hey thanks! my url is my pride and joy! :)
i feel like spike’s misogyny shows itself so many times that it becomes hard to address it. he’s said and done so many misogynistic things over the course of six seasons, and misogyny in general is such a vast subject.
if you wanna get just a few quick and dirty examples i can refer you to this post, where i reply to someone’s claim that spike is not a misogynist. it’s just a super brief overview of his use of gendered slurs and his misogynistic treatment of dru and buffy in “crush.”
because spike’s misogyny is soooo extensive, this rundown is gonna be super incomplete. but i’m gonna try to break this down a bit.
CONTENT WARNING: DISCUSSION OF ABUSE, STALKING, SEXUAL ASSAULT, RAPE, AND MISOGYNY AHEAD
also btvs spoilers
spike, as a general rule, has very little respect for women as a group. he can respect individual women, but his misogyny often gets in the way and causes him to devalue even the women he respects and admires. some classic misogynistic things he does/thinks:
- insults women on the basis that they are women/on the basis of appearance
- views women as sexual objects who can be controlled/conquered when sex is used as a weapon
- he often attempts to take away a woman’s choice (and sometimes succeeds)
- when he commits violence against women, it is often sexual, or sexualized. this sexual aggression typically does not extend to the violence he enacts on men
- generally feels entitled to a woman’s time and space
- does not see a woman’s value unless she is in some way benefiting him
let’s break this down, point by point.
1. insults women on the basis that they are women/on the basis of appearance
- gendered slurs are, at their core, insults meant to degrade women on the basis that they are women. spike’s use of them is a huge sticking point for me. the way someone speaks betrays a lot about their worldview, and every time he uses a slur against a woman he is casually admitting his hatred of them. he uses gendered slurs liberally, but often especially when women are not doing what he wants (why do you think he calls harmony a bint more often than buffy or dru? partly because harmony was always talking, and spike wanted her silent). for specific examples on his use of gendered slurs, i again refer you here.
- he insults buffy’s appearance in “checkpoint” when he says, “… or maybe, your beauty’s fading. the stress of slaying aging you prematurely. things not as high, not as firm.” this is in season five when he’s got the creepy stalker-crush on buffy. wanna know what happened directly before he started insulting her? she rebuffed him. pay attention to that, it’s a common theme with spike. when women don’t do what he wants, he goes for the throat (so to speak).
- insults glory’s appearance to make her angry in “intervention.” he says, “mark my words, the slayer is going to kick your skanky, lopsided ass back to whatever place would take a cheap, whorish, fashion victim ex-god like you.” now, someone might jump to spike’s defense and say, “but wait!! spike didn’t actually mean those things, he was just trying to escape!” yeah, i don’t care. what does it say about his opinion of women, that the first way he insults her is in her appearance and the use of more gendered insults?
2. views women as sexual objects who can be controlled/conquered when sex is used as a weapon
- in “the harsh light of day” he says to buffy, “so you let parker take a poke, eh? didn’t seem like you knew each other that well. what exactly did it take to pry apart the slayer’s dimpled knees? … did he play the sensitive lad and get you to seduce him? that’s a good trick if the girl’s thick enough to buy it.” this quote may seem self explanatory, but let’s focus on it for a sec, because his use of language here is really telling. the one verb he uses to describe buffy’s actions that sticks out to me: “let.” in his description, buffy is passive, she is the conquered, the manipulated, and parker is the conqueror. some verbs he uses to describe parker’s actions? “take,” “pry,” “get.” parker is active, he is in control according to spike. i could even go so far as to say that, in spike’s description, parker is acting upon buffy as if she is an object incapable of action herself. this says a lot about the way spike sees sex between women and men.
