You don't have to love Joss Whedon the way I do. Criticize his failure to handle race in anything even resembling a sophisticated way, sure. Criticize the misfires in his feminist cultural politics, OK.
But do not tell me that Joss Is Not Really A Feminist. That is plain stupid.
The premise of Buffy The Vampire Slayer is described in the titles of every episode:
Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.
A heroic female protagonist is good, but not necessarily a victory. In the final episode of the show, Whedon gives us a climax for the entire series, in which Buffy herself criticizes and destroys this premise, saying, No, that's not good enough. Being Special Action Girl is insufficient. It's just more sexism. We have to do better. We will do better.
Here's her St. Crispin's Day speech in that climactic moment:
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 this 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. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice.
Are you ready to be strong?
I'm thinking of this because via Wolven I find this nifty series of animated GIFs showing the montage of scenes the show gives us as she's speaking.
In the middle of the St. Crispin's Day speech, we get a montage commenting on domestic violence and Title IX.