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  • Sexuality - Show & Comics

    I'm hopeful this won't start a war, but we can always shut it down if it does . . .

    How do you think sexuality was portrayed both in the comics and on the show?

    Are vampires naturally bisexual? Do you wish they had built more on the Spike/Angel sexual relationship? Darla/Dru?

    Why was Willow written as gay and not bi? Why wasn't Xander written as gay/bi?

    Why is Buffy not considered bi, when she had a sexual relationship with Satsu?

    Could Willow be called 'pansexual' because Aluwyn, though coded female, did not appear to have a female body?

    So many questions, and I'm looking for answers . . .

  • #2
    Well, a sexual act isn't a sexual preference. As such, I don't think vampires are naturally bisexual. Angel says he "doesn't swing that way" in S4. Angel and Spike's encounter is never really expanded upon. Was it a part of a foursome with Darla and Dru? Who knows, it's left up to the viewer. At any rate, it was "one time" and neither show an attraction at any time.

    Willow was written as "gay now" because it was a different time and that relationship with Tara meant a lot to the lesbian community. I don't think that was decided until S5. Marti said around that time that she herself didn't consider her gay, just in love with a girl at that point. But the die had been cast, I think. If they had made her bisexual, there would have been enormous blowback.

    As for Xander... why wasn't he written as ace? Or pan? They chose to write him straight.

    Comic preface: The Satsu thing was a transparent farce and publicity stunt. Much like Space frakking, it's hard for me to take it seriously.

    For the sake of argument, see paragraph one. It was "explained" that it was just college experimenting, not a sexual preference.

    Aluwyn seems to identify as female and her form appears female, albeit a snake woman.
    Last edited by HardlyThere; 19-07-19, 12:01 PM.

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    • #3
      I don't think Ace was so well known as it is now. It certainly wasn't anything I knew or understood or talked about back then.

      I think a giant snake is coded male by it's very snakelikeness, but that's just me. Although Aluwyn herself seemed female. Was her gender ever known? Are snakes seen as predominantly male or female in fokelore, Freudian theory etc? Or are they seen as being either or neither male or female?

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      • #4
        I think vampires are shown to be open to do whatever they want in every aspect of behaviour, they don't work to social restrictions or have boundaries and this can reflect in their sexual encounters too. But I think despite having clearly had what seemed to be getting referenced as one sexual interaction in their past together, neither Spike nor Angel are depicted as actually showing an interest in each other that way or in having a same sex relationship generally, both consistently choosing hetrosexual relationships. So, like HardlyThere, I'd say that it's the distinction between having a sexual experience and sexual preference. As I've said in other threads, I really don't think having had past relationships with the opposite sex/same sex is incompatible with saying that you now identify as straight or gay. People change and their preference can differ to what it did in the past. Buffy can have had an experimental encounter, enjoyed it but be certain she doesn't want to repeat it and that she's straight. I really go with the individual having the definitive say in their own orientation.

        I do understand the frustration that people have with the lack of representation of some preferences in the show and how it limited what it did show. But they were, by default also succeeding in representing a different experience too. Having said that, I would expect the more modern show (if it happens) to tackle a wider range of sexual orientations because society is more aware now. It would definitely be a positive thing to see shift, but the show was of its time and I think the comics fell to mostly keeping the same outlook.

        As I said on the other thread, there's a really negative issue with the vamps being used as representative of discriminated 'others'. I think the representation of a more free/open attitude to sexual encounters that step occasionally outside of their general gender preference, if they have one, is problematic to look upon as representative of bi or pan sexuality. Rather than just about vampires not being limited by any social constraints and just tending to do as they please. As beings in BtVS that are also depicted consistently as evil, untrustworthy, murderous etc etc, they just shouldn't be used as representative of discriminated groups imo. As it is shown as correct to often pre-judge them, to even preemptively kill them for being what they are, to be wary and distrustful at the least, that just shouldn't be getting transposed.

