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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Opinion Article

Thoughts on Rape in the Whedonverse:

Opinion by NikaDawson posted over a year ago
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Rape plays a large and controversial part in the Whedonverse. When most people think of rape in the ‘verse they will most always think of the scene in Seeing Red, whether you be a Spuffy or Bangel or even Tillow.
I will try to keep my own thoughts and feelings about that scene from this. I have a personal bias for the character Spike and the ship of Buffy & Spike and I’m sure that shows.
If you were just looking for the obvious attempt of physical rape, then yes, Seeing Red would enter your mind. It is most interesting to me that one that is only attempted, never followed through and left Spike in a flood of tormenting guilt that would lead him on a journey, is put through glaring focus, while the rapes not attempted but completed on screen were looked over.
Now you may be thinking, what is she talking about? There were no actual rapes. Well, I wasn’t talking about physical rape, though that has been done by more than one character. I was talking about mental rape. The rape of an unwilling mind, and that has been completed several times on screen, most notably by Willow and Angel.
Willow, who loved Tara, raped her mind, stealing her memories with Lethe’s Bramble of their arguments without consent. She rapes the minds of Buffy, Dawn, Xander, Giles, Anya, Spike, and again Tara in Tabula Rasa. Yet not one of them condemned her for it, with the exception of Tara. Magical addiction they called it, but not what she was really doing with that addiction. A mental rape is as hurtful and as much of a violation as a rape of the body, more in a way because your mind makes you who you are more so than your body. I love Willow almost as much as I love Spike, but what she did was wrong.
Angel raped Buffy’s mind in I Will Remember You. Whether his intentions were good or not, and I won’t argue about that, she lost a part of herself when she lost her memory. It was still a mental rape. He also raped the minds of his team members and his own son Conner, with his deal from Wolfram and Hart, which ultimately lead to the death of a teammate and subsequent possession, and the broken spirits of others.
Now physical rape. Spike wasn’t the only one. Xander, Angelus, and even Buffy have done that as well. Xander tried to rape Buffy in The Pack when possessed by a hyena. It was acting on his feelings for Buffy, it didn’t randomly select her. If it had been Willow he had feelings for, it would have been Willow in Buffy’s place.
Angelus, he was known as one of the worst vampires in history. The Scourge of Europe. I don’t think there is anyone who could doubt that Angelus has raped before. Drusilla and her violent turning are an example of Angelus physically raping someone.
Now Buffy, some of you might be confused as to why I put her on the list. Well, many forget the scenes in Gone when Buffy attacks Spike sexually when she was invisible. She throws him against the wall of his crypt, and he has consented to nothing yet, not knowing who she is till she speaks. Then later, he tells her no, after Xander’s visit. He wants her to leave, and yet she still initiates sexual contact despite his expressed wish not to. And the only remorse she shows is none, she pouts that he kicked her out. Agree with me on that or not, that would be classified as sexual molestation and anyone would have said so if their positions had been reverse with Buffy as the male and Spike as the female. Now I am a Spuffy but I don’t think many Spuffy’s will deny that season six was harmful and in it’s own twisted way, beneficial to both.
And yet each of these rapes happened by people that loved them. Spike loved Buffy; Angel loved Buffy and his team members and his son. Willow loved Tara and her friends. Xander had strong feelings for Buffy. And Buffy, while not in love with Spike in season six, has admitted that she has feelings for him, and Angelus has a possessive caring for Drusilla. I find that in the Whedonverse, the acts of our darker natures; rape, murder, even torture, often coincide with the greatest emotion any of us, humans (Buffy, Xander, Willow) or demons (Spike, Angel) can ever feel. In the real world rape is about power, but here it is mostly only shown to be connected to love.
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adwbuffy said:
I agree with rape. That the Seeing red was showing Spike that he did raped buffy. And the epsiode i will remember with buffy think that angel did raped her to. Also I think you article show a lot of different types of raped. Your absolutely right. Great article
posted over a year ago.
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scififan said:
Excellent Article Nicka!! You are right...when I think rape, I think the scene in Seeing Red. I never thought about the mental rape....I mean, I thought what Willow did was wrong, but I never thought of it as rape. I never, ever thought of Angel's memory changes (rewinding time, changing memories of his gang) as rape as he was doing it for their good...so I'm not quite sure if I agree with your assessment of his actions as rape. However, the articel was excellent...thought provoking...well worded...great job!!!
posted over a year ago.
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avarael said:
Plus when Willow used her forget spell on Tara she had sex with her in the next episode while she was still under the effects. I'm not sure Tara would have done that with Willow had she had her complete memory. Imagine if Spike did that to Buffy or Xander to Anya. Willow violated her body as well as her mind.
posted over a year ago.
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An interesting article. When I think of rape in the Buffyverse, I do think of Seeing Red, but also Go Fish and Dead Things. I find your "mental rape" idea kind of troubling in its semantics, though. Rape is a specific kind of crime, and it seems like it could be offensive to refer to this mental violation as the same thing. On that note, I believe what Angel did in I Will Remember You was time travel, which would have erased the timeline with Buffy entirely, rather than tampering with her memories. Not to say that time travel must be ethical, but it's not the same thing.

I had forgotten about the scene in The Pack. One thing about the older episodes is that they are filled with Joss' attempts to preach feminism, so Hyena!Xander should probably be considered an archetypal "boy you like who tries to rape you", conveniently a possession so they can keep the boy around as a good guy. Just a guess. I may need to rewatch the episode.

The Buffy raping Spike thing - I think this is a result of sexism, ironic in a show meant to fight sexism, but David Fury's just human. Masculinity is supposed to be strong, while femininity is supposed to be weak. Men are considered to be potential threats, while women are considered to be potential victims, so a woman doing to a man that would be considered rape were it the other way around can't possibly be rape because of this. The fact that Buffy is a Slayer and stronger than Spike slips through the cracks of this generally true sexist meme that most people hold as fact. What is accomplished is that Buffy considers Spike as less than a person, and Spike isn't going to stand for it. So, Buffy ignoring Spike's lack of consent is portrayed as disrespectful, but not rape.

The love spells are also tools that can lead to rape. The jacket of Him would have made Buffy have sex with R.J. if Dawn hadn't interrupted them. Presumably, R.J.'s father used the power to magically rape a lot of girls for himself, as well as the continued spell working to rape girls for his sons. The interesting thing is that the sons appear to be clueless, so even though they directly have the sex, the real rapist is out of the picture. Then in Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, Xander refuses to take advantage of Buffy when she comes under the effect of his malfunctioning spell, which is a nice contrast to his hyena possession. The commenter avarael makes a good point about Tara not being able to consent in Once More With Feeling.

I suppose there's also the praying mantis lady in Teacher's Pet who tries to rape and eat Xander and some other boy. I thought that was a bad episode, so I really don't remember it that well, but I might want to rewatch it now.
posted over a year ago.
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ummm wat??......lol
posted over a year ago.
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bellabrowneyes: What part didn't you get?
posted over a year ago.
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cookie24 said:
this article was very interesting and thought provoking, makes you realise just how many topics are covered in buffy and the many deep levels that can be found amongst the storyline and charachter interactions. its amazing how many layered Mr. Whedon's writing can be.
posted over a year ago.