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Rape in season 6 (Trigger Warning)

Discussion in 'Sunnydale Cemetery' started by Monkey Pants, Mar 30, 2016.

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  1. Monkey Pants

    Monkey Pants Bored Now

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    Black Thorn
    I find that the theme of rape is very present in season 6. From Warren and Co. trying to make Katrina their willing sex slave, to Spike trying to rape Buffy, to Willow wiping Tara's mind and then having sex with her, to Buffy using Spike just for sex and his body. I get that season 6 is very dark, but why is it so rapey? And why do some characters get forgiven more easily than others? Which crimes do you think are worse, and why? And how do you think that the show handled ideas of rape and consent? Did these characters actions have lasting affects on how you see them? Will post my own opinion in a bit:)
     
  2. Blaze

    Blaze Let it Burn

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    Black Thorn
    Well I've discussed at large what I think of Willow and the mind violation (which I don't think is rape), and Buffy using Spike is surely not rape either, abusive yes, but not sexual abuse. That is why I can forgive those actions more easily. They weren't right, but they also weren't rape.

    As for Katrina, and the AR, than yes, those very much are rape. I think the writers dealt horribly with both events, disregarding the victim completely in favour of furthering the story of the perpetrator.
     
    RomanticSoul: Karma for pointing out the backwards priorities of the writers.
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  3. Foxy

    Foxy I am cookie dough!

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    Sineya
    I think Katrina's scenes were handled okay enough, I do not remember the exact dialogue, but as Blaze mentioned, the focus was on the perpetrators, until Katrina regained control of her mind and then she said the most important thing. 'This isn't a joke, this is rape.' That line shifted the focus back on the target, Katrina in this case. I feel that this scene was very important, because rape culture is present, and I think a lot of viewers did not realise that this was rape until the target said those words.

    That scene reminded me a lot of Buffy...I'm going to say season 2 (maybe 3) where the jock attempts to assault her, and then is excused for his behaviour, because he is important to the team. I thought that scene had the same importance as the scene in S6.

    As for Willow/Tara...I can never make my mind up on that. I have tried thinking it over and analysing it, but I can't decide whether this was rape or not. It does give me a bad feeling whenever I watch it though. Def not okay in my book.

    The scene in Seeing Red, where Spike attempts to rape Buffy...is definitely rape in my opinion. Yet again, I have mixed feelings about this, since Spike was still soulless. I think they handled this case very badly, because the focus was on Spike and Buffy did not really have time to come to terms to it, because of all the other things happening in that episode/end of the season.

    This is just my opinion though, if you disagree, please let me know your view.
     
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  4. cryptwarmer

    cryptwarmer I'm in charge of morale!

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    Black Thorn
    BTVS is a show that explores issues of morality and power, and rape fits right in with the theme. S6 is about people reaching an age and level of maturity where they have to take responsibility for their actions and choices and no longer get the by that "oh, they were just stupid kids"

    I think the situation with Katrina was handled better than the others. It gave us a very clear, powerful, and definitive insight into what was going on it many of the characters heads. That was a hard episode to watch. It was the first time in the series that sexual predation was called out for what it is, rape. It was glossed over when Xander tried to rape Buffy, even made a joke of.

    We finally see Warren as the evil person he is. He is not only willing to control and rape Katrina, but to share her with others, and kill her if he deems it necessary. That is when Jonathan finally grasps who Warren is and begins to seriously look at what they are doing. He is horrified, Andrew shows his colors as being willing to follow Warren down any road he goes.

    Katrina calls them out, and pays for it with her life. The trio are no longer bumbling bad guy wannabes, they are dangerous, disgusting criminals.

    Spike's attempted rape on Buffy is taking the issue of rape a step further in that we see the actual attack, the way we once did with Xander, we hear it called for what it is, a rape, which is an echo of Katrina, both of which cement the fact that most of us have forgotten, that Spike is a dangerous demon driven by desire and is still capable of doing horrendous things, even to people he claims to love, And Buffy for all her strength is still vulnerable to attack and the emotional horror that goes with that. Sexual abuse and predation has been a recurring theme with Buffy.

