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Buffy and the "worthiness" of her relationships

DeadlyDuo

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I've noticed that when it comes to discussions about Buffy and her relationships, the "worthiness" of her potential suitor always seems to crop up. I find this very annoying as, not only does it place Buffy on a pedestal as if the sun shines out of her backside, but it also lessens another (often male) character by essentially telling them that they are not good enough for Buffy because she is too good for them.

Don't get me wrong, we all like Buffy and want the best for her which includes a healthy relationship which she is happy in with the right person, so this is not a dig at Buffy herself. However the idea that Buffy is too good for someone just because of who she is and who they are is rather irritating.

The most obvious example of this is Spike. In Fool for Love, Spike tries to kiss Buffy after developing an infatuation with her, to which Buffy rejects him and responds "You're beneath me". In Season 7, Spike gets a soul so that he would be more "acceptable" to Buffy because he "wasn't good enough" for her without a soul.

Whilst Buffy is well within her right to reject Spike because she doesn't want a relationship with him, to tell him "you're beneath me" is an incredibly cruel thing to do. Spike is a person, he has feelings. He might be a vampire but he still has the same emotional capabilities as the rest of the scoobies (Even if his emotional capabilities aren't quite the same, it's no different than someone who has Asperger Syndrome compared to someone who doesn't). Buffy is essentially telling that she is so much better than him just because he is who is.

The whole going to get a soul has its issues as well because Spike was happy soulless. Getting a soul didn't become an issue until the end of Season 6 which coincidentally was the season where Spike was treated as a "thing" rather than a person just because of his soulless nature. Spike felt the need to change a major part of himself, that he had no issue with before, just to be more "acceptable" to the other characters, predominately Buffy.

Angel kind of gets this treatment as well. Because he can't have children with Buffy or have sex with her without losing his soul (even though he could just visit the soul demon to make his soul more permanent), he believes Buffy "deserves" someone "better". I've also seen it discussed that he wasn't "worthy" of her at the end of Season 3 which is why he left, and it's not until he'd undergone some character development on his own show that he became more "worthy" of her.

Riley's a bit of a mixed bag. He's as dull as a table lamp and his relationship with Buffy has several issues (particularly in Season 5), however, whilst other characters, such as Xander, laud Riley as the one for Buffy, it's Riley himself who puts Buffy on a pedestal and feels inferior to her. This behaviour and his boring personality often leaves fans with the impression that he isn't "worthy" of Buffy and that she can do "better".

With the exception of Spike, who was treated as inferior within the show thus setting a baseline of fans views of him as a romantic partner, fans can be very critical of Buffy's relationships, elevating her almost to god like status where male characters have to "prove" they're "worthy" in order to be accepted as a romantic partner by fans (this can also lead to ship wars as everyone has a different few on which character is "worthy" of Buffy).

Other character ships don't get the debate surrounding them as Buffy gets with her ships. It's almost a double standard, male characters get judged on "how" worthy they are to date Buffy, but female characters don't get judged on how "worthy" they are to date Xander.

Thoughts?
 

sosa lola

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Buffy is the show's main title. That's why she gets debated on who she dates the most.

As for Xander, neither of his ships are quite popular. Fans prefer shipping him with either Spike or Angel. Even Xander/Giles is more popular than either Xandelia or Xanya. On the other hand, in Slash corners of fandom, there used to be debates over who Spike should be with: Xander or Angel. Granted they were never vicious, but a lot of fans had opinions over who's worthy of Spike.
 

Athene

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I think that pre- soul Spike isn't worthy of Buffy, he's a soulless creature and she's a human. True, Spike has feelings but his species is inferior to Buffy's species and so that's how he's treated. Like how dogs have feelings but they're treated as an inferior species to humans.

I've always thought that Anya wasn't worthy of Xander because of her voluntary time spent as a demon. It just seemed wrong to me....
 
