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Xander's toxic masculinity

thetopher

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But that notion is challenged as early as S2 and is pretty much discarded after that.
Um, not really. It's one of the fundamental questions throughout Buffy and Angel and never really answered. Which is why it often crops up on discussion boards...


On-topic: For everyone: Are there any other male characters on BtVS or AtS who exhibit 'toxic masculinity' as opposed to men who have character flaws?
 

DeadlyDuo

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Spike is a demon, not a person. He might be a 'nice' demon but he has also massacred and marauded for over a century.
So has Angel. Angel is still a vampire and therefore a demon. Just because he has a soul doesn't change that fact. Both Angel and Spike had something done to them against their will, the soul giving gypsy curse and the chip respectively, that forces them to be "nice". Why should one be considered a person and not the other? Spike has sentience just like a human and even complains to Anya about people treating him as a thing rather than a person.


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.
There's a difference between treating someone respectfully as a common decency and wanting them romantically pursuing your daughter. Joyce is aware that Spike is a vampire and she probably remembers how well Buffy's last relationship with a vampire ended. It's no different than if you know a former addict. You're aware they've done some iffy stuff in their past but that doesn't stop you treating them as a person. However, if they start showing a romantic interest in your daughter, then you're going to get a little twitchy regardless because that's not the type of person you want your daughter getting romantically involved with.
 

Cheese Slices

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Pretty much every male character bar Oz display toxic masculinity at one point or another : Angel and his paternalistic, grooming-like attitude towards Buffy + his virgin/whore complex, Xander with what's been stated on this thread, Spike with what's been shown above, and Giles with his patriarchical mindset.

It's not a matter of : I like this character so he's just "a male character with flaws" and I dislike this character so he's the worst misogynist to ever walk the earth. :rolleyes:
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

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To which one ?
Note that I'm not saying he's aware of those things or that it makes him a predator or whatever but it is definitely in the text (which is subverted later).
I agree that he is somewhat paternalistic towards Buffy, but I take issue with the other two. He certainly does not groom Buffy in the creepy/sexual connotative sense of the word. You are using language that implies much but is too vague for me to properly engage. How does he have a Madonna whore complex? Because his ex was a literal whore and his girlfriend is a literal virgin? He does sleep with Buffy twice it does not seem to affect how he sees her.

I would agree that BtVS and AtS as texts sometimes appears to have a madonna/whore complex with Buffy/Darla and Buffy/Faith.
 

Cheese Slices

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I agree that he is somewhat paternalistic towards Buffy, but I take issue with the other two. He certainly does not groom Buffy in the creepy/sexual connotative sense of the word. You are using language that implies much but is too vague for me to properly engage. How does he have a Madonna whore complex? Because his ex was a literal whore and his girlfriend is a literal virgin? He does sleep with Buffy twice it does not seem to affect how he sees her.

I would agree that BtVS and AtS as texts sometimes appears to have a madonna/whore complex with Buffy/Darla and Buffy/Faith.
I would call it "unintentional grooming". He does engage in active seduction mode, is older and more experienced, purposefully withholds important information from her thereby keeping the power balance in his favor (whether he's fully aware of it is another matter, but the result is pretty much the same). When Buffy expresses worry about whether Spike & Dru are alive in Surprise, he cuts her off by kissing her and when she's talking about "seeing him at bedtime" and is embarrassed by it, he presses the issue so she'll admit that she wants to get physical. There is a bit of a conundrum when it comes to Angel, because it can be hard to tell what was the writers' intent when paired with DB's weird acting : sometimes he comes off as creepy when I don't believe he was meant to be, so it's all pretty confusing.
However, the show makes it clear on several occasions that Angel knows very well how to seduce women and that he is using, to a more or less conscious level, his old tricks to seduce Buffy.
The Madonna/whore thing is shown through his general attraction to virgins or virgin symbols specifically (Drusilla, Buffy, nuns) as opposed to his motherly/push and pull/power struggle relationship with Darla (who was a literal whore). Again, I'm not saying he sees a virgin and goes "yeah that's for me" (at least when ensouled)but that's what ends up happening anyway. Not to mention his infamous Humbert Humbert moment in Becoming. (though that belongs to both the paternalistic/grooming and virgin categories).

