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February 26 2014

Spike and rape culture. Philip Sandifer writes in his blog about Spike's character progression and the events of 6x19 that impact his journey the most.

I think this is an area of humanity that people badly overthink, to our detriment.
....Huh. Well, this is discouraging and uninviting. See you guys in another month or so, I guess? *shrug* :(
That was a much better article than I expected. It's also one of the best justifications I've seen for the rape scene in Buffy. Saying that it's the lowest point for Spike before he decided to change himself makes sense. I'm still not sure it was a good story, but I get the motivation behind it better.

[ edited by Jason_M_Bryant on 2014-02-27 06:12 ]
I agree--this was an interesting take on one if the most problematic storylines and characters of the Buffyverse. Because Spike's attempted rape of Buffy: still one of the most puzzling and awful things ever portrayed on the show.
That was actually quite revolting. I was enjoying it until the eighth and ninth paragraphs, in which it explicitly states that a man's default setting in our culture is as a rapist and an abuser.
I'm glad that the topic is being discussed, but I think this fella got some stuff wrong. First off, I'm getting really fed up with hearing about how all men, deep down, are testosterone-fueled rape monsters. No and no and no. This gross over-generalization keeps popping up, particularly in the media. Men absolutely have their own agency, and do not as a rule have to force themselves away from sexually assaulting people. Rape culture has indeed introduced a narrative in which sexual assault is excused in many circumstances, but thankfully not every male will immediately buy into that narrative. Not every male has to wear a hair shirt to remind themselves that it is a messed up narrative, either. Many men are... I dunno, kinda decent. Some aren't. Some have mental illnesses that make it difficult for them to tell the difference. Women fall into these categories, as well, and many others. We are a complex species, men included.

Also, Spike began his journey in the series as a seriously evil dude. His character arc was constantly evolving. I would not agree that he was essentially the same vampire-person before and after the soul, only with a new found love of humanity, because he changed rather dramatically over the course of the series of his own (unsouled) accord. It's one of the things that makes his story so interesting. His experiences, and the people he spent a good deal of time around during them, changed him rather dramatically even while he was an unsouled bloodsucker. He was still definitely erring towards the side of nihilism prior to being souled, but he had certainly come a long way in terms of complexity and nuance.

Also, I've never really seen Spike's progression as a character as a story about *all* men being monsters and having to consciously force themselves not to be. His seemed more like a story of growing self-awareness, and a final heinous act that made him *choose* a more responsible path. I also think that everyone reads into everything in different ways, so I am very aware that this is just what I took from it, and may be very different from others' ideas.

I'd also like to add that I don't think that there can really be too much discussion concerning how to combat sexual assault and rape culture. Human beings of any sex, race, creed deserve to live with dignity and free from that kind of fear.
"If you live your life on autopilot as a male, you will become a rapist and an abuser." - This statement horrifies me. I'm a woman. I know dozens of wonderful, caring, supportive, feminist men. And it's not because they've "disarmed" themselves. They're not embracing their own weakness. They're embracing women's strength. Joss has said all of this far more eloquently than I could ever hope to, and it's shocking that a discussion of Joss' work itself could lead to a statement like that.

Article aside, ever since reading JM's explanation for the episode and that story element (somewhere in the middle of this interview, for those who don't remember or haven't read it) I've sort of stopped treating it as canon. The story is clearly so personal for the writer that it's almost irrelevant to the characters, if that makes sense. I'm glad that plot development led to Spike's redemption but I also think there could have been a less "puzzling and awful" catalyst than that. I'd be very curious to find out what alternate stories had been suggested.

People are still paying attention to internet activism?
Here's now it was put by Captain Kirk, though the topic was war, not rape.

"We're Human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill, today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't kill, today."

What the author of this article was trying to say, though I think it could have been said better, is that there is always temptation. Every day we have to make the decision not to give in to temptation, but that decision isn't forever, we have to make it again the next day. I think that's true of all things, not just rape. First we accept that we have the potential to abuse whatever power we have, then we make the choices that keep us from doing those things.
Dude I don't know about you but I don't really feel tempted to rape stuff.

And one of my best friends was nearly the molestation victim of his aunt as a child. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say sexual abuse can be done by any gender and maybe gender doesn't decide whether or not you're a terrible person.
No, it's not that we all feel the temptation to rape, but there are many kinds of temptation.

A small child is in a toy store and he realizes that nobody is looking. He could take a toy and nobody would know. He feels the temptation to do it. What stops him is that, hopefully, his parents have already taught him that just because he has the power to do something, that doesn't mean he has the right.

