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Xander's toxic masculinity

thetopher

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#1
So Xander is clearly a character who doesn't age well in terms of behavior. Many viewers coming to the show now often use the term 'toxic masculinity' to describe Xander (and pretty much ONLY Xander as far as I can see) in the way he acts and says.
Do these people have a point?
Is Xander a good example of this?
Are other male characters guilty of this?
What parts of Xander's character manifest in this way?
And; Are 'inappropriate jokes' inherently a masculine thing?
 

thetopher

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#3
"The concept of toxic masculinity is used to describe certain traditional male norms of behaviour that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves.
Such toxic masculine norms includes the traits of dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance and the suppression of emotion."


That's the basic from Wikipedia but the term is often used to describe anything from 'typical male behaviour' to 'boys will be boys' stuff.
Listen to enough Buffy podcasts and you'll hear the term used on Xander a lot.
 
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Black Thorn
#4
Do these people have a point?
Yes

Is Xander a good example of this?
Yes

Are other male characters guilty of this?
Not as much. But they are also more alpha male characters and alpha males (protagonists at least) are presented a little less toxic than beta males like Xander. Which is also why when Xander became more alpha in later seasons his toxic masculinity waned.

What parts of Xander's character manifest in this way?
His personality. Though I think his racism and sexism are often interchanged and confused with his toxic masculinity.

And; Are 'inappropriate jokes' inherently a masculine thing?
No
 
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#5
I don’t think Xander is an example of toxic masculinity. He definitely had some of those moments, but all in all he was quite beta. The character that for me was an example of toxic masculinity was the dude who turned out to be gay (and thought Xander was gay too). Forgot his name
 
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#6
"The concept of toxic masculinity is used to describe certain traditional male norms of behaviour that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves.
Such toxic masculine norms includes the traits of dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance and the suppression of emotion."


That's the basic from Wikipedia but the term is often used to describe anything from 'typical male behaviour' to 'boys will be boys' stuff.
Listen to enough Buffy podcasts and you'll hear the term used on Xander a lot.
Let's take these items one by one:

1. Dominance

I don't see anywhere other than in "The Pack" where Xander is dominant or has any use for dominance and he was subjected to a spell while coming to the aid of another student so this hardly counts. You could argue the shakedown he pulls off on Amy in "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" is a dominance move designed to make Cordelia his love slave but this is not his typical behaviour. I have met people who would fit the description of psychopathic need to dominate others but they are pretty evenly distributed between men and women. You could make the case that Riley is a better example of dominance with his insistence that Buffy rely on him and need him and have him validate her emotions.

2. Devaluation of Women

We see nothing of Xander devaluing women in general or claiming that there are things they cannot do. We do see him exchanging insults with Cordelia but this is an even exchange and not any different from Buffy in "Homecoming" when she calls Cordelia a vapid whore.

3. Extreme Self-Reliance

If Xander was so self-reliant, why was he still living with his abusive family? The homesteaders who populated the prairies could be considered to be extremely self-reliant. There is an idea that is prevalent in modern child rearing that children should be socialized at an early age and that this will somehow help them get along in a social setting. But every setting has its own dominance structure and if the child was not accepted at age 4, this stays with him or her for life. In the childhood social setting, the worst thing one child can do is say "no" to another because that is lack of cooperation. Then when these children grow up, we see them get into trouble by following their peers into sex and drugs because they have been actively taught that the opinions of their peers count more than their own integrity. Once Xander is split into two Xanders by Toth then reconstituted in "The Replacement", the more self-reliant one is the better one and he eventually wins.

4. Suppression of Emotion

Society is very two-faced about this. Some people, both male and female, see this as a sign of weakness. When you express your emotions over some tragedy, this is a social thing. You are seen to be inviting other people to take over control of your feelings. But they don't belong to anyone else. And I would go against the idea that talking to other people about your problems helps you because you still have your original problem and added to that you then have the problem that you are depending on the integrity of the person you are talking to to not tell anyone else, not invade your privacy and not make themselves the centre of your attention as Riley did with Buffy when her mother died. The people to be avoided most are those like Pat, Joyce's "friend" who Buffy dispatched with a shovel through the eyes. That was one of her more satisfying kills.