    This points back to Willow, who is a souled human who is capable of doing horrendous things to people she claims to love in order to get her own way, all the while telling herself that it's ok because she's only trying to help. Tara calls her out on it. The word rape isn't used because the assault was not primarily sexual in nature, but the power/responsibility issues are all there.

    We finally have people calling a spade a spade, and there being consequences for their behavior.


    Buffy's sexual abuse of Spike is a trickier issue. He didn't make a physical effort to fight back. He told her no, but was easily convinced to make that a yes. She used emotional force, and his vamped up sexual desire against him, rather than physical force. He was a demon, subject to his passions on a level that souled humans supposedly are not, and in that sense she DID overpower him. But because he isn't human, we are not expected to take it seriously, after all, he's just lucky she hasn't staked him.

    We see that Buffy has issues with her behavior with and towards Spike, but it's never actually called out for what it is and WHY it is killing her. She's always been the good guy and now she is the one using her power against someone, who to a certain degree is helpless against her.

    Given all they had to cram in by the season finale, we don't see much more of the characters reactions to the violations. To do so would have sidetracked the main arc.

    What we do see, ultimately is that the victims are willing to forgive those who hurt them.

    Tara comes back to Willow, in S7 Buffy forgives Spike and he forgives her after they both own that the abuse went both ways.

    That is hard for many viewers to accept, they say that it glosses over the seriousness of rape. I can understand that reaction, but in real life people sometimes do forgive people for abuse and rape and move forward with relationships. People think that should never ever happen, but it does, because there are so often messy, extenuating circumstances and complicated relationships, rape is not the sum total of what is going on between the people.

    I've heard fewer people cry foul that Tara forgave Willow than that Buffy forgave Spike. And I've never heard anyone complain that Spike too easily forgave Buffy.

    In society the norms and reactions to rape to tend to follow the reactions on the show, which don't always reflect reality.

    Woman can sexually abuse other women, lesbian relationships are not immune to all the same issues that can crop up in heterosexual relationships.

    Woman can abuse men, and the effects can be just as mentally damaging, but men are told that it's impossible so they have no recourse or support.

    Over the course of six seasons we grew so used to violence and attempted murder that we barely recognize it for what it is, that it takes rape to wake us up. The fact that Buffy beat Spike senseless and left him for dead is apparently no big deal, because hey, that's what happens on the show all the time.

    The viewing audience needed to be given a wake up call and have something really harsh knock us up side the head.
     
    Foxy: 100% spot on
    gite63: I think it's more that Buffy understood the whole context, than she forgave Spike right away.
    bespangeled: This!
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  5. cryptwarmer

    cryptwarmer I'm in charge of morale!

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    Black Thorn
    @gite63 , you are right, I don't think she "forgave" him right away, "forgive" is only part of it, and maybe a weak word choice. She knew the rest of the story, and how it all fit together.

    When he returned, the way he behaved, the fact that he had voluntarily gotten a soul, etc etc were more of the context and helped them both sort out the situation and where to go next.
     
  6. Foxy

    Foxy I am cookie dough!

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    Sineya
    SPOILERS: In season 10 they also dealt with the abusive relationship and the rape, it was quite brief, but it was very nice that they talked about that. It was still with them.
     
  7. Buffy Summers

    Buffy Summers Yataro Staff Member

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    Sineya
    I wish they had done that back on the show.
     
  8. Iwearthecheese

    Iwearthecheese Scooby

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    Rape is depicted in other seasons quite blatently actually.
    In S1 Xander and a fellow student come close to being raped by a mantis-lady (its quite explicit that she wants them to fertilize her eggs). She's quite predatory about it all actually, seducing them, roofie-ing their drinks, locking them in the cellar until its time...It's cheesy because of the FX but if the moster had been better- say like an Alien- then the affect would've been more horrible imv.
    Then there's the Pack and Xander's assault of Buffy that's sexually motivated.

    In S2 it's a bit more subtle but not much- 'Reptile Boy' and 'Go Fish' have strong sexual harrassment overtones. Frat-boys drugging high schools girls for the phallic snake-master in the basement and the then fish monsters going all 'Black Lagoon' on Buffy (or trying to).

