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Priceless
06-02-18, 06:31 AM
In the Positives/Negatives Thread several people have mentioned the distaste they feel over Buffy thanking Xander for not raping her. I think that's a very harsh reading of the text. I think she was saying (obviously not saying it very well) that she recognised that he still had feelings for her and that she appreciated that, and knew how difficult it was to deal with feelings for someone who didn't feel the same. I think she was partly really referencing her feelings for Angel, and that's where her understanding came from. She says 'It meant a lot to me what you said', it was about his words and how she understood him on that level. Or am I letting Xander off far too easily? :D

KingofCretins
06-02-18, 11:54 AM
Sounds like a lot of people are over thinking it badly. For starters, it is never wrong to appreciate people who do the right thing, since the right thing often has nothing going for it other than abstract awards like self-respect or admiration, and we wouldn't want it to lose that rep, because then where are we?

From there, the salient point isn't that Buffy is thanking Xander for not taking advantage of her*, it is that she is not going to treat him as though he did however embarrassing the rest of the spell was vis a vis her behavior under it. I mean, FFS, the 17 year old boy madly crushing on her managed to not even look down as she stood astride him, naked as a jaybird. Not sure how much conscious effort of will people realize that takes. He was never in any actual danger of taking advantage of her to begin with, and she knows that, even if the gentle viewer here must have forgotten. And what he said genuinely was sweet when he explained exactly that, especially lest we forget at this point he understands on some level with the way this spell is working out he is in physical danger to some degree here.

*We also never really get any subjective POV with the women of Sunnydale on their own agency under the spell. We could give Buffy some benefit of the doubt that the reason she would thank him for not having sex with her is because from her POV, the effects of the spell were not such that she felt like it would have been rape per se, but instead like an altered state or perspective on Xander but that she otherwise consciously was choosing (from her POV) how to act in relation to that perspective on Xander. In another genre of teen drama, this scene would have been one where she was thanking him for holding off when she showed up at his house for a booty call when she had been tipsy and in her feels about losing Angel and how supportive he had been in the previous episode, which contrary to the contemporary nonsensibility would not have been rape in any context. Or give her a different benefit of the doubt, that that is not how she experienced her own sense of agency, it is how she is choosing to categorize it for social efficiency.

Lastly, it's worth noting that for all its widespread impact, Xander didn't so much as kiss anyone under this spell, the most intimate any contact with an effected woman came was Willow nipping at his ear and Joyce rubbing his shoulders. I'll trust all observers will be, then, much, much more critical of Willow's violations in "Something Blue" causing an episode long snog that went who-knows-what-base.

Sosa lola
06-02-18, 12:14 PM
Sounds like a lot of people are over thinking it badly. For starters, it is never wrong to appreciate people who do the right thing, since the right thing often has nothing going for it other than abstract awards like self-respect or admiration, and we wouldn't want it to lose that rep, because then where are we?

I agree. I say "Good job" and "Thank you" to my kids when they turn the other cheek to violence and it works wonders. (By violence, I mean hitting someone who hit them first or using fists/shoving when in anger.)


, especially lest we forget at this point he understands on some level with the way this spell is working out he is in physical danger to some degree here.

I never thought about this before. By rejecting Buffy, Xander could have lost his life or got seriously injured because someone in Buffy's state of mind wouldn't have accepted being rejected. Not to mention, that every woman in Sunnydale wanted to kill Xander because he rejected their advances.

I think it would have been better if we were shown Willow being angry at Xander (as Xander mentions to Buffy in the end). It would have been more satisfying to the audience seeing someone being upset at Xander for what he had done (like the Giles scene in the library) than hearing about it.

vampmogs
06-02-18, 01:03 PM
There is no comparison between Willow's spell in Something Blue and Xander's spell in Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered. Willow never intended for her 'I Will It So' spell to affect anyone but her. The only purpose of her spell was so that she could cure her own heartache over Oz and make herself get past it. She never intended to violate anyone and had no idea that her spell was affecting anyone else until D'Hoffyrn showed her – in which she then promptly reversed the spell and baked apology cookies out of guilt. Xander intentionally evoked the "great roofie spirit" so that he could violate Cordelia’s freewill, make her fall in love with him, and then vengefully humiliate, reject and hurt her.

There's also no ambiguity as to how Buffy felt about her own agency under the spell. She refers to it as being "roofied." Xander's spell altered their perception of him and caused them to be infatuated and attracted to him when they otherwise wouldn't be. If you violate someone's mind then they lose all agency and their ability to consent. The fact that the writers explicitly have Buffy compare it to a DATE RAPE drug is pretty damn black and white.

