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Don't speak Latin in front of the books, Xander.

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S/X Abuse

by Lumenara Dhahm

 

Both Spike and Xander have canon histories of relationships with women/creatures whose treatment of them typically ranges from bad to abusive. I don't mean just one; I mean the whole chain.

Spike's are easier to see, of course: Cecily viewed him with outright disdain; Dru had him do her bidding, and ran around on him whenever the urge entered her pretty little mad head; Harmony... I've only just now remembered her role, so give me a minute; and Buffy was downright abusive for most of their relationship. Okay, so Harmony is the questionable link in the chain, but Spike would likely be the first to dismiss his relationship with her. She certainly doesn't qualify as one of his "loves," because, character-wise, when Spike loves, he does so completely-and in all fairness, obsessively. But he "love[s] syphilis more than [Harmony]," so I think she may even prove the point I will eventually get to.

Xander, in one of the early season episodes, actually says something about "disdain [being] kind of a turn-on." Throughout the show, he seems to react wholeheartedly to any show of affection. The issue with Willow is complicated, and I think it belongs somewhere else. The demon flings-the single episode throw-aways, like the teacher/mantis-woman and Ampata/mummy-girl follow this trend.

The situation with Faith could easily be classed as rape, and I don't see the gender "switch" as an exoneration. Despite that, Xander, after a brief time has passed, latches on to the "positive" in that situation, the idea that Faith wanted him. His whole "I could try talking to her" tack (in the scene that clues Willow, Giles, and Buffy in, some episodes later) demonstrates that he's chosen to view the experience as a positive one; he thinks Faith has some kind of feeling for him, that they "have a connection" (in "Consequences"). The only constant in his relationship with Cordelia seems to be her disdain for him, and her treatment of him at the beginning and ends of would again be considered unacceptable if their genders were reversed.

And hmm... the same is true for his relationship with Anya-- she asks him to the prom by saying "Men are evil. Will you go with me?" The "interlocking parts" speech that comes later would, again, be considered unacceptable if it was a man delivering it. Their relationship grew out of the fact that she was willing to have sex with him. (Before that, with Cordelia, the initial attraction was physical, but at least it began as with a mutual action. Unfortunately, mutual respect was not quick to follow. However, that gesture was a kiss.) Now, you can bet if a man walked into some woman's dwelling with that speech and dropped trou, she'd scream and call the police (all joking aside, anyway); even with the same two characters, magically gender-switched to Anyo and Xandra, the actions become unacceptable. Actually, Anya's entire character premise would be completely unsympathetic in a male character.

Here's that promised point: neither man thinks enough of himself to believe that someone who they bestow high regard upon would be willing to have an equal relationship with them. They are therefore willing to take whatever they are given because they never expected someone would find them worth even that much. Both men share a tendency to fix on the unattainable-- this may or may not factor in here, as well.

But back to the point: neither man has ever had an equal relationship, in the romantic sense. Both have profiles that would probably fit abused women.

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