mostly is - people recognise men hitting women is worse than vice versa in the same way that they recognise adults hitting children is worse than the opposite way around. A power differential that great must be held to a different standard, it's pretty self explanatory as to why. All violence is wrong - but the more serious harm you can do the more seriously it should be taken, and the victims ability to fight back on a fair footing - or not - should be taken into account as well.
Again though, you're implying a narrative that "all women are victims to men". This isn't true. A woman can do just as much damage to a man if she is so inclined. Women are more likely to veer towards emotional abuse which in some ways can be even more damaging. Cuts and bruises will heal within days/weeks, emotional scars can last years if not a lifetime. False allegations of rape or domestic abuse can be weaponised against a man and tarnish his reputation. Men can be emasculated, get told to "man up" or "be a man", women don't. Nobody has every told a woman to "woman up".

And when a woman's "choice" is harming other women, she will be called out by the rad fems.
Who gets to decide what is "harming other women"? A woman might decide to be a housewife, yet a feminist might claim that's endorsing "patriarchy" because it's not what a feminist thinks the woman should be doing.

Radical feminists are judging women for their choices, unless they deem it to be an acceptable choice and are then berating them for it if they deem it unacceptable.

Then everyone looks around the real world, where we still only value typical male strengths and masculine pursuits (in part thanks to what we see on the television), and see that real women are incapable of these feats and that men aren't dumb and are capable... and that doesn't leave women any place good in the fight for equality.
Here's the thing, you're implying certain qualities are "male", the same way some groups are claiming certain traits are qualities of "whiteness". Therefore you're saying that a woman can't possess those qualities herself and is in essence pretending to be a man by exhibiting those qualities that you deem "male". It's like how "working hard" is supposedly a "white" trait which implies that black people are incapable of possessing that trait themselves and thus have to take on traits of another race in order to succeed in life.

This then leads to the question of what traits are assigned to which group?

No school of feminism is anti-male though, for the simple fact that feminism is not about men. It is about centring women. It's always about women. Rad fems tend towards class based analysis and they recognise that women as a class are oppressed by men as a class - but that has nothing to do with disliking individual men, or thinking they are oppressed by the men in their life
This is making a generalisation though and painting one group as the "enemy". It takes away personal accountability from the individual and again applying a victimhood narrative which suggests that a person is not responsible for their own actions in life and the consequences that come from those decisions. It implies that a person is born a victim due to their gender or race.

there are some things he fundamentally doesn't understand about my life as a woman
By the same token, there are some things women fundamentally don't understand about life as a man.

The problem happens when - because men as a class hold the balance of power - they as a group with that power don't understand or appreciate problems facing women, underestimate them or refuse to listen (sometimes these problems are created by men themselves, sometimes they are biological) women end up being discriminated against and have less access to public space, facilities and getting themselves heard.
Again though, you're making a generalisation and painting men as the "enemy" of women.

Also, Titanic is a prime example where men were discriminated against based on gender (which was basically a death sentence) but I don't see feminists talking about that.

Saying "men in power create barriers for women" is not about hating men, it is about raising up women.
Via making a generalisation about a gender group whilst applying a victimhood narrative to women, thus painting men as the "enemy" of women.

Similarly collating all the evidence of male violence against women is not about blame or hatred, it isn't about the men at all, it is about getting women the help they need. Because feminism is always about women.
But is it about equality? Superiority is not equality. Just because men held the power in the past doesn't mean there should be a "it's women's turn now" mentality.
 

AstridDante

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I always thought of Tara as quite a softie, leads with her heart rather than her head. In some ways I felt Willow was the more domineering partner in that relationship.
 

Moggin

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Tara may not have the greatest power of fist or magic, but her mental fortitude is almost without equal. She remains mute about Dawn being the Key, even though she knows what Glory will do to her. She stands up to her family. She is the one who seeks Willow out after the Wicca meeting. She's unapologetically gay. She is the only one outside of Giles to stand up to Willow's abuse of magic. I could go on.

Spike may have some flashy scenes, like enduring torture to get a soul, or purposefully grabbing a cross to defeat Angel, but Tara's scenes, while less artistic, are no less powerful. I consider her a strong female character indeed.

To look at what constitutes a weak female character, see any character not fully fleshed out, lacking personal agency, or constantly playing the damsel in distress. Tara fits none of these. She is a fully fleshed out human being, making her own choices, living her own life, and often doing her best to save others. I can't think of a female character on Buffy that wasn't strong in some way, unless you count Cousin Beth, and I don't count her mouthy behavior as a strength.
 

NokLyf

Give me something to sing about...
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Tara's quiet strength is what makes her one of my favourite characters.

She has her stammer but it doesn't stop her from speaking up. She's always intuned to what's going on.

For me from The Family her character soars. She doesn't struggle with who she is like the other characters do.

