Obligatory Joss Whedon Feminist Speech Post


Whedon, then, delivers a speech on the term “feminist” without any reference to feminist history, without any apparent awareness of feminist theory, and without even any demonstrated knowledge of the most important objections or conflicts around the term “feminist,” the use of which he is purportedly discussing. Instead, from his position as celebrity and writer, and, one fears, from his position as white man, he takes it upon himself to simply define feminism himself so that he can discard it. The result is what Tania Modleski acidly referred to as “feminism without women”—equality as erasure.

I know there’s been many more reactions – share your favourite links please!

Categories: gender & feminism, history, media

Tags: ,

12 replies

  1. Flavia Dzodan:

    Nothing says women’s liberation, self actualization and freedom like a white dude giving us permission to do stuff. Especially when said man has such a stellar track record with issues of racial diversity in his own shows.

    Flavia again, noting the disproportionate coverage relative to the bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry conversation*:

    There is a direct correlation between the lack of coverage of bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry’s conversation and the amplification (and staunch defense) of Joss Whedon. Both exist within the same historical wrongs of white feminism. Both are part of the same neoliberal ethos that has taken over mainstream feminism. Two Black women intellectuals challenging a racist, capitalist patriarchy are not to be looked upon as role models. The key to understand this is their Blackness. This neoliberal feminism seeks empowerment by encouraging women to be more like white men. For this media, Whedon is a feminist icon; bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry barely register in the radar.

    * Is anyone aware of a transcript of this? It’s about 90 minutes long.

  2. I have not yet read/seen the speech, but a friend just raised the issue with me a few hours ago and I’ll have a proper look when I get home from work. But it does strike me as odd to see something like this from Whedon, who has – at least in the context of Buffy – generally shown himself as quite a decent feminist (in my experience, at least). But I’ll be interested to see what exactly the speech entails. I suspect I’ll be back.

  3. This response from an Australian writer, Eleanor Robertson, strikes me as particularly elegant.
    The comparisons with Rousseau are very apparent, aren’t they?
    I don’t know how Dzodan figures the Perry-hooks conversation hasn’t been feted adequately, the squee level has been running high on my Twitter feed. There are lots of big feminist blogs I don’t check, but the ones I do have been making a fuss about it.

  4. Jo, that may perhaps be part of the issue. Because he’s produced work with quite feminist angles (at least according to many), he may be more inclined to think that his pontifications will be somehow correct.
    I can’t find the link (I think it was on Twitter) but someone had pointed out that there was a supportive article about this incident on Jezebel just 2-3 days after they published a [critical] piece about WoC celebrities who don’t call themselves feminist…

  5. Clem Bastow quotes the same bit in her discussion here

  6. The summary of my reaction to Whedon’s speech (or at least, the bits of it I’ve run across) can be summed up in a RHPS paraphrase: “We didn’t make it for you!”.
    And there’s the whole issue in a nutshell – feminism wasn’t made for men like Joss Whedon (although it would be foolish to deny he’s made quite a lot of ackers by paying it slightly more lip service than the majority of his peers in the US cultural production and dissemination industry[1]). So why the fsck should we listen to him?
    [1] Not that this is, or would be, difficult.

  7. I started to watch it and had to turn it off due to rising irritation levels. He seemed to be suffering from a particularly bad case of Aren’t-I-ever-so-clever-with-words-itis.

  8. Guys who want to be allies to feminists don’t get to choose the terminology for feminism. I refuse to accept that this is a hard concept to grasp.

  9. FWIW, Skepchick had a post on this. The OP was mildly sympathetic to him, but a number of the commenters took him apart.
    I couldn’t help thinking of another white guy in the USA (who shall remain nameless!) who was billed as The Feminist Man but turned out to be, ah, overrated.

  10. Orlando, I suspect but do not know that Dzodan is particularly focussing on commercial women’s/feminist/feminist-branded sites like Jezebel with that analysis and criticism.

  11. Is it true Joss Wheadon is producing and directing Robin Thicke’s next music video? Perfect!

  12. @ SunlessNick – exactly! Just as white women should not be taking down women of colour who don’t claim feminist. I don’t understand why it’s hard to get!

%d bloggers like this: