More on the fact that I would really liked to be a Vengeance Demon, no kiddin'. Although that's very bad and I'm a sinner.
I have thoughts and meta-ish suggestions I would like to write down. Also because it's almost Easter here and I'm DOING NOTHING, YAY! *squees*
I've always been curious about Anya and vengeance demons and the fact that, among the creatures of the Buffyverse, they are listed as "bad guys". Demons a slayer needs to slay. Of course, we understand that they cause many troubles and they can rewrite the fabric of reality with great consequences like death, loss, evil.
As watchers, our first encounter with Anya reveals her horrible demon face and we immediately get the message of EVIL + BAD. Later, we meet D'Hoffryn, who is the demon boss of Anya (And Halfrek) and he's almost a monster, a guy who decides to kill one of his best servant just to punish another. So you know: ultimately these vengeance demons, who are women, are controlled and punished by a male and restricted in their capacity to choose action.
And maybe the whole moral of the story is that you can't fight Patriarchy by using the Patriarchy Tools (Violence, abuse, revenge ...) and the Slayer needs to build a different and better system for both men and women. Okay, okay.
But still, I'm curious.
First of all, vengeance demons seem to persue some sort of primal and, yes, violent but effectual form of justice. The justice you can read about in the Old Testament, when God punishes evil deeds with blood and loss. Evolving as society, we understood the deep violence and damage behind this form or retribution and yet, for centuries this was society's justice. Our law.
Vengeance demons usually take the side of the victims, the ones who didn't have a voice until recent times: women and children (Halfrek, apparently, has "daddy issues" and so she sides with kids) The punished ones are men who are, also usually, guilty. Of course, we could open a whole discussion about how unfair it all is and I agree ... but let's stick with this for a sec.
One thing about Anya that is always played as "comedy thingy" is her hatred for men, her conviction that men and especially unfaithful men need to be punished for their deeds. In our modern and more evolved society, we would totally say: "The guy is a jerk, just leave him" and everything would be fine, hopefully. Anya is mocked because she doesn't seem to grasp this concept and she seems also petty in wanting to punish all men.
Losing a man in pre-modern society - losing a husband - was one of the most terrible things that could occur to a woman. I'm not talking about love and stuff, I'm talking about MONETARY ISSUES.
Women were forbitten to work in most places, they could aspire only to a poorly paid and unstable job (Such as spinster in the cities). If they were with children, this job couldn't have been sufficient to feed them. Having a husband meant stability, economical entries, social recognition, social status. And while for the man the wife wasn't that important, for a woman her whole life changed with marriage. She was "the wife of ..." and so it was a fundamental event in terms of social reasons too and status.
When Luther did the whole scism thing in Europe, and stuff was going a bit crazy because of religion, the authorities at first didn't do a battle also on marriage between Catholics and Protestants or whatever, mostly because for the aristocracy the primary issue regarding marriage was STATUS + POLITICAL ALLIANCE. The religious difference wasn't that important when it came to create a perfect heir for a noble house and the wife was supposed to stick with the husband even if he belonged to a different confession.
The wife must obey to the husband, of course. On that issue both Catholic and Lutherans agreed.
From the actual reports of early courts instituted for women and family law, the wives didn't ask much for divorce but they asked more that the husband was forced to come back with them, to stick to his promises. The wives needed a steady income and having a husband was the only solution for that. In Russia, there are reports of actual separation between the spouses but not divorce, also for monetary reasons. Let's add that, in Russia, poor women were sold as slaves with their eventual kids, in case of huge debts or inabilty to provide for themselves. (No to say that pre-modern Russia was evil, because things weren't that better in other Europeans countries either)
It was important was Anyanka was doing there. By punishing the unfaithful husband she didn't necessarily enforce the marriage institution, she just provided a court of Justice for all those women who couldn't speak up for themselves and couldn't economically provide for themselves.
Not that the crimes of women on women didn't exist. Many witch hunts apparently started among the ladies: one women accused another to poison her milk, to be responsible for her child's illness/death and so on.
Again, Anyanka seems equally eager to punish a woman for the crimes done against another woman. The status of a victim - the loss of economic and social status - justify her action against the perpetrator.
Status: very important in pre-modern society. History researches actually tell us that unmarried women, poor and single women who came from the country to the big cities to find a job were questioned. Not much about their faith or religious beliefs (Even if, in 1500/1600 Europe was at war because of that), but mostly because without a man they were like beasts without a master and so suspicious and potentially dangerous.
It's interesting to see that economical and social reasons are intrinsecally linked in women's life and marriage is the crucial changing point for both. Anya doesn't really make a distinction: the damage inflicted could be either social (Cordelia who is isolated by her lady friends) and or economic, the perpetuator must be punished all the same.
I really think it would be SO COOL to explore more of the Vengeance Demons' universe and their ethical code and how Anyanka acted and processed things during her whole run as "patron saint of the women scorned". Again, great importance on economic issues, I think: we saw her basically trigger the Revolution? And Anya is very focused on money - again played as funny stuff.
IMO it's a pity that the Buffyverse just focus on the emotional/sentimental angle - the women scorned, the emotional wound - which is also important, clearly, but I wouldn't have been the reason to trigger such hate and desire of revenge in the past. Not just that.