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Buffy Creator Joss Whedon & The Vocal Male Feminist Effect

Yesterday, Kai Cole — writer/director Joss Whedon’s ex-wife — posted a #controversial piece about her time spent married to writer/director in hopes of letting women know “that he is not who he pretends to be.” According to the post, throughout their marriage Whedon “never conceded the hypocrisy of . . . preaching feminist ideals” while cheating, and told Cole he paid other women an inordinate amount of attention because “his mother raised him a feminist, so he just like women better.”

“I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights,” she continued. “But now I see how he used his relationship with me as a shield . . . so no-one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.”

Which, like, look: knowing that these are allegations — (Whedon, creator of one of the most feminist TV shows ever, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, has opted not to comment) — I’m still not shocked, because at this point, nothing like this shocks me anymore. A particular type of man choosing to co-opt the feminist label to distract us from their shitty behaviour is old hat. “But I’m a feminist!” has become a rallying cry for countless self-identifying feminist dudes who don’t like being called out on their bad behaviour or dangerous rhetoric or lazy jokes. I know too many men who’ve used feminism — and the most vocal kind — to counterbalance their yet-to-be uncovered zest for sexual harassment or assault. At this point, revelations like Cole’s doesn’t shock me anymore. And it won’t shock me when it doesn’t have a massive effect on Whedon’s career. After all, hi: Woody Allen is still working and recruiting the biggest names in pop culture for his backwards-ass movies. And that dude (allegedly — I get it) is a full-on sexual offender. So why would someone who (allegedly — again, I get it) cheated under the umbrella of feminism suffer any consequences? (Editor’s Note: we are in no way implying that cheating is on the same level as sexual assault. It is not, and the two are very separate things.)

Exactly. They won’t. The same rules apply to famous men as they do to ones like Brock Turner or the guy you worked with who everybody knew tended to “cross the line” but felt that firing him was too drastic. Everything happens, then nothing happens, and maybe people get mad so a small and tiny thing happens, but then we keep on going and never really talk about it again. So no, I’m not surprised by Cole’s Joss Whedon revelations. I’m surprised that any of us, by this point, are surprised. As cynical as it is to say “trust no one,” I don’t really. Or if I do, I certainly trust white vocal male feminists less than I do everybody else.

Especially since feminism has become such a currency. We’ve seen a slew of famous feminist white guys put on slogan t-shirts and announce their feminist revelations, but we’ve also seen little-to-no real work after the fact. We’ve seen little-to-no discourse about the way women of colour are consistently shoved out of feminist conversations, or of the way trans women continue to be excluded. We’ve seen no one call out friends, shut down casual discrimination or harassment, nor have we seen much of a universal “male feminist” call to see men like Casey Affleck acknowledge his allegations of sexual assault (because lest we forget that Brie Larson — who played a rape victim in Room — had to present him with his award this year). And we still see men like Woody Allen get work, get praise, and get names. Or Mel Gibson make a “triumphant comeback.” And this is in Hollywood — not even in real life.

So no, I’m not surprised by this. I’m not surprised to hear a famous director whose vocalization of 101-levels of feminist thought isn’t the feminist he’s cloaked himself as. But I’m also not surprised when I found out about a wolf-in-feminist’s clothing has a history of harassment or assault, either. Why should I be? We’ve long learned that actions speak louder than words, and if someone’s using a movement for cultural clout over contributing to actual change, it’s suspect.

Especially when it comes to men being the ones to lead the charge. You can be a man and be an ally, and be supportive, and you can use your platform to bring attention to equal pay and equal representation and equal rights. But it should never be about you — about your visibility, your profile, your willingness to be “one of the good ones.” The co-opting of anybody’s cause is always a bad look. Particularly because it sends the signal that you were only ever in it for you, anyway.

Or, I guess in the case of Whedon, “allegedly.”

 

 

 

http://29secrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/BuffyTheVampireSlayer-2-150x103.jpg Anne T. Donahue Pop Culture

Yesterday, Kai Cole — writer/director Joss Whedon’s ex-wife — posted a #controversial piece about her time spent married to writer/director in hopes of letting women know “that he is not who he pretends to be.” According to the post, throughout their marriage Whedon “never conceded the hypocrisy of . . . preaching feminist ideals” while cheating, and told Cole he paid other women an inordinate amount of attention because “his mother raised him a feminist, so he just like women better.”

“I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights,” she continued. “But now I see how he used his relationship with me as a shield . . . so no-one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.”

Which, like, look: knowing that these are allegations — (Whedon, creator of one of the most feminist TV shows ever, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, has opted not to comment) — I’m still not shocked, because at this point, nothing like this shocks me anymore. A particular type of man choosing to co-opt the feminist label to distract us from their shitty behaviour is old hat. “But I’m a feminist!” has become a rallying cry for countless self-identifying feminist dudes who don’t like being called out on their bad behaviour or dangerous rhetoric or lazy jokes. I know too many men who’ve used feminism — and the most vocal kind — to counterbalance their yet-to-be uncovered zest for sexual harassment or assault. At this point, revelations like Cole’s doesn’t shock me anymore. And it won’t shock me when it doesn’t have a massive effect on Whedon’s career. After all, hi: Woody Allen is still working and recruiting the biggest names in pop culture for his backwards-ass movies. And that dude (allegedly — I get it) is a full-on sexual offender. So why would someone who (allegedly — again, I get it) cheated under the umbrella of feminism suffer any consequences? (Editor’s Note: we are in no way implying that cheating is on the same level as sexual assault. It is not, and the two are very separate things.)

