My Personal Feminism, 2017

In the wake of Kai Cole’s piece about Joss Whedon, and some of the reaction to it, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a man in the public sphere who considers himself to be a feminist. Part of this thought process was also spurred on by seeing some of the reaction to the news on Twitter by women:

I’ve talked before about my own personal feminism here on Whatever. In 2012 I noted why I was hesitant to call myself a feminist, and then a couple years later I explained why I was going to go ahead and call myself one. Here in 2017, I think it’s worth coming back around to it and thinking about it some more.

And at the moment, this is what I think about it: I consider myself a feminist because fundamentally, I believe that women should have and need to have the same rights, privileges and opportunities that men do — that I do — and I think it’s worth saying that out loud and working toward that goal. This feminism is part and parcel of believing that everyone should have the same rights, privileges and opportunities that I, a straight, white, well-off, gender-conforming man has, not just on paper but in the practical, mundane, day-to-day workings-of-the-world sense. We’re not there yet, and as we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, there are a lot of people who never want to see that happen. I would be ashamed, especially now, not to stand up and be counted out loud as someone who believes in feminism, among all the other things I believe in.

But I am also deeply uncomfortable with feminism being part of my “brand,” for several reasons. The first is that I’m aware of my failings and imperfections, and I’m also aware that there are a number of failings and imperfections I’m not aware of. With regard to my feminism, I can work on the things I know about and listen when people point out the things I’m not aware of, but the general gist of it is that I’m aware my feminism is imperfect. I am loath to charge in saying behold, the male feminist! when I know there are lots of places where I fall down. I’m a feminist, in progress, and suspect I will be until I’m dead.

The second, following on the first, is that I’m also aware feminism doesn’t need me as a flagbearer. I’m not and shouldn’t be the vanguard of feminism (I mean, if I am, whoooo there’s trouble). What I can be is support, and occasionally a tank (i.e., someone being an obvious target and taking hits while other people get to work). One of the great gifts of getting older is the realization that you don’t have to lead every parade. Sometimes it’s enough to march along and have the backs of the people out in front.

The third, which is related to the second as the second is related to the first, is the awareness that I have the privilege of not being performatively feminist. Which is to say that I can — and sometimes do — decide to take a break from actively having to deal with issues and concerns of feminism, because I am busy, or distracted, or tired, or just decide I want to take a breather. My passive feminism is still there, my default belief in the equality of rights and opportunities, but I don’t have to do anything about it, and the personal consequences for my not engaging are very low.

Having the option to quit the field without penalty, and to engage only when you have interest, means some interesting things, not all of them good. It means, as an example, that you can choose to do only high-profile, high-impact flashy attention-getting things, and not the day-to-day grunt work that other people have to do. It’s not at all surprising that the reaction of the latter folks is irritation and frustration that you’re getting credit for something they see essentially as stunting for cookies.

I’m not going to deny that I’m aware that I have the ability, within my own little pond, to draw attention to issues and to make things visible by being loud and immovable in only the way someone with my advantages has, and in that way effect change. I try to be useful with that, and to make clear the fact that others have done work I’m essentially pointing to. And I try to do more than just the flashy, attention-getting, cookie-bearing stuff. But at the end of the day I’m aware that I have the option to engage, with feminism as with many issues, when other people are required to engage if they want their existence to be acknowledged as anything other than background noise. That makes a difference. I don’t think I can have feminism as part of my “brand” when I only have to engage with it at my whim.

(There’s also a fourth issue here, which is the disconnect between public and private lives. To be very clear, I’m not keeping any affairs — or, really, anything — secret from Krissy; we believe in communication and lots of it. But I’ve also been clear that while my public persona, including on this blog, is me, it’s a version of me tuned differently from the me who lives at home with my wife and daughter, away from the rest of the world. I don’t know that there’s anything in my private life to give someone pause re: feminism, but who knows? There might be. In which case, best to not lead with it as a brand identity.)

I consider myself a feminist. I am also 100% all right with being interrogated on that assertion, and to have people, and especially women, be skeptical until and unless I prove otherwise. I’m also aware that “feminist” is not a level-up — you don’t grind until you get the achievement badge and then don’t have to think about it ever again. I’ve said before that if your social consciousness is stuck in 1975, the 21st century is going to be a hard ride, and that continues to be a true thing. You have to keep engaging.

I’m also aware that I’m going to fail — that I’ll miss a step, or say or do something stupid, or otherwise show my ass, on feminism (among, to be sure, many other issues). And I can pretty much guarantee I’m not always going to take being called on that with initial good grace, because history suggests I’ll occasionally screw that up too. I can say that I do try to base my ego not on having to be right, but on doing the right thing. This is why I once did a primer on apologizing: because I need it in my own life.

So, yes. Here in 2017: I am a feminist, imperfectly to be sure but even so. I’m happy for it not to be part of my “brand.” I just want it to be part of me; of how I treat women, and others, and how I view the world for what it is and should be.

131 Comments on “My Personal Feminism, 2017”

  1. Notes:

    1. I avoided going into detail about Kai Cole’s assertions regarding Joss Whedon largely because although a launching pad for this piece, this piece isn’t about Cole and Whedon and their martial troubles; it’s about me. That said, I don’t see any reason to disbelieve Cole with regard to her assertions about Whedon, and generally speaking I take a very dim view of hiding affairs (and most other things) from one’s partner. I am sure there are aspects of this situation that I don’t know, since all I know about it is Cole’s piece. But to the extent that Cole’s piece is accurate with regard to Whedon’s secrecy and gaslighting of his partner, and taking advantage of his power dynamic for sexual purposes, that’s… not great and perfectly good grounds on which to interrogate his feminism.

    2. This is also a fine time to note that creators are not their work nor the work its creators — good people can make bad art, bad people can make good art, and every combination inbetween. How much one wants to engage the personal life of a creator into the discussion of their art, or into the decision to engage with the art, is up to each person. Personally I can put up with a lot before a creator’s personal life begins to mar the quality of their art for me, and I’m also perfectly happy to look at a creator’s personal life for clues as to how they put together their work. Sometimes it’s useful, sometimes it’s not.

    3. Since I’m in the weird position where such a disclaimer might be necessary, I don’t know either Whedon or Cole personally, although I do know several people who do (or otherwise know their families). I haven’t talked to any of those people since the Cole piece came out and can claim absolutely no inside knowledge or information. I did see Whedon once, at a restaurant where I was having a business meeting. I left him alone. I like some but not all of his work. I’m sad he appears to have screwed up his marriage. I’m sad for Cole she had to go through all of that. May I suggest that unless you do in fact have certain inside knowledge, that you base comments here on what we know, not on gossip.

    4. Otherwise, let’s generally keep things polite as always. The Mallet is out. Reactionary and/or generally dumbass soapboxing re: feminism will be looked upon askance.

  2. Can someone explain why being for equality of the sexes and having an affair are not supposed to be mutually exclusive?

    If Joss’ ex showed how he intentionally paid his female actors less, or treated them in an inferior way, then fine. Bombshell, everyone set their hair on fire.

    He had an affair or two. If you were really a feminist, you would be blaming the women he slept with too. They’re supposed to be equal, how about being equal to blame? It wasn’t like they didn’t know he was married.

  3. I definitely appreciate that you see your platform as a thing that has Uses, and that you go ahead and try to duly make use of it in a positive way. (Feminism but not just feminism.)

  4. One would think that being a feminist would include treating women well, and treating the woman you married well involves not cheating on her as a sort of baseline of minimum decency?

  5. @Tom It isn’t about whether he had an affair or not it is about him using performative feminism as a shield to make himself seem above reproach. He’s a hypocrite. You can’t say you are fighting for equal rights for women and then see women as disposable, put there for your pleasure alone. Which is how he comes across in the excerpts of his letter that are in the article.

  6. Tom Combs:

    See point one above, which, to be fair to you, was being written whilst you were commenting.

    That said, yes, in a general sense, if you’re a dude cheat on your wife (“cheat” in this case meaning doing something you know is out of bounds with any agreed-upon arrangement), that’s definitely a cause to question one’s feminism.

  7. I have a very simple, unambiguous (I think) definition of feminist. A feminist is anyone who believes that women are fully autonomous human beings.

  8. I’m finding the assumption that “having an affair” necessarily makes someone a bad feminist sort of creepy, although I’m having trouble articulating why. There’s some serious double-standard around that, though. If a woman may or may not have had affairs, asking about it or thinking it’s relevant to evaluating her politics is usually regarded as pretty clearly anti-feminist. This seems like it’s got a hidden assumption that I missed.

    … And since I know someone whose niece was rescued from a literal dumpster her parents abandoned her in, I am sort of bothered by people who call *anyone* “trash”. People are not, in fact, trash. Even people who do things we really dislike.

  9. Thank you for making this distinction, John.

    @Seebs, if you read Cole’s essay, it’s about the way in which he used his so-called feminism and his wife to camouflage his affairs, while his wife subordinated her career as an architect to provide emotional support for his career. It’s also about the confession letter, which she quotes, which is creepily self-justifying and explains that the actresses he had affairs with were “aggressive”, and who could be expected to resist?

    I would file affairs under “Wow, people often suck” and move on. Cole’s details of exploiting fans and actresses, while simultaneously gaslighting her to the degree that she developed PTSD when she found out, qualify for the “People who are contemptible” folder.

  10. To follow up on Annalee’a point up there; it’s all well and good to be a dude who believes in equality, and to call oneself a feminist; where the rubber hits the road is whether one acts on those beliefs when it’s not comfortable or convenient.

    The remark about there being an exhausted feminist behind every role dude is flip, but rings true to every one of us who has had to sit down and walk a self-described Feminist Guy through his denial and need to believe is he One Of The Good Ones and super woke to get him to actually, you know, ACT in accordance with those beliefs. Sure, it can be successful, but we’re not gonna get those hours of our life back.

    Too many “feminist” men draw that line right outside their own toes, where they don’t have to take any comfortable look at how well their actions fit their principles.

    @Tom Combs, it’s not “he cheated” so much as the context in which he allegedly cheated; getting one woman to agree to a mutually monogamous relationship, then having affairs with younger and far less powerful women in his professional circle who ‘needed’ him.

  11. Seebs:

    Again, for me, the issue here is not having an affair per se. Many people have set-ups in their relationships where something like that is fine (or at least, allowed). But when that isn’t the case, as it appears not to have been in this specific example, I think there’s an opening to discuss it on feminist terms.

    Also, in a general sense, let’s move off the “what’s so bad about having an affair?” topic, please. It’s been asked and answered twice now, and we’re less than ten comments in.