All in all, it's a tangle of the character's actions themselves, the show as text outside of the character on an personal level, and the meta text surrouding it all.
 

Bite-me

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I would call it "unintentional grooming". He does engage in active seduction mode, is older and more experienced, purposefully withholds important information from her thereby keeping the power balance in his favor (whether he's fully aware of it is another matter, but the result is pretty much the same). When Buffy expresses worry about whether Spike & Dru are alive in Surprise, he cuts her off by kissing her and when she's talking about "seeing him at bedtime" and is embarrassed by it, he presses the issue so she'll admit that she wants to get physical. There is a bit of a conundrum when it comes to Angel, because it can be hard to tell what was the writers' intent when paired with DB's weird acting : sometimes he comes off as creepy when I don't believe he was meant to be, so it's all pretty confusing.
However, the show makes it clear on several occasions that Angel knows very well how to seduce women and that he is using, to a more or less conscious level, his old tricks to seduce Buffy.
The Madonna/whore thing is shown through his general attraction to virgins or virgin symbols specifically (Drusilla, Buffy, nuns) as opposed to his motherly/push and pull/power struggle relationship with Darla (who was a literal whore). Again, I'm not saying he sees a virgin and goes "yeah that's for me" (at least when ensouled)but that's what ends up happening anyway. Not to mention his infamous Humbert Humbert moment in Becoming. (though that belongs to both the paternalistic/grooming and virgin categories).

All in all, it's a tangle of the character's actions themselves, the show as text outside of the character on an personal level, and the meta text surrouding it all.
This explains my feeling that if Angel had become human on his show, out of all characters and his squad, Fred would be the main candidate for him since she is so his type, he is attracted to her innocence (but already had that with Buffy and knows he would only have to leave again) which sounds so gross to say but I attributed it to "innocent" is the one thing he wants to be in the world and the one thing he can never have. Not that it makes it any less of the dichotomy trope you describe or less psychosexual in nature but I contribute that facet of his character partially to that which does not alter the complex just contributes to it.
 
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EarthLogic

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I would call it "unintentional grooming".
I think that's a contradiction. 'Grooming' has very specific connotations of active and intentional manipulation of someone for one's own sexual/criminal purposes. There's a nefariousness to it and that's why it's a crime and why we apply the term very specifically to situations. You can't 'accidentally' groom someone.

When Buffy expresses worry about whether Spike & Dru are alive in Surprise, he cuts her off by kissing her and when she's talking about "seeing him at bedtime" and is embarrassed by it, he presses the issue so she'll admit that she wants to get physical.
I think you're reading far too much insidiousness into that scene. I agree that DB's green acting can sometimes make things confusing but in that scene I don't think it's meant to be some sort of ccalculated control move. He kisses her because she's anxious and he's trying to distract her from her freakout (it's also a pretty standard romantic trope - we often see one person of a couple suddenly kiss the other in the middle of a conversation or sentence in romcoms etc..). And I don't think that final bit is him pressing the issue to make her admit anything. He just tries to clarify what she meant. It seems to me that they both know what's going on there but aren't ready to come out and say it yet. They tiptoe round it a bit until Buffy offers a more pointed and transparent indicator of what she's been feeling and Angel lets her know he's on the same page.

From the shooting script:
BUFFY
Then I like you at bed time.

She realizes how that sounds. Stammers

BUFFY
I mean... You - know what I mean...

ANGEL
I think so.
(then)
What do you mean?

BUFFY
That I... I like seeing you.
And the part at the end of the
night when we say goodbye,
it's.., getting harder.

Buffy waits for an agonizing beat before he responds. Then-

ANGEL
Yeah. It is.