        As for the whole Willow or Xander aspect I think they could have gone with either of them and I don't really know why it was Willow rather than Xander. I read the ideas that Seth leaving could have been what led into it. I think they could have made either work to be honest. Xander's home life and the ideas pressed on him of what was acceptably 'masculine' could easily have been drawn out to have had him bury feelings as he became more aware of them earlier. Larry was already an example of how people can fear judgement and over compensate and act out negatively in defence of perceived attitudes. I think it could have been made to work for Xander as it was for Willow.

        Generally I think it is always difficult to manage to show everything because one choice is a rejection of all other possibilities and there are too many things to represent everything without it starting to feel token and like the writers are working through a tick list.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stoney View Post
          I think vampires are shown to be open to do whatever they want in every aspect of behaviour, they don't work to social restrictions or have boundaries and this can reflect in their sexual encounters too. But I think despite having clearly had what seemed to be getting referenced as one sexual interaction in their past together, neither Spike nor Angel are depicted as actually showing an interest in each other that way or in having a same sex relationship generally, both consistently choosing hetrosexual relationships. So, like HardlyThere, I'd say that it's the distinction between having a sexual experience and sexual preference. As I've said in other threads, I really don't think having had past relationships with the opposite sex/same sex is incompatible with saying that you now identify as straight or gay. People change and their preference can differ to what it did in the past. Buffy can have had an experimental encounter, enjoyed it but be certain she doesn't want to repeat it and that she's straight. I really go with the individual having the definitive say in their own orientation.

          I do understand the frustration that people have with the lack of representation of some preferences in the show and how it limited what it did show. But they were, by default also succeeding in representing a different experience too. Having said that, I would expect the more modern show (if it happens) to tackle a wider range of sexual orientations because society is more aware now. It would definitely be a positive thing to see shift, but the show was of its time and I think the comics fell to mostly keeping the same outlook.

          As I said on the other thread, there's a really negative issue with the vamps being used as representative of discriminated 'others'. I think the representation of a more free/open attitude to sexual encounters that step occasionally outside of their general gender preference, if they have one, is problematic to look upon as representative of bi or pan sexuality. Rather than just about vampires not being limited by any social constraints and just tending to do as they please. As beings in BtVS that are also depicted consistently as evil, untrustworthy, murderous etc etc, they just shouldn't be used as representative of discriminated groups imo. As it is shown as correct to often pre-judge them, to even preemptively kill them for being what they are, to be wary and distrustful at the least, that just shouldn't be getting transposed.

          As for the whole Willow or Xander aspect I think they could have gone with either of them and I don't really know why it was Willow rather than Xander. I read the ideas that Seth leaving could have been what led into it. I think they could have made either work to be honest. Xander's home life and the ideas pressed on him of what was acceptably 'masculine' could easily have been drawn out to have had him bury feelings as he became more aware of them earlier. Larry was already an example of how people can fear judgement and over compensate and act out negatively in defence of perceived attitudes. I think it could have been made to work for Xander as it was for Willow.

          Generally I think it is always difficult to manage to show everything because one choice is a rejection of all other possibilities and there are too many things to represent everything without it starting to feel token and like the writers are working through a tick list.
          You really think that Larry's behavior pre-coming out and Xander's behavior were anything alike?
          Larry's behavior was obviously exaggerated and aggressive for the purpose of playing a certain role, and he never actually saw him show romantic or genuine sexual interest in someone. Sexual harassment doesn't have to be because of desire.

          On the other hand, you'd have to imagine that Xander's constant crushes and sexual fantasies about women were all fake as well? A product of him fooling himself? He was never really sexually/romantically attracted to Buffy, or "Ampata", or Faith, he never lusted after Ms French, his lust-filled relationship with Cordelia (in spite of himself) was all fake as well?

          Really?
          You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Priceless View Post
            I don't think Ace was so well known as it is now. It certainly wasn't anything I knew or understood or talked about back then.

            I think a giant snake is coded male by it's very snakelikeness, but that's just me. Although Aluwyn herself seemed female. Was her gender ever known? Are snakes seen as predominantly male or female in fokelore, Freudian theory etc? Or are they seen as being either or neither male or female?
            It was known back then. It actually would have rather interesting to see Xander explore the boundaries of where sexuality, or lack thereof, and masculinity meet. But... they chose not do that. Writing is all about choices. Just because they chose one thing doesn't mean they are insulting another thing.