  12. First, I’m concerned about the motives of article. What is to be gained by dragging Mr. Whedon through the mud? My feeling is that this neither helps women nor offers any true healing for Ms. Cole. I get that she was lied too and utterly betrayed, but by Joss, not the male gender. Joss doesn’t represent men, nor does he represent male feminists.
    Second, how important is it to identify as a feminist? Isn’t it enough to say I am not a misogynist? As a husband and father of two wonderful daughters, why can’t I say that I think that my wife and daughters are amazing and deserve the absolute best that the world has to offer and I would fight for their, and any other woman’s, right to fair access to what the world has to offer? I don’t think that anyone needs a brand to do what is right. I feel like the need to be branded an active member of a movement it implies that permission is needed to act like a decent human or worse suggests that unless you are a card caring member of that movement you don’t have to participate.

  13. This sort of thing is why I never *say* I’m anyone’s ally.
    By their fruits shall ye know them. Don’t tell people how great you are. Show them. I try not to say I’m a Feminist. Or an LGBTQ Ally. Or Anti-Fascist. I try to act in ways that make that clear. Every day.
    But I do these things because I believe this is how a decent human being lives their life, not because I want the label or cookies. I don’t care what capital letters (“Feminist.” “Ally.” “Whatever.”) you think I should be labelled, as long as you think I should be labelled “kind” and “intrepid” and “just.”

  14. The sense of ‘feminism’ Sarah D. Bunting prefers is ‘someone who believes in, supports, looks fondly on, hopes for, and/or works towards equality of the sexes’. Famously, other definitions disagree with her characterisation, but FWIW that’s roughly the understanding I’ve relied on since the 1970s, and I aspire to act in that spirit, in hopes of living in a better world.

  15. Having an extramarital affair isn’t inherently anti-feminist. Depending on the situation, it doesn’t even make someone a bad person, and this is true regardless of the gender of anyone involved.

    But some of the specific behaviours alleged are really at odds with the feminist values Whedon espoused in public. Not just a failure to meet one’s own aspirational standards, but a real disconnect between public avowals and fictional portrayals of good practices, and the meat and bones of using power and advantage to treat real people – real women – badly.

    And I think that does merit examination and criticism.

  16. Thanks for this. While I also do not condone affairs, it was disheartening to see the backlash against any man claiming to support feminism. But you can’t say “Hey, not all feminists…” without the entire internet burning down your house and salting the ashes. (And sometimes I see why, and sometimes I don’t. SIgh.)
    Your comments are, as always, well thought out and balanced, and helped me tremendously. Thanks again.

  17. Michael Pollack:

    “First, I’m concerned about the motives of article.”


    “Second, how important is it to identify as a feminist?”

    When there are people actively working to take away the rights of women in this country as we speak, I’d say: very.

  18. I am definitely a feminist and I’m loud and proud because it’s a pretty good way to weed out the garbage, but I actually think it’s not helpful to paint people (especially if we’re turning them into unrealistic heroes of the movement) as “feminist.” While there are people who are categorically not feminist and some of them are in the highest offices in this country, for pretty much everyone else, I prefer Jay Smooth’s method of talking about racism. That thing someone does or says can be feminist or it can be misogynistic. That doesn’t mean the person is either of those things, because we are messy and complicated and biased and learning all along the way. If we leave people the room to be human and they are willing to listen and learn and change, that is far more valuable than building them up as something exceptional then being disillusioned when they inevitably fail in some way.

  19. @Damian Trasler: and by “burning down your house and salting the ashes”, you mean “disagreeing with me on the Internet in a way that hurts my feelings”.

  20. It’s really about walking the talk. All of us have some sort of privilege and things we have to unlearn. Owning and learning from one’s mistakes is crucial, but that’s a lifelong process. In my case, for instance, I only finally stopped using casually ableist language (“crazy,” “lame,” etc.) within the last five years or so (and ableism directly affects me! Internalization is so tenacious!)

    Whedon’s feminism has always been suspect, but never more so than when he refused to accept criticism on it. Someone who genuinely cares about improving things for those facing oppression doesn’t act like their activism is a gift that can be withdrawn if they aren’t unquestioningly revered for it. If someone steps on someone else’s foot and gets called on it, a genuinely decent person will apologize, because they feel bad that they caused harm, even if it wasn’t intentional. Someone who spends all their time making excuses or denying that they ever could have done such a thing because they’re not a foot-stepper doesn’t actually care about harm to others, only their own reputation.

    IME, it’s pretty easy to tell when someone genuinely cares about others, even if they screw up sometimes. I think you qualify, definitely. I’ve never gotten that feeling about Whedon, though.

  21. I can’t speak for other people. I have called myself a feminist since I was thirteen, read the first issue of Ms. and thought “Oh, my God, they’re so right!” We don’t live in an egalitarian world. We live in a world where women*, are still treated unfairly because of their gender — see the recent mess at Google, for instance, which resulted in a lot of women in tech coming forward and saying “Yes, there’s a problem, I’ve experienced it, and not just at Google.”

    We still need feminism because we still live in a world permeated by sexism. Speaking only for myself, I try to evaluate my decisions to ask if I’m being sexist, and whether I’m prioritizing the needs of white women and declaring that to be feminism.

    *Yes, men too, and that matters, too.

  22. If you don’t think that the consistent, sociopathic betrayal of his wife is that bad, think of it in terms of the boss-employee component. He slept with many younger women who were essentially his employees. He isn’t the studio that they worked for, of course, but he created these shows and had a lot of pull in them. Whether they were “aggressive” or not, this is an inappropriate relationship. Calling yourself a feminist constantly in virtually every interview and then cheating on your loyal wife with young, vulnerable women (hopefully they were all of legal age) is vile. Of course it isn’t the act of a feminist. He absolutely used this as part of his brand because his audience was largely young women. He had to say what they wanted to hear.

  23. To me the big difference is that if the first I know someone is a feminist is because they say it I trust it less than if it’s what I’ve realized about them from their actions- in Scalzi’s case, that’s the way he promotes male and female artists on his various platforms the same way. As always – show, don’t tell.

  24. What I was trying to say is I feel like Kia Cole’s article doesn’t add value to the argument of women’s rights, all it does is point out that Whedon is a flawed man.

    And I don’t think a person needs a label to act like a decent human being. Those that actively trying to restrict the rights of others deserve to be called out for who they are and what they stand for.

  25. Lying to a woman in general isn’t any more un-feminist than lying to a man in-general is. Leveraging your interpersonal power to sleep with women who depend on your good will for a job, kind of is. And this matters, because he was often hailed as a feminist icon in, frankly, the same way that Scalzi tends to be, and his wife was apparently catching a lot of crap in her personal life by allowing his narrative to dominate in their circles. So she put a stop to that in the best way she could, by going public.

  26. Is it ok, as a male, to say “I’m a Scalzi style feminist” ?
    You summed up how I believe myself to be a feminist quite nicely.

  27. I’m a feminist because I like my basic human rights and I want to keep them. I am in the UK, so the voices which want to take my rights as a woman away from me are different, and not as open and loud, from America’s anti-women movement, but they are still here and still as determined to stuff women back into the “traditional” childcare and housewife roles. I wish more people in positions of power, even if it is just as an influencer, were prepared to help defend those rights too. People like Whedon who want the label and the cookies, but whose actual behaviour is counter to the direction needed to earn the label, are not helping matters.

  28. Canucklehead:

    Uuuuuuuuuh I’d rather not? Because the moment I ever fuck up that would be awkward for the both of us.

    I mean, appreciate the thought, though.

  29. It is SO refreshing to be able to appreciate ones favorite author. As a woman I too often find myself having to balance appreciation for an artists work with lamenting them showing their ass in some horrible way. That’s not to say I have high standards, even. But Whedon here is a great example. I love Firefly – and yet I have to be cognizant of the fact that the artist behind it is problematic as hell.

    I mean it’s fine, but then you venture into more murky territory (Polanski, for example) and it gets frustrating.

  30. A friend of mine and I were having a similar conversation the other day. We agreed that no one lives in a vacuum and that all of us are influenced by our atmosphere, sometimes to a degree we regret. Both of us have struggled having to accept being “men” in a society wherein men are conditioned very early to demean women, even subliminally. For this very reason we have occasionally wished we were not men, and been forced to accept this onus, for good and bad.
    Sometimes feminism (for men) is about accepting masculinity while rejecting some of its worst inclinations, and accepting women as equals to be respected and dignified.
    On the subject of affairs, when someone implies that men can’t help themselves I want to scream and throw things,. We are not powerless children. We are free moral agents with self control. We CAN help ourselves, and if we don’t then we are culpable and shameful, not “just guys.”
    There, off soap box. I feel better.

  31. Great post, John, and a special shout-out to Shawna for her bit about self-interrogation and being willing to apologize when necessary. That may, in fact, be the most crucial bit of any progressivism or allyship.

    I don’t know anything about Hollywood although from the outside it seems even more sexist than the rest of society, on every level. But if Whedon had the power to change some of those sexist dynamics and instead exploited them for his personal gain / gratification, that’s bad news.

  32. John, thank you for your thoughtful essay. As a man who considers himself “feminist” and also a fan of some of Joss Whedon’s work, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the issues raised here. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, and have a few thoughts of my own. In no particular order:

    * We are definitely getting a one-sided view, and there’s no way to know what really happened. This doesn’t diminish the importance of the issues being raised, but it does mean we shouldn’t be too quick to grab the pitchforks.

    * It’s possible to separate how you feel about the work someone produces, and how you feel about them as a person. I can be a fan of Whedon’s work and appreciate the messages he embeds, but not like him personally. There’s lots of people who produce great creative work but are assholes in private.

    * History is full of people who did great things in their public lives but behaved deplorably in private. It’s a huge mistake to assume that people who promote certain values also live out those values in their private lives–especially when it comes to sex and relationships. To the extent Whedon was able to use his “feminism” as a “shield” it was only because people assumed that his private behavior would be a reflection of his public values.

    * People aren’t perfect, and it’s not reasonable to expect perfection in all things. Whedon can be a great writer and director who advocates for women in public, and also someone who (as Dan Savage might put it) is bad at monogamy.

    My bottom line is that I can appreciate the feminist ideas in Whedon’s work and still sympathize with his ex-wife and acknowledge that she’s obviously hurt and betrayed. People are complicated, and his private behavior doesn’t negate the value of his popular depictions of strong women on the screen.

  33. John, how would you feel if you were offered an award because of your level of Feminism? Would it be awkward to accept because you know you’re still “in progress”? (Note: I don’t know much about JW, his brand, or his accolades.)

  34. You hit so many nails on their heads that I have very little to add. But I’d point out that the part where you’re still listening is maybe the most important.