And, no, IMO you don't say "good job" and "thank you" to men for not raping a woman when she has been roofied. You should never have to express gratitude towards someone for not being a rapist. Nor does Xander deserve credit for not taking advantage of Buffy in her roofied state and for not perving on her body when she was mystically drugged (it's the analogy Buffy herself makes) and no longer had agency over what she was doing.

Xander also gets no credit from me for supposedly being so brave and heroic that he didn't, ya know, sexually assault Buffy out of fear that she'd injure him – as a result of a spell that he made when he was busy trying to mindrape Cordy so that he could humiliate and reject her. If I am supposed to feel sorry for him, I don't. If I'm supposed to be impressed by that, I ain't.

I genuinely like Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered and it's an incredibly entertaining episode but some of the messages it sends are just a mess. The fact that Cordy finds it so romantic that Xander attempted to roofie her is just... so sad. FFS Cordy!? Have all the guys you've dated really been that awful that by comparison you're going to see this as a positive thing? That's actually horribly depressing and I feel really bad for her. And it’d be one thing if the character was just written this way but, as TimeTravellingBunny says, it’s as if the episode validates this warped opinion with the ‘romantic’ score playing over the scene as she comes to this realization. How can an episode both make the analogy between Xander’s spell/intentions and date rape and also try and make it romantic at the same time? And I agree with others that Buffy thanking Xander for not taking advantage of her is gross.

I also think it’s unfortunate that Xander is essentially rewarded for his behavior by having Cordy get back together with him. The final scene is something I love when judged on its own (and I do root for them as a couple) but when judged as part of the overall episode it’s pretty unfortunate. Leaving aside the fact that I think it's pretty depressing Cordy would find it romantic that Xander even would attempt to evoke the great roofie spirit on her in the first place, Cordy never actually finds out what Xander's true intentions were. Cordy is left with the impression that Xander did a love spell so that Cordy would fall in love with him and that they'd presumably be together. What she doesn't know is that his intentions were to have her fall in love with him so he could then reject her, publicly humiliate her and "put her through hell" and that he was motivated not by love but by revenge "pure as the driven snow." Or that he was willing to forget about Cordy in all but mere seconds once he thought Buffy was legitimately interested in him. Had Cordelia known all of that would she have thrown away her popularity and been with Xander? Probably not.

I have to say that Cordy enters a relationship with Xander under pretty false pretences and she ends up paying the price pretty horribly for giving up so much to be with him. She put her whole identity on the line to be with him in this episode and she does so without ever realising how eagerly he was willing to forget her and move on to Buffy. And what does she get for it? She spends Killed By Death being, pretty understandably, jealous and concerned about his fixation on Buffy. Xander then secretly tells Willow he loves her in Becoming II. And then in S3 he cheats on her with Willow and she gets brutally skewered fleeing from him when she catches them in the act. I think Cordy deserved better friends than Harmony but I feel terrible for her that she gave it all up for someone who never cared about her the way she cared about him and who pretty much treat her like the consolation prize the entire time :(

KingofCretins
06-02-18, 01:55 PM
The point stands unrebutted; if doing the right thing isn't praiseworthy there loses a considerable amount of incentive to do the right thing. I'll go one further -- if it is no longer praiseworthy to do the right thing, how much harder is it to discern what the right thing is? It isn't as though modern/postmodern/deconstructionist society permits appeals to a general objective morality (were it made today in som parts of the western world, perhaps Buffy would be rebuked by society to stay "one arm length" from an excitable male with a different perspective on consent?). Cognitive psychology tells us a random reward system like someone noticing occasionally and valuing morally upright choices will encourage them, even make them addictive.

But the other point I feel is a factor here is Buffy herself. Gonna give her the respect of knowing her own mind well enough that if she is thanking him, it is because she feels she has something to thank him for, and that that doesnt stem from a stunted understanding of sexual consent (we know in episodes both before and after she doesnt suffer from that). We don't know, mechanically how the spell operated at all on the subject's mind. It self-evidently didn't work like, say, the dampener used on Katrina; they all had agency by appearances and what had changed was their emotional hook for Xander. If, say, Willow and Buffy and Joyce and Jenny and Drusilla all acted the way it is in their nature to act if they were blindly in love with Xander, it wouldn't be hard at all for any or all to have still felt like they were "themselves" when they were doing it. I can't think of a single drug that might be used to genuinely compromise consent that acts that way, for instance, but a magic spell? not hard go imagine. Willow's anger for instance may be as much or more that the spell induced her to act on a specific fantasy she might have had about how her first time Xander might go down with him because it was her idea, and she is embarrassed that it was exposed that way.