Or sometimes the kid just swipes something because he's five and hasn't learned that yet. So the parents have to use that moment to teach him what not to do.

Either way, the next time he's in the store he'll feel the impulse again and he'll have to resist it again. Hopefully his parents continue to support him and teach him what is right and he grows used to not stealing like we're all used to not being a killer, today.

Here's another example. I recently read a different article that asked why so many female college students have had encounters with creepy professors. Some have a story about the professor who made lewd comments. Some can tell you about the professor who invited them to his office, then he turned on his computer and, whoops! there was porn running on it. Some women have stories that are much worse, but it's common for female college students to have had at least one professor like that.

That seems to largely come down to power. When you're in a position of power, as college professors are, then it's easy to let it go to your head. Sometimes that can turn to sexual harassment. I've recently started teaching at a college and I can definitely see how it can mess with someone's head. The way I avoid any problems with my students is by acknowledging that it would be easy to do something inappropriate and regularly reminding myself to treat all my students, male and female, with respect. That's for any abuse of power, including getting angry with students. I'm not some horrible human at heart, I'm just a guy who has the ability to lose his temper and the sense to regularly remind himself to think things through and remain fair to other people.

I don't entirely understand the term 'culture of rape', but I think it includes all the little temptations that make rape seem more acceptable. Excusing a professor who leers at his students. Portrayals of women that make them seem less important than men. We might not all have the temptation to rape, but there are many lesser crimes. There's also the act of allowing the lesser crimes to happen without saying anything because we don't think it is worth the effort to try and change it. So there are lots of types of temptation and we all have to recognize those problems and regularly decide to do something about them.

That's the part of the article that appeals to me. Spike didn't go from super bad Angelus to good guy Angel because of one moment. He didn't even do it because someone put a good behavior chip in his head. He had a journey that was more gradual because he made the choices to change himself.
I question your viewing comprehension for only NOW clicking to "Spike went to a low point and thus needed to redeem himself out of guilt" when that was basic maintext of Spike's arc, and thus I also question your reading comprehension when interpreting this article.

I also question you defending the blatantly stupid statement of "men on auto-pilot are rape machines." You can wax philosophical about temptation all you want, but a man unironically wrote down "men are inherent rapists." This isn't even a social rights issue as much as it's a projecting idiot talking about a rape scene.

I don't even disagree with something something temptation, but you're arguing something nobody questions. You can SAY he's poorly wording his point, but I don't care if he's poorly wording his point. If he mangles his point so badly he considers his entire gender a rape factory, he's an idiot.

[ edited by ImmaDeker on 2014-02-27 08:01 ]
Cool it. We don't take potshots at fellow posters or start bashing the writers of articles.
To be fair to the author, he does not claim that men on auto-pilot are rape machines, but that rape culture will turn them into rapists if they are on auto-pilot.

I'm surprised by those who think Spike trying to rape Buffy was out of character. I mean, at one point he kidnapped her and chained her to the wall, didn't he?
I'm surprised by those who think Spike trying to rape Buffy was out of character.

Yeah, I always thought it was a really strong scene myself - despite coming across different from the writer's original intention.
I mean: many characters in the show, and many viewers along with them, have come to trust and care for Spike over the course of the series, but at that point he is still without soul: evil, as it were. And this is where it shows.
To me, it is a perfect illustration of what having or not having a soul means to a character, and with that it worked very well as a motivation for Spike wanting to gain a soul. To be able to look upon his own actions with the right sense of remorse, responsibility, empathy, etc.
"To be able to look upon his own actions with the right sense of remorse, responsibility, empathy, etc." Which is pretty much what he did in that moment when Buffy pushed him away - before he got the soul.
baxter - I would say it's more what he tried to do, and wanted to do, but then realized he couldn't fully understand or properly feel anymore. Which set him on the path to regaining his soul.
The Spike stuff is interesting, but the claims about gender at the end seem awfully large to be breezed over so quickly, especially when stated with such certainty.
Yeah, on my first reading I was really angry at the author too and rejected the whole premise. On a closer read... I'm still angry.

What the author is trying to say is that our culture makes a lot of excuses for why it is OK to sexually harass or assault women ("boys will be boys" coaches making excuses for athletes raping women) but he somehow assumes that no one was ever taught rape is wrong. I was taught that rape is akin with murder as far as Things You Should Never Ever Do. It's not some daily impulse that I have to wrestle with every time I see an attractive woman. I know it's wrong, full stop.

The JM article is interesting, but he looks at a woman forcing herself on a man and a man forcing himself on a woman as two different things, and I don't agree with that. Forcing yourself on someone is forcing yourself on someone.