    And I’d echo the earlier commenter’s point – for me it’s not the cheating, it’s the gaslighting. Attacking the agency and the sense of reality of a person you supposedly love is a deeply problematic behavior. It can be frighteningly common, but it’s still super effed up.

  35. It means, as an example, that you can choose to do only high-profile, high-impact flashy attention-getting things, and not the day-to-day grunt work that other people have to do.

    This right here is the motor that powers the glass escalator: most of those flashy attention-getting things aren’t high impact. They often have no measurable impact at all, and yet men still reap professional benefits for doing them, while women doing all kinds of impactful work still hit the glass ceiling these dudes are sailing right on past.

    Whedon has been routinely criticized for poor representation of women and poor treatment of real, actual women, and every time, the excuse is “but he’s such a good feminist!” Why, because he says so? Because he donates a small portion of his considerable wealth? Because he wrote a show that cleared the frightfully low bar of having more than one white woman in it?

    There’s no carbon offset for misogyny. There’s no dollar amount that gives someone a pass on writing a long series of damaging tropes about female characters and sexual assault, firing women for getting pregnant (as Whedon did to Charisma Carpenter), using power in the industry to get sex, and depriving your wife of the right to consent to the terms of your sexual relationship for fifteen years.

    The real work of making an industry or the world at large more inclusive isn’t showing up when the cameras are rolling to take credit for a mild statement with no measurable impact. It’s in ensuring equal representation in your writers’ room, and in your directors’ chairs. It’s in sponsoring real people from underrepresented groups by hiring, promoting, and referring them. It’s not talking up your own fictional representations of people in those groups as if a fictional woman who is incapable of doing anything her male creator didn’t make her do is the same as a real woman who has personal agency.

    I used Whedon as a jump-off for that thread, but it’s a thing I see a lot in the SFF community. The authors who never seem to read or mention any books by women but are the first in line to talk about their ‘strong female characters.’ The guys who use ‘sex positivity’ to excuse criticism, and turn the language of feminism against real actual women who express discomfort at damaging tropes in fiction and gross behavior in the real world. The guys who loooove Being Seen supporting women, but only ever seem to be supporting young, pretty, early-career women, only to drop them as soon as they gain enough power to start enforcing boundaries. The ones who think nothing of poaching opportunities from female colleagues while congratulating themselves on their mentorship.

    These things aren’t always glaring or public, but they’re also not subtle. The differences between guys who are just trying to do the right thing and use their platform for good and the guys who are using performative feminism as a sort of plumage are pretty easy to spot if you’re paying attention.

    Well, if you’re paying attention and you’re not being consistently lied to and gaslit by guys who undermine your personal and professional self-worth and then convince you it’s conceited to think you deserve better.

  36. Linda McCann Jeffers:

    I don’t see it as an issue I need to worry about so I honestly haven’t given it any thought. I suspect at the very least before I accepted I’d ask if they didn’t have someone else on their list more deserving.

  37. I never looked to Joss Whedon or other members of the entertainment industry for moral guidance. Perhaps the current kerfluffle around his marriage failure is rooted in the awakening of those who do so.
    The alien/monster we see in Whedon’s worlds passes among us and we are asleep to its power until there is a life or death choice. Perhaps he was telling the world all along about his struggle to be revealed in his true nature.

    However, as an old feminist, the mother of two daughters with two grandsons, I still struggle with being mansplained and talked down to in everyday life from the grocery store produce stocker to the volunteer park group. Just try being old and female in America. We move as if invisible even in feminist settings. The ex Mrs. Whedon is comming to grips with the reality of this reality.

    My view is that some want to wake up, some want to sleep. Choosing to be a public support for feminine equality is to be awake and present. That is a public position and a private concious state.
    Mostly I just do not have time for the somnambulants.

    I still find men …and women..who are clinging to the subjigation of others as a viable society really strange.I want John Madden to come on t v and explain how you get up one morning and decide your mission in life is to pee into a balloon to throw it at people. I mean really..WTF?
    You will note that this did not happen at overtly feminist Women’s marches. Are we missing some vital information here? Is it like some magic pee spell over others?
    Give me a feminist any day over that.

  38. I apologize in advance if I’m going over plowed territory… I didn’t read all the comments.

    I consider myself a feminist. Others may not. I am at the age where I no longer give a shit what each side of an argument thinks about me and my motivations. I have said before I am an “armchair SJW” ad that’s true as far as it goes. In every movement there need to be people, not on the front lines, but people who just add their voice to the chorus that says “Yep, equality should be for *everyone*”

    I’m a straight, white male, raised in the South by parents born in the ’20’s–I’m gonna fuck up. Sorry in advance for that, but I’ll learn and move on. What I don’t need is people telling me what I *should* believe and do, then berate me when I don’t agree with them hard enough.

    The only thing I can add to this is everyone should be wary of basing their opinions on a single side of the story. Especially where divorce is concerned. I have let stories about me stand in the past without comment–sometimes because it’s a no-win situation, and sometimes because it’s not worth the effort. In each case the story was false, but it was just easier to let people believe what they want to believe. And that’s the point–people will *always* do that, regardless of the amount of evidence in either direction.

    Some call me feminist–others might call me anti-feminist–all based on things I’ve said or written, and usually in the same damn post.

  39. Thanks for sharing your personal take on this. I’m in the tiny minority that never considered Joss Whedon feminist — his tendency to choose bone-skinny heroines and many dialogue choices seemed, to me, to suggest a discomfort with strong, vibrant women who don’t need a man to guide them. However, I’m struggling with the idea that affairs would disqualify him from the label, should others think he deserves it. Do negative actions toward one member of group mean that you disrespect all, or merely that you’re behaving badly toward that person as an individual? Quickly constructed example: one worker repeatedly undermines another peer with whom he has had a difficult relationship.That worker is otherwise a progressive beacon of hope and purity. Do the particular qualities of his peer (gay, disabled, Latino, immigrant, white supremacist, obese, highly educated, ginger, whatever) tarnish the rest of the worker’s behavior somehow, or is he just an asshole to that one guy?

  40. With feminism as with everything else, I find myself to be pretty pragmatic. Did Joss Whedon’s voice and actions make things better for women? If yes, then good. Did he use his “feminism” as a lure to attract vulnerable people to use for his own personal uses (I don’t know if he did or not, that’s just a standard trope in academic novels– the “feminist” predator in question is usually the first murder victim), if so, then that’s bad.

    In terms of @scalzi’s personal feminism… we’ve watched as his influence on other really good writers has possibly caused them to add more women to their books and to more fully-flesh out those women so they’re not just sex objects. We don’t know if Scalzi has been the actual cause, but we’ve seen him start these conversations here and on twitter and we’ve seen that he’s friends with some of the authors in question who have engaged him in twitter/blog conversation on these issues, and we’ve seen that their series get better in terms of representation as time goes on. We’ve seen @scalzi using his privilege to amplify the voices of other women in Spec Fic (not white knighting, but actual amplification). So… that’s good.

    As I’ve said before, I would definitely call Scalzi a feminist and give him feminist bonafides. That doesn’t mean he’s perfect, but non-male feminists aren’t perfect either. We’re all breathing the air of patriarchy.

    And it’s just a truth that closed white guys tend to listen to other white guys before they’ll listen to women. So, whether it’s fair or not, we need male feminists in order to speed up the process of making things better.

  41. If I could ask ONE thing of feminist men with notable platforms, it would be this:

    Interact with women and their work.

    Do it by:
    -retweeting their tweets, whether publishing announcements or just funny observations
    -engage with them publicly online more often, by which I mean conversation/interaction/playful twitter exchanges

    In short, MAKE WOMEN VISIBLE. Sometimes I see funny twitter exchanges that are genuinely great, but too often are The Boys Playing With Each Other. I mean, yay? It is hilarious! But please also have fun exchanges with women if you get a chance.

    Women may have a harder time getting into the spirit of things because they’ve been slapped down for it so many times, but try to offer a safe space. Try not to just interact with the least inhibited women around. And try not to let enthusiastic other dudes horn in and (inadvertently) take over the fun?

    Active promotion of and interaction with women normalizes women in public. It lets women be in public in the same way men get to be in public: as funny, cogent, thoughtful, entertaining people. Not “teachers of women’s issues” nor “promoting her ‘girl’ book” nor “the token girl we take note of today.”

    It’s a difficult thing, because it means reworking the ingrained habits of a lifetime. I think some of the bigger-platform guys (including our fine host here) have gotten better about this, but I can still think of notable exceptions who seem to have The Two Women They Interact With (but spend most of their interactions with other dudes).

    It seems to be a thing that can be done over time. Spend a few months or a year RTing only things from women (see if anyone notices). Decide that today, or this week, you’ll get into a pun-exchange or evolving interactive story with a woman. Let her show off her creativity and intelligence to your (almost certainly larger) audience.

    And perhaps remind your Good Dude friends who aren’t so aware of this dynamic that they could give this a try. Women need men to talk to each other. The ones who are getting in the way are also not listening and perhaps don’t realize they’re blocking the road. Often they’ll hear their fellow men, though.

    (All this applies similarly to white people who wish to be allies to POC, straights wishing to ally to LGBTQ+, abled allies of disabled people, and so on.)

  42. Whenever anyone pronounces that they are intelligent, feminist, whatever, I’m suspicious. Because if you are, I can tell from your actions, not your words.

  43. I find the “two sides to every story” argument unpersuasive given that Kai Cole gave direct quotes of Whedon’s farewell letter. Assuming her lawyers didn’t let her do that without solid backup evidence, Whedon’s own words say some horrible things about his attitude toward his own behavior and toward the women he slept with. Again, he accuses the young actresses of being “aggressive”, which is blame-shifting of the first degree. He comes very, very close to arguing that his affairs were to be expected given his power.

    This isn’t “she said, he’s discreetly saying nothing.” It’s “she said, directly quoting what he said.”

    And, as keeps having to be said, it isn’t just the affairs. It’s exploitative behavior with actors and fans; it’s using your strong wife and your professed feminism as a shield for your bad behavior; and it’s about gaslighting your wife for fifteen years. It’s about using women, not just about sleeping with them.

  44. Some of the language in this discussion is interesting for the associations–sometimes unnoticed or unacknowledged–that get dragged along. What caught my eye immediately was “brand” as applied to one’s personal identity or public persona. It seems to have entered the personal-social sphere via politics, where a candidate having a “brand” makes a kind of sense: politics is, in many ways, a matter of selling to voters a package of traits and positions and promises in the person of the candidate. But that’s close to the commercial-promotional center of the term. (I’m not sure how far I want to follow the sense of “branding” that comes from the hot-iron family of associations.)