But getting back to Xander, we don't see him suppress much of anything with the critical exception of his fears about marrying Anya. That is one area where discussion would have improved things. But I still think toxic masculinity describes Riley better than Xander.
 

Taaroko

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#7
Every time I rewatch the show, I like early seasons Xander less. My main problem is with his attitude towards Buffy, and the fact that Angel leaving fixes it, for the most part. All through S1, he does lots of really questionable stuff as he pines for Buffy. He buys her a bracelet that says "yours always" in "Witch" and tries to pass it off as a friend gift while also hoping it means they're dating now, he tries to spy on her when she's changing clothes in "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date," and whenever she expresses her lack of romantic interest, he lashes out. He clearly only views their friendship as a stepping stone to dating (based on shallow infatuation, not who she is as a person), while disregarding Willow's feelings for him as he makes her his wingman.

Now, "Prophecy Girl" is both a low point in this pattern and a major recovery from it. He finally actually asks Buffy out instead of just mooning after her and being angry about the guys she likes, but when she rejects him in the kindest possible way, he deliberately hurts her feelings. Then he tries to keep acting like Willow isn't in love with him, but Willow doesn't let him get away with it anymore. He's still plenty bitter when he recruits Angel to go save Buffy from the Master, but I think this is when he realizes that he's not willing to throw away his friendship with Buffy just because she doesn't have romantic feelings for him. He starts seeing her as a person, not just a shallow crush.

So Xander does make significant progress, but what's so frustrating about a lot of his sexist behavior is that he doesn't really get called out on it. It's framed as hapless lovable beta male antics, not as creepy entitlement. Larry and various other jocks are presented as creepy and gross because they are sexist AND physically intimidating, while Xander is just portrayed as a goofball. He doesn't recognize that it was wrong, he just moves on because he was rejected. But this is happening in the same show where the idea of a female teacher seducing students was presented as a joke, until the characters found out she was actually a praying mantis. The problem is not only with Xander, he just gets the worst of it because he has the most screen time.

After S1, Xander's frustration at being rejected shifts fully from Buffy to Angel and stays there. In S1, he felt entitled to eventually having a relationship with Buffy. Now, he feels morally superior because she chose a demon instead of him, and he's spared the trouble of having to examine his own behavior. He may have accepted that he can like Buffy as a friend, but he still resents that she didn't choose him, and he blames Angel, refusing to consider the possibility that Buffy still would've rejected him even if Angel didn't exist. He refuses to see the difference between Angel and Angelus because he feels vindicated by Angelus's existence, and he sabotages Willow's attempt to bring Angel back because he'd rather see him dead, and he just gets away with this. And all of this is just his behavior around Buffy and Angel, but his favorite method of insulting Cordelia in S1 and S2 before they're openly dating is by calling her a whore. Great!

Then in early S3 he shows no empathy towards Buffy's situation at all. In particular, I'm thinking of the line "Look, I'm sorry that your honey was a demon, but most girls don't hop a Greyhound over boy troubles."
Buffy did NOT just run away because of "boy troubles," she ran away because she was WANTED FOR MURDER, expelled, kicked out of her house, AND upset because she had to send the man she loved to hell to save the world. That he can go from "Kick his ass" to the "boy troubles" remark with no self-awareness or sympathy at all is staggering, and he actually manages to top that in "Revelations." Hey Xander, maybe the reason Buffy didn't tell you and the others Angel was back was that you've trained her to expect you to jump to conclusions and blame her for everything!

He mostly doesn't give her crap for the rest of the season, being too preoccupied by the fallout of cheating on Cordelia with Willow and his jealousy when Cordelia keeps flirting with Wesley (which he recovers from nicely by cleaning out his savings to buy her the dress she likes, no strings attached), but the way he treats Angel in "Graduation Day" drives me nuts. He clearly doesn't understand who Angel is at all, if he thinks Angel would purposely sacrifice Buffy to save his own life. And then, all his bitterness goes out the window as soon as Angel leaves. It's like it's easier for him to be Buffy's supportive, platonic friend if he knows Angel can't have her either. *smacks him*

Again, this is stuff he eventually grows out of, but he doesn't specifically apologize for any of it or recognize it as inappropriate. That Xander has these flaws isn't the problem. Flaws are what make characters realistic and give them room to grow. The problem is that he rarely has to answer for them. Xander is the Joss avatar character. Joss is obviously using Xander as a way to poke fun at himself, but turning those "nice guy in the friendzone" behaviors into a self-deprecating joke that doesn't really impact how the other characters treat him isn't very effective criticism.