Exactly. They won’t. The same rules apply to famous men as they do to ones like Brock Turner or the guy you worked with who everybody knew tended to “cross the line” but felt that firing him was too drastic. Everything happens, then nothing happens, and maybe people get mad so a small and tiny thing happens, but then we keep on going and never really talk about it again. So no, I’m not surprised by Cole’s Joss Whedon revelations. I’m surprised that any of us, by this point, are surprised. As cynical as it is to say “trust no one,” I don’t really. Or if I do, I certainly trust white vocal male feminists less than I do everybody else.

Especially since feminism has become such a currency. We’ve seen a slew of famous feminist white guys put on slogan t-shirts and announce their feminist revelations, but we’ve also seen little-to-no real work after the fact. We’ve seen little-to-no discourse about the way women of colour are consistently shoved out of feminist conversations, or of the way trans women continue to be excluded. We’ve seen no one call out friends, shut down casual discrimination or harassment, nor have we seen much of a universal “male feminist” call to see men like Casey Affleck acknowledge his allegations of sexual assault (because lest we forget that Brie Larson — who played a rape victim in Room — had to present him with his award this year). And we still see men like Woody Allen get work, get praise, and get names. Or Mel Gibson make a “triumphant comeback.” And this is in Hollywood — not even in real life.

So no, I’m not surprised by this. I’m not surprised to hear a famous director whose vocalization of 101-levels of feminist thought isn’t the feminist he’s cloaked himself as. But I’m also not surprised when I found out about a wolf-in-feminist’s clothing has a history of harassment or assault, either. Why should I be? We’ve long learned that actions speak louder than words, and if someone’s using a movement for cultural clout over contributing to actual change, it’s suspect.

Especially when it comes to men being the ones to lead the charge. You can be a man and be an ally, and be supportive, and you can use your platform to bring attention to equal pay and equal representation and equal rights. But it should never be about you — about your visibility, your profile, your willingness to be “one of the good ones.” The co-opting of anybody’s cause is always a bad look. Particularly because it sends the signal that you were only ever in it for you, anyway.

Or, I guess in the case of Whedon, “allegedly.”

 

 

 

annetdonahue@gmail.com Author Anne T. Donahue is a writer and person who lives just outside of Toronto and knows way too much about the Great British Bake Off. 29Secrets

8 responses to “Buffy Creator Joss Whedon & The Vocal Male Feminist Effect”

  1. Please listen to the above comments and delete this pathetic “article”. Then send the comments to the writer. She should educate herself before spewing such things.

  2. It’s Kai’s interpretation that Joss used her to maintain his image. And just as betrayal does not equal assault, interpretation does not equal objective truth. It’d be the right thing to do to take this piece down and reflect on how you could write something that’s, dare I say, enlightening about the human condition instead of a shameful boast about how smart you are because you are not surprised.

  3. Honestly, comparing cheating (which, ok, is bad – but also, ok, tons of people cheat) with sexual assault is way out of line and irresponsible. It’s insulting to victims of sexual assault and this article is just nonsense filler trying to say “he cheated, he’s bad, he’s not a feminist, and people will be ok with it.” This writer is garbage. Please remove.

  4. Whoa, I hate it when people do this. Let’s not conflate cheating with sexual assault. To imply that cheating on your wife is the same as what Brock Turner did is irresponsible. Should someone lose their job because they cheat on their spouse? It’s not the same thing as domestic abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment and implying that it is in any way does a major disservice to anyone who has been assaulted.

    If you cheat on your wife does that mean you’re unable to believe that men and women are equal and deserve equal treatment? If a woman cheated on her husband would you suggest she should then lose her job? I just feel like we’re getting close to painting a scarlet A on someone’s chest.

    • 100% Cheating is not rape. What a horrific article this is. Lumping the two together it irresponsible, reprehensible and beyond insulting to survivors of sexual assault. Hate Joss all you want for being a douchey philanderer but equating him with Brock Turner?! Disgusting. Anne should be ashamed for writing this toxic dump.

      • And, yes, I read the editor’s note. You say you aren’t implying rape & cheating are same but you very much are putting them under same umbrella and conflating them. This article needed more than one tiny editor’s note.

        • I think Kelly was referring to this:

          ” The same rules apply to famous men as they do to ones like Brock Turner or the guy you worked with who everybody knew tended to “cross the line” but felt that firing him was too drastic.”

          ^^ No, the same rules do not apply. Brock Turner is a rapist. Joss Whedon is a philanderer. Brock should serve jail time. Joss is serving his time in divorce court. Big difference. Big, big difference.

  5. This is why I’ve said for years I don’t think men should call themselves feminists and have gone on numerous Twitter rants about it whenever one of them is exposed as a scumbag. Women have criticized me for this opinion but I understand the want for men to be allies, the truth is they rarely are.

    Whenever a man has “male feminist” in the bio I know what his DMs are like; it’s all DMs to women where he’s the last person who’s said something. Men don’t help, it’s easy to retweet and be vocal online but men rarely say anything irl to other men for fear of being ostracized. Whedon being a sleaze really is not surprising, thank you for detailing why!

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