❝Whedon has done a lot of shows about magically powerful women and the men who protect them (Buffy had Giles, River had Simon and Mal), which is sweet - hey, at least they aren’t actively seeking to take power away from those women - but also paternalistic and troubling, and in Dollhouse he seems to know and specifically address just how creepy it is. Lots of parallels have been drawn between the “handler,” Boyd, who is a protective father figure to Echo, and Giles, who is a protective father figure to Buffy, and those parallels are correct. However, this time around, Boyd is also directly invested in keeping Echo powerless: he’s the guy in the creepy van, who takes her back to the Dollhouse to have her self taken away once she’s served her purpose, and if she were a whole person, she might not need him at all. The question of whether he loves her enough to help her free herself is continually raised. Paul Ballard, the FBI agent who wants to “save” Echo, is also implicated: a hero, sure, but also weirdly and sexually preoccupied with “saving” a girl he doesn’t know so that she will love him, a person just as involved in projecting his desires onto a blank slate as any Dollhouse client. The show doesn’t steer around that fact. You don’t hate these men - you love them, in fact - but Whedon is far more willing than ever before to implicate them in the oppression that he condemns. He’s toyed with ambiguity and complicity before, but this time around, ambiguity and complicity are what the show is about.❞
Tiger Beatdown: Dollhouse, Joss Whedon, and the Strange and Difficult Path of Feminist Dudes: Some Thoughts (via notemily)
— yeah but Giles doesn’t really protect Buffy… he helps her out and occasionally attempts to protect her from his own people who have it in for her, yes. (Buffy ultimately solves the problem with the Watchers’ Council) But eventually when he realises he’s solving too many of her problems for her, he leaves. Not just ‘leaves the show’; he leaves the country. He still is there if Buffy has an emergency where she needs all hands on deck - but he’s not protecting her. And she did need a father figure - she’s a 16yo, for crying out loud.