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Xander's toxic masculinity

DeadlyDuo

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I feel like Riley has some underlying sexist beliefs that come out in his insecurity around Buffy's strength, etc. They have this ongoing dynamic in Season 4 where Riley blows up about stuff and it's Buffy's job to comfort him that feels very gendered to me.
The way Riley manhandles Buffy in Goodbye Iowa is quite concerning, not least because she says the words "let go of me" which she then has to repeatedly say to him again in "Into the Woods" when he keeps grabbing her during their final conversation. Riley definitely has issues, relating to him feeling emasculated by Buffy's strength and her being "stronger" than him, he wants Buffy to "need" him and hates it that he's the "weaker" partner in the relationship.

I think the Briley relationship actually shows subtle signs of being emotionally abusive. It starts off great (the honeymoon period) where Riley treats Buffy well and makes her feel loved and valued, but then he starts to demonstrate "red flag" behaviour. In Goodbye Iowa, he has a go at her about "socialising" with demons rather than killing them because he found her in Willy's Bar (despite him going there himself) ergo telling her who she can and can't socialise with, he accuses her of cheating on him with Angel after jumping to the conclusion that Angel must've lost his soul after fighting the Initiative (despite the fact Angel was probably defending himself because the Initiative attacked him first for being a vampire), he justifies his behaviour by saying he's "so in love" that he "can't think straight", when Buffy gets bitten by Dracula he accuses her of wanting it due to "transference" despite her stating very clearly it was against her will, he grabs her a lot, etc. There's lots of other examples in Season 5.

Buffy has a tendency to take on the "protector" role in her relationships (she did it with Angel in Season 3 and Spike in Season 7), she would've done it with Parker if that had been a genuine thing as Parker was a normal human (Spike's comment about Parker having "vulnerability" wasn't just an idle threat, but highlights that Parker would be an easy target for Buffy's enemies), Buffy tried to do it with Riley particularly whilst he was recovering but Riley wasn't having it because HE wanted to be the "protector". During Joyce's health crisis, Riley wanted Buffy to break down so that he could be the one to comfort her.

Xander's speech to Buffy at the end of Into the Woods is awful because he's essentially telling her that she should tolerate Riley's emotionally manipulative behaviour. In regards to Xander, I do think he sees Riley as "the perfect man" and what a "man" should be, hence why he has a go at Buffy for not wanting to give in to Riley's emotional blackmail. Buffy finds Riley in what is essentially a vampire whorehouse, yet he spins it as her fault that he went there because they made him feel "needed" whereas she didn't. The word "need" comes out of Riley's mouth quite frequently during Season 5 in regards to Buffy, particularly when it comes to telling other characters what Buffy "needs."

I'm not saying Riley is an emotionally abusive jackass in all his relationships, Sam seems quite happy with him (though this could be because she's a normal human like him and therefore isn't "stronger" than him). However, with Buffy, I think Riley was rather emotionally manipulative and was trying to force her into the role that he thought a woman should play aka the "weaker" partner in a relationship. Had Riley not left then Season 6 would've been his dream come true, given how emotionally fragile Buffy was that season; she would've "needed" him.
 
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Grace

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I think saying its simply about 'man-ness' devalues the episode.
And I didn't do that. I said that the issues Xander confronted in the episode seemed to be tied into his identity as a young man. You seem to be saying that we can't consider gender roles at all, which might be the way you want to deal with the episode, but I don't think it's wrong or unfair for me to consider them.

After all, is 'Doppelgangland' about femininity?
Sure it is! Willow feels that she's meek and unable to stand up for herself. That's something that many girls struggle with, because we're generally socialized to be helpful and understanding and respect authority. It makes girls easier to control, which is a central issue to the entire series. Vamp Willow gets to violate the norms of femininity and act out in ways Willow feels she can't.