TimeTravellingBunny
06-02-18, 02:54 PM
The point stands unrebutted; if doing the right thing isn't praiseworthy there loses a considerable amount of incentive to do the right thing. I'll go one further -- if it is no longer praiseworthy to do the right thing, how much harder is it to discern what the right thing is? It isn't as though modern/postmodern/deconstructionist society permits appeals to a general objective morality (were it made today in som parts of the western world, perhaps Buffy would be rebuked by society to stay "one arm length" from an excitable male with a different perspective on consent?). Cognitive psychology tells us a random reward system like someone noticing occasionally and valuing morally upright choices will encourage them, even make them addictive.

No, that's not how it works. People are normally praised for exceptionally good behavior - but not for simply refraining for criminal behavior. We don't go around praising people just for not committing rape or some other crime. You may get a public recognition for donating an amount to charity - but no one is going to say "thank you for not robbing any banks" or make you Employee of the Month simply because you haven't embezzled any money. You wouldn't go around saying to people: "Sir, you seem to be so big and strong, I'm sure you could beat up anyone on this bus, maybe even kill us with your bare hands. You must be such a wonderful person for not doing that." You don't normally hear people saying "so and so is such a wonderful mother/father, he/she has never sexually abused their child, not even pimped the kid out for money". People don't argue "But honey, so I may have my flaws and I've cheated on you, but I've never hired anyone to murder you for insurance money! Surely that counts for something?"

Praising someone for basic human decency, like refraining from rape, isn't something that's done - not because there's anything wrong with refraining from crime, but because it would imply that committing the crime would have been the normal and expected thing. It would normalize criminal behavior. In this case, it's like saying that it's to be expected that most boys would commit rape if an opportunity like that presented itself - which would be an awful thing to believe. Or at least, it sounds like Buffy wouldn't have been sure that Xander would not rape her, since she's praising him for "coming through" and saying "there's hope for you yet" - which makes it seem like she had a very low opinion of him previously, and sound awfully depressing and disturbing - you'd think you'd be always be sure that your closest male friend would not rape you if you could.

What was going on here, IMO, is that, at the time, people, including BtVS writers, weren't yet quite aware that non-violent rape - such as roofying someone or using the fact that they've been roofied or that they're drunk to the point of unconsciousness - isn't "not so bad" or "less rape" than violent rape.
And in SciFi/fantasy fiction, the fact that sex under mind control is not consensual (and is rape if done intentionally) seems to be have gone over many writers' heads - even in very recent TV shows. (Except for Jessica Jones, which made a point of emphasizing that it's rape.) See: Double Standard: Rape, SciFi (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DoubleStandardRapeSciFi). Buffyverse writers often had a very flippant attitude to non-consensual sex under mind-control (as in "Life of the Party" - no one was committing rape there, as Lorne accidentally made Angel and Eve have sex, but that doesn't change the fact that it was non-consensual sex and that it would have made sense for both characters to feel violated and disturbed by it - especially as they couldn't stand each other - but the episode treated it all as a joke.)

Still, BtVS had a bit more awareness in later seasons that putting a magic spell on someone to make them love you is not romantic or a good thing - as seen in Buffy's reaction in Seeing Red when she jumped to the wrong conclusion that Spike was looking for a spell to make her love him and take him back, and Spike's angry reply - even a soulless vampire at that point found that implication offensive. That's very different from the way Cordelia acts in this episode and the way the episode supports her reaction.

vampmogs
06-02-18, 08:44 PM
Exactly. We don’t go around praising people for not murdering each other because unless you’re a deranged pos, it’s just expected that of course you wouldn’t murder anybody. That’s the norm and nobody is doing anything exceptional or heroic by not committing murder. Likewise, you don’t get praise for not being a rapist as if Xander did something extraordinary or exceptional for not sexually assaulting somebody when they were roofied. There’s nothing exceptional or praise-worthy about it. It’s just basic, expected human deceny. Just how low is the bar for guys that not being a rapist is something women are meant to express gratitude towards them for. I mean, FFS, that is so messed up.

