Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia from Buffy and Angel) released this statement today:
Arguably one of the most damning bits is this:
“Joss intentionally refused multiple calls from my agents making it impossible to connect with him to tell him the news that I was pregnant. Finally, once Joss was apprised of the situation, he requested meeting with me. In that closed-door meeting, he asked me if I was ‘going to keep it’ and manipulatively weaponized my womanhood and faith against me. He proceeded to attack my character, mock my religious beliefs, accuse me of sabotaging the show, and then unceremoniously fired me the following season once I gave birth.”
I could have sworn it was illegal to fire someone for getting pregnant, apparently not?
Amber Benson supported her as well.
I’m thinking of two things here. Firstly, that time Joss Whedon did an interview about writing for Doctor Who and came out with a smug “Call me back when the Doctor is a she.” So he could emotionally abuse that actress too, I suppose. Second is this long, emotional article he wrote back in 2007. I was 19 that year and I believed he was sincere then. I shouldn’t have.
Okay, one thing I absolutely hated in Age of Ultron was the prima nocta ‘joke’. It wasn’t in the original released clip so it must have been a late addition, and I cannot for the life of me work out why Joss Whedon thought it was funny or appropriate. Maybe he thought it was somehow clever sneaking some Latin in under the radar, but even then I can’t work out what he expected-
“Wait, what’s prima nocta?”
“Oh, it’s the word for the old English law which dictated a noble had the right to rape a woman on the first night of her marriage!”
Joss Whedon champions himself as a pioneer of feminism. He knows about GamerGate and the distinct misogynistic harassment Anita S and other women received as a result of it. He’s worked in the industry for years, long enough to know the troubles women face within it. He once was quoted as having said, “Interviewer: Why do you write strong female characters?/Whedon: Because you keep asking me that question.”
So Whedon has a basic idea of feminism, and the struggles women face. However that idea is just that, basic. Rudimentary. If Whedon fully understood feminism, he would understand and be more sympathetic towards the struggles feminist women in high profile public eye face specifically. The quote rings of ignorance, yet Whedon positions himself as a man all knowing about feminism and supporting it. But how can you support something, and position yourself as a champion of it, if you are ignorant of the struggles those within that community face?
His statement comes off as disingenuous and oblivious at best, considering his very vocal stance on the feminist movement.
The article in question isn’t meant as a direct attack on Whedon as a person, nor his fans. But construction critique is always necessary for improvement whether on one’s work, or oneself. If Whedon is going to position himself as a champion of feminism within the mainstream eye, he should at the very least fully acknowledge, and respect the struggles of women who face
misogyny and live under a system of oppression. Given that he knows of GamerGate and mentioned the harassment women like Anita S have faced, the question comes into play why wouldn’t he think standing up for women would be controversial? When he’s seen it first hand, and been in the industry long enough to have seen it himself?
I mean wrong. Physically. Spiritually. Something unnatural, something destructive, something that needs to be corrected.
How did more than half the people in the world come out incorrectly? I have spent a good part of my life trying to do that math, and I’m no closer to a viable equation. And I have yet to find a culture that doesn’t buy into it. Women’s inferiority – in fact, their malevolence — is as ingrained in American popular culture as it is anywhere they’re sporting burkhas. I find it in movies, I hear it in the jokes of colleagues, I see it plastered on billboards, and not just the ones for horror movies. Women are weak. Women are manipulative. Women are somehow morally unfinished. (Objectification: another tangential rant avoided.) And the logical extension of this line of thinking is that women are, at the very least, expendable.
I try to think how we got here. The theory I developed in college (shared by many I’m sure) is one I have yet to beat: Womb Envy. Biology: women are generally smaller and weaker than men. But they’re also much tougher. Put simply, men are strong enough to overpower a woman and propagate. Women are tough enough to have and nurture children, with or without the aid of a man. Oh, and they’ve also got the equipment to do that, to be part of the life cycle, to create and bond in a way no man ever really will. Somewhere a long time ago a bunch of men got together and said, “If all we do is hunt and gather, let’s make hunting and gathering the awesomest achievement, and let’s make childbirth kinda weak and shameful.” It’s a rather silly simplification, but I believe on a mass, unconscious level, it’s entirely true. How else to explain the fact that cultures who would die to eradicate each other have always agreed on one issue? That every popular religion puts restrictions on women’s behavior that are practically untenable? That the act of being a free, attractive, self-assertive woman is punishable by torture and death? In the case of this upcoming torture-porn, fictional. In the case of Dua Khalil, mundanely, unthinkably real. And both available for your viewing pleasure.
It’s safe to say that I’ve snapped. That something broke, like one of those robots you can conquer with a logical conundrum. All my life I’ve looked at this faulty equation, trying to understand, and I’ve shorted out. I don’t pretend to be a great guy; I know really really well about objectification, trust me. And I’m not for a second going down the “women are saints” route – that just leads to more stone-throwing (and occasional Joan-burning). I just think there is the staggering imbalance in the world that we all just take for granted. If we were all told the sky was evil, or at best a little embarrassing, and we ought not look at it, wouldn’t that tradition eventually fall apart?