- in “wrecked,” when buffy is trying to bow out after their one night stand, he says “you can act as high and mighty as you like, but i know where you live now, slayer. i’ve tasted it… i may be dirt, but you’re the one who likes to roll in it, slayer.” just a disclaimer for this quote, i’m aware of the other dynamics at play in this scene. i’m aware that at this point their relationship is mutually abusive, and his “i may be dirt” line is also about his self-loathing. but because this post is neither about self-loathing nor mutual abuse, i’m not gonna touch that. although it’s more subtle than the first quote, i think this more closely reveals spike’s views on sex and power. i think he does see sex as a way to exert his power over women (because he’s conquering them, right?) and he addresses that when he says “i know where you live now, slayer.” he’s basically saying, i’ve had sex with you, i’ve conquered you, i’ve seen you naked, and that gives me power. and now i’m gonna exert that power over you, and that means our dynamic has changed. he mentions the change in dynamic when he says “i’m done being your whipping boy” in a different part of the scene. so basically, now that they’ve had sex he’s using their sex as a way to gain control in the relationship.
3. he often attempts to take away a woman’s choice (and sometimes succeeds)
- in “becoming, part 2” spike makes a deal with buffy behind dru’s back, agreeing that he and dru will leave sunnydale for good if buffy will help him kill angel. he does this out of jealousy because dru and angel are close again, and he wants dru to himself. near the end of the episode when dru makes it clear she doesn’t want to abandon angel, spike knocks her out and carries her off all caveman style. he takes her choice from her pretty violently, she has no say in whether she stays or goes. she doesn’t even get a choice in the form of an ultimatum. spike easily could have said, “look, it’s angel or me.” he doesn’t even give her that courtesy.
- he tries to take away buffy’s right to reject him in “crush.” basically, he puts her under duress to try to force her to say “yeah, maybe someday we could be together.” even though buffy basically says fuck you and fuck that, spike still went to great lengths to engineer a situation in which she would have no choice but to say she might love him someday. fucked. up.
- he attempts to rape buffy in “seeing red.” i know even the discussion of that episode boils some people’s blood, and i’m right there with ya’ll. here’s what i have to say: in that scene buffy not only doesn’t consent, she violently, vehemently rejects his advances physically and verbally. i don’t know how many different ways she says “no” with her actions and with her words. (of course it is no one’s responsibility to violently and vehemently reject someone to prevent their own rape, the responsibility of rape prevention should always be on the shoulders of the would-be rapist.) but what i’m trying to say is: spike ignored buffy’s “no” in a hundred different ways in that scene, over, and over, and over again. he didn’t care about her choice; in fact, i don’t think it even occurred to him in that moment that she had a choice. the only choice that mattered to him was his own. spike attempted to take away her choice in that scene because it was nothing to him, it was a nuisance, an afterthought. in my mind, that’s why he looks so surprised when she kicks him and asserts herself. he’s like, “oh yeah. she can say no and it actually means something.”
just want to note here that taking away a woman’s choice is extremely misogynistic because it is an attempt to destroy a woman’s autonomy. you wanna know what types of people have autonomy? free, independent people. you wanna know what types of people lack autonomy? anyone under the rule or enslavement of another.
4. when he commits violence against women, it is often sexual, or sexualized. this sexual aggression typically does not extend to the violence he enacts on men
- in “fool for love” spike kills xin rong, a slayer who was active during the boxer rebellion. at the beginning of their fight, before he kills her, he says, “just like i pictured it. this good for you?” the sexual innuendo here is subtle and open to interpretation tbh. it’s more overt when dru comes in, and spike says “ever hear them say the blood of a slayer is a powerful aphrodisiac?” and slips his finger, covered in xin’s blood, into dru’s mouth. she tastes it, they make out, and presumably have sex. here’s what spike’s just done: he’s used a powerful woman’s death for his own pleasure and amusement. as buffy later says, “you got off on it.” i think “it” is the death, pain, and defeat of a woman. experiencing sexual arousal due to a woman’s pain is classically misogynistic.
