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.