OPINION: Joss Whedon Didn't Leave Twitter Because Feminism, But He Sure Has a Lot to Say About It

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*This post uses Mad Men images because while everyone was discussing what Avengers did wrong, they were missing out on everything Mad Men does right by creating some of TV’s best women characters.

Joss Whedon officially quit Twitter on Monday, telling Buzzfeed he needed quiet to write and think. “I just thought, Wait a minute, if I’m going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place. And this is the least quiet place I’ve ever been in my life. … It’s like taking the bar exam at Coachella.”

Twitter is indeed an actual Hot Mess. However, having actually passed a bar exam, I would like to point out that taking an exam in a giant room with 999 other nervous law students is a Kafkaesque experience that may make you believe you are actually a bug or on trial. This is definitely not a place of solitude that would facilitate the recycling writing of 15 more nonsensically intricately plotted Marvel movies.

Whedon allegedly spoke out to deny that “militant feminists” forced him to quit Twitter. “This is horseshit,” Whedon said before explaining how he has been attacked by militant feminists for years. While denying he quit Because Feminists, Whedon pauses to deride feminists, using metaphors like “the snake just et its own tail.” He then complains some more about how women discuss his work and how much it sucks when they don’t like it, because they don’t get it.

While pointing out that feminists immediately reached out to him to see if he was okay after quitting Twitter, Whedon then unleashed a whiny discussion of the presence of Militant Feminists on the internet and how they attack each other and everyone else rather than battling hypothetical forces of evil that Whedon thinks they should be attacking.

This is a clever way for Whedon to avoid addressing criticism of how Black Widow’s story progresses or regresses in Age of Ultron. Instead, Whedon suggests that feminists are Clint and Natasha shippers who are like, soooooooo mad.

Shorter Whedon: people who didn’t like an element of his movie are just sore-loser girl shippers.

Joan Harris is Boss

Joan Harris is Boss

Buzzfeed raises the issue of Twitter death threats against powerful men like Whedon. Whedon says he’s never seen them. I see death threats and violent fantasies in comments and tweets all across the internet, all the time, and I hate it. It is so wrong, no matter the target. Yet the people who are most affected by violent threats on the internet are women. See here (woman who got catcalled in video now gets violent threats online). And here (violent threats agains Anita). And here (conservative male blogger astonished by how much hate he witnessed against female blogger). And here (BBC: women journalists get more threats.)

To his credit, Whedon says that to engage on Twitter, people like Anita Sarkeesian must endure daily attacks. He goes on to critique feminism and liberalism for forming circular firing ranges. It is true that people in groups often impose purity tests and turn on each other, but the degree to which feminists form circular firing squads isn’t really relevant to anything here, unless you believe that saying you don’t like something about a Whedon movie means you’ve turned on Feminism’s Greatest Ally.
Which is the essence of Mark Ruffalo’s comments that it’s just “sad” that Whedon has to put up with all these chicks since women will find “no greater champion” than Whedon.

Wait, women can’t say they didn’t like a particular storyline without getting a History of Joss Whedon lesson from some other dude? Um no, I can’t accept that. Liking Marvel and Whedon is not compulsory for women. (It isn’t compulsory for men, so why do I need to love every Marvel movie??? Because Black Widow kicked some ass and then cried over her uterus?? NO. Not required to love it.)

Whedon has a right to comment on this phenomenon of people turning on each other, but I have a right to point out that Whedon was itching to talk about this subject because critiques by women get under his skin.

Peggy Olson Swag Because It's Awesome

Peggy Olson Swag Because It’s Awesome

The result of Whedon’s rant has been thousands of tweets and comments bitching about how women have no right to criticize Whedon because he’s a super-feminist and how dare they and what’s he done that’s so problematic and whine, whine, whine, women are so annoying. Which is fine — type away, people. My problem, however, is that guys like Whedon know what will happen when he makes this kind of non-denial-denial – people will attack women who are having discussions on the internet. They will be attacks on women because they are women, perceived as women, non-binary, and even on men who don’t agree with them. And many of these attacks will involve violent imagery of the kind we know Joss personally abhors, (unless it’s in his movies, in which case, Avengers attack!)

So… mission accomplished, Joss?

Betty Hates Your Pigeons

Betty Hates Your Pigeons

Anyway, I should go. I hear there’s a Super Bad Guy with a Super Bad Object that may destroy the world, and only the Avengers can help. Happy writing.

P.S. Dear ABC, if in the wake of all of this discussion about Black Widow, you cancel Agent Carter, the internet will be on fire. Make the right choice.


You know it will happen.

Alex is a lawyer and opinionated.

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