If Riley was as sexist as you seem to think I doubt he'd take orders from his wife as willingly as he would.
You don't think Riley is physically stronger than Sam? You don't think he could "take" her in a fight the way he always wanted to with Buffy? Sam is a strong woman but she does not challenge him in the way that Buffy did.
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

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After all, is 'Doppelgangland' about femininity?
The madonna and whore archetypes of womanhood have a fight and then become friends. I think we can safely say it is a comment on femininity.
As for Xander 'slutshaming' Buffy and Anya, I presume this is over sleeping with Spike, an unrepentant monster? How is not sleeping with a serial killer an 'arbitrary value'?
Why is Xander the judge of this? Anya is herself a serial killer and Xander was sleeping with her. And why is it okay for Xander to play pool with said serial killer? And do you really think it is moral outrage about sleeping with serial killers that sends Xander into an axe murdering rage? Imagine the Buffyverse if Xander showed up with an axe every-time someone slept with a serial killer.
Ah 'slutshaming'; how come when Cordelia and Willow do this then they're never called out for it (to Faith for example).
Hmmmmm! Are you saying that sexism is a form of systematic oppression that saturates throughout all of society? I think you may be on to something.

In all seriousness: Xander's insults are way to specific to be brushed off as simply a teen being a teen. You're right in saying that Xander is not the only one who makes these types of insults - and Cordelia is certainly classist - but that does not cancel out Xander's actions.
 

sosa lola

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See, this is confusing for me, because this is what I thought toxic masculinity was. A societal paradigm that sets men up to behave and be treated in a certain way that's not fair to them (or to women or good for society in general). So Xander would be a victim of toxic masculinity. He sometimes displays sexist behaviors as part of that, but to me the concept of toxic masculinity would be a way to put his actions into context and explain them, not a label to slap on him. That makes no sense to me.
But it is always used as a label to slap on Xander. That's the problem. For example, the episode Halloween shows us how both Buffy and Xander yearn for traditional gender roles because they believe that's how they'll get a man's attention (Buffy) and be respected (Xander). Buffy goes for the most feminine costume while Xander goes for the most mescaline. Buffy envies the women in Angel's time because they're pretty and wants to change herself to get Angel's approval. Xander doesn't want to be saved by a girl because he would get more bullied and humiliated by his peers because of it.

With Buffy, the argument I see is always hating on the writers for writing Buffy that way. With Xander, the argument I see is always "That sexist, women-hating, misogynistic, problematic, toxic-masculinity worshipper!"

I guess that's why I get defensive. The double standards of it all.

Thing is both Buffy and Xander wanted to be "normal" in a world that saw them as "a freak" (Cordelia to Buffy) and a woman (Cordelia to Xander). They were both prisoners in the patriarchal reproduction of toxic masculine standards. Eventually both characters will overcome this, but fandom only sees Buffy growing out of it (and sometimes never acknowledges what Buffy used to be) and never admits that Xander grows out of it and will always view him as the guy who did not take Buffy's rejection well (dismissing that the same guy went out of his way to rescue the girl who rejected him and never asked for a thank you or used that fact to get into her pants and they constantly call him Nice Guy tm.)
 

DeadlyDuo

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Thing is both Buffy and Xander wanted to be "normal" in a world that saw them as "a freak" (Cordelia to Buffy) and a woman (Cordelia to Xander).
Perhaps Cordelia was the one with the gender views and she was just forcing her opinions on to others? Given that Buffy and Xander were teenagers where they would be experiencing self-doubt and trying to figure out their place in the world, if someone tells you there's something wrong with you, you do wonder if there's some truth in it?
 

sosa lola

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Perhaps Cordelia was the one with the gender views and she was just forcing her opinions on to others? Given that Buffy and Xander were teenagers where they would be experiencing self-doubt and trying to figure out their place in the world, if someone tells you there's something wrong with you, you do wonder if there's some truth in it?
It is people like Cordelia and Larry and other bullies who force values they learned from their parents on others, bullies who are in place of power because of popularity (cheerleader and athlete). Their opinions count. They decide who is worthy and who is not. And kids like Buffy and Xander just want to be accepted and liked and that's why they're desperate to be like everybody else.

It gets easier after high school. That's when both Buffy and Xander begin to embrace their true selves.
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

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It is people like Cordelia and Larry and other bullies who force values they learned from their parents on others, bullies who are in place of power because of popularity (cheerleader and athlete). Their opinions count. They decide who is worthy and who is not. And kids like Buffy and Xander just want to be accepted and liked and that's why they're desperate to be like everybody else.

