Citation Berridge S (2015) Empowered Vulnerability?: A feminist response to the ubiquity of sexual violence in the pilots of female-fronted TV drama series. In: Silva K & Mendes K (eds.) Feminist Erasures: Challenging Backlash Culture. Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK RG21 6XS: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 91-105. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781137454928_6; https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137454928_6
Abstract This chapter emerges from a striking observation: in stark contrast to male-fronted or ensemble-based teen series, female-fronted programs commonly feature representations of sexual violence in their initial episodes. This recurring trend occurs in US and British teen series spanning a 15-year period, including My So-Called Life (1994-95), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), Veronica Mars (2004-7), Hex (2004-5), and The Vampire Diaries (2009-present). However, although much contemporary feminist scholarship engages with many of these female-fronted series, their ubiquitous representations of sexual violence have been largely overlooked. This omission is surprising given the pervasive anxiety that surrounds the sexualization of young girls in contemporary popular culture more widely. Instead, feminist teen television scholarship tends to focus on autonomous viewing pleasure and the representation of individual heroines in isolated programs (particularly Buffy), making it ill-suited to say anything broader about men, masculinity, and gender relations. More importantly, the relentless focus on isolated heroines means that the more urgent goals of feminism - such as eradicating gendered inequality and male violence against women - slip from view. This chapter addresses this critical neglect, interrogating how sexual violence functions narratively and ideologically in these series’ pilots.