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December 21 2012

Spike cited as role model of masculinity. Dan Solomon discusses the perpetual fear of emasculation in our culture today and cites Spike as an example of a man who is both tough and respects women.

Except for that whole, you know, attempted rape thing.
b!x makes a fair point, although the flip side of that is that Spike realized what he was doing, backed off, and made an effort to better himself. Doesn't excuse the action, of course, and whether or not it redeems him is another question. However, there's also all the killing of people, as well as the fictional idea of "the soul" versus "the demon", and to further complicate the issue, the poetry (so to speak) in William's head, that caused the demon to finally give up, calling into question whether he's to be counted as one, two, or three (perhaps even four) different individuals, and whether some states should be considered legal insanity.

[ edited by GreatMuppetyOdin on 2012-12-21 20:42 ]
You know who else was comfortable with women as leaders? Riley. And the only person he went on to hurt, for a short time, was himself. Just saying.

ETA: Also, Xander. Also, Oz. Anyway.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2012-12-21 20:49 ]
Excellent article.

No, Spike never did see following a strong women as being 'weak'.

As for Riley, well I think it did sting Riley somewhat when his peers made comments such as in this scene from season 5...

"Right. Okay. There's "her". You
used to have a mission, now you're
what? The mission's boyfriend? The
mission's true-love?"

Riley can't hold his gaze anymore, looks away.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2012-12-21 21:10 ]
Spike with a soul - strong, sensitive, happy to follow Buffy's lead, remorseful about the wrongs he committed in his past but not a diva about it. Yes, that'll do.

None of the soulless vampires were ever ideal role-models, after all.
Let's not forget Giles, either. Interestingly he gets stronger, more confident, and more effective while simultaneously getting more comfortable with Buffy's command; early on he tries run things and a total dweeb, while later on he's comfortable as her second-in-command while a veteran badass.

So many threads have been derailed by this discussion before, but b!x is right -- and so's GreatMuppetyOdin. Which finally brought a few things together in my head about why that's a problematic scene:

1. It is indubitably a rape scene.
2. Rape in the real world almost never plays out that way.

Thus those who condemn Spike (and the writers) for that scene are quite right, but set aside the in-narrative explanation/justification, which in the context of the story is passable. And those who raise that in-narrative explanation in defense of Spike (and the writers), myself included, don't quite realize that they're straying perilously close to rape apology in the real world. Everyone's right from a certain angle, though those angles may not be equal, and the writers have placed us all in a terrible quandary ever since.

I am willing to be persuaded otherwise, however. I am no expert on this subject. And I am willing to concede that the real-world effect of the scene outweighs the narrative effect, particularly because this is such a fraught issue.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Lay it on me.
I agree with sueworld2003: Spike was perfectly comfortable following a strong woman, while Riley struggled a little. (Xander and Oz, however, should get equal credit with Spike.)

The rape thing would be problematic if the characters were in our world instead of the Buffyverse, where having / not having a soul is a valid excuse for MURDER - after all, we're meant to symphatise with Angel, who in his soulless state killed without remorse and never showed the least desire to change.

Edited to add this comment: I did not mean to contribute to the derailing of this conversation by discussing the rape issue. I'll not continue any further.

[ edited by darling on 2012-12-21 21:47 ]
Except for that another itsy-bitsy part where Spike has an obsession with Slayers who are all young women, and dedicated most of his unsolued unlife to hunting and killing them, and then another itsy-bitsy part where he jokes about putting Buffy under a spell and lock her in a cage. And another part where he turns and stakes his mother, and another part where he treats his gf as piece of meat most of the time - but that's OK because she is soulless. Other than all these bitsy parts - Spike sure is a model of something.
Spike was drawn to powerful opponents. If Slayers had been all male I'm sure he'd still would have sought them out.

Also Spikes character is defined by more then just the AR, just as Angel isn't just defined by him murdering Jenny Calener or If you take the comics as canon killing loads of Slayers and endangering the entire world.