It gets easier after high school. That's when both Buffy and Xander begin to embrace their true selves.
But it is not even that easy. Larry needs to act a specific way to divert people from questioning his sexuality and Cordelia must maintain a certain image to keep her status.
 
S
sosa lola
I agree.

thetopher

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And I didn't do that. I said that the issues Xander confronted in the episode seemed to be tied into his identity as a young man.
But identity is different from masculinity, it is a much bigger issue.
Xander is struggling with inadequacy that has little to do with his being a guy (Giles is a guy and so is Oz and neither of them is a jock-type), he is struggling with what makes him special as a person.

You seem to be saying that we can't consider gender roles at all, which might be the way you want to deal with the episode, but I don't think it's wrong or unfair for me to consider them.
I didn't say it was wrong exactly; anyone can interpret anything anyway they want in fiction.
But getting hung up on gender roles feels very niche in many of these cases (of course there ARE many gender themes on the show, obviously). Many character struggles can be sympathized with by men or women, so gender doesn't really come into it for me.

Sure it is! Willow feels that she's meek and unable to stand up for herself. That's something that many girls struggle with
And many boys too no doubt. Many boys and shy and meek and get walked all over by jocks like Percy or get victimized by teachers. So why is it a 'female' story when many guys can identify with Willow's predicament?

You don't think Riley is physically stronger than Sam? You don't think he could "take" her in a fight the way he always wanted to with Buffy?
Right, in that case why did Riley ever even bother to date Buffy after she kicked him across the room with her super-powers?

Because it wasn't about strength or superpowers, it was about Riley's place in said relationship. Also somebody doesn't just become magically non-sexist when their dance partner changes; if Riley really had a problem with strong women then Sam would not be the woman for him.

The madonna and whore archetypes of womanhood have a fight and then become friends.
Ha! 'Become friends.' Good one.

Why is Xander the judge of this?
Anyone can judge anyone I guess. The question is 'do they have a point?'

Anya is herself a serial killer and Xander was sleeping with her.
So what? Xander is a hypocrite. Doesn't mean he's not right.

And do you really think it is moral outrage about sleeping with serial killers that sends Xander into an axe murdering rage?
I think if Anya had been boinking an actual person then Xander would not have reacted in the extreme way he did.
Say Anya got drunk and slept with Giles (who was there and also very drunk and lonely and also had no memory or something) then I very much doubt Xander would get all axe-murder-y. So Xander didn't 'slut-shame' Anya for cheating on him, he called her out for WHO she was sleeping with. That's a distinction.

Hmmmmm! Are you saying that sexism is a form of systematic oppression that saturates throughout all of society? I think you may be on to something.
My point is merely that if you call out one character for doing it then call out other characters, even if they've of other genders.
And if characters of both genders do it then it isn't inherently 'masculine' and a bad thing for only men to do.
 

Grace

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But identity is different from masculinity, it is a much bigger issue.
To me, they are bound up together and it's interesting to consider both. BtVS as a series becomes less interesting for me when gender is removed as a consideration.

So why is it a 'female' story when many guys can identify with Willow's predicament?
So you're saying that if I think that Willow's femininity is part of what's addressed, that means only women can relate to or appreciate the episode?

Right, in that case why did Riley ever even bother to date Buffy after she kicked him across the room with her super-powers?
Because he was trying to be OK with it? I think the issue continued to bother him throughout their relationship, but he tried anyway. He almost died because he was worried about becoming even weaker than Buffy. And, in the end, he wasn't able to overcome his need to have Buffy be more dependent on him. They were better off apart.
 

DeadlyDuo

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I think if Anya had been boinking an actual person then Xander would not have reacted in the extreme way he did.
Spike is an "actual person". One of the reasons he got on well with Joyce is because she treated him as a person and not a "thing". Xander can hate Spike to his heart's content, but his reaction to Anya and Spike sleeping together was way over the top and out of line.
 

Ethan Reigns

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The only way you could consider Xander's masculinity to be toxic is if you consider all masculinity to be toxic.

