The Ideal Woman: A Path to Madness | Audrey T. Carroll

I’m always a sucker for essays on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here Audrey Carroll analyzes one of my favorite characters, Drusilla.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Drusilla embodies the Madonna-Whore Complex. The idea behind the theory is that women are either 1) the respectable but undesirable Madonna or 2) the desirable but, sexually indiscriminate and thus unrespectable, whore. Rather than falling into one of these mutually exclusive categories, Drusilla manages to occupy both. In modern society, women can feel the pressure of these labels, or similar ideas. Women may even buy into the notion that they need to navigate some sort of balance between the two to achieve “ideal womanhood.” This concept is unrealistic and toxic not only because it suffocates free expression of identity, but also because of the fact that these are conflicting ideas of femininity. This complex isn’t foreign to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the very first episode, “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” Buffy herself is attempting to choose an outfit for a club. She holds one…

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