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Lauredhel is an Australian woman and mother with a disability. She blogs about disability and accessibility, social and reproductive justice, gender, freedom from violence, the uses and misuses of language, medical science, otters, gardening, and cooking.

38 Responses

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  1. Emandink
    Emandink at |

    Wow. I can barely put into words how enraging and disappointing that is. I’m sure he’d say what he was really doing was commenting on the stereotypical geekiness of sci-fi fans (who, clearly are all men who would never be seen in the company of an attractive woman outside of a Seth Rogan movie). Fail.

    Also, I have contact embarassment for Ray Bradbury.

    Emandink’s last blog post..Things that are bigger than Amazon, fail or no.

  2. Melissa McEwan
    Melissa McEwan at |

    Wow.

    that hot chick over there – why are you even here?

    Well, gee. Maybe she’s the star of one of his serialized fi-sci stories, since I hear fi-sci feminism is only for hot chicks.

    Melissa McEwan’s last blog post..Monday Blogaround

  3. Peggy
    Peggy at |

    Whedon has gotten a lot of kudos for having strong female characters in his series – and I think it is a good thing in general. But they are always traditionally sexy too, and my sense that they are largely there for dudes who get turned on by smart kick-ass women, rather than as characters for other women to identify with. And all SF fans are ugly anyway, right?

  4. SunlessNick
    SunlessNick at |

    Well that’s a disappointment.

  5. Sophie
    Sophie at |

    Peggy : Yes! It was really obvious in the second episode of Dollhouse (I haven’t seen past that), the way Echo is literally “strong” but only to explicitly fulfill the sexual fantasies of men (who are apparently turned on by “strong” women..that they can ultimately control and own)

    We had a panel on the subject at a recent con, it was interesting, though I was pretty out of it so don’t remember much :)

  6. mimbles
    mimbles at |

    I watched that yesterday and cringed. A lot. What was he thinking ? :(

  7. lilacsigil
    lilacsigil at |

    Maybe I get a free pass for being a chick but not “hot”? Fail, Joss, fail.

  8. hellonhairylegs
    hellonhairylegs at |

    Wow. Joss had to prove his maniless, didn’t he?

    Translation: Don’t worry guys, I may call myself a feminist but that doens’t mean I’m gay or respect women or anything.

  9. Jet
    Jet at |

    That’s … really disappointing. Huh. Apparently I was attached to the idea that Joss was kind-of-a-friend to me as a woman, because my reaction to this is *ow*, not *rage* as a comment like this would usually induce in me.

    Jet’s last blog post..Rape Culture: Still Not Funny

  10. hendo
    hendo at |

    So not surprised. I have never felt Whedon did me or feminism any favours with his female characters, and I get sick of people going on about how great he supposedly is for that. So it’s nice to see him reveal his true colours for once.

  11. Chally
    Chally at |

    Dude. How willfully dismissive of women? On top of, you know, living in the world, there’s a huge legacy of women being demeaned within your very genre. If you disrespect Alice Sheldon, Octavia Butler, Suzette Haden Elgin, etc etc etc and their astounding work, then you piss me the fuck off.

  12. TimT
    TimT at |

    Hmmm… isn’t this a case of willing suspension of disbelief? Joss is clearly being ironic. ‘FiSci’ is a giveaway – it’s not a serious statement of his views; I mean, this is coming from a guy who has been writing scripts for sci-fi, horror, and fantasy shows for decades. It’s just Joss speaking, but he’s speaking dramatically, as the kind of person who would make these kind of mistakes about science-fiction.

    After all – why is it acceptable that Joss should be able to write about, and have his actors act in the roles of murderers, killers, etc – but not take on that character himself?

    Or has he caused offence because he hasn’t given a clear enough signal that he’s speaking in character? (I would have thought the jokes about FiSci, etc, would have made it clear enough.)

  13. TimT
    TimT at |

    After all – why is it acceptable that Joss should be able to write about, and have his actors act in the roles of murderers, killers, etc – but not take on that character himself?

