Friday, December 21, 2012

Spike and the redefining of masculinity

Since the Newton shooting there has been some talk about masculinity. Much of it has been ridiculous; for instance, a gun add saying if you buy their gun you can have your "man card" back. Via Whedonesque, I came across this post trying to sort out what masculinity might mean. This reference to Buffy is why Whedonesque flagged it:

In the ’90s, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fans could look to the black trench-coated Spike as an example of a man who could follow a woman as a leader. (The character is hardly a role model in all aspects, but he does that part well.)

As they say, Spike is a terrible role model for the vast majority of the time he is in Buffy. But there are some redeeming qualities there, even before he starts to break good around season 5.

Certainly Spike isn't the best male role model. But maybe because he is so flawed he could serve as a decent one. If we so choose, we could look at Spike as a reflection of the tension between what traditional masculinity has been and what modern society is changing it into. The traditional aspects of Spike's masculinity are his strength, toughness, bravado, and appetite for obtaining his goals (killing the Slayer). His battle with Buffy could serve as the battle between traditional and modern masculinity.

Buffy represents the rise of female power. Spike's history of killing two Slayers and his driven goal to kill Buffy represent a rebuttal of rising female power and the desire to maintain or retake the upper hand. I'm going off the top of my head here. So I won't go episode by episode in breaking this metaphor down. But to sum up, Spike is consistently beaten in this battle and ultimately concedes and joins Buffy's side.

Like Spike, traditional forms of masculinity need to accept the fact that they can no longer exist as the sole owner of all the world's power at the expense of everyone else. Not only that, men are better off with shared power. Or better yet, we are all better off doing away with these dividing concepts like masculinity all together. Like Buffy and all it's characters, we are stronger without them.

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