I'm still uncomfortable with Spike's self-driven quest for humanity, because it implied that not all vampires are soulless monsters (and then Buffy becomes a murderer) but it happened and all the writers signed off on it, so there you go.
And here’s an ugly truth: if you are a man, you do not have another option. You are not going to be raised without the cultural narrative of rape culture controlling you. You are not going to come out of childhood and being a teenager as a good person.

I don't just disagree with this. I find it fully unacceptable and malignant to discourse on gender issues.

The pervasive traditional cultural male role many of us were raised with is that of protector and provider. It has it's own issues to negotiate with feminism (another topic), but it is also diametrically opposed to everything a rapist is. Real men viscerally hate rapists. Many hate rapists more than murderers because of the specific extent of the violation of that cultural contract. Rapists aren't just bad men - they have perverted what it means to be a man and have become precisely what men were taught to defend against, which is exactly why the topic often ties into vampire/monster metaphors in the first place.

I hope no one is shocked, but men do instinctively desire sex. Men instinctively desire control. (Not universally unique in either respect.) It's there and justified or not, it manifests and seeps into cultural expression in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Men also desire to play the violent video games, and yet most do not act on it running around killing each other and would actually find the reality of such an experience traumatizing. For that matter, many women have rape fantasies - which is not to say in any way that they desire actual rape. The problem has always been the breakdown between isolated fantasy devoid of morality/consequence and the real world filled with actual other living human beings. This breakdown by those who can't tell the difference is a product of mental disease - not the natural state. A healthy mind isn't weighted by any kind of "inner-struggle".
I'm sure the great majority of men are taught that rape is wrong, but they often are not taught about the attitudes and actions in our culture that contribute to rape. Here are some issues:

1. In general, men gain status from having sex with a lot of women while women lose status for having sex with a lot of men. Think of Don Juan vs. the slut. As long as these attitudes remain, there will be men who force themselves on women as a way to feel powerful or to express their anger. So, every time a person (male or female) looks down on a woman as a slut or looks up to a man because of the sex he had, they are contributing to rape culture. This also applies to sex workers. Would you be more likely to look down on a prostitute or a stripper than one of your buddies who paid them?

Think of this any time you call a woman a slut or whore or you keep quiet when someone else says it.

By the way, this is a major reason why a woman trying to force herself on a man differs from a man trying to force himself on a woman. In both cases, the woman loses status, but the man doesn't. Other reasons: Men have little fear that women will rape them, in part, because men are often stronger and are less likely to date women who are more powerful than they are. Although people can experience physical arousal when the rape isn't physically painful (such as oral sex), women never need to be aroused in order to be raped in any way. The same is obviously not true of men.

2. Women who are considered sluts rarely see their rapists convicted. All street prostitutes get raped from time to time, and if they work in the trade long enough, higher-priced prostitutes will also have times when they are either forced to perform a sex act or feel like they have no choice in whether they perform a sex act or not. I can't recall a man ever being prosecuted for that, except in cases where the woman has severe injuries. When a woman accuses a man of rape, defense attorneys and/or other people who support the man will quickly attack the woman as a slut, and like a woman who is paid for sex, will lose much of her credibility. Whenever people question the credibility of a woman who says she was raped because she's had a lot of consensual sex in the past, they contribute to rape culture.

3. The idea that a man has some right to sex and that it's not necessary for the woman to enjoy it contributes to rape culture. This has been prevalent for centuries in which women had no rights to refuse sex to their husbands, and their fathers often had the right to marry off their daughters to men who might or might not try to please their wives. It wasn't until 1993 that marital rape became illegal in all 50 U.S. states. That means there are a number of men in society who have forced women to have sex even though they would never consider themselves rapists. They probably didn't need much force since women generally understood it as their duty. I'm sure these men also taught their sons that rape was wrong, but they thought of rape in terms of a man who jumps out of the bushes and grabs a woman who wasn't considered "loose."

Some men who argue in favor of legalized prostitution act as if every man has some God-given right to sex, whether the woman enjoys it or not. Yes, there are women who hire men for sex, but the difference is that the shame still falls more on the woman than the man. The other difference is that a woman who seeks sex with a man she doesn't know in her car, an alley or her home is at much greater risk of rape (i.e., sex she doesn't want as opposed to sex she wants) and other physical harm than a man seeking sex from a woman he doesn't know.

4. People who believe that what happens in the home is a "private matter" contribute to rape culture (and domestic violence). Look at the prominent people who argue that what happened between Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow is a private or a family matter that shouldn't be aired in public. A person can believe Woody Allen but still recognize that society has an interest in accusations of incest and other forms of sexual assault.