KingofCretins
06-02-18, 10:29 PM
Yeah, clearly that scene makes the most sense if Xander is always a hairs breadth away from impulse rape and Buffy was congratulating him for overcoming it. Or at least that's what I learned today I guess. Except not, because it is absolutely ludicrous. There was a zero point zero percent chance that Xander was ever going to take advantage of any of these women, including Buffy, and zero point zero evidence of even lingering temptation on his part to do so once he understands what has happened. Indeed, his explicitly stated wish was that Cordy be left pining for him, which is to say, he wasn't going to be leveraging her new and passionate interest in him.

So let's remonstrate -- the scene, it's accused, is a problematic moment in the episode because Buffy putatively thanks Xander for not raping her. Rebuttal? The scene is in no way problematic because since it is a counterfactual argument to even consider that Xander was ever going to do any such thing, ipso facto she can't be thanking him for not raping her. Whatever she's thanking him for, it's something else. That's just hard and settled. My post was mostly an invitation to speculate on what that might be. I still maintain that if you've never found yourself inclined to thank someone for doing a good and decent thing, for not being the worst of themselves at the wrong moment, you've certainly missed many chances to do good by people in your life by noticing the good they do.

Let's break down the scene --

Re: Willow --


Buffy: Any particular reason she should?

Xander: How much groveling are we talking here?

Buffy: Oh, a month, at least. (they stop and face each other) Xander,
come on, I mean... this is worse for her than anyone. She loved you
before you invoked the great Roofie spirit. The rest of us...

First premise, he didn't and never was going to violate Willow. But what she went through was worse for her than for anyone? Why? Most likely is that the spell's influence on her choices and perceptions made her act on feelings or fantasies she had already put behind her in her real life, since she had fallen for Oz and put Xander (mostly) behind her.

Re: Buffy herself --
Buffy: Oh, yeah. I remember coming on to you, I remember begging you to
undress me... And then a sudden need for cheese. I also remember that
you didn't.

Xander: Need cheese?

Buffy: Undress me. It meant a lot to me what you said.

Xander: C'mon, Buffy, I couldn't take advantage of you like that.

She remembers very clearly that he wasn't going to use what she was feeling against her. Again, the guy even maintained *eye discipline* not to look where he knew it wasn't intentionally welcomed. This is really the exchange that makes me think that however the spell was working, it was working in a way that, at least to Buffy, didn't feel like forcible compulsion as it was happening. And of course lastly, this exchange --


Xander: Okay, for a minute, it was touch and go there...

Buffy: You came through. There might just be hope for you yet.

If anybody watching that scene is taking him as literally honest that it was "touch and go" and not trying to crack a joke to break the overly sincere tension, I gotta bridge I'm going to sell you. Buffy would not be on the list to buy that bridge, because "you came through" does not play in any way as an even more sincere form of "thanks for not raping me", but instead what it is which is an idle transitional comment off of his wisecrack. This is basically beat for beat the same as "The Freshman", an earnest emotional exchange that Xander decompresses with a jokingly ribald comment about how hot Buffy is ("What would Buffy do...").

So what we actually have is a choice here in the Watsonian reading of the scene -- either Xander is a close-call from rape throughout the episode and Buffy thinks not raping her is something to thank him for, or he was never in any danger of taking advantage of her anyway and whatever wrong she'd have perceived it as was probably something less than rape as such, and she's glad that he's a good person (as people tend to be about their friends on Earth). Is this really that close a call?

vampmogs
07-02-18, 08:30 AM
This is really the exchange that makes me think that however the spell was working, it was working in a way that, at least to Buffy, didn't feel like forcible compulsion as it was happening.

Buffy referred to the spell as the “great roofie spirit." She compared the spell to a date rape drug. There is no ambiguity about this and Buffy’s analogy is perfectly clear. You have repeatedly refused to even acknowledge this and seem weirdly invested in trying to downplay the spell and Buffy’s lack of agency. Buffy wouldn't have likened the spell to being roofied if that's not how it felt. She has already told you in no uncertain terms that she did not and could not consent.

It's always depressing to even be having these conversations. There is literally NOTHING ambiguous about Buffy's lack of agency in this scene or about the spell overall. It didn’t "feel like" forcible compulsion as it was happening because Buffy was under the spell whilst it was happening, obviously. That does not remotely change the fact that it still was. I don't get why it's so hard for people to understand that the second someone is "roofied", or has their mind violated, or are compelled to feel or do something against their will that they otherwise wouldn't normally feel or be doing, that they have lost the ability to consent.