By season 6 she's the only character with her shit together. The others go to her for strength.

She's not only a rock to Willow but to Dawn and Buffy - she's the only one Buffy confides in about Spike and how she's feeling (a real turning point in the season).

She has the strength to leave Willow (which I can't see any of the others doing, if faced with the same decision.)

After leaving Willow she still sticks around for Dawn and supports Buffy. She sticks up for Willow when Anya tries to get her to use magic. She also saves the group when Buffy goes crazy.

Strength is more than physicality and speeches.

Mentally she's probably the strongest character of all of them.
 

LeeJones41

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I would say that Tara was strong-willed in a different way, especially when she tried to get Willow to face the latter's abuse of magic in early Season Six. When Willow stepped over the line and used magic to exploit Tara herself, I found latter's reason for distancing herself from Willow - namely "magic addiction" - a major cop out. Willow had erased memories of their argument and used that to have sex with Tara. Not once did the latter bring that up. And I believe that undermined Tara's character in the end.
 
K
katmobile
I don't think she did when that relationship got abusive she left and she stood for both Buffy and Willow in Older and Far Away.

r2dh2

Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain
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I disagree. Women have sharp nails, eyes and balls are very much a weak spot on a man, plus you don't know how strong the woman is. A female bodybuilder is likely to do a lot of damage to an average man. You've also got to take into account height, a tall woman can easily hold her own against a short man, plus if the man has an existing injury that gives him a weak spot, that too can be used against him.

There are many factors that can affect how much damage a woman can do to a man. A blanket "women are helpless against men" can't be applied because it isn't true.

Disagree. Women can vicious. Men can be beaten by women if they don't fight back because they don't want to get accused of domestic abuse which some female abusers threaten to do. Amber Heard tried to frame Johnny Depp for domestic abuse when in fact she was the one abusing him.

A woman can do the same to a man if she hits a weak point which is normally the back of the head. Again, it's all dependent on the woman in question.

Disagree. This line of thinking is implying that men are choosing to allow themselves to be abused by women because by your logic they can "choose" to stop her. That's like saying an abused woman can "choose" to walk away from an abusive relationship yet "chooses" to stay. And again, what's to stop a woman claiming domestic abuse against a man? If she's gone into a screaming fit and repeatedly hitting him, that's going to take some force to restrain her eg the man grabs her wrists tightly to stop her hitting him. That's likely to leave bruises, something the woman would then use against the man.

So how exactly is he supposed to stop her. Push her? Grab her? How exactly is a man supposed to stop a angry woman from hurting him without some use of force since asking her kindly to stop isn't going to work once she's in a "screaming fit".

It seems like you're trying to justify women hitting men. You're basically say men shouldn't hit women because they could kill them (fair enough) but you're also saying that if a woman hits a man he'll just "get a bit bruised and more pissed off". You're basically paying a game of "that's worse than that so that would be more acceptable than that because the outcome won't be as bad as that".

Again though, you're implying a narrative that "all women are victims to men". This isn't true. A woman can do just as much damage to a man if she is so inclined. Women are more likely to veer towards emotional abuse which in some ways can be even more damaging. Cuts and bruises will heal within days/weeks, emotional scars can last years if not a lifetime. False allegations of rape or domestic abuse can be weaponised against a man and tarnish his reputation. Men can be emasculated, get told to "man up" or "be a man", women don't. Nobody has every told a woman to "woman up".

Who gets to decide what is "harming other women"? A woman might decide to be a housewife, yet a feminist might claim that's endorsing "patriarchy" because it's not what a feminist thinks the woman should be doing.
I don’t want to get into a heated discussion, but after reading this thread it’s clear that you’re misunderstanding the point. Big disclaimer: I know nothing about feminism, I am only trying to explain what I understand from reading @Myheadsgonenumb post.

@Myheadsgonenumb is not claiming that women are defenseless against men. She is stating a well-established fact: on average, men are physically stronger than women. Of course, women can fight back and there are counterexamples. In other words, this doesn’t mean that ALL men are stronger that ANY woman and that men will ALWAYS win a physical confrontation with a woman.

However, the main implication of this physiological fact is that men are capable of causing more damage (or even death) to women IF they allow rage to take over and IF they use their full physical strength against women. This FACT helps explain the “puzzling” double standard that you raised above (male to female violence versus female to male violence). Hence, men need to restrain themselves because they have the “potential” of causing more physical harm to women. This doesn’t mean that women cannot cause considerable physical damage to men (or even win a physical fight). But on average, the outcome of a man/woman fight favors the man. Hence, restrain is needed…

Think about a different example of the same argument. Our heroine is a superhero who is physically stronger than most people, regardless of gender. Buffy knows this; hence she has to restrain herself when confronting “normal” humans. Take for instance the episode “Ted.” Ted physically assaults Buffy and hurts her, leading Buffy to give into her rage and “choosing” to hit Ted back without restrain, which leads to this “death” (let’s forget about him being a robot). Buffy acknowledges this:

Buffy: I'm the Slayer. I had no right to hit him like that.