They just look at each other. Afraid to say any more.

If you want a good indicator of what we're supposed to take away from that scene take a look at their clothing - they're both wearing white, which indicates that they're both innocent and naive in this.

This explains my feeling that if Angel had become human on his show, out of all characters and his squad, Fred would be the main candidate for him since she is so his type, he is attracted to her innocence
I don't see how. If Angel wasn't attracted to her on the show as a vampire then why would he be attracted to her when human? His (meta)physical state doesn't dictate his romantic preferences.
 

Bite-me

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I don't see how. If Angel wasn't attracted to her on the show as a vampire then why would he be attracted to her when human? His (meta)physical state doesn't dictate his romantic preferences.
Well, I meant Angel finds Fred's innocence endearing (all the male characters did, I never found Wesley and Guns sudden and fervent interest believable, it was plot by proxy which is sometimes necessary) I had picked up on Angelus' affinity for religious symbolism, his whole deal with maidens and what not, as @Cheese Slices describes. Angelus' is preoccupied by the issues that concerned as human as Angel is by what did as Angelus', which is why in my personal opinion Fred as romantic interest is believable more for him then the other two when considering established precedent.

We can point out illogical discrepancies when they occur to the established precedent of a character and their story line even as they are fictional characters who behave as written. in this way, it was my sense that Angel would be attracted to certain qualities in Fred akin to those in Buffy. His motive, reasoning and history with Darla is self evident for why his love for her as human and pregnant. As his interest in Nina makes sense physically. There is consistency except Rebecca (Eternity) to the far less obvious, underformed and underestablished Cordelia.

I've never denied Buffy's youth and goodness was part of the attraction for Angel. Need not be in a "grooming" way, it can be a positive like how @NileQT87 describes it, watching this youthful girl stand up to and for so much, all while putting her desire for a normal life completely aside, rebuilt his faith in humanity and his belief in himself as he related to and was inspired by her.

Knowing what we do about his taste in the sort of women he likes (Buffy) and goes after, (Drusilla) his past as Angelus' and Angelus; hangups, this 25 year old with 200 years worth of sexual experience, likely includeding d-ing down Spike at some point (!) is acting out this sweet romance with a seventeen year old virgin girl is pretty funny in a creepy way but CheeseSlices theory gives it psychological heft and merit instead so I like it.
 
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Bite-me

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I also agree with what WillowfromBuffy said, the madonna/whore complex is more prevalent maybe even over all revelant in the wider text, it is more in the margins with Angel.

I mean Buffy has a lousy father but it can not be said she has "daddy issues" where as, it is in the text that Spike has mommy issues and Riley can be seen / read in relation to Professor Walsh and then transplanted to Buffy, as having mommy issues.
 

Mrs Gordo

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@Meliza - except as you very well point out, we never really see Angel fall for another young virgin type. We do see him interested in women who are strong, independent leader types. He seemed interested in Kate, for a while there, Rebecca even had some of those characteristics, the alien from She was a leader/warrior, Cordelia had grown into and become comfortable in her role as a seer and of course, she was always a strong independent type. You could say Nina maybe doesn't fit the bill but she has the whole duality thing going for her and she is managing it pretty well. Certainly Kate, Rebecca, alien from She (sorry I can't remember her name I try to block that episode from my mind), Cordelia etc - none of those women are "innocent virgin" types.

I just think it's rather reductive to say that what attracted Angel to Buffy was "in large part" her youth/virginity/pureness. I will concede that Angel's initial view of a young woman who has this big heart is suddenly being forced to face all of the true evil in this world as a result of her calling did inspire a great deal of empathy in him, and likely because as Angelus he was obsessed with corrupting women with that type of personality it felt even more personal to him. I also think that Buffy's "goodness" is obviously a component of what inspired him, maybe even one of the reasons he fell in love with her. But really, what I see is an Angel who is amazed and inspired by Buffy's strength, her sense of duty, her leadership, etc. He says as much to her in Halloween that he likes that she is exciting and interesting. I feel like that undercuts this idea that what drew Angel to Buffy was that she was this young pure thing. But that he saw in her an interesting and exciting woman - a powerful woman.