What makes it even more frustrating is that they had a much better justification for Xander's hatred of Angel at hand, and they didn't use it. Jesse's death. Why couldn't he just distrust and resent Angel because he had to stake Jesse, but here's this other guy who gets a free pass? He could've been bitter that they couldn't just give Jesse his soul too. That would've been so much more complex, interesting, and sympathetic than jealousy and entitlement issues covered up with faux moral superiority.

And then things get really weird, because S6 has the Trio. These guys fall into the same sexist-but-not-physically-intimidating category as Xander, but now this is actually portrayed as creepy and gross. What's the takeaway supposed to be, here? It's fine to objectify women as long as you're neither smart enough to do anything about it (the Trio) nor strong enough (all the sexist jocks)? Was it goodness that stopped Xander from being a full-on creep, or was it powerlessness? Did he understand that his sexist attitudes were wrong, or was he just afraid of the consequences of acting on them? What kind of man would Xander be if he was as smart as Giles or as strong as Angel? I'd like to think he'd still be the good, responsible guy he is in S7, but I worry that this is only wishful thinking. If it isn't, please convince me. I desperately want to be able to like Xander as much as Buffy and Willow do, and I want him to deserve it.
 
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#8
I haven't read this thread all the way through yet, so for now let me just say that if Xander is "the worst" as some have said, then they've gotten off very lucky in life. It's ironic that I use phrases like "toxic masculinity" (more likely "testosterone poisoning") and "Nice Guy Syndrome" sparingly (but sincerely when I do), and yet I've apparently endured much worse than many others who use such phrases so glibly and so vigilant against it, and when Xander is brushed with these terms I think males must've become much better than when I was growing up for the bar to be so high for them (hell, I've seen Xander raked for his frigging dreams!).

And this isn't even including what is said about Xander that is simply head canon at best, and sometimes even contrary to the canon itself. It's as if some are desperate to hate Xander so they invent reasons rather than having reasons to hate Xander (maybe because on some level they realize the actual reasons that exist are pretty weak).

Nor does it count those into identity politics that don't measure you by what you do, but what you are, in which case Xander can be raked for his bitterness at being friend zoned, but also for his friend zoning Willow, because he's a white male, and therefore evil, while females simply can't be in the wrong and therefore what they do is judged by what they are rather than their actions, so Xander is always in the wrong as it's an accident of birth that decides these things more than anything he (or anyone else) does. And one can't be called a bigot for hating on a cis straight white male so he's also a safer target--and I sometimes think we all need someone to hate to feel better about ourselves.

(ETA: though I'm still confused on why some people who defend Spike as good for Buffy even as Spike hates Angel, stalks Buffy, steals her underwear, PUNCHES Buffy, and worse will then come down hard on Xander who isn't anywhere as bad. I know they hate people thinking it's because they objectify the character and he has fab abs, but I honestly don't know what else to think.)

That's my immediate reaction. If no one wants a more detailed analysis then simply don't post. I won't add to this if a later response will simply be merged into this one (without any ability to edit).
 
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WillowFromBuffy

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#9
I think the reason we hate Xander is that he hits a little too close to home. There is a scorned little Mr Nice Guy inside all of us wondering why his love is so often unrequited. I mean, isn't that why we so often chose to get our kicks from stories and fantasy rather than real life?
 
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#10
You could make the case that Riley is a better example of dominance with his insistence that Buffy rely on him and need him and have him validate her emotions.
I agree. I actually made a thread on how Briley is not a good relationship because of Riley's controlling behaviour towards Buffy.