Blaze
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Agreed aside from the fact that dogs are clearly superior :P Dogs>humans

Last Watcher

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Sineya
Most of the other Vampires Buffy met she staked without even asking them their name.......so I think she treated Spike better than she should have done really.
She didn't worry about the feelings of all the other Vamps she mercilessly punned then staked..... ;)
Her whole existence (according to her calling) was to rid the world of creatures such as him so yes, soulless Spike was beneath her, he was a dangerous monster (Till the Initiative neutered him) that she really shouldn't have let 'live'.
As for souled Spike....well that whole storyline was one big joke. It completed the character destruction from an interesting monster to a puppy!
 

DeadlyDuo

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Is this based on gender, though? Aren't a lot of Bangel fans equally protective about Angel?
In regards to Bangel, I don't think so (though I could be wrong) because if you're shipping characters together, you obviously deem them "worthy" of each other. In regards to Angel and other ships, possibly, though that could be based more around the fact of wanting Angel to be with Buffy rather than deeming women "unworthy" of Angel.

Cangel would probably be a good scenario to use for that question as both Cordelia and Angel are popular characters. and it seems wrong to say Cordelia is "unworthy" of Angel, even though that ship was terrible.

Male characters do seemed to be judged more when it comes to dating a female character rather than vice versa.

Buffy is the show's main title. That's why she gets debated on who she dates the most.
This could possibly be a part of it. A lot of shows are becoming female led, therefore the male characters get judged on who should be dating the lead. Is there any show with a male lead where females get judged on who should be dating him? (By lead, I mean like in Angel and Buffy where they're the main character of their respective shows and everyone else is just supporting cast of varying importance. Not an ensemble show.)

As for Xander, neither of his ships are quite popular. Fans prefer shipping him with either Spike or Angel. Even Xander/Giles is more popular than either Xandelia or Xanya. On the other hand, in Slash corners of fandom, there used to be debates over who Spike should be with: Xander or Angel. Granted they were never vicious, but a lot of fans had opinions over who's worthy of Spike.
As above, it could be just to do with the fact that Buffy is the lead and thus her dating life gets more attention from fans than others. I used Xander as an example because he's the only male of the scoobies that has had a romantic entanglement (requited or unrequited) with almost all of the female scoobies (all except Tara). So here's a scenario:

Say Xander is the co-lead of the show rather than just a supporting player. Several of the female characters have shown a romantic interest in him: Cordelia, Anya, Dawn and Willow. Buffy is also the other co-lead of the show, and though she's not shown a romantic interest in Xander, he has shown a romantic interest in her.

Which female character is "worthy" of being Xander's girlfriend?

I think that pre- soul Spike isn't worthy of Buffy, he's a soulless creature and she's a human. True, Spike has feelings but his species is inferior to Buffy's species and so that's how he's treated. Like how dogs have feelings but they're treated as an inferior species to humans.
I disagree with this on account of the fact that you wouldn't treat a dog like crap just because it was a dog and thus "inferior" to humans. Pets in loving homes are treated as part of the family alongside the human members.



Spike was part of the scoobies and should've been treated as a member rather than just a "thing".

I've always thought that Anya wasn't worthy of Xander because of her voluntary time spent as a demon. It just seemed wrong to me....
Are we talking pre-The Wish or post-Hells Bells? Anya's heart wasn't in the vengeance game the second time round and it seems like D'Hoffyn jumped on Anya's upset at being jilted at the altar.

If we imagine D'Hoffryn and his vengeance demons as an exploitation ring. D'Hoffryn exploits women's unhappiness by asking if them if they want to become vengeance demons when they're at their most hurt/angry. If they agree, he brings them under his wing then sends them out to exploit other women's unhappiness. Do the women that agree to become vengeance demons get kind of emotionally frozen in their vengeful state thus making them better and more compliable vengeance demons? Does being exploited make Anya "unworthy" of Xander if she didn't realise she was being exploited?
 

Athene

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disagree with this on account of the fact that you wouldn't treat a dog like crap just because it was a dog and thus "inferior" to humans. Pets in loving homes are treated as part of the family alongside the human members.



