Buffy’s Sarah Michelle Gellar Calls Out Sexism In Superhero Audiences

Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is speaking out about sexism aimed at women in the superhero genre. Gellar’s claim to fame centers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the story of a young high school student granted superhuman powers to help her take on an immortal vampire threat. The show centered around the adventures of Buffy and her friends, while also following the reality of being a superhero in a high school environment. As one of the early examples of a strong female protagonist, Buffy has served as a template for future heroes to build off of.

While Gellar is done playing Buffy, she isn’t done trying to make a difference in the industry by encouraging better representation of — and reception for — women in Hollywood. As Buffy the Vampire Slayer introduced a powerful woman as a leading figure, Gellar has become a symbol of equality in entertainment. In an interview with The Guardian, she spoke out about how sexism influences the ability for women to succeed in the superhero genre and how unfair the response to women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. Check out her quote below:

Genre is where women can really succeed and hold an audience. Every time a Marvel movie tries to do a female cast, it just gets torn apart … Unfortunately, audiences weren’t as accepting. There’s still this mentality of ‘the male superhero’, this very backwards way of thinking.

How Other Stars Have Responded To Superhero Sexism

While the Buffy the Vampire Slayer star has been a major figure in the fight for equality, she isn’t the only one standing up against sexism in the superhero genre. Several MCU productions have suffered from an onslaught of sexist campaigns, including attempts at review-bombing Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law even predicted fan reactions and often includes references to the anticipated discriminatory responses from audiences by featuring responses on the Intelligencia board that oddly reflect those on the review-bombed sites, which just goes to show how predictable the backlash has become.

Tatiana Maslany, who plays She-Hulk, spoke out about the sexism the same way Gellar did. As Maslany’s experience on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law drew from a larger audience than Buffy the Vampire Slayer could afford, she has been able to point out the ways in which female rage is viewed as reprehensible, while male rage is acceptable. Supporting her has been Dan Slott, a She-Hulk comics writer who shut down accuracy criticism that grew from sexist responses to the lead character and her portrayal on the show, insisting that the show has been accurate and depicts a woman as a superhero perfectly well.

Review-bombing campaigns don’t show any signs of slowing down, and the problem only seems to be growing. While Captain Marvel became the victim of sexist criticism that argued that Captain Marvel ought to have smiled more, Ms. Marvel has been subject to complaint that the show is targeted at teenage girls in the first place, rather than being aimed at an older male audience. Iman Vellani, the star of Ms. Marvel, responded to backlash by ignoring it outright and insisting that the show would still have its supporters — something that proved true as the ratings for the show on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes have steadily begun to climb. Still, it isn’t hard to see why Gellar has sought to speak out against sexism after her time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because it remains far too prevalent today.