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2012-12-21 22:13 ]
Nobody is arguing that Spike is defined by 'just' his obsession with young female super powerful beings and 'just' his Madonna-Whore dichotomy Re:Harmony. The discussion was whether he fits the article in question's Role Model of Masculinity. I certainly think that this particular Role Model is somewhat flawed, but so are most of the verse characters.
The bit not quoted above - fairly important, I think:

In the ’90s, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fans could look to the black trench-coated Spike as an example of a man who could follow a woman as a leader. (The character is hardly a role model in all aspects, but he does that part well.)

Good point. Souled Spike, when not under a hypnotic trigger, is not a bad role model - Souled Angel isn't bad either, apart from his deeply irritating habit of making decisions without consulting the people most affected. As superheroes go they are way more interesting and better company than many.
The show jokingly references his chip as vampire castration far too often for Spike to be a good example. He's a monster who becomes much more human, which by definition makes him not a good example of a human. Giles and Xander, as they grow throughout the series, I could see.
And Spike didn't?

No offense but I must have been watching a different show then because I thought he changed a lot and for me became one of the most beautifully flawed and 'human' character in the entire verse. . :)

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2012-12-21 23:18 ]
Interesting that people would say Giles gets better over the course of the series. Are we forgetting his "let's kill Spike behind Buffy's back" pact with Wood in season 7?

I'd say Spike changed a lot more for the better, even though it was a really rocky road to get there. The aforementioned attempted rape being "rock bottom" before the demon finally realizes it will never be William no matter how hard it tries, and decides to give the body back to the soul. The moment Spike gets his soul back, the demon's character arc is basically over, and William is back (after a bit of a rocky transition, being "insane in the basement"), albeit with a personality very much colored by the memories of "being" Spike (which he inherits from the demon, much like the demon inherited the memories and identity of William). Which calls into question whether the demon and the soul are to be considered two separate characters or just different parts of the same identity, or if it's more of a grey area.
Has he actually watched Spike and, say, Drusilla? Harmony? Buffy? Not exactly a respecter of women. Maybe towards the end of S7 he developed a wee bit of respect, but mostly Spike just wanted what he wanted. If that's a role model of masculinity, then Powers That Be help us all!
Cripes. I read the comments before the article. It's one passing line in the article and it gets jumped on as if he said Santa was a murderer! Some people here seem to really really hate Spike.

I tend to agree with the article. It's something I love about the Buffyverse is that Buffy is the leader. Spike who seems very secure in his masculinity follows her without a twinge. He admires her leadership/warrior abilities even when he is still trying to kill her.

Simple. Wish we didn't have to drag every dark moment about the character into every discussion.
Brings me down.

[ edited by Xane on 2012-12-22 03:08 ]
Good point, Xane. Giles and Xander both question Buffy and go behind her back from time to time ("Kick his ass"). By and large, however, they know that Buffy's in charge and they're fine with that -- happy about it, even. And Buffy's leadership, on occasion, happens to suck beyond the telling of it. Meaning that they're all human.

Well, technically not Spike. But he sure acts like he is.
Wishing there was a like button for Xane's comment.
Wolverine and Spike!! Hell Yes!

*is awaiting for Spike to start that School for Slayers
Likewise wishing there was a 'like' button for Xane's comment.
Yes, same here. Well put Xane. :)
The fact that Spike is a lesson doesn't make him a role model. The term the article uses is role model. Spike is a character whose path can raise interesting points or explore certain ideas. But "lesson" doesn't equal "role model". That's nothing to do with hate. And I'm as exasperated at the fact that Spike apologists insist we should ignore whole swaths of his character as Xane is that some of us insist we can't actually do that.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2012-12-22 20:22 ]
Sorry, but I understand and accept the characters flaws and imo ignore nothing, but then I also have to agree with what others have said here in that I do seem to be picking up an undercurrent of dislike bordering on hate coming from some comments.