There is an idea that is prevalent in modern child rearing that children should be socialized at an early age and that this will somehow help them get along in a social setting. But every setting has its own dominance structure and if the child was not accepted at age 4, this stays with him or her for life. In the childhood social setting, the worst thing one child can do is say "no" to another because that is lack of cooperation.
I disagree. Not only is it beneficial to get children used to being in large groups in preparation for starting school, it is also important to encourage them to create friendships which they hopefully might carry on into their school years. Children may not see this larger picture but it is in their interest to do so.

In regards to a child saying "no" to another child, probably in response to the question "can I play (with you)?", there are several things at play there. On the one hand, you have a child that has been socially rejected by the other, whilst this is difficult and hurtful for the child on the receiving end, it can't be solved by telling the other child to let him/her play for several reasons. Given that the first child will let it be known how much they don't want to play with the other child, either by stating it outright or storming off, the best course of action is to encourage the rejected child to find someone else to play with. This not only resolves the situation between the two children, it also gives the rejected child the opportunity to form a friendship elsewhere.

In regards to the child saying "no", it is important to respect their choice in not wanting to spend time with someone whilst also ensuring they're not socially isolating the other child. Telling someone "I don't want to play with you" is different to telling a friend "you can't/shouldn't play with him/her". You wouldn't tell a woman in a bar that she has to spend time with a man she has no interest in, likewise you shouldn't tell a child they have to play with another child they don't want to play with. It's important to find the correct balance where one child is not favoured over the other. Being forced to do things you don't want to do can have just as much a long term impact as being socially rejected.

Then when these children grow up, we see them get into trouble by following their peers into sex and drugs because they have been actively taught that the opinions of their peers count more than their own integrity.
I disagree. It's important to teach children that their own opinions matter and to try and encourage them to have the self confidence to do what they think is right. It's difficult because friendships play a huge part in child development, for better and for worse (which is why school friendships are such a minefield), and it is important to enable children to have the confidence to say "no" to situations they're not comfortable with.

And I would go against the idea that talking to other people about your problems helps you because you still have your original problem and added to that you then have the problem that you are depending on the integrity of the person you are talking to to not tell anyone else, not invade your privacy and not make themselves the centre of your attention
I disagree, especially as the most important advice to someone being bullied is to tell someone about it, don't keep it to yourself. Some problems need to be talked out.

But I still think toxic masculinity describes Riley better than Xander.
I agree. Riley's whole problem was that he didn't feel like the "man" in the relationship and his attempts to try and fix that were to try and control Buffy emotionally.
 
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#11
Again, this is stuff he eventually grows out of, but he doesn't specifically apologize for any of it or recognize it as inappropriate. That Xander has these flaws isn't the problem. Flaws are what make characters realistic and give them room to grow. The problem is that he rarely has to answer for them. Xander is the Joss avatar character. Joss is obviously using Xander as a way to poke fun at himself, but turning those "nice guy in the friendzone" behaviors into a self-deprecating joke that doesn't really impact how the other characters treat him isn't very effective criticism.
For me it's not just that he rarely has to answer for his actions but that the other characters have to apologize or thank him. I mean at the end of B,B&B Buffy thanks him for not taking advantage of her. WTH??? It's the least you expect from a friend not to take advantage of you while your aren't yourself, especially if said friend is responsible for you being in that altered state. And the only punishment he received was Willow not talking to him for a few days. He still got back with Cordelia because he didn't tell her the actual intend of the love spell.

At the end of Revelations, Buffy has to apologize but Xander doesn't apologize to anyone for using Faith to murder someone just because he a) hates that someone and b) was pissed at Buffy and wanted to make her pay.

I find beta-males more toxic than alpha males. Because betas pretend they are one thing when really they are worse, especially beta male geeks. Spike is another such beta who is actually misogynistic but has many fooled (including the audience) because he was so devoted to mommy and slavishly devotes himself to whomever he is obsessed about. But both Xander and Spike always want to take agency away from women they want/they are involved with because they think they know better. And when the women don't respond positively to their tactics, surely there is something wrong with the woman and not them.
 
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#12
Do these people have a point?