Spike was part of the scoobies and should've been treated as a member rather than just a "thing".
But Spike in the Scooby gang isn't really equal to a pet in a loving home, Spike wasn't loved by the scoobies, he was let into the gang but he was mostly tolerated and not actually cared for. That's why I don't think that Buffy is wrong to say that Spike is beneath her, because he is inferior to her even if he's treated as more than that sometimes.

In this analogy Spike is like the dog that they used as a sacrificial lamb to send into Space when it was too dangerous for humans to go.
 
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Mylie

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For me it's not so much the fact that soulless Spike doesn't deserve Buffy (because I hate thinking of love in terms of worthiness or as a competition on who's the best/deserves her more.) For me, Spike, as a soulless being, IS beneath Buffy but that's not the problem for me. The problem is Buffy lowering herself to the point of entering a relationship with a soulless being. I just don't like what it says about her and it's not enjoyable for me to watch.

Other than that, I don't really think of her suitors worthiness. I enjoy the relationships or I don't but it has nothing to do with whether I think they deserve her or not.
 

DeadlyDuo

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But Spike in the Scooby gang isn't really equal to a pet in a loving home, Spike wasn't loved by the scoobies, he was let into the gang but he was mostly tolerated and not actually cared for. That's why I don't think that Buffy is wrong to say that Spike is beneath her, because he is inferior to her even if he's treated as more than that sometimes.
But the point still stands, he WAS let into the Scooby gang and should've been treated as such. That's not to say the scoobies had to be best buddies with Spike, but tolerating someone even if you don't like them means being civil. The scoobies were never civil to Spike, even in Season 6 when he spent the whole summer helping them and was left to babysit Dawn, he was still treated as a "thing". Spike got on well with Joyce, Dawn and Anya because they treated him as a person. Treating someone as a person is not the same as liking them.

For me it's not so much the fact that soulless Spike doesn't deserve Buffy (because I hate thinking of love in terms of worthiness or as a competition on who's the best/deserves her more.)
I agree with the above but I disagree with this:

For me, Spike, as a soulless being, IS beneath Buffy but that's not the problem for me. The problem is Buffy lowering herself to the point of entering a relationship with a soulless being. I just don't like what it says about her and it's not enjoyable for me to watch.
I disagree with the Spike IS beneath Buffy as he's soulless because being soulless isn't Spike's fault, that's just part of being a vampire. Why does being soulless make Spike a lesser being? Is he a lesser being than a demon with a soul? What's the difference between Spike and Clem aside from the soul status, that means that Clem gets treated positively be the scoobies whilst Spike doesn't?

[QUOTE}Other than that, I don't really think of her suitors worthiness. I enjoy the relationships or I don't but it has nothing to do with whether I think they deserve her or not.[/QUOTE]

Agreed.
 

Athene

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Do the women that agree to become vengeance demons get kind of emotionally frozen in their vengeful state thus making them better and more compliable vengeance demons? Does being exploited make Anya "unworthy" of Xander if she didn't realise she was being exploited?
There's no evidence that they're emotionally frozen but even if Anya was it's still not acceptable to me that she would agree to become a demon. Twice. Anya may have been upset but she still made a choice and cost people their lives. Honestly Anya's attitude at being forced to become human again doesn't seem to be the voice of someone who was exploited, it sounds like the voice of someone who fully enjoyed their job and is sad that it's gone.
 

Bluebird

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For me, the discussion of Buffy's boyfriends gets a bit tiresome, and the 'worthiness' aspect you speak of is a symptom of the fan focus on relationships. People like Buffy, the character, a lot, and discuss her relationships a lot, so it seems inevitable. But then I don't think you can blame people for thinking that way, since the show does portray an image of that. There was writing aspects (of both BtVS and Ats) that put the female on a pedestal in the eyes of the men around her, eg Fred or Buffy. Almost god-like, which is ironic since Fred literally become one.
 

RomanticSoul

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I've noticed that when it comes to discussions about Buffy and her relationships, the "worthiness" of her potential suitor always seems to crop up. I find this very annoying as, not only does it place Buffy on a pedestal as if the sun shines out of her backside, but it also lessens another (often male) character by essentially telling them that they are not good enough for Buffy because she is too good for them.