    Er, this was poorly worded. I mean, why is not acceptable for Joss to take on a dramatic role in this YouTube video, (when he can write dramatic roles, and act in dramatic roles, elsewhere)?

  14. Flowercat
    Flowercat at |

    Are these comments serious? Anyone who thinks that Joss sought to demean women, female Sci-fi authors or fans needs a serious reality check, and a humour transplant. He was obviously poking fun at the notion that sci-fi fans are a bunch of nerds who can’t get girls to even be in the same room as them. His joking expression of shock that an attractive woman would be in the room is an obvious jab at geek culture, as that is a well established stereotype. He was also playing on the old joke of pretending to be able to see the event that you have sent a pre-recorded video to, in acceptance of an award. To say his comments weren’t funny is one thing, but to say that you were actively offended by them? Toughen up, please, you delicate flowers. He loves his genre, he loves women, and you all need to relax with a good Fictionalised Scientific, and lighten up.

    [Thanks, flowercat, you inspired me to create a new troll avatar. ~L]

  15. amandaw
    amandaw at |

    Which is it, Lauredhel? Are you a delicate flower or a high-persistance-scoring Type A?

  16. Emandink
    Emandink at |

    It’s always nice to be proven right, I suppose.

  17. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    Is Flowercat really arguing that a scripted line in a pre-recorded segment about why is a hot chick even there is somehow magically all no problem compared to if it had been a spontaneous line in response to an actual person that he could see via satellite?

    I’m pretty sure most of us realised, actually, that it was pre-recorded – we’re not that televisually illiterate. Yet we still thought the line sucked like a deeply sucking thing. BECAUSE IT DID.

  18. Flowercat
    Flowercat at |

    Hey! I get jokes! Like the one Joss told in that video.

    I’m not a troll! My comment was pretty good, I thought. Or is this the kind of site where if you disagree, you are a troll? I wasn’t disagreeing to be a troublemaker. I was simply stating my legitimate views. And my snarky comments were said with a smile. I guess that’s hard to judge when I don’t have a face. In a manner of speaking.

    And that’s fine, tigtog, that the line sucked. He writes a lot of lines, and sometimes they suck. But to be offended by it, that’s where my understanding of your position stops.

    And I didn’t say anything that indicated that I thought you didn’t understand it was pre-recorded. My comment was that he was making a joke that is often made on these kinds of prerecorded acceptance speeches, where he was pretending he could see the audience. I thought that maybe that was an angle that was overlooked. And no, the comment wouldn’t have been any better or worse if he had actually been there and said it unscripted. I never said anything remotely close to that either.

    Bottom line, it is more offensive to my comedic sensibilities than it is to my feminist sensibilities. It wasn’t anti-feminist, it was unfunny. I hope this clears up my position, although judging by the reception my last comment got, this seems unlikely.

  19. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    @ Flowercat:

    And that’s fine, tigtog, that the line sucked. He writes a lot of lines, and sometimes they suck. But to be offended by it, that’s where my understanding of your position stops.

    There aren’t any stereotypes used in comedy that you find offensive? Ever?

    I see a lot of live comedy, I laugh at a lot of material exploring sensitive areas even when it also invokes discomfort: when it’s genuinely exploring/subverting stereotypes then that’s A-grade material.

    I also see people doing lazy material using stereotypes to be “edgy” that is not edgy at all, it’s just tittering at taboos and/or reinforcing prejudices. Comedy should be better than that, in my opinion.

    Joss’s joke was simply gratuitous stereotyping that reinforces prejudices, that was also, as you acknowledge, not even funny. I’m offended by that both ideologically and comedically.

  20. faraway
    faraway at |

    I read the full comment re: Dollhouse by Joss Whedon linked above, and ugh… I’m sorry for being a bad feminist to complain about my so-called professional job’s fashion restrictions and for ‘stumbling’ in uncomfortably high heels.

    “Hi guys. Just stopped in to talk seriously for a minute about this issue that is tearing at the very fabric of my fanbase: shoes.

