I have become increasingly interested in examining Joss Whedon’s work from a feminist perspective since I had a conversation with another lesbian feminist sister at the International Feminist Summit about whether Joss was a feminist. I am really quite shocked by how readily Joss is accepted as a feminist, and that his works are widely considered to be feminist. I decided to start re-watching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and also to watch Firefly and the movie Serenity.
I have to say that now that I have subjected myself to the horror that is Firefly, I really am beyond worried about how much men hate us, given that this was written by a man who calls himself a feminist.
I find much of Joss Whedon’s work to be heavily influenced by pornography, and pornographic humour. While I would argue that there are some aspects of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer that are feminist and progressive, there is much that isn’t and I find it highly problematic that there are many very woman-hating messages contained within a show that purports itself as feminism. But Firefly takes misogyny to a new level of terrifying. I am really, really worried that women can call the man who made this show a feminist.
For myself, I’m not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women’s faces, male voices drowning out our words.
There is so much hatred towards women contained within the scripts and action of the series that I doubt very much that this post will even begin to cover it. . . .
Mind you, she does try. Click through to see the valiant effort. Is this all an elaborate put-on? I know a few third-wave feminist types (Go Smith!), and my guess is that they would only write this way as a goof. But maybe I'm naive.
In any case, Ace of Spades has a funny rejoinder:
This has got to be the stupidest fucking essay ever written in the whole of the 'Verse. And when I say that, I'm including the Reavers' poetry.
Of course, we forget what radical feminism looks like at our own peril. Witness the greatest bit of unintentional self-parody ever produced: This piece in Salon about a woman who decides to explore the political results of strapping it on and giving it to her (very questionable) boyfriend. Read it for the hysterical sex talk (the boyfriend wants her to use something called "The Boss"), but stay for the ridiculous cultural musings. Here's a sample:
With the Boss, I was conquering, silent, responsible, the taker. With his legs spread, Adam was agreeable, inviting, ashamed, taken. I felt closer to him that night than any other time, because we changed in front of each other's eyes. Parts of ourselves that had been locked away from it engaged in sex for the first time.
The world looks different since then. I was riding up a steep escalator a few weeks after I took Adam's cherry, idly watching the butts up ahead of me as I usually do -- as a pleasing shape. And suddenly a slide clicked over the round female bottom perched above me: Access. Men aren't just admiring the curve of a butt the way women do; they're negotiating access. It's a hill to be taken.
And men do love access. Clubs, fraternities, committees, old-boy networks -- they've built a world where access is power. They like slit skirts, open-toed shoes, crotchless panties. They like finding a way in. I think the name of the highest-profile condom brand is no accident -- the Trojan Horse was the original tool of access!
Which is crazier: That or Whedon as sexist monster? I report, you decide.