We don’t need to speculate how Buffy “felt” or have Buffy viewed the spell because she told us. She compared it to being drugged. And she compared it to a very specific drug that is used to sexually assault and rape people.

KingofCretins
07-02-18, 01:17 PM
Well, if we've learned anything watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" it's that these characters have always been painstakingly literal when choosing their glib metaphors. But at least I'm glad that we've reduced the entire argument for this position -- the "Xander was actually on the fence about raping Buffy and she is sincerely thanking him for not doing so" interpretation of that scene, that absurdism -- can now only be propped up by her use of the phrase "the great roofie spirit".

So, we must again then interpret all of Buffy's behavior under Willow's spell as forcibly compelled whether she felt that way at the time, right? Every kiss, hug, or possible offscreen fondling was an actual assault against her person by the very apples-to-apples terms you are demanding this episode be read upon. But we never have and I'm sure in a few weeks still never will see a single remark on that subject for this episode... because it just doesn't even come to mind.

I guess the biggest objection I'm having here is that to even begin down the road of "it's angering to me that Buffy thanked Xander for not raping her" is that, regardless of whether that's what she's thanking for or not, or regardless of whether that's how she'd have necessarily felt about it or not, to even engage that notion, "Buffy thanking Xander for not raping her", you have to consider it an open question to Buffy the character or yourself the viewer that he even might have. And that is not only a dire insult to the character, it's a factless, objectively false reading of the episode. Again, at no point, no point whatsoever, does Xander act toward Buffy or any other of the women hit by the spell as though he is conflicted on this subject, like he is wondering if he can maybe get one of them just once, etc. From the very instant he shines to the backfire outside the library, he doesn't make the least improper move. There's no moment like in "Ghostbusters" where Venkman says "yeah, go ahead" when the Zuul-possessed Dana tries to seduce him, for instance, no point in which he has to talk himself out of doing something awful, no devil on his shoulder moment. On what evidence could either Buffy the character or the audience think there was an actual possibility of this going any other direction? None at all.

That being established, the most Buffy could possibly be thanking him for is being the kind of person that it isn't even a close call with, and I'm still not convinced that that it's a bad thing to be grateful to people from time to time for being good people.

flow
07-02-18, 05:44 PM
I don't get why it's so hard for people to understand that the second someone is "roofied", or has their mind violated, or are compelled to feel or do something against their will that they otherwise wouldn't normally feel or be doing, that they have lost the ability to consent.


To be not misunderstood, I would like to state, that I do agree completely on this.

I just want to throw in a minor thought:

If you are roofied, not only your free will is taken away. You also loose the ability, to move, to walk away, to push someone off. Even if your will would remain, you could not defend yourself against a rapist. You are practically reduced to being completely helpless - physically and mentally.

That is not the case in BB&B. Xander does not approach Buffy in any way. He does not encourage her in any way. She approaches him and to prevent them from having sex, he has to fight her off.

This is - of course - still the right thing to do. He knows, her free will is affected by the spell and that she -most probably - would not want to have sex with him, without the spell.

When I see a child drowning in a pool, I (hope, I) would jump in and pull it out. It would be the right thing to do. Still, I would not think, the childs parents are completely out of their minds or crazy, if they would thank me afterwards.

I don`t remember clearly enough, if the spell really did every woman want to have sex with Xander. I recall - though only vague - that Willow wanted to kill Xander (so no other woman could have him) and Dru wanted to turn Xander. That seems to imply, that the women, who were affected by the spell, were not alltogether tirned into willing sex slaves, but that chose to react differently to the emotions, the spell evoked in them.

flow

Priceless
07-02-18, 08:09 PM
I don`t remember clearly enough, if the spell really did every woman want to have sex with Xander. I recall - though only vague - that Willow wanted to kill Xander (so no other woman could have him) and Dru wanted to turn Xander. That seems to imply, that the women, who were affected by the spell, were not alltogether tirned into willing sex slaves, but that chose to react differently to the emotions, the spell evoked in them.


I'd never considered it before flow, but this isn't really a love spell, but more of a sex spell. I find it hard to believe that every woman in Sunnydale equates love and sex. None of the women did anything 'romantic', everything was sexual. I don't know if that was a deliberate writers decision to reflect that Xander believed sex and love were the same thing. Or perhaps it was based on Cordy's feelings as it was her necklace that was used in the spell. It reminds me of Something Blue, where Buffy and Spike were only meant to be getting married, but the spell appeared to me more about love than marriage.