            There are female snakes.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post
              It was known back then. It actually would have rather interesting to see Xander explore the boundaries of where sexuality, or lack thereof, and masculinity meet. But... they chose not do that. Writing is all about choices. Just because they chose one thing doesn't mean they are insulting another thing.

              There are female snakes.
              If I were to pick which character could be asexual, based on what we saw after the first few seasons, or even the few seasons... it definitely wouldn't have been Xander. He's just about the last Buffyverse character who could be believably asexual.
              You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by TimeTravellingBunny View Post
                You really think that Larry's behavior pre-coming out and Xander's behavior were anything alike?
                Larry's behavior was obviously exaggerated and aggressive for the purpose of playing a certain role, and he never actually saw him show romantic or genuine sexual interest in someone. Sexual harassment doesn't have to be because of desire.

                On the other hand, you'd have to imagine that Xander's constant crushes and sexual fantasies about women were all fake as well? A product of him fooling himself? He was never really sexually/romantically attracted to Buffy, or "Ampata", or Faith, he never lusted after Ms French, his lust-filled relationship with Cordelia (in spite of himself) was all fake as well?

                Really?
                I wasn't saying they were alike, I was meaning they could have been different examples of how someone can respond (in the hypothetical situation where the writers decided later on to write Xander as realising he was gay). So yes they would have been very different as people's experiences can, even if they have similarities. In this case it would have been that one suppressed and aggressively hid their true feelings whereas the other wasn't consciously aware of their true feelings but was responding to the weight of expectations they felt on them because of their background. So yes, very different but both resulting in not being openly gay sooner.

                And in Xander's case it wouldn't be that his crushes and fantasies had to be fake, just that he could later realise that he was actually attracted to men and from that point chose to only have relationships with men. His earlier interest and relationships with women wouldn't invalidate him later realising that he was gay. I can't say that isn't possible, as there are people on here that are saying that this is similar to their own experience. I don't really know what it is like and wouldn't want to rule out something's plausibility when it could be something experienced by some. Generally I've tended to find in fandom that most things that could be considered you'll see someone finds relatable.
                Last edited by Stoney; 19-07-19, 02:32 PM.

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                • #9
                  Snakes in Freud "Other less obvious male symbols include reptiles, especially snakes, and fish, hats, and coats". https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/b...in-your-dreams

                  Certainly, because of the association with Eden and Satan (plus the obvious similarity with male body parts ), coding them as male makes sense. For instance Crowley/Crawley in Good Omens was a serpent (but he's also gay). However, like most symbols - it's what you do with it that counts and Jung and the French feminists are more interesting (Cixous sets out to reclaim Medusa). There's some quite intriguing material here: https://jungiangenealogy.weebly.com/serpent.html

                  "The serpent, of course, is sacred to numerous gods, especially chthonian mother-goddesses. Eliade identifies Eve (and Cirlot, Lilith) with an ancient Phoenician goddess whose form was that of a snake. One thinks as well of Athena, Artemis, Hecate, Persephone, and of Medusa and the Erinyes with their loathsome, snake-hair. When the cult of the decidedly male deity Apollo usurped the matriarchal cult at Delphi, an act of usurpation mythologized as Apollo's killing of the feminine serpent, Python, the plundered feminine serpent symbolism became assimilated to him". Hmph...bloody Greeks !

                  Interesting that there's mention of chthonic mother because Tara (Terra) McClay also evokes the Earth Mother. Perhaps Aluwyn is simply Tara returned in a disguised form? In addition, I'm inclined to look at Proserpexa:
                  "There's a large carving of a snake-haired woman with her mouth open and a long snakelike tongue sticking out, another snake wrapped around her body".

                  I'd also look at Joseph Campbell - he's much more influential in the US than the UK and he's often cited as an influence on Whedon.

                  Or are they seen as being either or neither male or female?
                  Depending on context, I'm inclined to see them as both male/female - the phallic mother ticks both boxes.

                  Stoney:

                  As I said on the other thread, there's a really negative issue with the vamps being used as representative of discriminated 'others'.
                  They're not(necessarily) "representative of discriminated others"* - it's what they represent in terms of structure that's important. They "queer" boundaries/blur difference - they're a structural threat to the status quo**. Eating people doesn't come into it.