5. Our criminal justice system is based on a presumption of innocence in which jurists, starting with Blackstone, have said that it's better that lots of guilty men go free rather than an innocent man be punished. To paraphrase Ben Franklin and others, is it better that 100 rapists, 1,000 rapists, go free to rape again rather than convict one innocent man? Or, to put it another way, what is the proper ratio of traumatized women to traumatized men?

I don't have any prescriptions for change right now, but it's obvious that men benefit more than women from this attitude in a world in which men commit the great majority of violent crimes. Also, men are much more likely to experience violence outside the home, where there may be witnesses, while women are more likely to experience violence within the home, in which the only witnesses may be children.

In cases where a woman accuses a man she knows, one them is generally guilty. Either the man is a rapist or the woman is a liar. When you give the man the presumption of innocence, you're condemning the woman of a crime -- making false accusations to authorities. In other words, they can't both be presumed to be innocent.

The presumption of innocence applies only to punishment in the criminal justice system. In other words, police and prosecutors generally think someone is guilty or they wouldn't arrest him. You and I are free to speculate all we want. I don't agree with people who always believe a woman when she makes an accusation, but those who trumpet the presumption of innocence in rape cases need to remember that women pay a terrible price for this. There is no respected criminal justice organization that believes false rape accusations outweigh actual rapes.

In a society where very few men are convicted of rape, in comparison to the number of women, men and children who say they have been raped, the rapists have a great advantage. And this contributes to a rape culture.

6. Both men and women say no for a variety of reasons, even when they really want to have sex. When men pressure women to have sex, however, they contribute to a rape culture in which some men think women will enjoy having sex with them once sex starts or it doesn't matter if the woman enjoys sex or not. So, if someone mentions the scene in which Rhett Butler carries Scarlett O'Hara up the stairs, it's good to mention that was rape.

A woman also can think that a man may change his mind about sex once she starts having sexual contact with him, but the difference is that she generally can't force him physically, and men rarely acquiesce to sex with women because they fear the women will hurt them more if they resist.

In prison interviews, a lot of men convicted of raping strangers actually believe the woman did enjoy it.

To avoid contributing to rape culture, it's also good to take a stand against stalking. There are plenty of movies, for example, that show men going to ridiculous lengths to win over women. It's considered romantic. In real life, women often find it frightening.

Whenever a man talks about trying to get a woman drunk or stoned in hopes of having sex with her, one way or another, he's talking about rape and people who aren't appalled are contributing to rape culture.

Although not considered rape, this behavior is on the same spectrum as men who lie and use other tricks to have sex with women who wouldn't otherwise want sex with them. I'm not sure I've ever heard a woman say she wanted to have sex with a man, whether or not he enjoyed it.

Think of the boys and men who took their dates to an isolated area and then said they had run out of gas or there was something wrong with their car. Anyone who doesn't condemn that is contributing to rape culture. If girls and women wanted to have sex in a deserted area, the guy wouldn't have to pretend there was something wrong with his car. And some girls and women gave in to sex -- i.e., they had sex against their will -- for fear they would have to walk home from a deserted area. That's why parents used to give daughters a dime so that they could call home from a pay phone. And, of course, the danger of walking home alone in the dark in a deserted area was that you'd be raped by a stranger.

That leads me back to why so many of us loved Buffy and the idea that a small, pretty woman could walk anywhere she wanted at any time without fear.
Beautiful post, Suzie.
Suzie, I don't disagree with the issues you've raised, but I'm not sure why you're posting them in response to an article arguing that all men are inherently conflicted rapists at heart. The context is problematic.
One thing I never found "The Attempt" to be was puzzling. How is it confusing that a soulless creature, gripped by strong emotions, commits a crime?
BringItOn: The post was titled "Spike and rape culture," and that's what it was about. I disagree with the author that a man on autopilot will end up raping or otherwise abusing women. But that was one sentence. I do think men on autopilot will contribute to rape culture.

Let me deal directly with your earlier post: You say that the role of protector and provider is diametrically opposed to rape. There must be a great shortage of real men. How else can you explain the enormous amount of male violence against women and the few convictions for rape?

Actually, this traditional role is entirely intertwined with rape culture. I'm speaking about Western culture, as you also seem to be. Women always worked to provide for their families, although the farm, tavern, tailoring shop, etc., might have been in the husband's name. Even among the rich, women ran households. The rise of guilds, unions and other professional associations shut women out of jobs they had done previously.

