{Sunnydale Project Guest Post} “Are You Ready to Be Strong?” Buffy & Strength

October 31, 2014 Guest Post, Sunnydale Project 0

buffy strength
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 my power…should be our power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the scythe to change our destiny. 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. …every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong? (From Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 Episode 22 – Chosen)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my all-time favorite show. It ran from the time I was 11 to the time I was 17, so all of my most formative years were shaped by Buffy. Now, at 28, a re-watch (either a single episode or as a binge) can elicit a level of giddiness or soul crushing despair (uh, hi, The Body) like nothing else.

As all my teen years were shaped by the slayer, my adult life is also driven by her in a way that I would not have expected.

In Chosen, Buffy asks if we are ready to be strong. At this point I’m sobbing because the little girl that’s up to bat is getting her shot at being a slayer when I never will – but I’m ready. I’m ready to be strong. I AM strong, and I’m only getting stronger.

As a female athlete and weightlifter, I am not slight. I curve outward more than in. I am more solid than soft. People, or “society”, feel this is not how a woman should look, or how a woman should be. Our lady of slayage teaches us strength is necessary and that you can still be feminine while being strong.

Buffy, with her hairdos, accessories (oft misguided), and and cute outfits (for the time – a square toed boot is no one’s friend). Buffy, with her quick wit and sharp tongue. Buffy, who saved the world again and again while remaining a person and not just a killing machine. Buffy, who was, yes, MYSTICALLY strong, but never shied away from it.

So when I’m maybe not feeling so great about myself – like when all of my clothes stop fitting again – just like everyone sometimes doesn’t feel that great about themselves, I think about all the amazing things my body can do, and wearing jeans is not on that list.

 Meet Our Guest Poster!

Justine G. is the blogger behind Paperback Heart, where she has been blogging for almost two years and has accumulated a TBR that will take twice that long to read through. Outside of reading and blogging, she is working towards becoming a competitive Crossfit and weightlifting athlete and eats ice cream almost every day. Recently, she got to hold a baby tiger and it changed her life.
blog: paperback heart     twitter: @paperback_heart


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Want even MORE Buffy goodness? Then be sure to check out our co-host Teen Library Toolbox’s blog for their take on the show, and additional guest posts. You can also journey back through the archives of previous renditions of the Sunnydale Project! Also, we’d love to interact with you in the comments, or on Twitter – unlike vampires, we don’t bite.


{Sunnydale Project Guest Post} Teen Girls, Fandoms & Buffy

October 30, 2014 Guest Post, Sunnydale Project 0

Teen Girls Fandoms and Buffy

I came of age in the era of the WB and its weeknight lineup of teen-friendly television—Dawson’s Creek and its hyper-intellectual high schoolers, Charmed and its supernatural sisters, and my personal favorite, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A show based on a campy bomb of a teen movie, even at thirteen I knew that liking Buffy would seem kind of silly and immature. When my brother caught me watching the second part of the premiere, he looked at me incredulously. “You’re watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” he asked.

“Yeah, well, it’s not so bad,” I said, wishing I’d heard his footsteps in time to change the channel to something less cheesy and girly.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not cheesy and girly, despite how its name sounds. It’s a smart, witty show about life and death and love and sacrifice. But it’s a culturally accepted form of snobbery to dismiss things that teen girls like as ‘cheesy and girly,’ to claim that a TV show cannot be about a blonde hero named Buffy and her magical friends and enemies and still be meaningful. YA readers and writers see this kind of snobbery all the time. Major media outlets consistently tell readers that they should be embarrassed to read about the teen experience, that the only serious or worthwhile stories are those about middle-aged white men and their angst over affairs with younger women. That life can’t be quirky or hopeful or romantic or youthful.

Those naysayers are missing out and, sometimes, they come around. When I was in middle school, few media outlets were calling Joss Whedon a master storyteller and studios weren’t exactly putting major money behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Flash forward about fifteen years, and Whedon is at the helm of the successful Avengers universe. The Avengers is the third highest grossing film of all time (behind Avatar and Titanic, another ‘silly teen girl movie’) and viewers show no signs of being tired of this Marvel universe.