Angel never seemed attracted to Fred on the show. Fred is not like Buffy. I like Fred a great deal. I love her character growth on the show and I love that Fred finds her strength after some time and some growth. But Buffy owns her strength from the get go. And to me, the text shows us that that is a big part of what Angel loved about her.
 

Mrs Gordo

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He does sleep with Buffy twice it does not seem to affect how he sees her.
And just to add to this if Angel's main draw to Buffy was this Madonna complex wouldn't he have lost interest once Buffy was no longer a virgin? He is interested her in s3 after they slept together, he wants her so much he fears for his soul. He obviously loves and wants her when she visits him in IWRY after he knows that she has been with another man (courtesy of Spike's info). He comes back to her in Chosen and declares that he is waiting for her to bake in TGIQ. After he knows that Buffy has been with Parker, Riley AND Spike. He still loves and wants her.
 

Bite-me

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Yes, I think you are right, the madonna/whore syndrome does not fit. To be clear, for it to appear it does not mandate exclusive everlasting virginity, as a condition it refers to a man who holds one type of chaste women suitable for marriage because of societal expectation and social appearance in contrast to finding unchaste libidinous women more sexually attractive and even companionable but possesses sex shame ideas about "defiling" the women he loves so only has the kind of sex he wants to be having with a women he doesn't love.

I think we picked up on the concept within the show tonally not exclusively with any single character. Buffy/Faith, Willow/Veruca, Buffy/Cordelia somewhat, Darla/Drusilla, while as evil vampire she still competed with the more pure Drusilla, who is a perpetual victim who lacked agency, the right kind of fallen women, the point of the bad girl is sexual agency.
 
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thrasherpix

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I mean Buffy has a lousy father but it can not be said she has "daddy issues" where as, it is in the text that Spike has mommy issues and Riley can be seen / read in relation to Professor Walsh and then transplanted to Buffy, as having mommy issues.
I disagree. At least in the popular usage of the term, a woman who has daddy issues is often because a father was absent or left her as happened to Buffy, and it greatly upset her as we see in season 1 Nightmares. Those with such issues fear abandonment just as Buffy does. They're also thought of as chasing older men which Angel and Spike both qualify as.


I don't see Riley has having mommy issues, though I do Spike. But now that I think about it, it does fit Riley more than Spike. Hmmm... "thinking out loud" here as I muse on this...

Mommy issues typically refers to an inability to trust women (and often treat them horribly, with Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey who punishes women because his mother was a "crack whore" being an example), and Spike generally trusts women. He doesn't take rejection well (and season 7, as much as I hate to reference it, does make it clear that Spike's vampire mother rejecting him hurt him worse than anything before, so maybe it is a mommy issue, but he was not enjoying the rejection of other women before then as well), but that's about it. Though he is incredibly abusive rife with red flag behavior, he actually seems surprisingly respectful to women in spite of this (in his own demonic way that is just as willing to receive abuse as dish it out, and he's even more abusive to males).

Riley is harder to define as he's so different in season 4 when the writers tried to make Briley happen than in season 5 when they assassinated his character to make room for Spuffy. In season 4 he's practically a white knight for women while also respecting any authority they have and not being threatened by Buffy's strength. His breaking away from the Initiative and the chemicals pumped into him (and sudden withdrawal) do create intense stress, but I wouldn't call it mommy issues, it wasn't just Maggie's death that was causing the upset, though Maggie did foster a cult-like devotion to her (and I suspect all her "boys" that include Riley were taken from broken homes, foster care, etc). Yet in season 5, he does exhibit classic mommy issues behavior by not trusting Buffy and being intensely insecure and jealous, and fearing she doesn't need him, and there's just a different "flavor" to him overall. It's so contradictory to me that I'm not sure how to read it.
 