With the Industrial Age, women were also prey to male bosses and colleagues. A woman who walked around in public without a male protector risked being seen as less than respectable. A "public woman" was once a name for women who had sex with various men, whether for pay or not. We still have the term "streetwalker." This was in contrast to women who remained in the private sphere.

Women have had a long struggle to enter the many jobs dominated by men. Many women became dependent on men as providers because men had shut them out of the workplace. The benefit for men was that they had less competition in the workplace, and they got free labor in the household and a sexual partner who couldn't say no to them.

In other words, sexual assault and harassment has served to ensure men remain the providers. Just as women turned to men as providers because men restricted their rights to earn a living wage, women looked to men to protect them from other men.

In the chivalry of knights, for example, the lovers often functioned as another husband: I'll protect you from others in exchange for sex.

In patriarchal societies in which men hold the most power and inheritance is passed down through sons, husbands want wives who are going to have their biological offspring, not the children of other men. Women were generally seen as property, and so, fathers wanted to protect their "goods" lest they be "despoiled."

A woman who was ruined or spoiled -- i.e., was known not to be a virgin -- entered the class of women who had little or no defense against rape. This served men well because they could be respectable with a respectable wife, while having a group of women at their disposal.

There have been many men who greatly want to protect "their women" while raping the women who "belong" to men who are their enemies. Cf., war.

For much of Western history, women were seen as more earthy and more sexual and less able to control themselves than men, who were the rational ones. If a woman with lesser status said she was raped, she would be seen as having provoked or enticed the man -- an attitude that many people still have. If a woman with status was raped by a man of much lower status, he could be killed or run out of town, and the matter hushed up so that no one would know the woman had been "ruined." If he also had status, the families might work out an agreement in which the man had to marry the woman.

For example, Rousseau argued that civilization would be ruined if women were allowed to roam about, having sex with whatever man they wanted. The 1800s brought the idea of the angel in the house, comparable to the madonna/whore trope. Once again, it served to cull out the women who can be raped more easily, or who enter prostitution because they have fewer choices.

The Kinsey Institute and others who study sexual desire have found that women have about the same desire for sex as do men, in general. There is no biological evidence that men are born with more desire to control people than are women.

You seem to be arguing about the inherent nature of men. Philip isn't. He doesn't argue that men are inherently conflicted rapists, as you have accused him. He says our [rape] culture influences men to do bad things. I agree, and it's also why I don't think boys are born with an inherent desire to play violent video games.

Let's pretend we live in a world that cherishes pacifism, where soldiers are hated, and anyone who shoots a gun or commits any violence, even in defense, is shamed and sent away. Do you still think boys would desire guns and play violent video games as much as they do now?

Some women have rape fantasies because it has been so ingrained in them that their desires are shameful. Lots of men have rape fantasies because they want to be free to do whatever they like without the fear of being rejected. But others have rape fantasies because they are angry at women, want to put them in their place, etc.

There is a ton of porn in which men rape and/or degrade and humiliate women. Even in the more vanilla porn, the premise is often that the women are sluts who deserve whatever happens, but end up enjoying it, of course. Men who watch that kind of porn but convince themselves that the women are enjoying themselves are similar to the men who pay women for sex but believe the women really like it.

There's porn featuring dominatrices hurting or degrading men, but this is primarily aimed at men. That's why women have to settle for "Hard Candy," "Teeth" and "Freeway." (OK, I couldn't resist a little joke.)

The reason rapists are often equated with monsters is because most of us, men and women, do not want to acknowledge how many seemingly normal men can commit so much violence against women. Thus, they aren't "real men." They are monsters. That's why I think the Trio were the worst Big Bads on Buffy and Angel. Perhaps the runner-up is the guy who tricked his girlfriend into having sex with him before she broke up with him, and then wanted to freeze that moment. In other words, he could rape her for eternity. Again, for those who don't understand, she didn't agree to sex in which she would be frozen for eternity with a man she wanted to get away from. That's rape.

This is also why I think Spike's attempted rape doesn't fit with the ideology of Buffy & Angel. Spike and Buffy had been having consensual but violent sex. Spike seemed to think that, if this relationship continued, she would end up loving him the way he loved her. So, when he says he's going to make her love him, I could believe that he thought if he could initiate something, she would join in again. Then I expected her to kick him through the wall. It didn't make sense to me that she seemed more afraid of him than she ever did when he was trying to kill her -- or, in fact, more afraid of him than she was various other demons who wanted to rape and/or kill her.