    Then in S3 there's Faith, who's attitude to sex is very different- much more casual- and who assaults Xander in 'Consequences'- although I see this as more 'almost manslaughter' than sexual.
    She does something more blatent in S4 with Buffy herself- stealing her body and having sex with Riley- which is all kinds of wrong.


    I guess the way S6 differs is we're 'supposed' to have sympathy for (some of) the people wo commit these acts. That's what makes it dark in my view- we see the murky behaviour of characters we know as they do some pretty scummy things to each other and themselves.
    And therefore people try and justify why 'their' character would do those awful things, saying that they're really not that bad for 'reasons'- which entirely misses the point.

    We see how Jonathan and Andrew are shocked and bewildered by the accusation of rape by Katrina (because 'mind-controlled sex slave' is really totally different...)
    We see how Spike reacts his own attempted rape- confused and tortured and we see his motivation/rationalization as he struggles.

    The Spuffy 'relationship' is full of so many consent red flags on both sides. The number of times Buffy says 'no' but Spike continues anyway, the physical assault Buffy inflicts on Spike, the psychological abuse on both sides. Who do we sympathize with? We don't know, thy're both wrong.

    We see Willow violate Tara's with a spell mind after an arguement- she tries to fix things so they're 'better' than before. It is, in no way, rape but it is a complete violation of consent, so that blurs things this season.
     
    Foxy: Spot on
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  9. TTFN

    TTFN Townie

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    I do not think the writers wanted Buffy to be the focus of the rape. The focus was on Spike and his internal demons coming to a head. Something in Spike had fundamentally changed and it was not just because of the chip. He knew what he had done was wrong, even without a soul, and felt bad about it. He took it upon himself to find a way to become a better person, which had not seen before in a vampire without a soul towards a human. The failed rape was the catalyst to his redemption.
     
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  10. Blaze

    Blaze Let it Burn

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    Black Thorn
    That's the problem for me. The rape was used as a device to further the storyline of the male perpetrator. No thoughts were given to the victim in this story, which is something all to common in fiction, and in real life. Buffy's feelings were completely disregarded, and that's a big problem for me.
     
    Foxy: Yep
    thetopher: Absolutely
  11. thetopher

    thetopher Member of the Church Of Faith

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    Sineya
    That's the problem with this storyline, we're never given an explanation as to how Spike has changed or why he- alone amongst all vampires- decides to get a soul. There's lots of fanon theories and things the writers say but it all boils down to 'he just could cause he's a specila snowfkae vampire''.
    There's nothing on the show to explain it. Vampires are incapable of the sort of self-loathing that would drive Spike to a) have that little monologue in his crypt and b) decide to go and become better.
    (Even S7 Spike himself says that before his soul-getting he didn't understand self-loathing/hatred)

    The only explanaton that works has nothing to do with redemption and is more about Spike forcing Buffy to admit she loves him by going to get a soul.
     
  12. Silverspike

    Silverspike Scooby

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    "There's lots of fanon theories and things the writers say but it all boils down to 'he just could cause he's a specila snowfkae vampire''."

    Well there ya go, you got the answer then. :D

    But seriously, change has to start somewhere and Spike did have the benefit of a run up so to speak with a few years under the effects of chip helping to shape his behavior, that and being with the Scoobies.
     
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  13. thetopher

    thetopher Member of the Church Of Faith

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    Sineya
    Sorry, but if you're going to break the established lore of the show then you have to have something to point to. Angel had a soul, that was why he was different.

    We know what the chip did to Spike, it simply stopped him from killing, it didn't give him morality- that's the difference- and yet some of the writers (JE mainly) wanted to beleive in Spike's 'unique' and had 'good' in him without a soul, and many fans fell for it.
     
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  14. cryptwarmer

    cryptwarmer I'm in charge of morale!

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    Black Thorn
    Part of the point was that Buffy was NOT "the victim" she didn't allow herself to be.

    The viewer can assume that she had feelings that were not shown and a process that was not shown and get up in arms about it, or the viewer can accept that what was shown is canon and Buffy didn't understand herself as a victim or need a lot of time or process to get past things.