Don't know about worthiness and don't care. What I do know is that I wanna take this cute puppy and snuggle up. Huh, guess that means I do see dogs as more worthy than soulless vampires. Cause I sure as hell would never want to snuggle with them.

IMO soulless vampires should be treated like things across the board. Not because that's how I feel but because that's what the shows are telling me. Buffy kills anything demonic, including soulless vampires, without question. That's apparently the right moral call, hence they aren't worthy a seconds consideration. They are things and nothing more. On both shows it's not morally wrong to kill even a good demon and no one gets outraged by it if it happens. But if you kill EVIL humans that's already a step too far and is considered amoral. So even evil humans are more worthy than good demons.

In conclusion, according to the shows anything demonic is beneath humans and should be treated as such.
 

Athene

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But the point still stands, he WAS let into the Scooby gang and should've been treated as such. That's not to say the scoobies had to be best buddies with Spike, but tolerating someone even if you don't like them means being civil. The scoobies were never civil to Spike, even in Season 6 when he spent the whole summer helping them and was left to babysit Dawn, he was still treated as a "thing". Spike got on well with Joyce, Dawn and Anya because they treated him as a person. Treating someone as a person is not the same as liking them.
I think the scoobies were tolerant of Spike when they didn't kill him in season 4 but instead let him into their homes and their gang. I think it would have been unbelievable for them to not show any sort of hatred towards him, he's not really a person as such, he's a vampire. Basically, the odd insult that was thrown at Spike hardly meant that they weren't civil towards him.
As for Dawn, I always thought that her affection for Spike was built off of ignorance. I think that if Dawn had ever personally seen what Spike had done in the past (like the scoobies) she'd have been a lot less civil to him.
 

Blaze

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Maybe it's an unpopular opinion, but Buffy should have staked Spike the moment he came back. She's literally a vampire slayer, he is a soulless vampire, he deserved to be staked and he certainly didn't deserve her compassion. That's like blaming a lion for eating an antelope and than saying oh but the antelope was nice to the lion so he should have spared its life. It is true that soulless Spike does not deserve love from a human, because that's just a recipe for disaster. Humans and vampires are not suppose to love each other for a reason, they are predator and prey, that's what their relationship should be. It's different when they have a soul, because they get their humanity back, but Spike without a soul was simply a conditioned vampire.

As for Angel and Riley (and season 7 Spike), I feel like they all put Buffy on a pedestal, so perhaps that's why the audience does the same.
 
Mrs Gordo
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Mylie

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I agree with the above but I disagree with this:



I disagree with the Spike IS beneath Buffy as he's soulless because being soulless isn't Spike's fault, that's just part of being a vampire. Why does being soulless make Spike a lesser being? Is he a lesser being than a demon with a soul? What's the difference between Spike and Clem aside from the soul status, that means that Clem gets treated positively be the scoobies whilst Spike doesn't?

.
How is someone incapable of telling right from wrong not beneath Buffy though?
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

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She's literally a vampire slayer, he is a soulless vampire, he deserved to be staked and he certainly didn't deserve her compassion. That's like blaming a lion for eating an antelope and than saying oh but the antelope was nice to the lion so he should have spared its life.
Your metaphor seems odd to me. Would it not make more sense to say Spike is the lion, as he is compelled to kill, and Buffy is the forest ranger, who has to decide if the lion needs to be put down to protect the antelope population?
How is someone incapable of telling right from wrong not beneath Buffy though?
He may be beneath her. Still, when she throws the money at him, Buffy is being intentionally cruel. She may be right, but at the same time, she undermines her own statement.
 

TriBel

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a) Actually, I'm not that fond of Buffy. I don't find her interesting.
b) I have no idea what the "soul" is. As far as I know, Whedon doesn't believe in it and doesn't define it. Espenson says Spike has to have one but again - doesn't define it. Don't tell me it has something to do with empathy - empathy isn't a timeless concept and it isn't a universal concept. Moreover, as @DeadlyDuo says - people on the Autism spectrum often can't empathise and we don't, generally, treat pets as crap. Plato's idea of a soul isn't related to redemption; Thomas Aquinas thought all organisms had souls (but only humans had immortal souls). Kant thought it was related to the concept of "I" and Christian theology can't decide when the soul is endowed. As far as I can tell it's a fairly arbitrary marker allowing humans to distinguish themselves from animals. It's an argument heavily dependant on the mind/body split of Cartesian Humanism and I think S7 takes us beyond this. Just because Buffy thinks Spike is "beneath her" doesn't mean the text does.
 