It also doesn't make sense considering she easily forgave Xander for attempting to rape her when he was possessed by hyena demon spirits. After all, she knew that desire was in him and might be brought out again if another demon got hold of him. He also was forgiven for trying to use witchcraft to get a woman to have sex with him who would not otherwise have desired it. Andrew was forgiven. Buffy was willing to have sex with both Angel and Spike even though they tried to kill her at various times. But the biggest reason is that Buffy and the Scooby Gang, the potentials who became slayers, and the slayers who lost power but still knew how to fight could have made more of an attempt to stop the violence committed by human men against women.
Is it possible for me to ask a moderator to delete my post? As a man and as a human being, I'm very uncomfortable with and offended by the misandry I'm seeing in some of the comments here. I never intended the discussion to go in such an unproductive direction.
@Suzie, thanks so much. Your posts were very informative, well written, fair/even-handed, and very on topic. As someone with a very traditional, conservative, patriarchal, and (in terms of gender discussion) privileged upbringing, I've struggled to learn more about this topic. I often find myself vilified and stereotyped, as well as overwhelmed by heated, overgeneralized, and unproductive rhetoric.
I disagree with the author that a man on autopilot will end up raping or otherwise abusing women. But that was one sentence. I do think men on autopilot will contribute to rape culture.

I'm glad you don't agree, but why qualify it as one sentence? The same sentence he follows up with "There's not another way this plays out"? It's the whole thrust of the argument that men by adulthood are "controlled" by rape culture. That they are not good people and will rape without a valiant effort to fight the addiction to obey the almighty culturally engorged phallus. It's the sort of incendiary nonsense any sane person would want to create as much safe distance from as possible... Why would you assume all men are doomed to perpetuate rape culture unless... what? What's your definition of autopilot vs. controlled flight and how do you make that judgement?

There must be a great shortage of real men. How else can you explain the enormous amount of male violence against women and the few convictions for rape?

The vast majority of reported rape cases never go to trial, the most common reasons being that the victim withdraws, there's a lack of evidence or the offender is never identified.

The fact of the matter is that even assuming non-reported estimates, the overwhelming majority of men are not violent towards women. You are painting with a very large and sloppy brush when you invoke "great" and "enormous" and I'm sorry, but those of us who are being splashed by the paint really don't appreciate being lumped in with those who have fallen into the most base behavior of our gender. In your trek through the atrocities of history, you might have arrived at the more relevant present day and mentioned that violent crime including rape and assault on women has dramatically fallen in the United States over the past couple decades.

Let's pretend we live in a world that cherishes pacifism, where soldiers are hated, and anyone who shoots a gun or commits any violence, even in defense, is shamed and sent away. Do you still think boys would desire guns and play violent video games as much as they do now?

Whatever world that is, it wouldn't be ours. And this was the crux of my initial post. The "problem" boys - the one's who can't feel the moral constraints of reality... they were throwing rocks at cats for fun long before video games or even guns existed. I believe that personal psychology and immediate significant events play a much greater role in compelling a person to commit an act like murder or rape. When such a thing happens, people naturally begin looking for the larger cultural reasons why - and will clutch at any plausible excuse. Video games did it. Heavy metal did it. Rape culture did it. No, an individual did it for individual reasons. There is no easy big target. Parents have to work with their kids and as best they can, connect and teach them right from wrong.
Rape culture is very much a thing, and many (perhaps most) people, of both genders inadvertently perpetuate it in America: embracing gendered slurs, slut-shaming, celebrating prison rape (even jokingly), etc... That isn't the same as going through life raping and abusing. If the author meant that most people's default setting is to perpetuate rape culture, he did a vast disservice to his argument through his hyperbole. If his claim was meant literally, I hope he seeks professional help for his violent urges.
@kungfubear: are we reading the same thread? I fail to see in which comments you saw misandry.
It didn't make sense to me that she seemed more afraid of him than she ever did when he was trying to kill her -- or, in fact, more afraid of him than she was various other demons who wanted to rape and/or kill her.

She had come to trust him. It's easier to fight an enemy than a friend. Someone tries to kill you, you try to kill them right back, as they say. But when a friend turns on you and shows that he is a monster, how do you react? Are you supposed to remain strong and empowered?

I guess she forgot for a while, as the viewers did, that he was a monster.
Ragondux, I can understand her being more disappointed, but not more scared. On the other hand, I really like Spike, which may be why, like other fans, I don't want to accept that episode.

Thanks, Fornicus. I have my master's in women's studies, with a special interest in history.
@Suzie: Thank you.