    We have to do that about everything that happens on the show. We either take what we are given or inject our own interpretation. It's art, so either approach is valid. As viewers we will bring our feelings and experience into it. But what they provide us with IS canon.

    And I also find a lot of things they give us as canon gag worthy.

    Spike was a special snowflake from the moment he entered town. Clearly all vamps are not created equal, we see that over and over again. The mass of them are stupid hungry demons, and then there is another tier of vamps with brains, personality, support networks, etc.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
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  15. Silverspike

    Silverspike Scooby

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    "We know what the chip did to Spike, it simply stopped him from killing, it didn't give him morality- that's the difference- and yet some of the writers (JE mainly) wanted to beleive in Spike's 'unique' and had 'good' in him without a soul, and many fans fell for it."

    Huzzah! Good. :D

    "Clearly all vamps are not created equal, we see that over and over again. The mass of them are stupid hungry demons, and then there is another tier of vamps with brains, personality, support networks, etc."

    And thats been shown time and time again.
     
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  16. thetopher

    thetopher Member of the Church Of Faith

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    Sineya
    But all vampires are created equal in the sense of morality- they have none. Thet are evil and selfish- from innocent children, living saints like Drusilla or whatever, all are evil when they become a vampire. And vampires can do good things unless it is service of their own self-interest.

    Hell, even Angelus did that when he killed the Beast. Something 'good' but for his own benefit (being the biggest bully in the yard).
     
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  17. Blaze

    Blaze Let it Burn

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    Black Thorn
    But she IS a victim. Maybe Buffy didn't want to see herself as a victim, but she still is. A victim is not a bad word, it's not something that we decide who is and who isn't. When a hate crime, a sexual crime, a physical of mental crime is committed against you, that's makes you the victim, and that makes the other person the perpetrator. Maybe Buffy didn't want to see herself as a victim, but going by her actions she did feel victimized. And I feel it is distasteful of a TV show to concentrate the storyline around the perpetrator, and not the victim, regardless of whether the victim sees themselves as such or not. The AR was used as a plot device to further Spike's story, whether you like it or not, Spike was the perpetrator. So the show is still pushing the fact that the storyline for the rape revolves around the rapist "bettering" himself, while Buffy's feelings are almost entirely ignored.
     
    Iwearthecheese: Perfect post.
    RomanticSoul: Love you.
  18. Silverspike

    Silverspike Scooby

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    Yes I agree, but imo using a rape storyline just didn't fit in this verse, because If nothing else I found the whole set up didn't ring true to what we'd seen Buffy endure before.

    That and the fact Buffy is a supernatural construct who managed to kick her assailant across the room. In real life thats not going to happen to your average women is it. So quite why they thought Buffy was a good fit as a victim still boggles my mind. Even in the worse of situations she's been shown to be anything but.
     
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  19. vellavu

    vellavu Scooby

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    Black Thorn
    I changed my mind and now I love the rape storylines.

    They created a lot of controversy, which is partly responsible of maintaining the discussion and popularity after years.

    Plus, if there is no seriously negative stuff in main characters' personal lives after S5, this show would degenerate into "4Evar" which ruined "The Prom" for me, except that it would be much much worse because of its length.
     
  20. RomanticSoul

    RomanticSoul I AM GROOT

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    The problem with that is that S5-7 was all dark, depressing, dour with nothing to counterweight that. There is nothing wrong with putting your characters through stuff. That's how they change and grow. But there is such a thing as overkill. From S5 on I always asked myself 'well when isn't Buffy down/depressed/mopey'. Eventually I just became numb to her problems/plights/issues because it was just relentless. S2 and 3 were plenty dark on their own but at least back then they understood to strife for a balance between darkness and reprise.

    On top of that every relationship, every character change and every event was designed to make the characters even more miserable. What's the point of that? And it sure didn't help that the characters were yanked around so that not only what happened to them made them miserable but every choice they made as well. By S7 I've had enough with the whining about their miserable lives. Either grow the hell up, get some perspective and make the changes neccessary to make your life better or shut and jump in a hole. You lose the right to whine when every choice you make is designed to make yourself more miserable. Or you make them just so you can whine about how miserable your life is. GOD. It's like a freaking kindergarten.
     
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