He may sometimes have opinions and behaviour that are unwarranted (the worst being in "Dead Man's Party) but these opinions are not gender-related. A lot of children are now being subjected to kindergarten and primary grade teachers who do believe that masculinity is a disease to be cured rather than a natural state. There is a strong push to feminize male students at an early age and this is already being proven disastrous. So I have no doubt that some people will consider Xander's masculinity to be toxic, just as they would mine or any other male's.
 

thrasherpix

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Xander went after spike out of jealous rage. He then said the most hurtful things he could think of. Had it been Giles instead of Spike, he might've restrained himself more (in part because killing Giles would leave a body), but he'd still have wrestled with rage, and he'd have been inclined to say the most hurtful thing possible to both of them, even if he hated himself as he did.

I think it's missing the point completely to just sum it up as Xander slut shaming, though he did use it as a means to an end (inflicting pain). He was exceedingly cruel and out of line there (though I also recognize him caught up in the grips of hot passion in which Buffy NEEDED to intervene before Xander crossed a line, even if that line was Spike).

If he'd killed Spike then, it would've been for the wrong reasons that would likely haunt his character and make sure that the rift between Xander and Anya could never be healed. I say that as someone who firmly believes Spike should've been dusted no later than early season 5, or maybe on Angel immediately after Buffy died (and certainly after what he soon does to Buffy), which would be staking Spike for the right reasons--because he's a monster, not because he "banged your girl" as Xander would've felt it in his rage-filled gut. Likewise, had Buffy killed him over Anya for "betraying" her then she'd have killed him for the wrong reason as well in a way that would (or should) haunt her. I do believe Buffy felt a pain very similar to Xander, but she didn't let it overcome her, nor did she let it overcome Xander by catching up to him to intervene before he could act.

And btw, if Xander's toxic masculinity was about the social factors, then all the men and women who inflicted upon him would be mentioned. I think Anya did as well, but I could easily be confusing her with the other females who did so. (I DO know Anya said things like "his slut ate him up.") But it's not about the societal nature of toxic masculinity affecting Xander, it's about male-shaming Xander specifically, even to the point that those who do often make stuff up to stick to him.
 
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sosa lola

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And btw, if Xander's toxic masculinity was about the social factors, then all the men and women who inflicted upon him would be mentioned. I think Anya did as well, but I could easily be confusing her with the other females who did so. (I DO know Anya said things like "his slut ate him up.") But it's not about the societal nature of toxic masculinity affecting Xander, it's about male-shaming Xander specifically, even to the point that those who do often make stuff up to stick to him.
That's how it is most of the time.

As for Anya, she adopted the traditional female role ever since she became human: Xander is the one who should look after her and buy her stuff. She didn't start working until S5, but throughout S4 she used to mooch off penniless Xander because he's the guy. Low income Xander should get a huge apartment and provide for her, even though she has her own apartment, why not ask Xander to move in with her? But the only argument you hear: Xander is abusive towards Anya.
 

thetopher

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To me, they are bound up together and it's interesting to consider both.
So you're saying that if I think that Willow's femininity is part of what's addressed, that means only women can relate to or appreciate the episode?
Ah, if your saying that these episodes are about both, that gender is only a part of what those episodes are about, then I think that's great! :)
I don't necessarily see those aspects away from those episodes but we all have different interpretations about stuff. I'm not going to say 'that is the wrong way to view that episode', because that's a crappy, narrow-minded thing to do. We're all entitled to any opinion about fiction.

Sorry for the misunderstanding. :)

Because he was trying to be OK with it? I think the issue continued to bother him throughout their relationship, but he tried anyway.
I think Buffy's having superpowers were maybe a tiny aspect of Riley's feelings of inadequacy (it comes up as an issue in precisely two episodes); it was actually more to do with the collapse of the Initiative and Riley no longer having a mission of his own, Buffy keeping secrets/focusing much more on slaying/ protecting Dawn, and Spike's meddling which play into Riley's own preconceptions of Angel, Dracula and so on.

I actually have much moire sympathy for Buffy's plight in S5 than Riley's, but that doesn't mean that I don't understand his pov.

Spike is an "actual person". One of the reasons he got on well with Joyce is because she treated him as a person and not a "thing".
Spike is a demon, not a person. He might be a 'nice' demon but he has also massacred and marauded for over a century. If Joyce is nice to him and treats him like a person that that says something about Joyce and how charitable she is. I don't think its particularly wise though; remember how she reacted when she found out Spike was interested in Buffy? Not well.