I think people (both men and women) don't see rape culture, or even the ongoing pervasiveness of patriarchy, because we're all too much inside of it - we accept the imbalances as the norm. I'm very grateful when someone so skillfully articulates what I sense about the world. When I've tried to point it out to others (especially men), they just look at me like I'm crazy.

As for the scene in question, I agree with you on why it feels problematic. Every time I watch it I get frustrated that Buffy doesn't kick Spike through the wall as soon as he ignores her first "no." It's Buffy who feels out of character in that scene to me, not Spike.
I think what bothers me most about 'rape culture' is that as an autistic it simply doesn't apply to me. There are lots of people outside the mainstream for whom cultural pressure simply doesn't apply, so when people talk as if it applies to everyone (because they lack experience in the world with different types of people) I find it ignorant and insulting.
@Ragondux: I'm not naming any names. No way am I about to play that game. The point is, they're there and it's very troubling. That I'm apparently alone in this is also concerning. As a result, I now want to disassociate myself as being the one who linked to the article in the first place (perhaps a moderator can swap out or names and take my place as the original poster). There seems to be an abundance of supporters for the main argument the blogger talks about, which given where we are, makes little to no sense. Even outside of the "rape culture" discussion, there seems to be a few assumptions, misconceptions and generalizations about the psychological and sexual motivations and justifications regarding both men and women, all of which seem misinformed, irresponsible and franky, dangerous to me.

To get on topic with my original intent for bringing this piece to everyone's attention: Some seem to have forgotten that Buffy was very weak, tired and injured in that bathroom, making it impossible for her to kick a super-powered vampire through a wall and very difficult to fight one off, which she eventually does. It's also worth pointing out that right at that moment, Spike recognizes he's gone too far (which is why he does not persist) and he eventually makes the conscious decision to regain his soul. Of utmost importance is that he does all this WHILE NOT HAVING A SOUL!

David Fury, in a number of interviews and podcast discussions has said that Spike is an anomaly in the vampire community, in that he managed to retain some of his humanity after being turned. This is most evident in Seeing Red and in Lies My Parents Told Me, wherein he rejects his Mother's advances and heartbroken by what he's turned her into, kills her.

Joss Whedon has also said that it was important for Spike to be the one to commit such an act against Buffy, to show that soul or no soul, Spike is a complex character, capable of both good and evil, regardless.
Kungfubear, I don't think anyone is agreeing with the article's statement that all men are inherently rapists. That the article suggested that is simply disturbing. It's hateful and wrong. What rape culture means is that many of the crimes committed are perpetuated by environmental factors. I don't think that's a bad thing to admit; we can't change human nature, but we can improve our culture.

But I think that the comparison of rape culture to vampirism is interesting. (Not the comparison of men to vampires. Again, the idea that evil is a natural state of humanity isn't a concept I can understand, and it goes directly against discussions of cultural influences). I appreciate the level-headed discussion about rape culture in this thread. I haven't seen this sort of debate on many places on the internet.
Merriam-Webster defines culture as the "beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time." Bunnies, someone applied some pressure to you to teach you to write grammatically correct English sentences, use a computer, type, etc. - just as they did to me. How and when we learned and how much pressure we felt may have differed, but neither of us was born knowing these skills. Similarly, eating with cutlery and defecating into a toilet are learned behavior. People on the autism spectrum who have learned any behavior to make them fit in better with neurotypicals has been influenced by culture.

Autistic people who have learned to take precautions against sexual abuse have felt pressure to do so because our society has any number of men (and women to a much lesser extant) willing to sexually assault people. Women may feel pressure to do the things that they've learned to "get a man," as our society often encourages women to do. Autistic feminists have written about this quite a bit. If you Google "rape culture" and feminist, you'll see that writing, in addition to some men on the spectrum who deny such culture exists, just as some neurotypical men do.

After all, what could go wrong when a man has a problem empathizing or understanding nonverbal cues or statements that could possibly be misinterpreted? As one autistic man argued, it's a woman's own fault if she didn't make her objections clearer. It doesn't seem to occur to him that a man should be sure a woman wants to have sex before proceeding.

People (again, mostly men) with autism have committed crimes, including sexual assault, although not more than the general population. Low-functioning people may have no idea what they're doing, but a high-functioning person does.

On the Internet, women (especially feminists) get tons of nasty messages in which men threaten to rape them. Considering their computer skills, I find it hard to believe that some are not on the spectrum.
Of course there are lots of sexually dodgy autistics, but if one uses the term 'rape culture' as if it's one thing, it can't apply to people who acquire cultural knowledge in entirely different ways. It's just sloppy use of language for apparently political means.
@BringItOn: I appreciate that you are sticking up for men. I think all of us agree that rape is not the default setting for men, and reject the portion of the article that says that (whether the author meant it literally or otherwise).