- also in “fool for love,” spike kills nikki wood. his sexualization of her death is more subtle than that of xin rong’s, but it’s there. when he talks of the night he killed her, he says to buffy, “she was cunning, resourceful… oh, and did i mention? hot. i could have danced all night with that one.” it’s also important to note that later, he straddles her as he chokes her, before snapping her neck; the positioning of his body over hers sends a powerful message about his dominance over her, but it’s also sexual in nature (plus, the choking? anyone else think of erotic asphyxiation?). and then, when he’s telling buffy that someday he’ll be the one who kills her, he refers to his murder of nikki again, saying, “i just wonder if you’ll like it as much as she did.” that line is especially creepy and misogynistic to me because it’s reminiscent of the things i’ve heard men say when they’re bragging about sexual conquests: out of context, it sounds like he’s talking about sex, but he’s actually talking about death. it’s also vaguely rape-y sounding; what do we always hear rapists say about their victims? that their victims enjoyed what was done to them, despite evidence to the contrary. do we, as audience members, really believe nikki enjoyed being killed? no. but that’s what spike would have us believe, and he’s sexualized her suffering in the process of creating this narrative in which nikki wood wanted to die, and even enjoyed the experience of death, in the same way a rapist might imagine a rape victim would enjoy being raped.
- again, in “seeing red,” spike attempts to rape buffy. his violence against her is sexual in nature. i don’t think i really have to expand upon this tbh.
just gonna touch on some racialized misogyny that popped out at me while writing this section. i want to point out that the two slayers spike kills are women of color, whose pain and suffering he basically uses as fap material. although he does a lot of horrible shit to buffy, he never sexualizes her death or makes good on his promise to kill her. so why is she immune from this treatment? does buffy’s whiteness protect her from spike, in the same way that a white woman irl is protected from the racialized misogyny women of color have to contend with every day? something for other white fans to be aware of; as horrible as spike is towards buffy, i think he would have been much worse towards her if she was a woman of color.
5. generally feels entitled to a woman’s time and space
- in “crush” spike basically kidnaps buffy and dru in order to go through with his plan to win buffy over. in this case, he feels entitled to the time and space of both of these women; he feels entitled to dru’s because they’re lovers, and he feels entitled to buffy’s because he wants to be her lover. either way, he has to have his say regardless of their wants, because he feels entitled to these women.
- throughout season five, when spike has his stalker-crush on buffy, he repeatedly invades her space and privacy. why? because he’s entitled to! any woman he takes an interest in, he believes he should be entitled to stalk, harass, etc. he steals photos of her from her basement in “listening to fear” which he uses to create his weird shrine thing. he breaks into her room to sniff her clothes in “shadow” and then steals a pair of her underwear. and in “crush” we see he’s also stolen a sweater of hers. we see in “into the woods” that spike is standing outside buffy’s window while she and riley have sex, presumably hearing everything that goes on. after establishing that spike was lurking in the same spot in “no place like home,” we could presume that standing around listening to what goes on in buffy’s house is, like, a habit he has now. all of these behaviors constitute stalking. he feels entitled not only to her belongings but to the details of her life. he feels entitled to being a part of her life, which is referenced in “crush” when he says, “… like it or not, i’m in your life. you can’t just shut me out.”
- he repeatedly touches buffy when she doesn’t want to be touched. this happens in “crush” when he holds her face and forces her to look at him (another entitlement: he feels entitled to her gaze. he wants her to look at him, so he makes her look at him). in “triangle,” after she falls on top of him and tries to get up, he holds her against him as she struggles to stand (i think there are different versions of this scene— i’ve scene a cut where he explicitly is holding her against his crotch as she wiggles around, and i’ve seen a cut where he just seems to hold onto her in a less lewd, but still very invasive fashion). in “dead things” spike starts to touch buffy and she says “don’t.” he tells her to stop him, and when she doesn’t he continues to touch her, and it’s implied that he’s sexually assaulting her as she looks down from the balcony. of course, there’s also the “seeing red” example, but i won’t beat a dead horse.
i feel like there are many more instances i haven’t covered here, because it’s pretty common for spike to feel entitled to women in general.