The fact is that Xander is the only character who never forgot what Spike was... and if he had killed Spike with an axe then so what? The action would've been justified even if the reasons for it were entirely self-serving. And that's leaving aside the fact that his 'attack' was actually pretty pathetic; one axe swing and a punch or two. If Xander really wanted Spike dead at that point, he'd be dust. He didn't; he had his little rant and then stormed off to get drunk and never went near Spike again.

However when Spike gets a soul then that's different and Xander respects (within reason) the fact that Spike is now 'a person'. It shows Xander's growth since he didn't really do that when Angel was around; the soul thing made little difference to his opinion a lot of the time.
 
J

joseph

Guest
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
xander is racist how?
 
Spanky
Spanky
Find the original thread that thetopher based this one off of... that is the one that talked about his racism.

Cheese Slices

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Ah, if your saying that these episodes are about both, that gender is only a part of what those episodes are about, then I think that's great! :)
I don't necessarily see those aspects away from those episodes but we all have different interpretations about stuff. I'm not going to say 'that is the wrong way to view that episode', because that's a crappy, narrow-minded thing to do. We're all entitled to any opinion about fiction.

Sorry for the misunderstanding. :)



I think Buffy's having superpowers were maybe a tiny aspect of Riley's feelings of inadequacy (it comes up as an issue in precisely two episodes); it was actually more to do with the collapse of the Initiative and Riley no longer having a mission of his own, Buffy keeping secrets/focusing much more on slaying/ protecting Dawn, and Spike's meddling which play into Riley's own preconceptions of Angel, Dracula and so on.

I actually have much moire sympathy for Buffy's plight in S5 than Riley's, but that doesn't mean that I don't understand his pov.



Spike is a demon, not a person. He might be a 'nice' demon but he has also massacred and marauded for over a century. .
Personhood - the state or fact of being an individual or having human characteristics and feelings.

I fail to see how Spike doesn't fit these criteria. Being a person =/= being good.

Also, by that logic, Angel is not a person either, since, soul or not, he is still a demon, and has killed a whole lot of people.
 

thetopher

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I fail to see how Spike doesn't fit these criteria. Being a person =/= being good.
Also, by that logic, Angel is not a person either, since, soul or not, he is still a demon, and has killed a whole lot of people.
It's simply a matter of deciding whether you think a vampire- a demon- is an autonomous person. Since Buffy spends the majority of her evenings killing the heck out of them then its hard to declare them as 'people'.
They are simply demons wearing people suits; they are wearing the face of the person they 'used to be' but they are not, in fact, that person.

This is a perfectly logical way to view vampires; vampires do not have a right to live since they prey on people. This is why slayers and hunters exist after all, because vampires are a vociferous form of demon that multiplies rapidly and preys on humanity.
This seems to be Xander's view and that's perfectly nature; vampires murdered one of his best friends after all. Doesn't matter if Spike has a muzzle, he's still a killer.

And if you'd bothered to read the rest of my post then you'd have read that a vampire with a soul is different, since it can be argued that 'the person' has been returned to the body that they used to inhabit and now has autonomy.
So Xander trying to kill Spike is- at the very least- a grey area. Wood trying to kill Spike-with-a-soul? Wrong.
And the same goes for Angel; he is not the demon he once, he's become a force for good.

Anyway, OT.
 

Cheese Slices

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It's simply a matter of deciding whether you think a vampire- a demon- is an autonomous person. Since Buffy spends the majority of her evenings killing the heck out of them then its hard to declare them as 'people'.
They are simply demons wearing people suits; they are wearing the face of the person they 'used to be' but they are not, in fact, that person.
But that notion is challenged as early as S2 and is pretty much discarded after that.

Buffy kills them not because they are "pure demons" (they're not, they're hybrids) but because if she doesn't they're going to kill people. Once a vampire becomes harmless (see Spike and the chip), she doesn't hunt them down anymore.

I disagree that the soul is what gives them access to personhood. The soul is "merely" something that gives them a full capacity for empathy and balances out their demonic urges. But without it, they're still "people" of some kind, with individual personalities, taste, and feelings.

And yeah, I've erred. Back to Xander !
 
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