Now when I talk with people about Joss Whedon, I feel like a bit of a hipster: “Oh, yeah, Joss Whedon? I’ve liked him since 1997.” Somehow it’s okay to like Whedon’s work now that it’s about superheroes but it wasn’t okay back in 1997, when his protagonist was a hero named Buffy.

It’s easy to use Twilight as shorthand for schlocky and screaming girls at a One Direction concert as shorthand for embarrassing. It’s easy to look down on anything that teen girls get wildly passionate about, because after all, what do teen girls know about art and life and literature? But teen girls get it right as often as any other group. Even if One Direction won’t last, teen girls were the ones originally screaming at Beatles concerts and going to James Dean movies. Why are we so dismissive of the things they love when they have just as much, if not more, buying power than any other group?

Because when teens are fans of something, they’re true fans. They don’t just enjoy a song or a book or a movie or TV show—they love it, they know every part of it, they cry over it and re-blog gifs about it and write fanfic about it. They commit to it entirely. They’re passionate. And we shouldn’t mistake passion for immaturity or silliness. They can stand outside in line for the midnight showing of Mockingjay and cry/cheer when certain not-to-be-spoiled events happen, and that is just as valid as any middle-aged fan who cheers or cries when his hometown baseball time wins the World Series. Age or gender doesn’t make your passions valid.

I can’t say I’m still a rapid fan of Dawson’s Creek or the Backstreet Boys, but I will defend the greatness of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as fiercely as I did when I was a teen. And even if I’m no longer in their realm, I will go to the mats defending teen girls’ right to be fans of whatever they choose.

 Meet Our Guest Poster!

Annie CardiAnnie Cardi holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and a BA from the University of Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in the Georgetown Review, Vestal Review, Juked, and other publications. In 2011, PEN New England selected her as a winner of the Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award for the manuscript that would become her debut young adult novel, The Chance You Won’t Return. Annie lives near Boston with her husband and a portrait of a sea captain. You can find her sharing funny gifs and pictures of corgis on her: BlogFacebookTwitter, and Tumblr.

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Want even MORE Buffy goodness? Then be sure to check out our co-host Teen Library Toolbox’s blog for their take on the show, and additional guest posts. You can also journey back through the archives of previous renditions of the Sunnydale Project! Also, we’d love to interact with you in the comments, or on Twitter – unlike vampires, we don’t bite.


{Sunnydale Project Guest Post} Mixed Feelings on Spike’s Character

October 28, 2014 Guest Post, Sunnydale Project 4

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Trigger Warning: This post discusses rape.

There are pros and cons of watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time as an adult. Some effects fall into both categories, like knowing Joss Whedon’s power to make me love attractive, blonde-haired blonde men. A con is having all my Whedon and Buffy obsessed friends saying all these things I don’t understand, especially about Spike. How great he is, how awesome, how much I’m going to love him. While I’m watching this awesome show with this amazing, layered, intricate female character, I don’t understand the peroxide blonde vampire who everyone swoons over. Spike is spoken of with almost reverence, with fangirl excitement, and I just don’t get it. I see this vampire, this creepy, evil blood sucker, and after the sparkling, brooding vampire I grew up with up, Spike is fantastic because he is evil. He’s raped and pillaged entire cities with his insane vampire girlfriend, Drusilla. But no one likes him because he’s evil. A few admit their love is because of James Marster’s undeniable nearly flawless physique, but others say it’s because of his character, of everything that makes him Spike.

I’m left wondering if we’re watching the same show. Really? This is the guy you love? The Big Bad? The guy trying to sabotage all of Buffy’s plans? Then, he gets the chip, and I start to see his appeal. Then, I find out the true story behind his nickname of William the Bloody. I’m pretty sure the text message to my best friend went something like “SPIKE IS WILLIAM THE BLOODY BECAUSE HIS POEMS ARE BLOODY AWFUL! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! THIS IS BEST THING EVER!” at about three in the morning. I’m basically on the insane, Spike bandwagon now.