    When ordinary individuals have a brand, what is being sold, and to whom? I suppose if the brand is “feminist” and the item so branded is a man, then the target audience might reasonably be supposed to be women, and the purchase-equivalent might be a date or sex or a relationship, up to and including marriage. (Marketing experts can certainly provide a longer list of desiderata.) That set of metaphors for a social-personal, um, transaction I find a bit creepy. It was still sometimes called “courting” when I managed to close the deal (Oops! there’s another of those sneaky commercial metaphors) many years ago. And “courting” carries its own set of interesting historical/social-role associations. (And why has the opening line of Paul Simon’s “America” just earwormed its way into my internal soundtrack?)

    Where’s the Martian anthropologist/linguist when we need it?

    (There’s another set of reflections on isms and ists that’s even nerdier. But I will refrain.)

  45. As always, I appreciate your well thought out ideas on feminism, and also how much of that replies to privilege as a whole. You could take feminism and stuff in race relations, or identity politics in its place and the argument still holds true. And before the hammers come out, I’m not saying this to minimize feminism at all…I’m just holding that the discussion is cogent in all of those spheres as well as these are all intersectional.

  46. “I apologize in advance if I’m going over plowed territory… I didn’t read all the comments.”

    I’m not the only person who just uses that as a reason to skip the rest of someone’s comments, am I?

    It never fails to amaze me that people aren’t interested in the contributions of others but figure their comment will be the gift that keeps on giving to others… even if it repeats earlier stuff they couldn’t be bothered to look at.

  47. Hi MKNelson101, I love the invisibility aspect of being old and female! You can pretty much do whatever you want when you’re invisible. Except I haven’t exceeded the speed limit by much because my car, with a big dent in the fender, is visible even if I’m not.

    Someday some enterprising historian will discover that 99% of ninja were 55+ ladies. We can fade into the shadows at high noon on a cloudless day. Bwahahahaha!

  48. I would like to think that a guy could call themselves a feminist, a white person could say they are racial equality, a straight person could say they are for gay rights, and still have some room to be…human. a woman who calls herself feminist doesnt have to be perfect to be feminist. Neither should a man.

    That said, it would seem that in this case, Joss Whedon wasnt a feminist with human failings. Rather Joss’s behavior would suggest that he was never a feminist. A guy in a position of power at work, using that power to have affairs with employees? Multiple times? Over many years? This is the stuff they make anti-sexual harrassment training videos about. Dont do this.

    What Joss did shouldnt be a starting point to discuss whether men can call themselves feminist. A serial cheater and a serial misuse of power is not a feminist. That he called himself feminist to hide his behavior, shouldnt cast shade on all men who call themselves feminist.

    So, men: Be a feminist. Do your best. Make mistakes and be responsible for them. Make the world better. And Joss, you were never a feminist, you never did your best, and you havent been responsible for your mistakes.

  49. “I would file affairs under “Wow, people often suck” and move on. Cole’s details of exploiting fans and actresses, while simultaneously gaslighting her to the degree that she developed PTSD when she found out, qualify for the “People who are contemptible” folder.”

    I must admit that the PTSD piece sounds, well, strange… was her marriage such a traumatic affair?
    Then there must have been more to it than “just” extra marital affairs, or am I supposed to believe that women are that easily to traumatize?
    There seems to be a lot of exageration to be going on, tbh.

    As for Whedon’s perceived feminism – did he anything, beyond developing the BtVS show that showed a feminist bend?
    His work for Marvel certainly didn’t, from all I hear about it.

    “He had an affair or two. If you were really a feminist, you would be blaming the women he slept with too. They’re supposed to be equal, how about being equal to blame? It wasn’t like they didn’t know he was married.”

    You know, it’s not as if they were married with Cole.
    So while yes, they do have their share in it, it was Whedon who directly cheated on her and decided to lie about it – assuming none of the women where personal friends with Cole.

  50. As long as feminism is the subject, [question not otherwise related to topic at hand snipped out. No worries, Ron, but let's keep things fairly focused; this particular question would wander the discussion far afield -- JS].

  51. I was an academic in women’s/gender history, I never saw any personal* advantage in it. Women who don’t identify as feminist either don’t care or find it odd. Many women, but by no means all, who do identify as feminist are hostile or suspicious of men identifying as feminist. So being a male feminist is a struggle on many levels (just like it is for female feminists): struggle against patriarchy, struggle against internalized norms, struggle to define one’s ideology and praxis, struggle to express one’s views to one’s peers without being shouted over and without stepping on others, etc. Male feminists have extra trip mines to navigate; female feminists have less privilege in the world outside of ideological discourse. Everybody has problems. Everyone has a stake in making it work. And in any particular context, someone is going to come off worse than someone else, probably unfairly.

    The larger problem is that feminism is not a hegemonic viewpoint, even for women. So in the real world, its biggest footprint in culture is an optional extra you can add to your “brand” if you happen to be one of the few people who have the luxury of having a brand. If you don’t have a brand then you can and should act in a feminist way, but very few people will care what you call your actions and most of those few will oppose you more intensely if you identify as feminist. Most of the resistance will come from sexists assholes, but some of the drag will come from people who are policing the boundaries of “progressive” politics. But frankly, whether you are a man or a woman, if you tell people you are a feminist, they are going to look at you differently and probably to your overall detriment.

    As I see one of the main priorities of feminism should be to make that last statement untrue.

    *as in sex/money/popularity. It was an advantage for being true to myself and in other aspects of my interior life.

  52. Thanks for this. I hadn’t heard of these two before (or this now very public affair) but as a white, West-European male (who’s a few years older than you) what you write about feminism and your own place in this resonates for me.
    It’s part of our privilege that we can engage & disengage when we want – and yes, that makes me feel uncomfortable too. I was very lucky to grow up in a feminist household. My parents were both doctors, GPs, and they worked together, from home. (My father was more of a neat freak than my mother, so he even did more of the domestic cleaning.) We also went on holiday twice a year with friends of my parents, who had three daughters. I had/have one sister, so I spent lots of my formative years in the company of very smart girls. I also grew up in a house filled with books and I remember reading writers like Greer and De Beauvoir when I was fifteen and sixteen years old.
    So I don’t get many points for also believing that feminism is extremely important. With my upbringing I would have had to be a self-centered dickhead of Trumpian proportions to have thought anything else – though I still would not call myself a feminist. Which is just me: and not me disapproving of other men who do. For all the reasons you already mentioned I find it more comfortable to call myself an ally.

  53. Can I just say, color me utterly un surprised by the not at all a revelation that Whedon’s feminism has become largely performative over the course of the last 20 years? I have found myself feeling increasingly disengaged from his work as it has become more and more objectifying at the same time as the field has actually become slightly less so. So this doesn’t strike me as in any way inconsistent with what I know of him. I still think he does good work in terms of making fun if not very thoughtful films but feminist? It is to laugh. If he ever was, he’s been coasting for decades.

    I have been listening to the You Must Remember This podcast which is currently doing a series on Jane Fonda and Jean Seburg and am reminded that Roger Vadim thought he was making a feminist statement when he made Barbarella too. And maybe by his lights at the time, he was. Maybe that’s as enlightened as he could manage at that point in time. But as John says, its not a badge you get to win and move on, you have to keep working at it.

  54. Two observations, to begin with:

    One: Every human being ever born is a hypocrite. It is baked into pretty much all human cultures I’m familiar with, and certainly into human nature. Hypocrisy, as a negative aspect of human culture and nature, isn’t exclusively coupled with any other defect of character, nor does it (necessarily) negate our aspirations to be better than who we are.

    Two: Sexual infidelity is not the exclusive territory of misogynists. Feminist women have been unfaithful to marriage promises. Queerfolk of all varieties have been known to cheat on each other in spite of assumptions of fidelity or exclusivity in relationships.

    So after reading Kai Cole’s post, the first thing I had to do was chart a path through the emotional jungle of anger and scorn related to those two things, infidelity and hypocrisy, and determine whether and how they actually contribute to or at least further expose misogyny on Whedon’s part. It’s territory fraught with perilous assumptions. What are the actual behaviors, the actions and facts Cole asserts?

    Gaslighting is a clue. It’s not exclusively misogynist, but it’s all too commonly used by those protecting privilege, frequently against those without privilege, to assert a version of reality that buttresses the privilege. It’s generally a “punching down” tactic. (Not exclusively- I have seen it successfully applied to “punch up”, but only exceptionally.)

    Cole also passes along Whedon’s admission that he used the power of his prestige and position for sexual gratification, without apparent regard for the differential dynamic of how the power of his position affected the economic and emotional status of others. In my lexicon, that merits the tag “predatory.”

    So. He punches down. He’s predatory. He may also be willing to punch down and victimize males, but he’s demonstrated plenty of willingness to pervert the male/female sexual dynamic, AND use the power of culturally-bestowed male privilege to facilitate his behaviors.

    Yes, he engages in misogynist actions and behaviors, and on some level he’s likely justifying them to himself with the usual set of misogynist assumptions and beliefs.

    So he also aspires to, in specific and limited arenas, showcase characteristics and cultural dynamics of his fictional creations that play against misogyny. I like that about his work, frankly.

    I don’t particularly care for the hypocrisy inherent in being a misogynist, writing creations that promote feminism, and then expecting to get credit for being a feminist.

    Now I know more about his hypocrisy, it probably will color some of my views and estimations of his creative work.

    I wish Kai Cole healing, forgiveness, and a future of joyful self-knowledge and growth. I suspect she’ll have an easier journey to that than Whedon will, should he ever choose to seek it out. But I wish him success, if he does.

  55. Ron: I’m not a fan of the “Lady whatevers” for women’s college sports. It could get a little weird if applied across the board. “Lady Beavers”, “Lady Cougars”, and “Lady Huskies” strike me as taking on rather unintended meanings, resulting from sexism in other areas of our culture.

    There are numerous team mascots that are based on historical or legendary groups that we perceive to be inherently male, because the number of them that were women were either small, secret, or erased. While I rather like the notion of calling women’s teams Black Knights, Blue Devils, Conquistadors, Crusaders, Dukes, etc, there’s a large psychological disconnect there for a lot of folks. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile to attempt to close that gap!

    It’s also bothersome because it’s again a “men are the default, women are a deviation from default” setup. For that reason more than any other, I object to the “Lady whatever” designation.

  56. Part of the reason Whedon’s feminism is at issue is that he used his minor in women’s studies at Wesleyan as a shield. See, I care about women’s studies, therefore… I remember this happening both in his own comments and in defenses of him by other fans.

    > I must admit that the PTSD piece sounds, well, strange… was her marriage such a traumatic affair?
    Then there must have been more to it than “just” extra marital affairs, or am I supposed to believe that women are that easily to traumatize?