No. He does act badly at times, but those are aberrations, and something all the characters do in their own way.

Is Xander a good example of this?

Absolutely not. He does display a lot of male insecurity in the first 2 seasons, however, especially season 1.

Are other male characters guilty of this?

Definitely yes.

What parts of Xander's character manifest in this way?

Offhand, I only recall in season 1 where he follows Buffy because of his male insecurity, though it was good for Buffy that he did. And he did react very poorly to Buffy friend zoning him (though he still saved Buffy shortly after and even got Angel to help in spite of his jealousy) while expecting Willow to be fine with friend zoning her (but of course almost no one calls out Willow for how negatively she can react as well, I suppose because girls can't help themselves being so fragile and all, in their view).

He was a total jerk in Dead Man's Party, but that's something else. Quite a few of them were bad, but he was the worst, IMO.

His revenge against Cordelia for dropping him was bad, but I wouldn't call it toxic masculinity (no more than women who call forth vengeance demons who wished a lot worse than he did). While I can see why one wouldn't want him thanked for not taking advantage of Buffy, at the same time it shows he's not an entitled Nice Guy or other person who sees women as objects since a Nice Guy WOULD have. He also gets punished quite a bit in the episode itself.

And; Are 'inappropriate jokes' inherently a masculine thing?

No. Women are not the pure virginal creatures that people seem to want to make them out to be who joke quite a bit. Not all women, but not all men, either. If it wasn't a topic that didn't appeal to men and women then it wouldn't be all over the media (including advertisement) aimed at men and women.

And Buffy and Willow aren't some doe-eyed fragile things that people on BB like to portray them as. And furthermore, they could get into it themselves (I recall when Buffy asks him if he hugged her just to cop a feel, and how sad he looked showed how serious Willow's condition was), and female characters were willing at times to tell him to tone it down the rare time that it was bothering or exasperating them. Of course those who get onto Xander for this forget about Willow saying inappropriate things about Cordelia ("1-800-I'm dating a skanky ho" comes to mind), or how Cordelia herself promoted toxic masculinity the way she equated cowardice with femininity ("you ran like a woman"). That's because the point isn't to point out obnoxious behavior, it's about hating on males safe to hate.
 
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Sineya
#13
@DeadlyDuo

I recognize your belief that children should be encouraged to have friends but at that age, there are friends who are good for you who do normal things and friends who are bad for you who encourage you to do bad things and these people are usually more interesting. Example? Buffy breaking into the sporting goods store at Faith's encouragement. She would never have done this without her friend. I remember when I was in about Grade 2 when I should have known better, a bunch of us were going to knock down our crossing guard, Mr. Lee. He was an old man, not much taller than a Grade 2 student, so we could do it and we did because we all thought it was a good idea. Later on, we see jock behaviour where the jocks egg each other on and frat boy behaviour is the standard and result of excess belief in the power of socialization. This is where "can I play with you" goes malignant and becomes, "what do I have to do to get in your playgroup?"

Left to their own devices, children will create a "Lord of the Flies" world more often than a world of The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie. In the latter two cases, there was strong parental guidance that overrode socialization when it went wrong.

As for bullying, tell someone, but don't waste your time on someone who is not going to be part of the solution. Let's see what happens when Buffy tells Snyder about a member of the swim team trying to grope her. Look how helpful he was! In a lot of cases in schools, teachers know they can get charged, sued, fired as well as injured or killed so they have no other option but to look the other way. In this case, as we have seen numerous times in the US, students find the only ones who will listen are Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson or comrade Kalashnikov.
 
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#14
@Ethan Reigns

It all depends on the child. Whilst nurture does play a huge part in child development (which is why it is important to teach children good moral values), nature also plays a part as well. Left unsupervised, children will go "Lord of the Flies" as the more confident children dominate the environment, forcing the more timid children to either move to the fringes or adapt. It's why children don't get left alone unless they can be trusted.

