Dare to be Buffy and Co.

(Static2.hypable.com, 2015)

Buffy would have had to be my original pop culture hero. Through her I learnt to stand up for myself. That it was okay to be different, quirky and weird. She taught me to be vulnerable yet strong at the same time. She taught me equality and empathy. She taught me how to handle grief, break-ups and friendship issues with style and sass. She taught me that I have my own power as long as I believe in it and use it. Willow (Buffy’s best friend) taught me that nerds are awesome. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. There are numerous blog posts online that demonstrate the influence the show had on girls at the time and the impact it is still having today. Google: What Buffy taught me and you’ll have a cavalcade of choices. Why has Buffy made such an impact to how girls see themselves?

Because it turns out that Joss Whedon, the creator of the character, is a feminist.

So what is feminism? It seems that a lot of girls are confused.

Feminism is defined as advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”

Urban Dictionary also has some liberating definitions:

“FEMINISM IS:
1.)respecting people of all genders (recognizing the diversity in sexuality, from homosexuals, transgendered, heterosexuals and transexuals) as human beings that deserve to be treated with respect.

2.) recognizing the past inequalities that have historically denied women access to many social, economic and political spheres that are mostly occupied by men.

3.)Recognizing the result of these inequalities have lasting impacts today”

The strangest thing I have heard from the mouths of teenagers about feminism are the following:

“Don’t they burn bras?”

“Aren’t they against stay-at-home mums?”

“They hate men don’t they?”

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting from The Big Bang Theory was asked recently if she was a feminist. She replied with “Is it bad if I say no? It’s not really something I think about. Things are different now, and I know a lot of the work that paved the way for women happened before I was around… I was never that feminist girl demanding equality.”

This caused enormous media backlash at the time and Kaley had to refute her comments in her Instagram account. Advising that she is blessed and grateful that strong women have paved the way for her success and many others.

So I ask myself, why is feminism shown in a negative light and how can we use characters like Buffy to demonstrate gender equality?

Feminism is seen in a negative light by society for various reasons. One is fear. Another blogger named Michael Kaufman highlights why men may be afraid of feminism. He advises that the main reason men are afraid is because “it challenges forms of men’s power and privilege that one-half of our species foisted on the other about 8,000 years ago”. Jessica Valenti’s vlog on why people are afraid of feminism hits the nail on the head with this one with “people are afraid of what they don’t know”.

Jessica outline the rise of the anti-feminist movement on social media. However, when one looks into it a little deeper you realise that it is based on a skewed definition of feminism. What was once covered in photos like these…

#WomenAgainstFeminism (Actionaid.org.uk, 2015)

Men Aren't Our Enemies

Men Aren’t Our Enemies (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

Feminism No Longer Stands For Equality

Feminism No Longer Stands For Equality (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

True Equality Comes From Treating Everybody Equally

True Equality Comes From Treating Everybody Equally (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

… is now filled with other photographs correcting the previous posts on their incorrect portrayal of what feminism actually is.

In true Buffy and co style a number of people on social media decided to create their own movement and memes to counteract the anti-feminist movement with quirk, style, sass and delivering their own brand of power…

#WomenAgainstFeminism

#WomenAgainstFeminism (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

#WomenAgainstFeminism

#WomenAgainstFeminism (Womenagainstfeminism.com, 2015)

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and who could forget the #ConfusedCatsAgainstFeminism?

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Reader submission. Confused Cats Against Feminism is brought to you by We Hunted the Mammoth, and by YOUR KITTIES. Submit! And buy crap at the Confused Cats Store! It’s for charity!

(41.media.tumblr.com, 2015)

Or #InanimateObjectsAgainstFeminism?

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Twitter was also set alight by those attempting to correct its misrepresentation.

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(41.media.tumblr.com, 2015)

Celebrities weren’t far behind…

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(Pbs.twimg.com, 2015)

(S.yimg.com, 2015)

(Orr, 2014)

(I.telegraph.co.uk, 2015)

And with a stroke of genius the UN pushed forward and chose Emma Watson (we all remember Hermoine don’t we?) as the face of feminism.

(40.media.tumblr.com, 2015)

What’s more Buffy-esque than that?

Let’s dare to be Buffy and Co.

Let’s dare to be feminists!

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Daring to be girls

Working in an all girls school can be a daunting experience – yes, even for other girls (or women for that matter).

When I first started I was definitely disconcerted. Upon entering the room for my first few classes I found the experience extremely eerie. It was dead silent. So silent you could hear a pin drop. No one would raise their hand to answer a question. A lot of hesitation. A lot of looking back and forth between their peers. A lot of uncertainty, self-consciousness and not a lot of resilience for some. This atmosphere of wanting to be perfect. Of wanting not to be wrong and look bad in front of your classmates.

Then I realised, as students, there was a massive difference between boys and girls in a group. However, I never really saw it until it slapped me in the face.

If I had walked into a co-ed classroom, the reaction would’ve been different as a myriad of personalities and genders all get thrown into one room. I would’ve had the student who constantly raised her hand to answer questions. I would’ve had the student whom constantly raised his hand to ask questions. The student who keeps wanting to go to the toilet. The student who can’t keep away from their mobile phone. The students whom have a very short attention spans and are a magnet for each other. Short of handcuffing them to the table (which we aren’t allowed to do) there seems to be nothing you can do to keep them still and on task.

Other experiences may be different but walking into my first single sex classroom in a single sex school was definitely memorable.

It took two months for the pin to drop and suddenly the girls got used me to. Once they got used to me, sussed me out, figured out what made me tick – the other pin dropped. The tears, the tantrums, the friendship issues, the mean girls, the depression, the anxiety, the crazy hormones running around their system that they didn’t know how to handle. I don’t believe a lot of adults know how to handle them either. In a school with a total of almost 500 bodies – with 6 brave male staff members (3 of them teachers) – being in an all-girls is a rude shock when you understand that at any point in time half the population of the school is going through PMS.

I’ll let that sink in for moment.

Then I turned a corner. I knew I had  looked at the situation reminiscing – I was missing being in a coed classroom. I missed the boys and their humor, their craziness.

After a few months I looked around again and I found everything that I was missing. And I found it all in an all-girls school. The characters, the wild ones, the individuals, the misfits & the popular ones. There was one thing I did notice more so than anything else working in this environment and I loved it. It was because being in an all girls school ALLOWED girls to BE GIRLS.

Where else would you have an entire cohort of high school in the hall singing and dancing along to Disney’s Frozen?

Where else would you have almost 100 students at a time participating in activities like Zumba and Yoga?

Where else would you have students whom cut out 500 hearts for every student and staff member to write get well messages for a staff member on sick leave?

Where else would you see students braiding each other’s hair during breaks?

And so to them, I dared to be a girl and I ask you to help them dare to be themselves.