    You are supposed to believe *this* woman when she says that *she* has PTSD. You aren’t entitled to ask her details of why, so that you can decide whether what happened to her meets your definition of traumatic enough.

  57. I stopped believing Joss Whedon was a feminist the moment I heard Charisma Carpenter explain how he had taken revenge on her for daring to get pregnant without his permission, but his ex-wife’s essay definitely drives a few extra nails into that coffin. After a while, experience grants you a sadly necessary nose for sniffing out the guys who claim feminism for (generally) the most un-feminist purposes possible, and Whedon has had that particular aroma about him for a good long while.

    As to some other comments in this thread:

    To those asking why they should call themselves “feminists”, I would say, well, obviously you don’t have to call yourself anything you don’t want to. But you might want to consider that “feminist” is a term that is continuously under attack by those who would strip women of their rights, and it is a powerful message of support to proudly use a word the far right have been trying for decades to turn into just one more anti-woman slur.

    “I must admit that the PTSD piece sounds, well, strange… was her marriage such a traumatic affair?
    Then there must have been more to it than “just” extra marital affairs, or am I supposed to believe that women are that easily to traumatize?”

    Well, first of all you fail Feminism 101 right off the bat for your snide little jab about women and trauma, but if you cannot bring yourself to believe that two decades of gaslighting and betrayal from someone you trusted and loved is not sufficiently traumatic for anyone, male or female, to develop issues as a result of it, then I suspect you do not truly understand what PTSD actually is, or why you don’t have to have been in a literal war zone to have it.

  58. @uleaguehub,
    > So he also aspires to, in specific and limited arenas, showcase characteristics and cultural dynamics of his fictional creations that play against misogyny. I like that about his work, frankly.

    The thing is, post-Buffy a lot of his work featured misogyny. In the worldbuilding for Firefly, it was laid out that Companion was a noble and prestigious profession. However, when we see how the Companion is treated, people call her a whore, often, and she’s misused in public. Joss is using the Whore with a Heart of Gold trope, and that’s a nasty one. Then Dollhouse, oh God, that was the rapiest thing I ever saw and he never copped to that. Have you seen his script for Wonder Woman that leaked recently? It was objectifying as hell.

    It starts with Steve Trevor, not with Wonder Woman. Trevor’s intro is “kind, maybe 30, workingman’s eyes”. Diana’s intro is a paragraph of how beautiful she is. “Her body is curvaceous, but taut as a drawn bow”. Not a hint of powerful or dangerous in the intro; she’s not kind, she doesn’t have warrior’s eyes, but boy is she hot.

    It gets worse.

  59. I used to be one of those guys who was very resistant to feminism, and it was an old story about why: I was desperately poor, so people telling me about my privilege made me very upset. I’ve since had a variety of opportunities and reasons to rethink that position, and I’ve been smart enough to take them: I’m now on board and able to recognize my privilege most of the time, or at least I hope I am. But I still can’t use the word “feminist” to describe myself, for the same reason that neither my ex (still a close friend) or my mother can, though both of them *do the work* of feminism in their daily lives, as I try to as well (how successfully I don’t know; I’m still learning).

    When I was poor I suffered considerable abuse because of that poverty; name-calling, sometimes beatings, rejections by friends or partners because having “one of the poors” in their life wasn’t worth it, etc. Lots of things on top of the usual stuff like not having enough to eat or having to walk for hours because I couldn’t afford bus fare.

    As an adult, however, I began to notice patterns that I hadn’t been able to see when I was young, and I realized that the vast majority of the people who treated me with open contempt because of my poverty (and by that I mean actually made explicit statements that my poverty was the reason for their abusive behaviour, or that their abusive behaviour was class-based in some obvious and specific way) were middle class women. Because I came from a small community and have never had a large group of friends, most were people I knew personally, not just random strangers, so I am actually aware of their politics and their backgrounds.

    The strongest correlation with whether or not they treated me badly when I was poor was their own class background. Middle class women tended to treat me like dirt, like less than a person, while working class or poor women tended to treat me like I was anybody else. This also, in the community I’m from, at least, correlated highly with whether or not they identified as feminist; middle class women tended to identify as feminist, working class and poor women from my community tended not to. The working class and poor women often tended to *believe* and *act* as feminists, confronting misogyny and working for equality, but would not accept the label.

    I spoke to both my ex and my mother (who were both poor for most of her lives, just as I was) about this a few years ago, and it turns out their reasons are the same as mine: in our community, “feminist” was a label middle class women used, and middle class women treated them like they were nothing, like less than people, because of their poverty. Regardless of how much they see feminist practice and goals/ideals as their own, they cannot wear the label of the people who treated them like they were nothing. And that’s ultimately what it means to me; I lived in crushing poverty until my mid-30s, sometimes having to steal food, and have been out of poverty for less than five years, which means I’m still statistically likely to slide back into it. I live in utter terror of that, right at the gut level. And that terror means I cannot wear the label of the people who told me I wasn’t a person because of my class status, no matter how much I agree with the ideas and goals associated with it.

    Now, this is where the arguments about intersectionality come in, and those are perfectly true and valid; feminism as a point of view doesn’t discriminate against the poor, and feminists are on the front lines championing interesectionality. But individual feminists are as imperfect as any other individual people, and in the circles I moved in for most of my life, they were the most aggressively, contemptuously classist of all the people I knew. So even though most of those people aren’t in my life anymore, and the feminists who are in my life are great people who walk the walk on intersectionality, emotionally I can’t get past those old experiences, even if I can intellectually.

    I work hard to be the best person I can be according to the progressive, intersectional ideals of class, race, and gender equality (etc.), but I still can’t use the word. Maybe I’ll get there someday.

  60. Years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and, somewhat out of the blue, she suggested that I was a feminist. I explained to her that my understanding of feminism was that it necessarily developed out of the lived experience of being a woman in a misogynistic world; for this reason, men by definition cannot be feminists. Her response? “You see? That’s exactly WHY you are a feminist!”

    Some guys can’t catch a break.

    I don’t generally describe myself with labels, and the issue rarely comes up, so it’s pretty immaterial to me. In my fiction, I try to create female characters that are at least as interesting and active as my male characters (in fact, in some of my novels women are the lead characters with men taking secondary roles). In life, I do my best to apply the golden rule to women (treating them as I would wish to be treated); undoubtedly, I sometimes fail, but I try to learn from my failures so that I may overcome them. I think this is all that somebody can reasonably ask.

  61. Leigh: “you do not truly understand what PTSD actually is, or why you don’t have to have been in a literal war zone to have it.”

    I know people with ptsd. They have lived through some brutal shit. Webmd and the national center for ptsd define ptsd as a mental reaction to a life threatening event.

    You dont have to be in a war zone. Victims of child abuse can get it. Victims of sexual assault. Car accident victims.

    Kai does not describe anything life threatening in her post. That doesnt mean she doesnt have ptsd, but it would mean things happened to her that she isnt talking about, which for survivors can be a real hurdle.

  62. Greg: I personally consider that definition of PTSD to be too narrow. You do not have to have your life threatened to have legitimate trauma.

    In any case, as you point out, we only know what Kai told us. And what she told us is that she has PTSD. And one of the most feminist (and revolutionary) things you can do is when a woman tells you about her experiences – believe her.

  63. Leigh, I believe her. And i understand the impulse that asks “my god, what did Joss do to you?” The morbid curiosity for more details. My younger self might ask for more. But, now having known people dealing with ptsd, I dont ask people to relive their event unless i have the time to listen, support, and be there for them, and only if they seem like they want to discuss it.

    Anyway, as john says, moving on.

  64. Over the years, I’ve had the experience that for some feminists (not all, of course), the definition requires that one be female, and that calling myself a feminist is ‘appropriation’ to them. Having crossed swords with such people in the past, I accept that I’m probably going to offend them no matter what I say, and like John, still attempt to fight the good fight anyway.

    When I’m being serious about the topic, I’ve finally settled on using “feminist ally”, which is much harder to dispute. That term is borrowed from the “people of color” area of discourse, and seems to work well; after all, I can’t say I’m a person of color, but I can say that I strive to be their ally. I really do get that the parallel is imperfect, but it clarifies things most wonderfully *for me*.

    When I’m feeling trollish, I sometimes call myself a “female chauvinist”, with full knowledge that this implies superiority of women, not equality. That’s my personal bias, and might be considered anti-feminist by some.

    Tom Combs wondered: “Can someone explain why being for equality of the sexes and having an affair are not supposed to be mutually exclusive?”

    I think it’s important to note that having an affair is a separate issue from being or not being a feminist. Since the affairs were not consensual, they’re clearly a mark of disrespect for his wife, but it would equally be a mark of disrespect had he been married to a man. To use extreme examples, treating female fans as disposable sex toys is clearly anti-feminist; engaging in consensual polyamory with his wife’s full informed approval would not be. Based on the evidence presented here, seems like Wedon falls on the sex toy end of the spectrum, but given that he might instead have had the affairs with male fan’s, it seems that this is again a moral failing, not a failure of his putative feminism.

  65. This is a 100% honest, not trying to stir any shit question. I’ve skimmed a few articles about this, and almost exclusively everybody is treating as Kai Cole’s article as mostly or completely truthful and an honest account of the marriage. That seems unfair to me. I am a married heterosexual WASP cruising through life on easy mode (with a couple cheat codes!) so I’m honestly puzzled by this and trying to gather more info why this seems to be the case.

  66. stebuu:

    1) Because it’s consistent with what we know about Joss’s character, from multiple sources.

    2) Because Joss and his legal team haven’t even tried to refute it except in the vaguest, most passive-aggressive terms.

    3) Because it rings true.

    4) Because if it were a man, you wouldn’t have asked that question in the first place.

  67. Two very different thoughts on this:

    1. It’s maybe not a great idea to air one’s dirty laundry about the ex and the marriage in public. That hurts him, it hurts her, and, geez, already. I only know of Joss Whedon from what I know of Firefly/Serenity and Buffy. I’m a fan. Human beings in general are not perfect, some of us are more flawed or are better people than others. I’m just average, I think. I don’t know Joss’ personal flaws. (I’ve stayed away from reading the article so far, but may still get curious.)

    2. Why do we have to wear all our principles on our sleeves these days, beat our chests, and prove how good and perfect we are? We really are all imperfect. How can anyone be a perfect feminist, a perfect equality-minded person, a perfect LGBT ally, or…oh, anything? (I am not about to suggest we shouldn’t try to be better at those things than we are, though.) But my point is, we are not perfect, we are inconsistent and fallible, and we struggle to be better, hopefully, but we slip and fall and get tired sometimes in the constant battle not to be…a jerk? I cannot always be the things I most want to be. I stumble. I would like to say I try hard all the time, but…well, wouldn’t that be puffing up the old ego just a bit too much? Yeah, it would.