    Dr. Saunders: Didn’t notice. Spent a lot of time with Costume God Shawna Trpcic talking about Amy’s wardrobe; Shawna loves dressing her and was constantly designing fabulous dresses for her. It was my job to tell her when she’d gone too far and to remind her that all of these fabulous dresses would be covered by a (subtlely fabulous) labcoat. Wardrobe is one of my favorite departments, and just seeing those bolts of fabric lying about and knowing Shawna was cooking up something elegant and new for Amy filled me with a kind of peace. But I never noticed the shoes, because, well, Amy doesn’t exactly stumble about.

    Eliza: Yeah, she’s wearing some pretty intense boots, particularly as Taffy. That’s Eliza. She absolutely likes to turn up the heat wherever she thinks it’s appropirate — or close enough — and it’s part of her persona. My girl flaunts. I got no problem with it.

    Mellie: She’s just really tall. How were we gonna have Lubov menace her if she towers over him? And yes, her character is all about the vulnerable and the comforting. Paul, dude, notice her! (What’s wrong with that boy?) But mostly: tall.

    Now you have the inside scoop on the shoe scandal of ’09. Coming soon: Sierra infiltrates the NSA in a ridiculous pair of pumps! TV is funny!

    Sincerely, -j.

    I’ve watched every episode of Dollhouse so far and Mellie is by far the most pathetic, doormat-ey character I’ve ever seen on TV. I thought it was for a reason. Yet she’s supposed to be ‘comforting’ and another (male) character is meant to be turned on by that? I’m starting to think I’m making way too many excuses for this show.

  21. TimT
    TimT at |

    I’d say the fact that Joss is pointing to imaginary people indicates he is still firmly in ironic mode.

  22. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    @ TimT:

    firmly in ironic mode

    Ironic intent is not a get out of arsehattery free card.

  23. TimT
    TimT at |

    I’m typing these comments in between long work transcripts, hence they might be a little glib… I wanted to say before, whatever Joss actually believes about these matters (and you and Lauredhel between you probably know much more about his life than I do, so I’m happy to go along with your interpretation) he’s still a damn good writer.

    A lot of my favourite writers have been notoriously imperfect, so if Joss proves to have similar character defects, it won’t stop me watching his shows.

  24. Sophie
    Sophie at |

    It’s about racism, but I think this post does a good job of explaining why “ironic” sexism/racism etc is often in fact pretty racist/sexist:
    http://community.livejournal.com/racism_101/29383.html

  25. TimT
    TimT at |

    I’m more worried about Channel 10; they’re doing away with the Simpsons (well, the repeats of previous seasons on weeknights , which are the best ones).

  26. Cara
    Cara at |

    A lot of my favourite writers have been notoriously imperfect, so if Joss proves to have similar character defects, it won’t stop me watching his shows.

    Of course it won’t. After all, it’s no skin off your teeth, is it?

  27. amandaw
    amandaw at |

    I’m not offended, therefore YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE. STOP IT RIGHT NOW, I MEAN IT. I REALLY DO.

  28. Bene
    Bene at |

    Jumping back in after my long hiatus…it’s sort of sad that I’m almost glad for this because it actually helps me validate what I’ve been saying all along.

    I stopped watching Dollhouse (I don’t watch TV on my computer for the most part, and Friday nights are relax time), but this may merit another post.

  29. Fine
    Fine at |

    “Of course it won’t. After all, it’s no skin off your teeth, is it?” I find this a really thought provoking comment. How do we respond to an artist whose work we love and then discover that their politics are problematic, or maybe they’re horrible people. I can think of a long list of great artists with horrible politics. Picasso is the first one who comes to mind. He’d win the world championship for misogyny. How does that makes us feel about his work?

    One of the most complex for me is Leni Riefenstahl. A great filmmaker and probably the first woman who was allowed into the filmmaking canon. Problem is that she was a Nazi and that her great documentaries (Triumph of the Will, Olympia) are Nazi propaganda tools. Of course, she used the poor, misunderstood artist defence, which is bullshit. I think her work is wonderful, but it’s also fatally flawed by her revolting politics. Nevertheless, seeing ‘Triumph of the Will’ for the first time was a revelation and I’ve never seen a more beautifully edited documentary than ‘Olympia’.