But then, out of some sort of morbid fascination, I search for Buffy on Pinterest, and up comes a pin about Spike and Buffy. This is before there’s anything remotely close to romantic feelings on either side. I’m already shocked enough that Buffy and Spike become a Thing (how on Earth is that going to happen?) and then there’s the comments. The online comments you should probably never read. At this point, I didn’t know Spike almost raped Buffy. I didn’t know that someone online would try and justify such an action. The one Pinterest comment that went something like “But Spike didn’t know what he was doing. Buffy had said “no” so many times before when she didn’t mean it, when they had sex anyway, how was Spike to know this time was any different?” stays in my head. It’s still in there, and I read it months ago.

I was furious. I was outraged that anyone could think a woman ever deserved rape, or asked for it, and that men don’t know that they’re doing anything wrong.

Then, after weeks of binge watching on Netflix, I finally get to season six, the Buffy and Spike season, the season of assault on women (Warren’s spell on his girlfriend who he then kills, anyone?), and the comment on Pinterest is right at the front of my mind. And trying to excuse that scene away, to excuse Spike’s actions when he himself doesn’t? I don’t even have the words.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “It’s just one comment. You should get over it.” Yes, it’s just one comment, but it’s one comment too many, and since we live in culture where a girl was drugged and raped at a party and then made fun of for the pose she was in, this one Pinterest comment is not a shout into the void. It’s part of a larger conversation we should be having. It’s part of a conversation about the prevalence of rape culture stemming from a show that had its last television episode eleven years ago. It’s part of a conversation in which Buffy and Spike are uniquely situated to show that sexual assault can occur within a consensual relationship.

Buffy does tells Spike “no” quite a bit, and he ignores her quite a bit. But all the times she said no, when she pulled away, and he touched back, she caved. She stopped protesting (even if it was for a few seconds), and responded to him. But the attempted rape scene is different from all the others, from all her others “no’s”. She doesn’t cave, and she’s also told Spike it was over, told everyone is was over between her and Spike. This isn’t just no. It’s not just Buffy knowing it probably isn’t the smartest thing to sleep with someone she doesn’t love, but who loves her. She’s fighting, and hurting, and begging him to stop. With her superhuman strength, she throws Spike off of her, and Buffy’s in tears.

On the rewatch, I honestly don’t know if Spike did realize what he was doing, how much he wasn’t listening, but that doesn’t change that fact that it was wrong. It doesn’t change the fact that Buffy, and every person has the right to tell a man no, to have their no respected. Better yet, to be with someone who knows that yes means yes. It’s not even like Spike tries to completely reason away his actions. He knows what he did was wrong (weirdly enough since he raped and pillaged with the best of them in years gone by), so why would someone on Pinterst try to? Why would anyone in real life try to excuse or justify rape or any form of sexual assault?

Buffy and Spike are fictional but sexual assault is not. Since the school year started in August, there have been five sexual assaults on my university’s campus, four of which were committed by nonstrangers. Just as Spike was a nonstranger. Are we to tell those people who have lived through sexual assault that their experiences don’t matter, their voices don’t matter? Because by trying to excuse the perpetrator, we are saying that the survivor is at fault. That someone who was assaulted asked for it, which is the opposite of the truth, and opposite of everything we should be telling teens and young adults, and, well, everyone.

Sexual assault, in all its forms, is something for which we shouldn’t make excuses. Everyone should know they have a right to say no, to only engage in sexual activities when they want to, to not take advantage of a individual who is passed out. Buffy even quips while Spike has her and Dru chained up (which is completely disturbing as he professes to love her during this scene, but that’s a whole other blog post), that the only chance he has with her was when he was unconscious. Even Spike finds this repugnant (and he’s frustrated with Buffy), yet it’s an assertion we have to make.