    That is not an excuse to be mediocre. It is surely not an excuse to be a jerk or a bully or any such. But it is my way of saying, as much as I wish we could all be those great people we’d like to think we are, we really are not, 100% of the time. We can simply strive to be good enough, to do our best when we an, and when we screw up, which we always will, to pick up the pieces and try to do better next time.

    I say this as someone who was and is very much a dreamer and idealist, and perhaps a disappointed cynic these days. But I’m still trying.

    — So my thought is, maybe we should give ourselves and ol’ Joss and his ex a little slack now and then. Likewise, I have no reason to think John Scalzi isn’t a reasonably decent human being. I read blog posts here, and they show me a decent guy who’s trying. I don’t agree always 100%, but that’s not a bad thing, and I always am challenged by Scalzi’s writing here to re-examine my ideas, and that’s a pretty good deal, and so I keep reading. In other words, I am not sure, Joh, you needed to defend your position, but thanks for writing about it. It does matter.

    — “Do or do not, there is no try.”
    — “Yes, Master Yoda, but I keep trying most of the time. I’m still working on when I do or do not. Isn’t that about the best we can do? With all respect to Master Yoda, who’s pretty cool for a short, green, old dude.” (Hmm, I seem to be partial to little old green dudes. Kermit, Dominar Rygel XVI….)

  68. John Scalzi at August 22, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Sorry, John, I have an issue with your second paragraph. Grammatically, I keep wanting to stick a “who” after “dude” and paste an “s” on the end of cheat. “dude cheat on” is putting really weird images in my head.

  69. canucklehead at August 22, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Just say “I’m a feminist.” if anyone challenges you, tell them why/how you’re a feminist. If they disagree, then call yourself a Humanist — as long as you believe all of humanity regardless of gender, race, religion, country and/or economic background all deserve the same basic rights and access.

    It also doesn’t have to be hard to assert your feminism/humanism. I did it the other day with an “I get the joke, but don’t think it’s funny.” I find it’s an effective tool for shutting off unthinking _____ist jokes..

  70. John
    I’m likely to make the same fuck up so I wouldn’t be worse off in most ways should you do it :P
    I really meant more “Yeah what John wrote. I’m that kind of ‘feminist'”

    I believe women should have all the same rights & privileges that I do
    There’s absolutely no reason they should not – and certainly not “because they’re women”
    Same goes for everyone whether they are LGBTQ, immigrants, persons of color, aboriginals, Muslim, or any other group that gets singled out by the various hate mongers

  71. Bluecatship:”How can anyone be a perfect feminist, a perfect equality-minded person, a perfect LGBT ally, or…oh, anything? ”

    From what I’ve read, and if I am interpreting it right, it would appear that the issue isnt whether Joss is a perfect feminist versus human feminist with some flaws, but rather that Joss repeatedly used his position as boss/director to sleep with employees/actresses, many many times for many many years, which would mean he isnt a feminist at all.

    As for perfection, it seems the issue is that there are different sects of feminism, just like there are different sects of christianity. Each striving for perfection. Each saying the other is not perfect.

    I cant recall exactly how it went, but there is a joke about two christian people talking about their religions, and they start out real friendly not knowing anythjng about the others religion. And then they find out they are 7 layers deep identical in their beliefs, but the 8th layer(last layer) is different, and suddenly they hate each other.

    They held no grudge toward judaism or islam, but identical-all-the-way-down-but-the-last was a blood feud.

    Kinda feels like theres a bit of that around feminism sometimes.

  72. CTRL+F “Emma Goldman”. Ah, oh well, let’s stick to the modern greats like Firefly and Buffy then, shall we?

    The central issue here, for Americans, is that certain terms never hold the same import as they do elsewhere. Liberal is one. Libertarian, another. Socialism. Well, we’d go on, but we think the point is made.

    Essentially, whenever I hear an American (USA) use the word “feminist”, it comes with buckets of “Not Really What it Ever Meant My Dears“.

    Full Disclosure: the 13th Amendment precludes any and all Feminist Theory becoming Real in your society: if you can disbar personal agency via the Law and render the Subject (no matter the gender) into slavery, then “Feminism” is never Feminism.

    Trust me: I really do know about this.

  73. Note ~ we could enter into a rather long and complex argument over:

    Women and Property Rights
    Banking and Women (extension of above)
    Legal Representation, Agency and Children

    But the bottom line comes down to: If you can’t pay in America (USA), you end up a slave (or dead). Fun times, eh?

    It’s that simple.

    Feminism, the real kind: you cannot even discuss it without killing off the 13th Amendment. Before you EVEN UTTER A GODDAMN WORD, TALK TO WOMEN WHO HAPPEN TO BE POC FIRST AND GET THEIR TAKE.

    Trust me:

    They been doin this song n dance longer than white wimmen walkin off TRUMP PRESIDENT PLANE and tweeting # Versace.


    Yeah, totally did just pull in a bit of Scottish New Money.


  74. And if you imagine we’re being silly or retro or just trolling: #2012-6 – Michelle Obama, check out what your media was discussing. Literally. Tropes. About. Apes. And. Dresses. Oh, and if she happened to be a man. (Not even trans at that, that’s how Basic Bitch your media is).

    They already pushed the boundaries back – and you fuckers sat there and acquiesced giving them a Judicial Seat.

    Damn Boy, now that’s either Collusion or Caucasian Blindness: the outcome is the same.

    Do we expect better? Yes. Did it happen? No. Do we think most of you are insane cultists bent on destroying the world? Yes. Do we imagine any major American Figure who has significant monetary engagement with the system isn’t massively colluding? Damn right we are.

    Host is many things: massively wealthy and powerful, sadly not. The actually interesting argument over why Host and Whedon differ is largely to do with what he stated: Host accidentally came unto the Hector Problem, but his Paris is kinda like a really crappy knock-off of nonsense; Whedon ran his chariot as Achilles, turned out to be… Patroclus.

    And yeah, if you want foreshadowing: Πάτροκλος Patroklos; “glory of the father”. i.e. Patriarchy.



    Do Better. Or Don’t.

    But if you don’t solve the 13th Amendment issue, you all end up as slaves. Even the blonde trophy wives.

    Nasty little system you have there.

  75. Regarding Whedon’s overall work, I feel like people who are upset seem to ignore how collaborative TV and movies really are. I know alot of the political stuff he put out there was done to advance himself, both personally and professionally, but he wasn’t the only one who put things into these shows. He probably gets more credit and blame than he deserves even if he was doing alot of the creative work for the show. I’m reminded more of what we found out later with Rodenberry and Star Trek than anything else here.

    What frustrates me the most about “performative” feminism is that there’s really no difference between someone who says the “right thing” because he wants to advance himself personally or professionally, and someone who says it because they are afraid of political criticism. Both are about telling people what you think they want to hear rather than just doing things that make the lives of women (and men) around you better.

    I want to make the world around me more fair, especially to people who have the deck stacked against them because of their gender or other things about them. I don’t have the ability to do much about it because I’m not really in charge of much of anything, and most people my age are in the exact same situation.

    To me, all of this talk about feminism (“performative” or “political”) is worth much less than the quiet actions people take in their everyday lives to be kinder to each other and make the world better. I know other people need this talk, for whatever reason, but I’ve never felt like it was worth much.

  76. Part of the problem of being called, or calling yourself a feminist; or anything else; is that labels can be used to obscure and deceive. In reality, we need to notice that there is a problem, and work to solve it. If you use a checklist to decide whether you are correct on an issue, you’ve missed the point. I became a feminist before I knew the word. A guy congratulated my dad on being sweet after he praised mom’s intelligence. I knew dad was sincere. Ever since the first grade I have known there was a problem. Whether or not you call yourself a feminist, it is more important whether or not you are treating people with respect. I’m going to fail at that occasionally, but I am going to keep trying.
    The discussion is important. We need to analyze. But we all have to keep trying to improve.

  77. I want to make the world around me more fair

    You repeal the damn 13th Amendment. It’s that simple. No European Country, let alone even Russia (c.f repeals of slavery and serfdom, pro-tip: 100+ years ago) still have this shit as a fundamental basis of their society.

    To me, all of this talk about feminism (“performative” or “political”) is worth much less than the quiet actions people take in their everyday lives to be kinder to each other and make the world better. I know other people need this talk, for whatever reason, but I’ve never felt like it was worth much.


    Had to delete a large tract because: literal racists are here.

    Can a single American put their hand up and admit that this is the fundamental pivot of their society (and exegesis of their Law Covenant) without you know, not putting themselves on the target list?

  78. To those who cast doubt on Cole’s self-description of PTSD, I would only say: Find out that your spouse has, for the last 15 years, been exposing you to potential HIV, Herpes, various strains of Hepatitis, Chlamydia, and other sexually-transmitted diseases, without your knowledge or consent — in addition to the complete betrayal of your belief in their honesty and integrity and your relationship — and then tell me again how that wouldn’t be immensely psychologically traumatizing.

    I hope that being able to tell her story helps her to heal and move on with her life.

  79. Please consolidate your posts from now on — multiple sequential posts from the same person make me itchy.

    What should make you more itchy: “Allies” not all stating that the 13th Amendment needs to go.

    I kinda imagined it’d be a “slam dunk” here. That’s like the most basic level of Feminism there is. No, really.

    But WOW. Reality does not disappoint the performative “Trump” hatred, does it?

    Y’all LOVE slavery. And Sexism.

    It’s cool: just don’t pretend it ain’t your thing.

    Own it. Love it. Obey it. Be it.

    Nike is …. $300 sneakers made by Indonesian kids.

    Quit the performative nonsense, then we’re all good.

  80. I think everyone is a feminist in progress. I don’t know of a single person – even woman – who can say she accomplishes everything we should to equalize the sexes. Even for the women who have studied feminism and know in theory *everything* that should be done to perfect society, they still have to work on their behaviour to align with those beliefs. We all slip, and we all work to respond better the next time.

  81. Can anyone explain to me how repealing the 13th Amendment which reads:

    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.[

    will make our society more fair? How is prohibiting slavery unfair? And wouldn’t repealing the amendment mean that an argument could be made that slavery was legal?

    I suppose the Tentacled One is doing some kind of performance art but if they are trying to make a point, it’s lost in the performance.

  82. I think everyone is a feminist in progress.

    This is kinda funny. There’s a really really racist speech from 1926 or so that does this. Hint: it’s about the negro never being able to accomplish everything that emancipation offers and why the White Folks need to look after them still. It’s a classic!


    Is this like Confederacy Day LARP in the USA? Or what?