But then Spike always seems to bring out extreme reactions in some people. *g*

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2012-12-22 20:41 ]
And I'm saying that not all critical opinion here or elsewhere is dislike or hate, and some of us are a little weary of that line being used to dismiss the discussion.
Well can I say like Xane some of us are weary of seeing the same old tired arguments brought up in any thread that has positive things to say about him.

"And I'm saying that not all critical opinion here or elsewhere is dislike or hate"

Probably not, but as to this thread........erm, I'm not so sure. :)

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2012-12-22 20:48 ]
Here's the thing about Spike. He's been like four different people over the course of his lifedeathspan. William, Spike, Chip!Spike and Soul!Spike. And there's no question that this offers a tremendous amount of narrative meat to explore the human/"human" condition, and there's certainly a forward motion over the long course of that path. There are things to take from that path, and things to learn from it. And while one could, theoretically, take each segment of his life individually and discretely, and talk only about, say, Soul!Spike, you can't actually do that. Hell, even Spike doesn't really do that.

There are all sorts of narrative tricks one can use, especially in genre, to excuse or forgive, for example and yes I'm going to mention it again, his attempted rape. But if you mapped Spike's path onto the real world and a real human being? Not so much wiggle room on excusing and forgiving there.

In the real world, the role model is the guy who never tried to rape the woman he was obsessed/in love with.

If we're talking about role models, we're talking about mapping a character onto the real world for real people. As I said, there are specific things one could take and hold out as examples of a good and proper way to be or behave, but that doesn't make the character as a whole a role model for living in the real world.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2012-12-22 21:05 ]
Well considering the character was an unsouled demon who did terrible things and yet then went on to fight to get his soul back and then to try and redeem himself then I'd say as role models go I'd say he's not so bad. :D

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2012-12-22 21:15 ]
Here is a beginning of a joke I cannot seem to finish: a Role Model of Masculinity, a sexbot built to order, and a Slayer walk into a bar. A Role Model wears trench-coat of another woman he once killed, and has a pair of hand-chains over his shoulder... he then proceeds to show the woman he loves his respect by getting her drunk as a fish, chaining her to the wall, and calling her a bitch while following her leadership without a twinge and respecting his masculinity. And I did not even had to make a single one of these things up...
That was unsouled earlier season Spike though.

He slowly changed and ended up helping save the world. :D

But then I sometimes feel whatever the character did some people will always have 'issues' with him. *g*

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2012-12-22 23:19 ]
You know, I was writing up a lengthy post explaining my earlier theory in exhaustive detail, when I thought of something:

Can we all agree that Spike is a bad role model because of his terrible, terrible driving?
So, to make it clear it is a souled Spike only who is a Role Model Who Shows Respect then ? Which version chipped or un-chipped ? Also before or after he jumps Harmony's bones on her office desk ?
Can you carve out a time interval where Spike can be treated as a Role Model and how long does it last - about 5 minutes as a whole? And yes, 'some people' dare to have issues with sexual violence perpetrated by men on women. Sorry to offend your sensibilities with that ridiculous prejudice.
*sigh* We get it love. You obviously have big problems with the character, but then we all have our favorites, eh?

Oh well. "Horses for courses" and all that. :D

[ edited by sueworld2003 on 2012-12-23 00:35 ]
dorotea, cool it.
Some things never change. (whistles)
Spike is not a real person. He is a creation of Joss and the other writers of BTVS. I like that they created a bad ass character who is totally down with Buffy being in charge.

[ edited by Xane on 2012-12-23 01:56 ]
I'm with you Xane, I'm glad they created a character that has no problems following a woman. Personally, I don't care about Spike being a role model, since he is a fictional character. If I want a role model, I look to real people, rather than a character on a TV show.

[ edited by Curly on 2012-12-23 03:29 ]
I think one of the reasons that people judge Spike more harshly than Angel is that we started with an Angel with a soul (and Angelus to us seemed like a loss of the character, not the character in his natural vampiric state.) We watched the development of Spike, warts and all, and only saw him with the soul in the last seasons of Buffy and Angel.

