Joss Whedon spoke about feminism at a benefit event for an organisation called Equality Now. More accurately, Joss Whedon spoke about the word “feminist”, because this incoherent self-satisfied trainwreck of a speech completely and utterly failed to engage with the substance of feminism for most of its fourteen minute duration.
Quite a few people sent me this video. Most of them were like, “Look! Yay! A famous nerdy dude said some stuff about feminism!” Sorry friends, but that literally could not have been further from my reaction. Jezebel called it perfect (lol and also facepalm). Lots of feminist organisations I follow on Facebook posted it with approving commentary. (Including The Y Factor, who appear to have deleted it since I left a mild comment suggesting it was a crock of shit. Bad form, Y Factor. If you thought it was good, own it and explain why.)
It’s possible that I would have been more on board with Whedon’s speech if I could actually follow it. He starts off describing – in indulgent syllable-by-syllable detail – how “feminist” as a word just does not do it for him personally. Then he changes track and for a while seems to be equating the word “feminist” to the word “racist”, even though those words have nothing in common besides the dreaded “-ist” at the end. After that, he abandons “feminist” altogether and suggests that we need an equivalent word to “racist” for when we’re talking about gender discrimination. Those words already exist, I hear you cry? Sexist? Misogynist? Nah, those words don’t do it for Whedon either because some people are resistant to them, but mainly because he’s too busy trying to introduce his new word which he came up with ALL BY HIMSELF, GUYS. Guess what it is? Wait until you hear this genius stroke! Genderist! People who discriminate based on gender can be called “genderist”! Inspired! And this will achieve… what exactly? I have no clue, and neither does Whedon by the sounds of things, but he really wants everyone to start using it right away.
This post is long, so if you’d prefer, you can just look at the accompanying diagram, which is probably the most succinct transmission of my thoughts on any subject ever to date. But if you want more, there is more.