There is a difference between children and teenagers though. With children, parents and adults have a big say in their lives and can guide the children through life's obstacles at that point in time. With teenagers, the whole game changes. Teenagers strive for independence, they spend more time with their friends than they do with their parents, their friends morals start to influence their own. However, it's not a case of monkey see monkey do, You bring up Buffy breaking into the sporting goods store with Faith as an example of Faith's influence on Buffy, however it should also be mentioned that Buffy's horror to Faith's attitude at accidentally killing Finch is actually Buffy's own morality (something she would've been taught during childhood) coming into play. This of course creates a division between the two slayers because Buffy is not Faith's blind follower, she has her limits. Teenagers do things because it makes them feel good. Peer pressure is about wanting to belong because being part of a group makes you feel good. As the only two slayers in the world, it makes sense that Buffy seeks kinship with Faith, however once Faith starts going too far, you can see Buffy starting to pull back.
 
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#15
Eh, no. Sorry, but are you telling me that Xander is worse than the likes of Warren, Johnathan, Andrew and Larry before he came out? Xander's comments while inappropriate were just that, comments. Yes, words can hurt, but actions speak louder than words! Xander never attempted to rape anyone, never touched a woman without her consent and never stolen other women's underwear to sniff. Xander wasn't even a Nice Guy tm, as those guys tend to ditch the girl they claim to be their friend when she rejects them. Xander never ditched Buffy after she rejected him. Heck, he was the one to get Angel to move his butt to rescue Buffy!

Xander is all talk, but when things get real he's nothing like the jokes he makes. He thought he and Faith had a connection just because they had sex, he wanted to get to know Anya and go on dates before they had sex, and he was the one to tell Anya that their relationship should be about more than just sex.

Toxic masculinity? That's Warren, not Xander.

And then, all his bitterness goes out the window as soon as Angel leaves. It's like it's easier for him to be Buffy's supportive, platonic friend if he knows Angel can't have her either. *smacks him*
I disagree.

"Angel's our friend, except I don't like him." What's My Line Part 2.

"Look, I'm aware I haven't been the mostest best friend to you when it comes to the whole Angel thing, and, um, I don't know, maybe I finally got the Chanukah spirit." Amends.

"Can I help?" The Zeppo.

"Come on guys, the suspense is killing Angel." Graduation Part 1.

"He made it through the fight. Guess maybe he (take a deep breath) he took off after." Graduation Part 2.

Xander was a supportive friend even with Angel being there.



And then things get really weird, because S6 has the Trio. These guys fall into the same sexist-but-not-physically-intimidating category as Xander, but now this is actually portrayed as creepy and gross.
Again, Xander's crap was just jokes, but unlike the Trio, he never acted on them. Xander was the guy who said, "Stop means no. And no means no, so, um... stop." When things get serious, Xander respects women.

I'd like to think he'd still be the good, responsible guy he is in S7, but I worry that this is only wishful thinking. If it isn't, please convince me. I desperately want to be able to like Xander as much as Buffy and Willow do, and I want him to deserve it.
How about he's the guy who continuously sacrifices his life for Buffy and Willow? How about he's the guy who is there for them when they are down, telling them "You're my hero" and "I love you"? The guy who saved the world twice by talking, not by violence. How about "What would Buffy do"? And electing Willow to be the next leader after Buffy's death? How about fixing Buffy's damn house for free?

How about saving Buffy's life in Prophecy Girl and never asking for a thank you or an acknowledgement or even demanding she'd date him because of it as a real Nice Guy tm would do?

I personally can't take the claims that Xander is sexist seriously. He says sexist things (just like Buffy and Willow and Cordelia do), but that doesn't mean he's a woman-hating freak.
 
thetopher
thetopher
*applause* well said.

Taaroko

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#16
Why hello, Strawman version of my argument. Please reread my comment and note that I never said Xander is worse than the Trio or early Larry, nor that he is a woman-hating freak. I'm saying that the things he says suggests that he shares some of the same sexist attitudes with those guys, and it's frustrating that he doesn't really get called out on it. Buffy is actually proud of him for not taking advantage of her in "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" when she was looped up on love spell. Yeah, give him a prize for exhibiting basic human decency! (My complaints are as much about the lack of self-awareness in the writing when it comes to this subject as they are about Xander himself, if not more.)