I freaking love Spike, but I started watching around season five when he was changing. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd watched from the beginning originally.

I think one thing I love about all the Buffy characters is that none of them is exactly a role model - they're too real for that.
ManEnough wrote: Rape in the real world almost never plays out that way.

Do you mean that the man generally doesn't stop? Actually, that happens a fair amount in the real world, especially among people who are or have been in a sexual relationship. Even now, men are often expected to make the first move, and many men still think that, if they use some physical force, the woman will end up enjoying it.

I'd bet that many women have experienced a time when a man was begging for love/sex/get-back-together-again and they had to be forceful to make him stop. I wish all men who did that would be horrified by their actions and run out to get a soul.

A real woman in Buffy's situation would have little or no chance in court, especially because they had had "rough sex" before and she admitted she was ashamed.

In "The Pack," Wikipedia says, "Xander jumps Buffy, pins her to the floor and tries to sexually assault her, asking whether Buffy prefers Angel to him because she likes danger." After his animal spirit is taken away, Buffy doesn't mention what he did, to save him from embarrassment. I've never understood why this was so easily forgiven and forgotten.
"Do you mean that the man generally doesn't stop?"

Also, the whole "usually the man is not a soulless creature who should according to the natural order of things have wanted to kill the victim like a certain former lover, nor does a man generally feel so bad afterwards that he decides to get a soul" situation springs to mind... There is pretty much nothing about the whole scene that resembles any real world scenario, is there? Especially without having Buffy be conveniently wounded so that she'd look like a victim for ten seconds.

I must say do agree with dorotea about the Harmony situation in S5 of Angel. IMO that was bad writing and very out of character for Souled!Spike.

[ edited by darling on 2012-12-23 19:40 ]
My perspective on this is that it is wrong to cherry pick what one likes or hates about Spike.

Spike is not a "role model" for men, he is, IMO, a much greater role model, he is the most significant role model/metaphor of the entire Jossverse. He is the model/metaphor of all the potential evil and darkness that lives in each and every human being and the metaphor for the struggle and ultimate victory of the The Good Human over the darkness and evil that humans are capable of.

Every one of the primary characters has done terrible things in the series - some have been called out on them and some have been happily excused by fans and totally ignored for consequences by the writers. The most blatant example is Xander who was directly responsible for the death of people when he called out Sweet. Even Dawn pushed that student down the stairs.

The series and all the characters work as great drama and story telling only when taken in the entire series. Frankly, that the writers and Joss Whedon were able to bring Spike back from the most provocative scene of all the Jossverse is a testament to the great writers of the series.

What is unfortunate for the character is that he is held to an extreme level of double standards and this, for some fans, will detract from seeing the character in all aspects of his transformation journey story.

[ edited by nmcil on 2012-12-23 18:37 ]
Some terrible things will have more of an impact than other terrible things and that's the way it's going to be for a very long time despite what some fans may want. I don't think it's double standards, it's more human nature than anything else.

And to fair, every faction in the fandom has played the "but what about X?" card at one stage or another. We're all guilty of it.
Well, my explanation of the "never plays out that way" is what I wound up deleting, but here's the short version:

1. Buffy has been seriously depressed, to the point of being actively suicidal (OMWF).
2. Buffy has also not been making terribly good decisions about her mental health (Normal Again).
3. Spike knows for a fact that the sex has helped her ("This isn't real/but I just wanna feel [alive]").
4. Buffy could kill Spike at any point, and get nothing but applause. Heck, she could ask for volunteers to do it for her. Both she and Spike know this.

justified concern in the attacker's mind about the victim's mental health & decisions
+ semi-justified basis for the attacker thinking rough sex will help
+ the victim having total physical dominance, to the point of being able to kill the attacker easily and without consequences
= wildly unrealistic. To my mind, at least.

Hence my problem: with all those factors in play, there's no conceivable way that this scene could be rape. And yet it's written as a rape scene. And that's what's been tying us all in knots.

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