I do think it is appropriate to use that as a jumping off point to discuss the elements of our culture that may influence men's attitudes and behavior negatively.

I think there is no easy distinction between autopilot and controlled flight. I think ideally, a human is open to examining itself for possible logical fallacies, behavior that is damaging or oppressive to others, or attitudes and areas of inaction that allow oppression to continue.

BringItOn, you are also totally right that you can't link a single action/crime to a single cause, and we have many distracting false correlations to be distracted by. I.e., why do we try to ban automatic weapons to prevent massacres when most gun violence is small scale and personal and could arguably be reduced by better conflict management training culture wide? Per Michael Moore, we might as well ban bowling.

I think we need to separate three things: 1) the ingrained image of rape as a psychotic stranger in the bushes scenario, 2) the occurrences of rape that some people do not believe to be immoral or illegal, meaning marital, prison, date rape, abusing someone who is drunk, and 3) the common attitudes about a woman's right to her own sexuality (Suzie laid out a lot of things well. Essentially, there is an undercurrent in society that a man has a right to a woman's body if he rightfully wins it, and if she is despoiled or stolen by another man, she is of less value).

Even if someone is taught that rape is wrong, they may never hide in the bushes and attack a stranger, but they may fall prey to other harmful attitudes that they don't think of as rape related (or as patriarchal/oppressive in general).

Misandry does exist, and I think is present in the linked article. But if you are offended by something, it is a helpful exercise to look past the parts you disagree on and examine yourself for any harmful attitudes or behavior. Do you engage in slut shaming? Do you make or encourage jokes where a rape victim is the punch line (as opposed to the attacker or a witness being belittled)?

I agree that violent crime is in decline, and that there is no direct causal link between a single non-rapists behavior and an act of rape. But there are people who would commit rape and not believe that they were doing so. You're right that the first responsibility to train an ethical human lies with parents, but we have a responsibility to perpetuate constructive attitudes and fight to eliminate negative ones.

Finally, I would encourage you to avoid making generalizations as well, even if they are not as reprehensible as the one the article makes. Not all men act as protectors, desire power, enjoy violent games, etc. Many women act as protectors, desire power, and enjoy violent video games. And women desire sex as much as men do. But people are people, not categories. I am myself more than I am a cis, straight, white american man. Any characteristic that can be measured in a human lies on a bell curve, and in general no single fact can be significantly predictive about a being as a whole. Now I'm just rambling...
Fornicus, I think this article was an unfortunate way to start a more worthwhile discussion. There are certain viewpoints, such as the ones in this article, that cry out for clear and unambiguous rejection. I would agree that Suzie has raised some very valid points that deserve additional exposure and awareness, but laid out in this particular context, they are also easily construed as tacit agreement with the article - perhaps not to the letter that all men are conflicted rapists, but that at least a great many of us are not good people. It peeks out behind the odd sentence, but I do think there's some anger and blame in what she's written. I don't know precisely where kungfubear's thoughts lie, but I think it's unfortunate that he and possibly others didn't feel comfortable giving voice to them here. As a Joss Whedon site, we have a feminist sensibility that's to be celebrated, but it need not and never should come at the expense of including men and male oriented viewpoints.

I'm introspective by nature and I know perfectly well why and where my individual objections to this article are coming from. I suppose it's not uncommon to lose friends when you tell someone that you're interested in something more. I had one such experience where it wasn't just the awkwardness of "I don't feel what you feel" - she couldn't even look me in the eye afterwards and began acting as if I were some kind of threat. It was a night and day instant change. I don't bring it up to cast blame - I don't know what her experiences were that might have contributed to what happened, but I do remember how it felt to become a dangerous thing in her eyes for doing absolutely no more than expressing my affection - to lose that friendship because I simply could not be trusted to hold my unwanted feelings. So when I read an article arguing that all men are, in fact, troubled rapists fighting to avoid our urges and cultural programming, it pushes buttons. Good men don't deserve the hurt and stigma of being cast as degenerates (by which I do not mean just the psychotic stranger in the bushes).

As far as generalizations... fair enough, I agree, but that is the inevitable nature of philosophical social and cultural discussions - to try and define some kind of comprehensible useful trend out of the larger mess we live in. I hope that the ones I've made are more representative than not - and I believe I did make disclaimer that my "male attributes" were not exclusive to the male gender. Still, I make no claims at any kind of complete and all-encompassing universal truth. That truth defies summary and is the world around us as it actually exists.

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