                  *depends on how sympathetically they're written. **Spike is "queerer" than Angel.
                  Last edited by TriBel; 19-07-19, 03:00 PM.
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                  • #10
                    *watches thread*

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TriBel View Post
                      They're not(necessarily) "representative of discriminated others"* - it's what they represent in terms of structure that's important. They "queer" boundaries/blur difference - they're a structural threat to the status quo**. Eating people doesn't come into it.

                      *depends on how sympathetically they're written. **Spike is "queerer" than Angel.
                      Yes vampires can represent otherness in the text in different ways, in a more general sense. I was talking specifically about the possible negative connotations when they are used as directly representative of specific groups of discriminated others, which I have seen happen. It's not that they have to be of course, but that transposing onto them can actually be quite offensive sometimes alongside the consistent use of them inverse as depictions of monstrousness/evilness etc. So sometimes the fact they enjoy murdering people does come into it, that they are accepted as acting the way they do because they are deviant does matter because distrust and prejudice against them is also being supported as fair and reasonable.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TimeTravellingBunny View Post
                        If I were to pick which character could be asexual, based on what we saw after the first few seasons, or even the few seasons... it definitely wouldn't have been Xander. He's just about the last Buffyverse character who could be believably asexual.
                        Oh, I agree. We're talking from the get-go. If we're talking "could have beens", there is no reason to start at S3 or S4.

                        To spitball, though, it's not unwankable that his fascination with sex is a product of the push of adolescent boys toward sexualization and objectification of women, especially in the 80s and 90s. Heteronormativity extends beyond being gay. Would it be a stretch for some? Sure. But so was Willow being gay. You could play it right after the Faith encounter and have him feel unimpressed and empty about it. I'm not saying they should have or anything, but if we're always going to be asking why was a character this instead of that, it never ends.

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                        • #13

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post
                            It was known back then. It actually would have rather interesting to see Xander explore the boundaries of where sexuality, or lack thereof, and masculinity meet. But... they chose not do that. Writing is all about choices. Just because they chose one thing doesn't mean they are insulting another thing.

                            There are female snakes.
                            I am sure that Asexuality was known back then, but in my little part of the world it really wasn't talked about at all. I imagine it's still rare, and perhaps something that one goes through for periods of time. I agree it would have been interesting to see Xander as asexual, but probably a hard sell as he's constantly referencing his sexual needs. I think Oz would be my pick to come out as asexual.

                            There are female snakes, but I was thinking of what snakes represented rather than what they materially were.

                            - - - Updated - - -

                            fish, hats, and coats


                            The snake is a really interesting symbol. It's appearance seems to make it a male symbol, but it's also associated with women, Medusa being the one that sprung to mind straight away. I've always thought of the snake in Eden as female, as female leading female astray, so males keep their hands clean. (I went to Sunday school as a kid and a Sunshine Corner group, so perhaps that's what I was taught)

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                            • #15
                              fish, hats, and coats
                              I laughed at that - but doesn't "the little man" have a "helmet"? Fish...I knew was Christian symbol and, apparently, its shape is supposedly phallic (FFS! - have these people never seen a plaice?). However - just found this:
                              “The fish symbol “was so revered throughout the Roman empire that Christian authorities insisted on taking it over, with extensive revision of myths to deny its earlier female-genital meanings…Sometimes the Christ child was portrayed inside the vesica, which was superimposed on Mary’s belly and obviously represented her womb, just as in the ancient symbolism of the Goddess.” Another author writes: “The fish headdress of the priests of Ea [a Sumero-Semitic God] later became the miter of the Christian bishops.”

                              The symbol itself, the eating of fish on Friday and the association of the symbol with deity were all taken over by the early Church from Pagan sources. Only the sexual component was deleted.”
                              They're crafty aren't they? Absorbing all the positive connotations of femininity!

                              I've always thought of the snake in Eden as female, as female leading female astray, so males keep their hands clean.
                              They don't have to 'cos it was The Devil that made her do it and he doesn't qualify as a man (except when played by Tom Ellis - see what I did there? )
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