    Drop my Mint Julip, it feels like it. And damn do I have all kinds of American intrusions into my ports. Even a couple of .ru and Israel ones! Fun for all the Dodos.


    Watch those Ships and Servers.

  83. except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,

    How is prohibiting slavery unfair?

    OH HOST.





  84. Reel it in, Tentacled One. You’re waaaaay off the topic.

    Also, comments closed whist I sleep. Night!

    Update: Comments back on. Let’s be more focused, please. Yes, TO, I’m looking at you.

  85. @bluecatship: I’d urge you to set aside feeling upset about someone attacking a person you’re a fan of, and go back and read Annalee’s comments here. It isn’t about being imperfect, or being pressured to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve.

  86. I believe TO is a troll.

    I’m also saddened that this culture’s worship of money, power, and celebrity causes this constant elevation, then casting from pedestals. It’s the casting down that causes collateral damage to anything associated with the individual being cast down, in this case feminism. Whedon is at issue here, not feminism.

  87. Had this written up last night, but got caught in the post lock overnight. Hope I didn’t lose anything.

    bookwoman09: Ignore Tentacled One/Cthulhu, they’re more of an edgelord than a bucket full of Suicide Squad rejects. I doubt that they’re seriously suggesting repealing the 13th Amendment, but if they are they need to look at themselves and say, “Wow, I’m being an asshole.”

    On the subject at hand, other people have discussed most of the issue better than I could, but I do want to say–even though we all KNOW and are taught to know not to put blind faith in a public figure, we often do so anyway. It’s part and parcel of fandom to lionize the people who create the thing you love–and that makes it all too easy for your heart to be broken when, for example, William Shatner tells you to get a life (fuck you, Bill, I’m going to be a paleontologist and I’ll learn more Star Trek trivia than you even know exists while doing so just to spite you), or the Supergirl cast takes a dump on your favorite ship after you spent the whole season hating Supergirl’s Mandatory Heterosexual Romance with a space frat boy who sets off all of your creep warnings*, or when your favorite character gets uncermoniously offed just after she and her girlfriend finally got together after the producers of your show promised not to pull a stupid stunt like that, or when Joss Whedon turns out to be a cheating asshole. It’s something that we should be wary and careful of, but since we’re human, it’s in our nature to not be.

    From the perspective of the public figure–if you find yourself being thrust into the position of cultural icon, and at some point you will, it’s your responsibility to minimize the broken hearts. You’ll make mistakes, everyone does, but…1, you need to know how to fix your mistakes and apologize without pissing off your fans even more (not naming names but *cough* Supergirl SDCC video *cough*), 2, you should probably avoid CLAIMING that status as icon and bragging about it, and 3, if you find yourself being a hypocrite and an icon at the same time, you owe it to people, friends and family and fans alike, to step back as gracefully as possible while you shape up your act and apologize to people for what you did without breaking too many people’s hearts.

    Or you could hide your affairs for a couple of decades, lie to your spouse insistently, never apologize, and then brag about how awesome and supportive of women you are, in which case you’ll crush the souls of a million fans who will all want your blood as well as breaking the hearts of your family and friends like any other cheating asshole does. Protip: Don’t be that guy. Have the decency and the honesty and the self-discipline to fess up, work to improve yourself, and step back from being a cultural icon if you can’t live up to it at least most of the time. And never, ever, claim to be a cultural icon; that’s just asking for trouble when you inevitably screw up.

    Just my 2 cents, anyway.

    *Why yes I’m still angry and I hate Manhell, why do you ask?

  88. John, as a data point, as much as Cthulhu SJW Tinged Tentacled One’s little schtick is ridiculous but ignorable, its endless stream of Youtube embeds are bogging down the page on my browser. Just FYI.

  89. About the need for labels, I just wanted to add my voice to Leigh Butler’s: I think it is an act of resistance towards those that want to make the word ‘feminist’ an anti-woman slur to wear a T-shirt with the word ‘feminist’ on it. I think this is also something our gracious host spoke about, with all his well-thought-out caveats regarding human fallibility :)

    Labels are secondary to the actual work, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely unimportant.

    And so much depends on circumstance: in some circles, a male gets personal gain by labeling himself a ‘feminist’; in others, he still risks violence. And women not only risk but get abuse and at least threats of violence it they’re feminists, especially online.

  90. Leigh Butler, points 1-3 sound plausible, but then in point 4 you tell me (incorrectly) how I would react in a certain situation, which is a pretty insulting thing to do. Insulting people who are trying to not be sexist is pretty counter-productive.


    1) Because it’s consistent with what we know about Joss’s character, from multiple sources.

    2) Because Joss and his legal team haven’t even tried to refute it except in the vaguest, most passive-aggressive terms.

    3) Because it rings true.

    4) Because if it were a man, you wouldn’t have asked that question in the first place.

  91. I don’t see any reason to doubt Cole’s account, though as others have said I feel like it’s way more important to judge Whedon’s impact on the culture on its own merits (and failures) rather than what sort of shit he was as a spouse. Though of course I hope that if he’s been sexually harassing people this public statement helps them find closure and justice.

    My only grump with it is the use of the statement “is not a feminist.” I am really uncomfortable with… I’m not sure the best way to describe this briefly. Maybe ‘externally nullifying someone’s belief’ or the like? It feels very counter-productive and ‘no true Scottsman” to me. Whedon as described, and based on a lot of aspects of his work, is apparently not a very good feminist. You can make a good argument that at many times, in his work and behavior, he’s been actively harmful to feminism and feminist causes.

    But feminism isn’t a hegemony, as Privateiron says, and there’s no person or governing council that gets to cast someone out. It feels like an invitation to a “yuh-hu!/nuh-uh!” match to talk about the self-applied label rather than how well someone fits the role and walks the walk, similar to talking about self-styled christian supporters of behavior that flies in the face of the values the bible advocates. Sort out your own label, cruddy people, I’m going to be looking at what you actually DO.

  92. Still can’t be convinced (after everyone’s good points) that being a feminist has anything to do with being loyal to your mate. To prove that…

    What if Joss was a feminist, and he was gay? And slept around on his husband? Would that make him any less feminist?

    Nowhere in the feminist idea does it say to treat women as objects to be protected, does it? Last I heard it meant to treat them equally. If his wife had the affair would she be anit-menist? (or whatever the hell that would be called)

    Is it a dick move? Absolutely. Is it anti-feminism? Just can’t square that circle.

  93. Tom Combs:

    It doesn’t look like you’ve actually paid close attention to what people have said, which is, largely, it’s not about affairs generally, it’s the specifics of this one. Go back and re-read if you’re still confused about this.

    Otherwise, I’m not sure that reasserting your position or presenting not-on-point hypotheticals are adding to the discussion.

  94. Don: “I am really uncomfortable with… ‘externally nullifying someone’s belief’ ”

    It sounds like Whedon used his position as director (or insert high level boss title here) to have sex with what are essentially employees, actresses trying to get a break in the business. I cannot imagine that going down in any other way other than Whedon at the very least indirectly hinting at some sort of quid pro quo sexual harrassment offer. “Sleep with me and it will be good for your career” is the very antithesis of feminism. So, i think it would be fair to externally nullify what his claims to believe.

    Tom: “Still can’t be convinced”

    Maybe because you arent interested in being convinced?

    Feminism –》 women are equal to men –》 golden rule.

    I.e. men treat women the way they want to be treated. I doubt Whedon would have been accepting of his wife cheating on him many times, over many years.

    So, not a feminist.

    Now, if he was OK with having an open marriage and had plenty of conversations with his wife about that, and she was ok with it too, then that wouldnt be misogynist. But he didnt. He didnt treat her as an equal in his marriage. So, not a feminist.

  95. Tom Combs: Lying to someone about the terms of your sexual relationship with them is depriving them of their right to consent to those terms. It’s a feminist issue regardless of the genders of the people involved because our society shows blatant disregard for women’s right to consent, so building a society where everyone’s right to consent is respected is necessary to our equality. The term you want to google here is ‘rape culture.’

    In this case, however, there is the thing where Whedon was cheating on his wife and then also the thing where he was sleeping with women at work, where he was a producer with the power to make or break people’s careers. So even if he were single, sleeping with subordinates whose livelihood depends on not displeasing him is inherently incompatible with feminism.

  96. Just a few notes on PTSD. (I know that we are done talking about whether she has it, but this context I hope will be useful. It would have been for me.)
    I have PTSD brought on in large part by gaslighting and added to by traumatic events. It took me over 10 years to get a diagnosis, in large part because I didn’t think I could have PTSD. I thought gaslighting isn’t that bad compared to what soldiers go through. Also, the most traumatic event ended as well as it could. (I saved a person’s life.)
    My therapist has taught me that gaslighting IS a traumatic event because it trains you not to trust what you know. Or in other words, keeps you from knowing reality from hallucinations. She also taught me that events with good endings absolutely can give you PTSD. PTSD is not caused solely by events that you keep analyzing to see if you could have done better.
    The best thing she taught me is that there are ways to cope with PTSD and heal from it. I’m really happy that Ms. Cole is getting help and has gotten a diagnosis this quickly. I hope that by sharing this, anyone reading this that may need help but not realize why can get the help they need.

    Also, Pogonip, fellow ninja here! Polyester is our secret weapon. We can walk through walls with polyester and a kitten bag.

  97. “In this case, however, there is the thing where Whedon was cheating on his wife and then also the thing where he was sleeping with women at work, where he was a producer with the power to make or break people’s careers. So even if he were single, sleeping with subordinates whose livelihood depends on not displeasing him is inherently incompatible with feminism.”

    This. And then evidently turning around and blaming the subordinates whose livelihood depends on not displeasing him for tempting him and being “aggressive,” rather than taking responsibility for using his power ethically in his workplace and in his personal life. Iits all evidence of having lost track of his feminist principles, or possibly of not having had them to begin with. Its not about whether he had sex per se; it would be much the same problem if he used his position to steal, or present other people’s work as his own, or harm someone’s career because he had a personal grudge against them for drinking his last diet pepsi.

  98. bookwoman09: Ignore Tentacled One/Cthulhu, they’re more of an edgelord than a bucket full of Suicide Squad rejects. I doubt that they’re seriously suggesting repealing the 13th Amendment, but if they are they need to look at themselves and say, “Wow, I’m being an asshole.”

    For the record: I was actually 100% serious about repealing the 13th Amendment, removing the Constitutional loop-hole that allows Criminals (those who break arbitrary Laws both by design and also by application, c.f. “War on Drugs”) to be classed as slaves (which it 100% does, c.f. Angola Prison, Louisiana State Penitentiary) and replacing it with something a lot better.