Cheese Slices

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When I talk about Virgin/Madonna complex in fiction, I do not mean that the character is literally only willing to sleep with a girl unless she's a virgin, but that the character presents a pattern of being attracted to virgin, pure-like women. It is pretty much textual that Angel exhibits this pattern of behavior, but that does not mean that he's literally after Buffy's 'hymen'. Again, I'm not here to call Angel a predator or a pervert, I am merely pointing out something that the texts provide : Angel is attracted to Drusilla, Buffy, the various maidens and nuns because of their innocence and purity. The writers aren't exactly being subtle about it either, so I don't see how I'm making a controversial statement here.

Riley is harder to define as he's so different in season 4 when the writers tried to make Briley happen" than in season 5 when they assassinated his character to make room for Spuffy. In season 4 he's practically a white knight for women while also respecting any authority they have and not being threatened by Buffy's strength. His breaking away from the Initiative and the chemicals pumped into him (and sudden withdrawal) do create intense stress, but I wouldn't call it mommy issues, it wasn't just Maggie's death that was causing the upset, though Maggie did foster a cult-like devotion to her
The redflags for Riley being unable to stand Buffy's strength and darker/slayer side are waved from pretty much the beginning (the Initiative, Doomed, and pretty much the back half of S4), so his character wasn't assassinated as much as developped.
 

thrasherpix

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The redflags for Riley being unable to stand Buffy's strength and darker/slayer side are waved from pretty much the beginning (the Initiative, Doomed, and pretty much the back half of S4), so his character wasn't assassinated as much as developped.
I honestly don't know what you mean, unless you're talking about what I see as the result of his withdrawal from demonic chemicals and finding out his entire life he believed in was a lie. (He was also ridiculously jealous, but that's almost every character in the Whedonverse.)
 

Cheese Slices

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I honestly don't know what you mean, unless you're talking about what I see as the result of his withdrawal from demonic chemicals and finding out his entire life he believed in was a lie. (He was also ridiculously jealous, but that's almost every character in the Whedonverse.)
Off the top of my head : his "teutonic" statement in the Initiative, his insecurity when faced with Buffy's experience and strength "The girls I knew back home could hold their own, but I'm not sure I could take you" (ie I'm ok with strong girls, but not with girls that are stronger than me) "Give me a week and I'll take you out" (there's definitely a double reading - sure it's playful, but the rest of his behavior indicates that he's actually working to be stonger than Buffy - see his refusal to take the chip out), his shame when he finds out she's holding back, etc...
His behavior in S5 is actually pretty understandable and not just linked to his manly insecurity (as you said, everything he's ever believed is gone and he's purposeless), and it certainly didn't come out of the blue.
 

EarthLogic

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Well, I meant Angel finds Fred's innocence endearing
He does and, as he admits, he also finds her craziness rather endearing, which suggests a link back to Dru. I absolutely agree with you about Angel's own lost innocence being a component of what draws him to Buffy - in addition, I'd say it's his guilt at having destroyed so much innocence and goodness as a vampire that also motivates him to want to help her and preserve her human side. However, as his fondness for Fred that didn't turn into anything more on the show, I fail to see how turning human would make Angel any more attracted to her if he wasn't interested in her before.

The Madonna/whore thing is definitely there, (and its also deployed throughout both shows in various ways - like with Buffy/Faith) although I haven't examined in detail how it manifests in Angel after his ensoulment but regardless it's clearly in large part due to his Catholic upbringing, since that particular dichotomy is central to Catholicism and to Christian iconography, doctrine and teaching in general. As a guy brought up as a strict Catholic and taught to avoid anything sinful it makes absolute sense that as Angelus he is fascinated by innocence and corruption. I think the focus on nuns, virgins and innocence is also to do with his foremost desire to spite God, which is in turn rooted in his desire to spite his father.

But I think we're veering this thread right off track so we should probably allow those who want to discuss Xander specifically to take the topic back up.
 
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