6. does not see a woman’s value unless she is in some way benefiting him
basically, spike’s attitude towards women in general is “why should i give a shit about them unless they’re doing something for me?” this influences all of his relationships with women, because in every relationship with a woman he inevitably prioritizes how they can be useful to him emotionally, sexually, etc.
- the most obvious example of this behavior is spike’s treatment of harmony. i don’t wanna do a long, drawn-out rundown of his abuse of her, but basically he verbally and emotionally abuses her as much as he likes (first line that comes to mind is “i love syphilis more than you” in “the harsh light of day”) and then he’s nice to her whenever it benefits him. after he gets the chip in his head, he asks harmony to help him get blood in “pangs.” then he repeatedly uses her for sex in season five.
- i know this may be ~controversial~ or whatever, but his relationship with joyce is pretty selfish on his part. he likes her and is nice to her because she mothers him in “lover’s walk” and then in season five because he wants to be close to buffy in any way possible. she’s useful to him because she fulfills a kind of surrogate mom role (which makes sense psychologically, given what we find out about his relationship with his mother in “lies my parents told me”).
phew, ok. i’ve gone through all my points. that took a long time, but i think presenting this kind of evidence for each claim is really helpful in getting people to understand how spike’s misogyny works on a number of levels, how it influences his abuse of the women around him, how it shapes his character in general, etc.
now i just want to a disclaimer and say, yeah, there are exceptions to all these rules. he may, for example, sometimes treat women like people instead of like emotional-and-sexual-fulfillment-machines. that doesn’t negate everything i’ve said here, and that doesn’t make him ~magically not a misogynist~
spike really doesn’t like women. i genuinely believe that his misogyny influences so much of his character, especially in seasons two through six, that anyone who thinks he isn’t a misogynist misunderstands him as a character. in my mind, that’s a huge part of how he sees the world and the people in it. his misogyny is also important to the show because it’s the reason for so much of his abuse and bad behavior, and once i understood that, i better understood his relationships and why he was making all these women suffer.
tbh at this point i feel like this has turned into a laundry list of spike’s misogynistic deeds instead of a meta essay, but i appreciate the ask and the opportunity to ramble! :)
Wowsers, thank you for that very detailed and interesting response! I think I agree with pretty much everything you say here. The one thing you mentioned about Spike getting off on Xin Rong’s death - watching the show, I got less of the impression that his arousal was the result of having subjugated a woman but more that he had taken on the ultimate opponent and won. Then again, if he’d been fighting a dude, I guess he probably wouldn’t have had the same reaction so that probably invalidates that argument. I wonder if his misogyny could be partially rooted in the fact that he was turned on the same night as he was painfully humiliated and had his heart broken by a woman. This doesn’t excuse it by any means, but I reckon that the fact that he never had a chance to process this or get over it before he was turned could be at the root of his desire to turn the tables on women, to be the one on top rather than beneath. Adds even more significance to him sitting on top of Nikki Wood to kill her, wouldn’t you say?
Follow up question (hopefully won’t be quite as demanding as the first one): do you think Spike gets over these misogyny issues to a certain extent after he gets his soul? Does he treat women with more fairness/respect?
i’m glad you liked it! i got a little caught up and ended up writing much more than expected :p
tbh christine’s response (and her tags, make sure you look at the tags!) pretty much answers your questions i think. i definitely believe spike was a misogynist before he was turned into a vampire, and the evidence christine gives is pretty solid imo. i feel like she pretty much wrapped it up for me all nice and pretty because she also addressed the fact that spike is still misogynistic even after he gets his soul, and she references things he does on ats, which i haven’t seen!
A blog devoted to Buffy and Angel ♥
Bangels of the world, unite :)
Hey B/A Fandom, Sign-ups for this year’s IWRY Fic Marathon (Can you believe this is the 11th year of it!) are still open. Every day of November a new fic is posted. That’s 30 new B/A fics for us all to enjoy. This is a brilliant ficathon that has given our ship some of its most amazing fics ever. If you write and love this ship, or have a great story in mind for them, please do consider following the link and signing up.
Reblog, share, whatever you can to get the word out.