    One response could be that I’d feel differently if I was Jewish, which may be true. But, I have a Jewish friend who admires her work so much she named her much loved cat after her. This puzzled me for a long time. But I decided to recognize it as a very clever piece of reappropriation. I’m not arguing for a right or wrong position here. For me, it’s a quandary.

  30. Bene
    Bene at |

    Not necessarily directed at Fine’s comment.
    Thing is, it’s a really great philosophical ideal to take a person’s actions and beliefs out of their creative work. It’s just that if you’re of a more recent school of theoretical thought, it is entirely impossible to separate one from the other. They inform each other. The whole thing about analysis not being based on artistic intent is great for a film theorist but anathema for a cultural theorist…

    Which is why yours truly nearly failed film theory as an undergrad. Anyhow…

    Enjoying some of JW’s work is fine; recognizing talent is fine. But if one wants to take a cultural perspective, it is absolutely necessary to pay more than lip service to the level of bollocks that JW expresses, and it is irresponsible to actively negate any alternative view as sometimes seems to happen in even feminist circles in fandom. (I have been shut up on the subject of Joss Whedon not being that great a feminist in my book numerous times since probably 2002. It gets a lot old, a lot fast.)

  31. tigtog
    tigtog at |

    @ Fine:

    I can think of a long list of great artists with horrible politics. Picasso is the first one who comes to mind. He’d win the world championship for misogyny. How does that makes us feel about his work? […] I’m not arguing for a right or wrong position here. For me, it’s a quandary.

    I share your quandary. As a science fiction fan, there are many authors with fairly repellently libertarian and gender-essentialist views, and yet they write cracking good yarns and sometimes truly thought-provoking literature. I find in such cases that as they approach late middle age the brilliance fades and the rantiness takes over, so I stop reading them anyway, but I still read and reread their earlier works.

  32. Fine
    Fine at |

    “The whole thing about analysis not being based on artistic intent is great for a film theorist but anathema for a cultural theorist…”

    That’s a really interesting comment, Bene. Can you expand on it?

  33. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston at |

    Fine, there are two questions raised by TimT’s comment.

    The first is yours: “How do we respond to an artist whose work we love and then discover that their politics are problematic, or maybe they’re horrible people.” That’s a stumper, as you say.

    The second is: “How do we respond to a blogpost in which an artist we love is shown to have problematic politics, or maybe to be a horrible person.” And I’m pretty sure the answer to that one isn’t, or shouldn’t be, “Post a comment taking no position on the substance of the criticism but insisting that it won’t keep you from enjoying his stuff.”

  34. Bene
    Bene at |

    Fine–in the academic circles I ran in as an undergrad, it was considered irresponsible to use authorial intent in terms of film theory because we so often worked from the theory of deconstruction, which states that intent is irrelevant.

    In terms of cultural studies, however, intent, in the context at least of the socialization and history surrounding the author, does need to be taken into perspective.

  35. Aris Katsaris
    Aris Katsaris at |

    Speaking as a longtime Joss Whedon fan… I think Joss is a case where he’s feminist in a political, but not an instinctive basis. Or to put it in another way, I think his *will* is in the right place, but his gut isn’t.

    He happily, willingly and knowingly portrays powerful women. He happily, willingly and knowingly women, whether weak or strong, as people with agency in them, not mere passive victims of circumstance. He often knowingly reverses and subverts sexist tropes (e.g. early Buffy when the monster was preying on virgin *men*, which had to be rescued by the women)

    But he’s not trained his feminist instincts enough to understand why such-and-such things are problematic from a feminist perspective. Why for example the fates of Jenny Calendar, Darla, Cordelia and Winniefred, and those of most of his non-Slayer female characters were problematic, and as media presentations were reinforcing traditional tropes of feminine victimhood.

    In short… I think Joss Whedon *wants* to be a feminist, and kudos for that, but when he doesn’t keep his mind on being such, he defaults to an instinctive un-selfware sexism. And hence the demeaning remark, which is demeaning and reinforcing of stereotypes even as a joke.

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