We watched three episodes of Buffy tonight. It was a special treat, since The Kid and I were on our way to the pool when thunder pealed, and the pool was closed when we got there.

I have to say that Xander is starting to grow as a character. He’s being much kinder to Cordelia, and his response to Angel’s misogyny is beautiful. (“You’re going to die, and I’m going to be there.”) When Buffy is assaulted (or almost assaulted, she IS the Slayer) in “Go Fish,” Xander is supportive. And while he still appoints himself as Buffy’s protector in “Killed By Death,” it is because she’s sick and Angel is after her. In the end, Buffy kills the demon, and Xander is proud. He even hustles the children out of the room while Buffy is fighting the demon. It seems like he’s settling into his role in the gang now.

However all the other boys are absolutely horrid. It’s hard watching abusive relationships with my Kid. I know she’s not seeing anything worse than the soap operas I watched with my mom at her age, and I think it’s probably good for us to talk about these things before they come up in her real life. Whedon handles these situations with dignity–it’s a pleasure to watch Buffy kick butt, but at the same time, her pain over the loss of Angel is real, and his sadism is frightening. 

So I’m trying to figure out the right way to talk to my daughter about abusive men and sexual assault. She’s a bit young still, at ten, but she’s getting to the age where she’ll have to be given advice on keeping herself safe, as she isn’t the Slayer. One thing that genre fiction gives us is a way to talk about the ugly things in reality. By making the bad guys into demons and ghosts, Whedon can explore the complex world of adolescence. Buffy is a strong girl–unnaturally strong–but she’s still a teenager who has confusing feelings and is trying to figure out a complex world. 

Now we have one more set of references we can use.