DeadlyDuo

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There's no evidence that they're emotionally frozen but even if Anya was it's still not acceptable to me that she would agree to become a demon. Twice. Anya may have been upset but she still made a choice and cost people their lives. Honestly Anya's attitude at being forced to become human again doesn't seem to be the voice of someone who was exploited, it sounds like the voice of someone who fully enjoyed their job and is sad that it's gone.
Sometimes people don't see something for what it is. That's not saying that it was exploitation or that they were emotionally frozen, because there isn't evidence (though at the same time there isn't evidence to say that those things didn't happen) but Anya agreed to become a vengeance demon again because it was what was familiar. Anya's grasp on human emotions isn't the best eg she had sex with Xander because she thought it would help her get over him, so it's quite possible she thought returning to being a vengeance demon would somehow reset her feelings for Xander back to where she didn't love him. Of course that didn't work.

For me, the discussion of Buffy's boyfriends gets a bit tiresome, and the 'worthiness' aspect you speak of is a symptom of the fan focus on relationships. People like Buffy, the character, a lot, and discuss her relationships a lot, so it seems inevitable. But then I don't think you can blame people for thinking that way, since the show does portray an image of that. There was writing aspects (of both BtVS and Ats) that put the female on a pedestal in the eyes of the men around her, eg Fred or Buffy. Almost god-like, which is ironic since Fred literally become one.
This is what I'm talking about though, female characters get elevated status above male characters which means that the male characters have to prove they're "worthy" of her affections. It treats the male characters as lesser beings whilst the female characters are "better" than them thus making the male characters "beneath" the females unless the females deem otherwise.

In conclusion, according to the shows anything demonic is beneath humans and should be treated as such.
But is that right though?

Clem was a demon and was a perfectly nice guy.
Doyle was part demon and he helped angel on the side of good.
Cordelia became part demon.
Buffy turned out to be part demon because of her Slayer powers.

Should all of them be treated as "beneath" humans just because they're demons? They fight on the side of good. Does that mean Warren is "better" than them because he's human?

he's not really a person as such, he's a vampire.
He is a person though, not one the scoobies like, but he is still a person. He still has human emotions.

How is someone incapable of telling right from wrong not beneath Buffy though?
Young children can't always tell the difference between right or wrong, does that mean they're "beneath" Buffy in terms of quantifying who gets treated as a person?

I'm not saying that Buffy should date Spike, and there is a good list of reasons why not, but "he's beneath her" shouldn't be one of them.
 

Blaze

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Your metaphor seems odd to me. Would it not make more sense to say Spike is the lion, as he is compelled to kill, and Buffy is the forest ranger, who has to decide if the lion needs to be put down to protect the antelope population?
Whichever way you put it, the conclusion is the same. The predator kills the prey, that's just the order of things. I disagree that Buffy has any type of decision to make here. Vampires are evil, there is no reason to ever spare a vampire if they don't have a soul. In that sense, vampires are not like lions because lions only kill to survive, they are not evil, vamps kill because they are evil. I was just using the metaphor to explain why it's the natural order of things for a slayer to kill a vampire.
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

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Whichever way you put it, the conclusion is the same. The predator kills the prey, that's just the order of things. I disagree that Buffy has any type of decision to make here. Vampires are evil, there is no reason to ever spare a vampire if they don't have a soul. In that sense, vampires are not like lions because lions only kill to survive, they are not evil, vamps kill because they are evil. I was just using the metaphor to explain why it's the natural order of things for a slayer to kill a vampire.
Lions are super evil. Vampires and cats kill for both pleasure and sustenance. Have you ever seen a lion eating an antelope? Poor antelopes :(
 
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