Maybe you’re wondering how I feel about Spike about now after having watched the whole series and read through volume one of season nine in the graphic novels. The answer? It depends on what episode I’m watching. His attempted rape changed how I viewed him because no matter what he does after, even sacrificing himself to close the Hellmouth, I can’t forget that he tried to rape Buffy. He only didn’t because Buffy pushed him off her, right? Right? See, it’s complicated. Cognitive Dissonance is probably the best term to describe my feelings for Spike. At times, I love him as a character, and I will never tire of looking at James Marsters, but Spike tried to rape Buffy, and I can’t forget that. I have too many friends who were raped by then boyfriends and trusted figures in their life, I think of them every time I hear about sexual assault and rape.

But my mixed feelings show the brilliance of the show, the importance of it. The fact that it brings this into the open, to the forefront of people’s mind this many years later. The power of the show, the power of the writing, is that it makes us think and sparks this kind of conversation and applications to real life.

Meet Our Guest Poster!

Bridgette Johnson works in Youth Services as the Teen Volunteer Coordinator at her local public library. She is pursuing a MLIS from the University of Tennessee. She loves all things geeky, watches entirely too much British television, and can often be found writing. You can follow her on Twitter  and visit her blog.

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Want even MORE Buffy goodness? Then be sure to check out our co-host Teen Library Toolbox’s blog for their take on the show, and additional guest posts. You can also journey back through the archives of previous renditions of the Sunnydale Project! Also, we’d love to interact with you in the comments, or on Twitter – unlike vampires, we don’t bite.


{The Sunnydale Project} Welcome to the Hellmouth, Year 3!

October 27, 2014 Sunnydale Project 0

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We’re back once more… with FEELING!


Hello fellow Buffy fans! It’s that time again, (fortunately, NOT another apocalypse scare!) the Sunnydale Project has started for another year. Over the next 5 days, lets celebrate the awesomeness of one of the most beloved shows out there, Buffy! There’ll be a little bit of everything, as you can see from the schedule below. We’re entering our THIRD year of the Sunnydale Project, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that season 3 of the show is my favourite, and that we have some really great posts lined up for you this year. I’m also happy to say that Teen Librarian Toolbox is joining the fun again, so make sure you stop by to see what Karen has in store for you each day as well.

Thank you to all our guest posters for all their wonderful posts and sharing their enthusiasm for Buffy with us! The schedule for Bookish Comforts this week is:

Monday: Girls’ Stories: Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s World of Women
Tuesday: Mixed Feelings on Spike’s Character
Wednesday: “It’s not noise! It’s music!” Music & BtVS
Thursday: Teen Girls, Fandoms & Buffy
Friday: Are You Ready to Be Strong? Buffy & Strength

You can also check out the posts from last year’s event on Bookish Comforts (and at Teen Librarian Toolbox). I’ll be tweeting from the archives and some extras, link round-ups, etc. with the hashtag #SunnydaleProject so be sure to follow it as well!
Feel free to blog about Buffy this week and we’ll make sure to link up your post & RT you on Twitter!

Oh, and if the apocalypse comes (or, you know, you have a question or comment), beep me!


{Sunnydale Project Guest Post} Girls’ Stories: Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s World of Women

October 27, 2014 Guest Post, Sunnydale Project 5

Girls Stories Buffys World of Women

When I think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I obviously think of the title character. But, unlike the Hollywood status quo*, BtVS did not have a primarily male cast, with a female character here and there for variety. Not only do we have a female protagonist in Buffy, one who fights her own battles and kills her own bad guys, but we have a supporting cast full of girls and women, as both heroes and villains (heroesses? villainesses?), all real and unique and flawed, all with their own stories to tell. Willow, Cordelia, Dawn, Amy, Tara, Kendra, Faith, Darla, Drusilla, and so many more. One of the things I love about Buffy is this sense of female community and how present these characters are in the story.