Also I did actually point out that while "Prophecy Girl" starts out as a low point for Xander, he does make significant progress by getting Angel's help to save Buffy and not expecting anything in return. Even more, I consider the moment he sees her lying dead in that pool as the moment he realizes she's more than just the object of his crush, but a person he cares about deeply even if she doesn't want to date him.

Yes, the objectionable stuff from Xander is mostly talk (aside from that time he tried to spy on Buffy while she was changing clothes), but it demonstrates that there's something wrong with his attitude. When he's telling Anya that their relationship should be about more than sex, he prefaces it with "And I'm actually turning into a woman as I say this..." He thinks there's something unmanly about not being cool with casual sex.

This is actually helping me like him more. He's been taught wrong (no surprise, considering how awful his dad is), so he thinks there's something wrong with him when his heart is leading him in the right direction, but his heart still wins. Which is probably why he grows out of his tendency for sexist jokes without really thinking about it or needing to get called out on it.

Yeah, I did mention that Xander was nicer about Angel between "Revelations" and "Graduation Day," but the relapse in "Graduation Day" is very unpleasant, and I still suspect it's easier for him to assure Buffy that Angel made it out of the battle because he knows their relationship is over either way. Also, I wouldn't use "Come on guys, the suspense is killing Angel" as a positive example, considering that it was a somewhat irreverent joke to make at that moment and did not actually speed things up.

What concerns me about early-seasons Xander's sexist jokes and unhealthy ideas about what it means to be manly is that it makes me question whether he'd still be the kind of guy Buffy and Willow could be friends with if he had a brilliant mind or the athleticism of someone like Larry. Is he only a good guy because he's kind of a nobody who has no particular skills? One of the writers was hired based on a test script he wrote about Xander temporarily gaining Buffy's Slayer powers and struggling to use them well, and I'm really sad that never became an actual episode, because it could've explored this exact question in a way that never happens in canon.
 
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Black Thorn
#17
What concerns me about early-seasons Xander's sexist jokes and unhealthy ideas about what it means to be manly is that it makes me question whether he'd still be the kind of guy Buffy and Willow could be friends with if he had a brilliant mind or the athleticism of someone like Larry. Is he only a good guy because he's kind of a nobody who has no particular skills?
This exactly. If he wasn't the outcast how much worse would he have been?
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#18
This is actually helping me like him more. He's been taught wrong (no surprise, considering how awful his dad is), so he thinks there's something wrong with him when his heart is leading him in the right direction, but his heart still wins. Which is probably why he grows out of his tendency for sexist jokes without really thinking about it or needing to get called out on it.
This is really the core of Xander's character, though, isn't it? He is an intrinsically good person dealing with his hormones, jealousy and the gender roles society has taught him. The writers try to strike a balance. If he was too unlikable, people would dismiss him as a toxic misogynist. If he was too likeable, there would be no struggle. The pitfall is that Xander's good characteristics can be seen to justify his misogyny, but if we want interesting stories, we need to trust that the audience can make sense of things.
 

thetopher

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#19
I dunno, a lot of this is people don't get (or perhaps merely dislike) Xander's self-depreciating humour or when he's making a joke to break the uncomfortable.
The 'and I'm actually turning into a woman when I say this' is yet another example. Xander has alway been sensitive enough- see S3 and his conviction that his one night with Faith should mean something- that he doesn't have to preface this. He does so only because he's self conscious, not because he finds 'sensitivity' inherently feminine or anything.

Also this has turned into a 'Xander is an ass-hat beta' which doesn't have a lot to do with 'toxic masculinity' imo.
It's a phrase that gets used in error most of the time and on Xander quite a bit.
 
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#20
Why hello, Strawman version of my argument. Please reread my comment and note that I never said Xander is worse than the Trio or early Larry, nor that he is a woman-hating freak.
The beginning of my argument wasn't directed at you, but at the "toxic masculinity" accusation and that apparently the Xander character invented the term Nice Guy tm when he doesn't even fit the definition. But, hey, I've known people who blame Xander for a comment in Willow's dream, so I admit to being a little defensive because I feel a lot of these big worded accusations are not fair.