Could have Ted killed Buffy? Yes, he could have thrown a lucky punch, knock her out and kill her. BUT, in general, the odds favor Buffy.

So @Myheadsgonenumb is NOT making a normative statement, she making a positive statement Positive statement - Wikipedia).” She is NOT justifying (nor encouraging) women hitting men. She is saying that we HAVE to recognize our physical differences, and that in this particular situation of physical confrontation between a man and a woman, these differences tend to work against women (they might even die).

Going back to my Buffy example, recognizing that Buffy has the advantage DOES NOT mean that we endorse the scenario where we prefer Ted hitting her because he might cause less damage. It only means that Buffy IS stronger than Ted. A fact. But we are only focusing on PHYSICAL strength, this fact DOES NOT say anything regarding other types of violence that can be used by Ted in our example, or by women in your counterargument.

Radical feminists are judging women for their choices, unless they deem it to be an acceptable choice and are then berating them for it if they deem it unacceptable.

Here's the thing, you're implying certain qualities are "male", the same way some groups are claiming certain traits are qualities of "whiteness". Therefore you're saying that a woman can't possess those qualities herself and is in essence pretending to be a man by exhibiting those qualities that you deem "male". It's like how "working hard" is supposedly a "white" trait which implies that black people are incapable of possessing that trait themselves and thus have to take on traits of another race in order to succeed in life.

This then leads to the question of what traits are assigned to which group?

This is making a generalisation though and painting one group as the "enemy". It takes away personal accountability from the individual and again applying a victimhood narrative which suggests that a person is not responsible for their own actions in life and the consequences that come from those decisions. It implies that a person is born a victim due to their gender or race.

By the same token, there are some things women fundamentally don't understand about life as a man.

Again though, you're making a generalisation and painting men as the "enemy" of women.

Also, Titanic is a prime example where men were discriminated against based on gender (which was basically a death sentence) but I don't see feminists talking about that.

Via making a generalisation about a gender group whilst applying a victimhood narrative to women, thus painting men as the "enemy" of women.

But is it about equality? Superiority is not equality. Just because men held the power in the past doesn't mean there should be a "it's women's turn now" mentality.
Now, if I understand correctly, radical feminism doesn’t do what you claim (“Radical feminists are judging women for their choices”). Radical feminism questions the social structure/environment in which those choices are made. Again, from my understanding, we are talking about the academic definition of radical feminism, not the colloquial connotation that it might be attributed to the term.

Once more, @Myheadsgonenumb is only trying to put into perspective our current definition of “strength” or "power." Since we live in a patriarchal society, we define power by assigning it male characteristics. Biologically and physiologically, there ARE differences between men and women. Hence, men cannot fully understand women (and the other way around). But since men are the ones in a position of power, this lack of understanding (of women) leads to social norms where power has mainly masculine attributes.

Now, this is NOT about painting an image of men as the enemy and women as victims. She is saying that throughout history, men have been the dominant group and thus they became the architects of our current institutions (Note: by institutions I refer to gender roles, laws, rules and customs, or more generally to social norms, which might be formal or informal) and by design those institutions cater to men. This happened NOT because men wanted to victimize women, this happened because men are NOT women and hence, they cannot fully understand our needs and wants. Again, it IS NOT about paint us as defenseless, it is only about recognizing that our social structure is the outcome of a long historical process lead mostly by men, and therefore it attaches more value to male characteristics, male needs and male wants. And when we, women, make decisions in this context, our choices and decisions are not completely “free,” they are influenced by the gender roles we are taught, and the customs, the rules of social behavior and the laws prevalent in our society.

(Another note: when I say that men have been the dominant group, I refer to the history of civilization. Even in Europe and the USA, laws allowing women to own property, vote, make certain personal decisions, etc. are relatively recent, they started passing in the late 1800s if I remember correctly).

So her argument is a very simple thought experiment: If we were to start from scratch in a society without preconceived social norms (no laws, no rules, no customs, no gender roles), how would we define power/strength?

And this IS NOT about superiority of one gender, nor is about wanting to displace men from positions of power. This is about understanding that in our current society, women tend to have worse outcomes (without assigning blame to men, only recognizing that it IS a fact… again, IN GENERAL, we can always have outliers), and the goal of radical feminism is to determine how we can change these institutions in such a way that women’s needs and wants are also reflected in them. Or in @Myheadsgonenumb words, it is not about tearing men down, it is about pushing women up. And when she says that it is all about women, she DOES NOT mean that radical feminism implies that now it is the turn of women to be in power. She means that the objective of radical feminism is to understand what women are lacking in the current structure and to find a way of incorporating that something that is missing into our current (or new) institutions.