It’s hard sometimes to realize how rare this is, but when we consider similarly beloved (one might even say cult classic) shows, it becomes clear. When looking at Entertainment Weekly’s 26 Best Cult TV Shows Ever List  (Buffy is #2!!!), most of the sci-fi and fantasy shows tend toward a male-dominated cast or to have a male-centered plotline (or both!). Farscape focuses on Crichton’s reactions to the alien world he is thrown into, and his search for a way home (as best as I remember, anyway…might be time for a re-watch!). Supernatural’s recurring cast is primarily male, although female characters do gain more depth as the series progresses. Fringe is a welcome departure, with a primary cast split equally between men and women, but Battlestar Galactica’s cast leans male-dominated. Firefly, although it pondered the mystery of River Tam, and had nuanced female characters with strong relationships (thanks, Joss!), is held together, much like the crew, by Captain Malcolm Reynolds. Less than one-third of the central cast of Lost was female, Star Trek: The Next Generation had a primarily male cast, and The X-Files was much more centered on Mulder’s need to find answers than on Scully’s skepticism. And Doctor Who, thanks to the Doctor always being cast as a male actor, tends to relegate women to the role of Companions, although they usually get the chance to save the day in their own right (and who doesn’t love River Song?).

Joss Whedon, in a 2006 Equality Now speech, answered the question “So, why do you write these strong female characters?” by simply saying “Because you’re still asking me that question.” It seems like many producers are still asking that question, but I, for one, plan to vote with my feet and my money

I love Buffy, and I plan to raise all my children, son and daughters, on it. I’m going to show them other shows, too (most of the ones listed above, actually, and many more), but I want them to know that the girl doesn’t have to be the girlfriend. She doesn’t have to be the person who is much cooler than the man, but is there to validate his awesomeness rather than reveling in her own. She can, as I explained to my then 3-year-old when she found some of the Buffy monsters scary, fight the bad guys. And still have cute clothes (okay, for 90’s values of cute) and hair, if that’s what she likes. She doesn’t have to choose. She can have a group of awesome friends, including other girls and women, and it doesn’t have to be catty drama. It can be support and working together, whether to take down an ancient demon or to survive high school, which can be arguably more challenging (taking down ancient demons never took 4 years in the Buffyverse).

But most of all, I want them to know that everyone has their own story, no matter what Hollywood wants them to think.

Even if they’re a girl.

*according to the New York Film Academy, even recently, only a little more than 10% of films surveyed feature a balanced cast where half of the characters are female. (Source)

Want to experience the same sort of wonderful female relationships in YA books? Check out the list below!

YA With Great Girl Relationships

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1)Biggest Flirts (Superlatives #1)Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)FangirlPrincess of the Midnight Ball (Princess #1)The Running DreamMind Games (Mind Games #1)

I’d Tell  You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
Cammie and her friends use all their spy training when she meets a boy. Great, solid female friendships at the core of this mystery/thriller.

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols
Tia and Will are all wrong for each other, but they can’t stay apart. Tia’s relationships with her sisters and her friends add depth to this fun romance.

The Lynburn Legacy series by Sarah Rees Brennan
Kami and her friends fight to save their town from evil sorcerers. The existing friendship between Kami and Angela, as well as a new friendship with Holly, plus lots of snark, make this a great read for Buffy fans!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
When twins Cath and Wren live separately at college, Cath has build a friendship with her roommate and figure out how to keep her relationship with her sister alive and healthy.

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
In a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Rose and her sisters have to fight off a curse. Wonderful sibling relationships, and a great retold fairy tale!

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Jessica is a runner…until a school bus accident leaves her without a foot. The way her teammates and new friends rally to help her run again is amazing.

Mind Games by Kiersten White
Fia and Annie are sisters, and they are hostages to each other’s good behavior, trapped under the control of a corporation that uses Annie’s visions and Fia’s deadly skill as an assassin.

Meet our Guest Poster!

Sarah Loch is a Young Adult Librarian in Arkansas, huge nerd, and longtime Buffy fan.
She blogs book reviews at Sunk Treasure, and shares mini-reviews for teen patrons of her library via FacebookTwitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.

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Want even MORE Buffy goodness? Then be sure to check out our co-host Teen Library Toolbox’s blog for their take on the show, and additional guest posts. You can also journey back through the archives of previous renditions of the Sunnydale Project! Also, we’d love to interact with you in the comments, or on Twitter – unlike vampires, we don’t bite.