Buffy is actually proud of him for not taking advantage of her in "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" when she was looped up on love spell.
That's actually an insult to Xander's character and it says more about Buffy than Xander. Did Buffy really believe he'd rape her? Even Xander is surprised by it, "C'mon, Buffy, I would never take advantage of you like that."

I agree with @thetopher that a lot of Xander's sexist comments are blurted out when he feels uncomfortable or wants to break the tension. He shouldn't say them, I agree, and I do feel that's when BtVS shows its age. It's a dated show where slut shaming is considered an okay insult. Female characters slut shame each other.


When he's telling Anya that their relationship should be about more than sex, he prefaces it with "And I'm actually turning into a woman as I say this..." He thinks there's something unmanly about not being cool with casual sex.
That's Xander's main arc. The one that mirrors Buffy. He, like Buffy, wants to fit in and be just like other guys, but deep down he isn't. He's not a jock, he's not into sports, he didn't lose his virginity before 18, his best friends are girls, and let's not kid ourselves, guys like Xander used to get bullied and beaten for not being traditionally manly.

Buffy and Willow laugh at Xander because a boy used to beat him up everyday in 5th grade, and Cordelia accused him of "running away like a woman," her exact words, and you wonder why Xander strives to be more traditionally macho? It's not just his father, it's society especially back in the 90s that demands he'd "man up."

And it's not just Xander, Buffy and Willow make comments like Xander, too:

Willow: Don't forget, you're supposed to be a meek little girlie-girl like the rest of us. (Phases)
Buffy: Look, I know you guys think it's just a big, dumb, girlie thing, but it's not.
Oz: It's not so girlie. Ice is cool! (Helpless)

It was the 90s, people used to say stuff like that all the time. Buffy calling Cordelia whore, Cordelia calling Faith slut, and so on.

Which is probably why he grows out of his tendency for sexist jokes without really thinking about it or needing to get called out on it.
The problem with Xander's character development is that it's too subtle. If you're not a huge fan, you're gonna miss it. Xander had to grow up in the background, his character development wasn't as flashy and clear as the other characters. (Thank God for fanfics. The only time canon put Xander's character arc front and center was in S10 Comics.)

Yeah, I did mention that Xander was nicer about Angel between "Revelations" and "Graduation Day," but the relapse in "Graduation Day" is very unpleasant,
I don't blame him for being upset. Buffy was sent to the hospital. Even Giles was angry with Angel.


Also, I wouldn't use "Come on guys, the suspense is killing Angel" as a positive example, considering that it was a somewhat irreverent joke to make at that moment and did not actually speed things up.
I just rewatched the scene. Xander wasn't joking. He was concerned. Actually, it was Willow and Oz who were not being helpful with their stalling. Xander was rushing them to talk. That was a good Xander moment in my book.

What concerns me about early-seasons Xander's sexist jokes and unhealthy ideas about what it means to be manly is that it makes me question whether he'd still be the kind of guy Buffy and Willow could be friends with if he had a brilliant mind or the athleticism of someone like Larry. Is he only a good guy because he's kind of a nobody who has no particular skills?
I'll answer your question: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. Xander could have had any woman he wanted. They all threw themselves at him. In fact, saying "No" to Buffy was dangerous because she could hurt him for not giving himself up to her. Saying "No" to Willow proved to be dangerous because she and all the other women he rejected wanted to murder him.

There you have it. Xander with absulute power and he didn't take advantage of any woman. He put himself in danger of being killed by them, but never touched any of them.

I told you, Xander is all talk, but when things get real, he proves to be a good guy.

Compare Xander in BB&B with Johnathan in Superstar, Johnathan put the whole town under his spell to be cool and took advantage of two women and maybe more who thought he was cool because of the spell. Two women who would never sleep with him if they weren't under the spell.

One of the writers was hired based on a test script he wrote about Xander temporarily gaining Buffy's Slayer powers and struggling to use them well, and I'm really sad that never became an actual episode, because it could've explored this exact question in a way that never happens in canon.
I'm so upset that this idea was never done!!!! I would have liked to see an episode where Xander gets the powers he always wanted and Buffy gets the normal life she always wanted and see how both would handle that.