Girl power

We’re watching season 7 of Buffy. When I first saw it, I found the complaining teenagers and rampant speechifying tedious, but I feel differently now. I feel like season 7 is a complex argument about power, particularly about power for girls. The teenagers are potential power, and most of the time, they bicker, compete, and jockey for control using the only resource they understand: drama. Buffy is true power, and though she has always understood the consequences of her power, she has rarely reached the limits of her power. What happens when strength isn’t enough? Can you be given power? Can you take it? How do you find and develop power?

Power and control are often lumped together as though they were both derogatory. I’ve begun to think of the most vital difference between them as an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a manifestation of control, but they aren’t power. Yes, you can control what goes into your body, and sometimes you can control when it comes back out again, but that isn’t power. It’s control. Power strengthens you. And if it’s healthy power, it doesn’t come at the expense of others. It isn’t a preening display. A bunch of peacock feathers.

Power, at its best, is a dialogue of self. You don’t get there by skipping the step of examining your own self-loathing and deciding to take your abject misery out on others. You get there by examining your self-loathing and realizing that we are all riddled with faults and fears and are worthy nevertheless. You get there because you know you have the ability to hurt others, to be petty and selfish, to spread strife, but choose instead to reinforce your friendships, your co-workers, your family. You choose your wars and your loves. You choose your community.

Your life doesn’t just happen to you. Whether you’re bitter or recriminatory, joyful or heartbroken, in pain or numb, nobody owes you and nobody owns you. You belong to yourself. If you want to be formidable, you will learn to nurture your weakness. You’ll learn power without love is a biohazard.

5 thoughts on “Girl power”

  1. Every kid (hell, adult too) should be afforded the joy of understanding that last paragraph. There should be a class, it would be so much better than playing dodge ball.

  2. I wish I’d been taught power—the actual negotiation of it—from preschool onward. It is everywhere, and affects everything and everyone, and half the time we think we’re talking about culture or sexuality or education or commerce and we’re really talking about power.

    It is joyful, when you begin to understand it though, isn’t it? It’s the purest liberation when you realize that you don’t have to play.

  3. My favorite was season 6, tragic as it was.

    Jess bought me the entire series on DVD even though she can’t stand fantasy or scifi. Now that’s love. I look forward to re-watching it after graduation.

    Life begins Dec 18th, 2011. 🙂

    Enjoy!

  4. I saw Buffy for the first time two and a half years ago, and have watched repeatedly since then. I agree, season 6 is stellar. Once More With Feeling is still in my top 5.

    We’re going back to season 2 now because Mary has apparently never liked Spike or Drusilla. (What???)

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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