July 31, 2007

Sex and the Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer for the Buffy Fan

I am reading a lot of the academic literature about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and, to a lesser degree, Angel) and have come across something that might be of particular interest to Heroine Content readers. Sex and the Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer for the Buffy Fan is a gender analysis of Buffy written by British American Studies scholar Lorna Jowett. As the word "primer" in the title indicates, the book is written for an audience that does not necessarily have a background in academic gender studies, and is very accessible. It does, however, offer some fairly advanced analysis of gender roles in Buffy, and is particularly strong, I think, in its discussion of masculinity and men.

Ultimately, Jowett does not categorize Buffy as a transgressive show when it comes to gender roles of the characters, but does identify it as a program wherein traditional gender roles are called into question--sort of "pre-transgressive." Though I don't agree with every detail of Jowett's analysis, I think this conclusion is more-or-less correct. Even if you completely disagree, though, there are likely to be elements of Jowett's argument that appeal to you, or at least get you thinking (there certainly were for me), so if you're a Buffyophile who is interested in the ways in which the show plays with gender, it is definitely worth picking up. Jowett is also fairly cognizant of the race and class issues the show has (its white middle-class norm), which strengthens the book considerably.

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