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, this autumn has been the closest we\'ve come in ages to having
Melissa Benoist\'s Kara and Krysten Ritter\'s Jessica are two very different, but equally empowered, heroines, and both owe a substantial debt to Sarah Michelle Gellar\'s groundbreaking Buffy Summers. Buffy was conceived as a feminist reimagining of a sexist horror trope – the doomed blonde girl on a dark street – and throughout her seven years on screen she was that and much, much more.
Here are 9 reasons why Buffy remains television\'s greatest feminist.
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The Watchers Council is pretty much the embodiment of patriarchy at its most abusive – a group of old men who dictate the fates of young women against their will. Buffy bucks the trend by resisting them from day one, and eventually rejects them and their rules entirely. (But not Giles, because Giles is the greatest.)
2. She shows that being feminine doesn\'t mean being weak
"I want to date, and shop, and hang out, and go to school, and save the world from unspeakable demons. You know – I want to do girly stuff." Buffy cares a lot about girly stuff. She wears adorable skirts and shops for shoes and spends time on her hair, and she\'s also a stone-cold badass who saves the world a lot.
Rather than accepting the lonely, joyless path laid out for her by the council, Buffy fights for her right to be an individual. Like generations of women in the real world, she\'s met at every turn with someone saying "You can\'t" – a slayer can\'t have friends, a slayer can\'t fall in love, a slayer can\'t have a life – and refuses to listen.
Though Buffy has her fair share of intense, all-consuming relationships, she never lost herself – or her sense of right and wrong – to a man. Case in point: she loved Angel desperately, and still killed him to save the world. And she was never afraid to be single, as her endlessly quotable cookie dough speech proves.
Buffy\'s slayer skills give her the edge when fighting the forces of evil, but it\'s her emotional resilience, her sense of self-worth and her empathy that make her truly powerful.
Being dismissed as "too emotional" is an all-too-common experience for women, and Buffy demonstrates beautifully just how moronic that is. When hardened fellow slayer Kendra disapproves of Buffy\'s emotional openness, Buffy responds "My emotions give me power. They\'re total assets." Amen.
7. She asks for help when she needs it
Feminism, despite weirdly common misunderstandings to the contrary, doesn\'t mean invalidating men or their value. One of the many things that makes Buffy different from slayers before her is that she has a circle of friends of both genders that she calls on for help, because she knows that their support makes her stronger.
One of the many horror tropes Buffy subverts is the "sex = death" idea, where sexually active female characters are the first to die horribly. Though Buffy\'s romantic choices aren\'t always the greatest, she\'s completely empowered sexually – she feels desire, she has sex when she wants to, and she owns the consequences. Sometimes the sex is good, sometimes it\'s bad, sometimes it\'s loving, sometimes it\'s self-destructive, but it is always her choice.
9. She shares her power with other women
The series finale, in which Buffy changes the rules of the slayer legacy and turns the power of one into the power of many, is probably the most potent metaphor for female empowerment ever put on screen.
"So here\'s the part where you make a choice. What if you could have that power, now? In every generation, one Slayer is born, because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rule. I say
power. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer, will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?"
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