Thursday, September 17, 2015
I have recently gotten into Buffy the Vampire Slayer and if you are familiar with the show you know that Buffy has a few different serious relationships throughout the show. This can of course lead to the shipping wars. There are those who ship Buffy/Angel, Buffy/Riley, and Buffy/Spike. I have not don't have a particular camp that I hang out in as I think there are positive and negative aspects to all the relationships and there are definitely unhealthy aspects to them. However, as far as annoying my feminist and setting off warning bells in my head Riley was the main one. You would think the Vampire ones would but they don't have the subtle misogyny that comes out in Riley.
Riley is a sweet genuinely nice guy. His is cute and charming overall there is really nothing to complain about. He is the kind of guy that you would want to bring home to mom. In that sense I like him. However when he finds out that Buffy is the Slayer and that she is stronger than him he does a classic white male reaction. He is ego is threatened he questions his masculinity and he puts all of this on Buffy and makes her have to deal with it when she cannot help who she is or how he reacts to it.
Riley is also a little obnoxiously determined that it is his duty as Buffy's boyfriend to protect her even though she tells him she does not need it and that what he is doing is actually more of a hindrance to her because she is afraid he will get hurt. He is so stuck in the ideas that he is the male protector and has to do his job that he cannot see Buffy as the strong independent very very not damsel-in-distress that she is. He is unwilling to see her as someone who is able to defend herself without his needing to save her. Buffy is willing to work in a side-by-side fighting relationship with him but Riley can't move past his own issues to be that.
Riley says that why he behaves the way he does is because he loves her and does not want her to get hurt and this is a clever disguise for his own misogynistic attitudes because we all want someone who loves us and wants to protect us. But that is not what Buffy wants, what she really wants and needs is a partner who sees her as an equal and not as a damsel that needs to be protected. Riley's attitude holds Buffy back as she tries to make the relationship work and cater to Riley's male ego. I think despite how great a guy Riley is and how like-able he is, his relationship with Buffy is not good for her. I was not sad or sorry when Riley left and was a little relieved that I would not have to listen to his delicate male ego being bruised by Buffy being the Slayer anymore.