I think that the best example for this concept comes from BTVS itself. The Watcher’s Council is an institution that was originated with the Shadow Men, when they allowed the violation of a girl by a demon in order to infuse her with the physical strength to fight demons. They went one step further by creating a structure that ensured that every generation would get a new Slayer and that such Slayer would be trained and would follow the rules of the Council in the fight against evil. This institution (the Watcher's Council), however, is patriarchal by design (men created it, men established its laws and rules, men enforced it, and so on…) and favors “male” characteristics: our Slayer is physically powerful (self-explanatory) ,“should” be emotionally detached and a rule follower (i.e. Kendra), devoid of human passions (i.e. Giles words from season 2), alone and hardened (i.e. the first Slayer)… all of them characteristics that are traditionally associated with masculinity. And hence, BTVS takes us in a journey that shows us that there is also power in having family and friends, that passion, feelings and emotions can be a motor, that sharing the power could make us stronger, and so on… Overall, it is clear throughout the 7 seasons that the Watcher’s Council is outdated and that the needs and wants of the Slayer (who is a woman) should be recognized, honored and incorporated into a new “Council.”
 
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
So many exceptions in history, culture, contemporary (also David vs Goliath) that I think it's overstated here. Both sides seem to think all aggression is just two people standing in a circle exchanging face punches when it's rarely like that.

Ethan Reigns

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Sineya
The most important stories in our lives are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Am I good at sports? Yes or no. Am I good at math? To what degree? Do other people have their lives so much better planned than mine that I should follow them? Yes or no. Can I handle finances in my life? Yes or no. Do I give myself permission to retaliate if someone does me wrong? Yes or no. Then you mix this in with societal definitions. Should I be good at sports? Should I be good at math? Should I let other people lead me? Should I hand control of family finances over to my spouse? Should I strike back at people who I believe did me some wrong? These are just a few of an entire galaxy of questions whose answers define us.

These are just a few of the questions in everyone's personal narrative that runs like an operating system in the background for the entirety of everyone's life. This gets modulated by cultural standards. In our western society, it is quite often the man in the family who controls the finances. In Japanese culture, it is usually the wife who controls the finances. This may have no correlation to the reality of who is more capable of correct financial control - it is socially defined. Similarly, the societal definition holds that women should be better at arts subjects whereas men should be better at STEM subjects and that women who are better at STEM subjects are either compensating for not being attractive or are somehow "butch" and not feminine. Funny how the best looking woman I ever met in my entire long life was not only a systems engineer, she had her pilot's licence!

One of the most unsettling things that can happen in your life is if you realize that some part of the personal narrative is wrong or gets changed. I was never inclined towards athletics although I was on the wrestling team for one year in high school. It gave me a bit more fitness (as would be expected) but didn't change my opinion of my athletic ability. The real difference was when I joined a Tae Kwon Do class. With constant practice, I could eventually kick up to my head height and do things I didn't think were possible in the personal narrative I had set for myself and that was somewhat scary because if I was wrong about the impossibility of changing my personal narrative about that, was I also wrong about every other part of my personal narrative? For example, normally I am quite messy and disorganized because that is who I am or have at least allowed myself to be but maybe that doesn't have to remain the case.

Let's apply this to Tara using a definition that strength is the ability to live up to the good parts of your personal narrative and change your definition of yourself, your personal narrative, for the better where it can be improved. In the beginning, we see Tara as lacking confidence in herself and believing that people are about to come down on her to the extent that she stutters. This changes for the better - she stops stuttering as soon as she is confident that she is loved unconditionally and although Willow later does some horrible things to her, we can credit her with helping this change. Her own internal story of her magical expertise does not change all that much. Family is the episode where she realizes that her family is not only not on her side, but is unworthy of being followed so she frees herself from that. This is a change for the better. She maintains psychic abilities that exceed the more flashy magical abilities of Willow - she is the one who detects the body swap between Buffy and Faith. She maintains this ability because it is objectively worthwhile - that part of her narrative doesn't have to change. Although she had knuckled under to her family before, when Glory came around, she did not yield - whether that could have happened before is questionable but the fact that she could do it now means at least nothing got worse. When Willow starts playing around with her mind using forgetting spells, she has the sense to walk away from the situation, something she never could have done before, so she has improved her narrative dramatically at that point. Coming back to Willow could be seen as either strength or weakness, so I won't judge here. She may have thought the problem was over or she may have found her longing for Willow overruled her better sense, we never see which is the case. She is a good friend to Dawn when Buffy dies (although a number of people question her and Willow living in the house at Revello Drive, presumably without paying either rent or utilities - in that area, the story is not clear whether this is actually the case, but it draws down on her strength of character credit to an unflattering degree - if that actually is the case.

Is Tara strong? In most senses, yes, but she is coming from a place of prior weakness.
 
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