    It’s that second implicit point that counts & the joke was that y’all should immediately see it. Which is, essentially, what (real, not performative) feminism is also asking society / culture to do (as those mentioning rape culture and power balances within work places etc probably are aware of and more tired of having to explain such things than silly antics like mine) .

    I think TO needs to be reminded of the failure mode of Clever, again.

    I’m not the audience who still view these things as even debatable. I don’t think you understand how deeply alien it looks from certain Angles.

    The “shtick” is that it’s not my place to create such new Imaginings or Culture: the videos are a hint towards the people who should be at the forefront of it (and notably, Other Voices in this thread).

    (And yes: the KLF are back. The return of the KLF: pop’s greatest provocateurs take on a post-truth world )

    @Host: Just as a warning, the class of Tank / Bard has a very ableist slur / MOBA angle, just in case you get weird Twitter flocks (I won’t publish it – it’s insulting slang, you can imagine what it is).

  99. Greg – I don’t disagree. But I think it’s just as useful to say exactly what you just did – that Whedon was behaving contrary to any reasonable interpretation of feminism by violating its basic philosophy and using proclamations of feminism to engage in crappy behavior – rather than saying Whedon is not a feminist. It’s just as much a condemnation, if not more of one, and it doesn’t play in the space of telling people they don’t get to pick their own labels.

    It’s not a huge thing and not a hill I want to die on. But what Cole describes is Whedon making a proclamation to divert responsibility and get away with misbehavior. Focusing on the proclamation of identity feels, to me, like playing along with his game. Focusing on the misbehavior and how it harms the cause of feminism feels more, to me, effective in slapping down people who use the cause to behave harmfully.

  100. TO: “I don’t think you understand how deeply alien it looks from certain Angles.”

    I dont think you understand how your posts come across as someone wearing tinfoil, with lots of newspapers plastered on their walls, and red yarn connecting headlines like a spiderweb.

    Whatever “shtick” you think you are performing, thats how it actually lands with people.

  101. I dont think you understand how your posts come across as someone wearing tinfoil, with lots of newspapers plastered on their walls, and red yarn connecting headlines like a spiderweb.

    Yes, that’s part of the spirit of the thing.

    Now wonder how those voices here (! not even a hostile space, Host is nice !) having to re-type the most simplistic of 101’s outlining the problem think when facing this in 2017, and how denials of gas-lighting as a Power tactic work.

    Pro-tip: I made reference to both Patroklos and Emma Goldman. Chances are my apparent noise is saying a lot more than you expect.

    Oh, and of course my yarn is red and black: CNT-FAI were a wondrous thing, back in the day.

  102. A ‘feminist’?
    A joke my father translated from Yiddish (and my mother enjoyed) the day he bought a yachting cap:

    Sol buys a yachting cap, comes home, and yells ‘Hey Sadie!—I’m a captain!’
    Sadie looks at him, sighs, and responds ‘By you, you’re a captain; by me, you’ re a captain…but by a captain are you a captain?’.

    ‘A’ feminist?
    I think some words better as comparative adjectives than as nouns. When people on the Right call certain people ‘socialists’ because
    they’re not laissez-faire absolutists —say, Obama—I sometimes respond with something like `Kshama Sawant is more socialist than Bernard Sanders, who is more socialist than Barack Obama, who is more socialist than Robert Dole, who’s more socialist than was Ayn Rand, who was more socialist than was Lysander Spooner. One Rightist spouse of a friend said ‘It doesn’ t matter, Socialism Is Poison! ‘ I then opined that then, as twenty aspirin will likely kill you, it doesn’t matter that two might help many and not kill you at all….`

    Joss Whedon’s work I know best has seemed generally more feminist than most other such on television, and not more misogynist; in this judgement I have given as little weight to what he’s said about himself as I would to anyone’s statements about themself. As said above, I’m not sanguine about ‘a feminist’, but to the extent there’s a noun, I think it modifiable, and it looks entirely likely to me that he’s a bad feminist, an hypocritical feminist, a once-serviceable feminist who became a feminist inadequate to task….

  103. Trying to avoid Mallet here; so hopefully I have phrased this correctly to Scalzi’s satisfaction:

    Scalzi was totally right to end the 13th Amendment subtopic because it was not particularly on point for this post.

    Still, if you google Thirteenth Amendment Criminality Clause or similar, you are not going to get as much comfort from the available information as you’d expect. Not glowing levels of imminent doom per the Tentacled One, but not exactly a wonderful situation either, historically or prospectively.

  104. stebuu: “Leigh Butler, points 1-3 sound plausible, but then in point 4 you tell me (incorrectly) how I would react in a certain situation, which is a pretty insulting thing to do. Insulting people who are trying to not be sexist is pretty counter-productive.”

    *shrug* I’m not interested in whether it hurt your feelings. Your original question was deliberately leading in a way I have come to recognize all too well from non-ally men having this kind of conversation. In this world, the difference between what women say about men and what men say about women is that more often than not, women are obliged to prove themselves right, while men have to be proven wrong.

    If you want to claim that you would have come in here and tacitly asked us all to prove why we were all believing Joss over Kai in just the same way if the situation had been reversed, you can go ahead. But let’s just say, I find it unlikely at best.

  105. Not glowing levels of imminent doom per the Tentacled One, but not exactly a wonderful situation either, historically or prospectively.

    Wake me up when most of GOP / ALEC funded local States aren’t attempting to enact Gideon, outlaw the nascent Power outreach that birth control offered and so forth.

    Oh. Wait. They are? You don’t say!

    Do you mean that Sex Education and Birth Control relate strongly to a Man in a Heterosexual Marriage denying ….

    Seriously. Any adults in the room?

    13th – it’s how they get you.

  106. Greg and mythago and Annalee — Thank you. Having read/heard more, yes, I was off-base. While my points might apply in general, y’all are right, it looked like I was defending Joss Whedon, and no, he does not get a pass for his actions. There’s making a mistake once, and then there’s making it habitually and not learning better and stopping. I do get that there are primal instincts involved, and that’s hard to fight for anyone. But that doesn’t excuse not being able to put a lid on it and find some better way to live. I can see how what I wrote sounded, because at that point, I hadn’t read/seen enough about the case; I’d said I hadn’t read the article, and…well, dang, that right there, I should’ve known better. I was off-base by connecting my comments to the breakdown of their marriage and his culpability. If it were only in general, then what I’d said might’ve been OK. But drawing a connection between my opinion on a general thing, versus a betrayal of a long personal relationship and matters of principle? Nope, I missed it. I goofed. I should’ve read Ms. Cole’s article first, which is a basic mistake too. Apologies, folks, and thanks for calling me on it. Next time, I’ll research more before opening my mouth / typing on my keyboard. Take care, everybody, it’s getting rough out there in the real world..

  107. TO: “Chances are my apparent noise is saying a lot more than you expect.”

    And I will never read it because whatever point you are trying to make could be made in a tenth as many words if you werent so enamored with your “shtick”.

    Either you are a crazy person as your shtick makes you out to be, or you’re sane enough to make a valid point but are so focused on turning it into performance art that whatever point you have is lost in your vanity project that is this “shtick”.

    Stebuu: “Leigh Butler, points 1-3 sound plausible, but then in point 4 you tell me (incorrectly) how I would react in a certain situation”

    You started this whole thing by acknowledging your casting doubt on Kai could be taken as a shit stirring question. Leigh then answers your shit stirring question with 3 points that you acknowledge shows the doubt you cast was uncalled for. 3 points you could have googled yourself and not needed to ask the shit stirring question in the first place.

    I would offer that whatever pushback you think you felt was fairly minor in response to someone who needlessly and lazily asked something they knew was a shit stirring question.

    Don: “Focusing on the proclamation of identity feels, to me, like playing along with his game. Focusing on the misbehavior”

    Yeah, thats the say that thing you did was racist rather than say you are a racist, conversation.

    I get it. And, it makes sense. But at the same time, I am not going to tell a nazi “that thing you said sounds racist”, i will just tell them “you’re a bigot, nazi”.

    I think years of sexual predatory behavior against employees, pretty much deserves the “you are no feminist” response.

  108. Cheering for bluecatship, as I’m strongly in favor of people who can admit to being mistaken instead of getting defensive and doubling down.

  109. And I will never read it because whatever point you are trying to make could be made in a tenth as many words if you werent so enamored with your “shtick”.

    Rule 101: as a Man, chances are, that thing you read wasn’t meant for you.

    Irony. You then post a lazy video on racism.

    Either you are a crazy person as your shtick makes you out to be, or you’re sane enough to make a valid point but are so focused on turning it into performance art that whatever point you have is lost in your vanity project that is this “shtick”.

    I’ll make this a kind death: this is what you look like to us.

    Getting it yet? No. Self-aware? No.

    We’re not the crazy ones, you’re the ones living in the Potemkin village who’ve forced 33% of all women living in the United States of America to take anti-depressants or the 25% who have suffered major mental illness during their lives to question themselves via your bullshit.

    You don’t even know the issues, let alone the struggle.

    Nuke it From Orbit.

  110. To me, “you sir, are no feminist,” and “you are at liberty to call yourself what you like but your behavior repeatedly violated the core principles of feminism while using the label as a cover,” seem to me to be distinctions without a difference.

  111. Dear Folks,

    I had not previously been aware that sea lions belonged to the class, Cephalopoda.

    Now I know better.

    pax / Ctein

  112. TO: “You then post a lazy video on racism.”

    Oh, I’m sorry. I didnt put it in the form of a rambling incoherent rant followed by a link to Arethra Franklin. Thats how we play Tentacled One Jeapordy, right?

    “Getting it yet? No. Self-aware? No.”

    Are you so self deluded that you actually think anyone is “getting” anything from your posts? The secret master passing down wisdom disquised as insane zen koans only for those wise enough to “get it”? Are you really that far off your rocker?

  113. To August at 3:08 yesterday, “I hear you, brother.” A middle aged bar-resteraunt worker once told me she get treated far better by working men than by businessmen.

    The painful thing about feminism is that once you start to get your “consciousness raised” you start to see other “classism/oppression” patterns too. I remember, back in the day, when (male) students would ask young students struggling for feminism why they weren’t struggling as “humanists” instead. What I would say today is, “When women have equal rights, everyone else will too.”

    That is not quite original to me: Back in the 1970’s, when people were trying to cut the legs off the woman’s liberation movement by snarling that it included “lesbians” (the term was then as bad as homosexual) the answer was, “When gay women have equal rights, all women will have equal rights.”

    When that day comes, I will tell my grandchildren that progress did not roll in on wheels of inevitability, that we owe those who struggled our thanks.

  114. ctein / Greg and etc.

    You do know that you’re playing this script, right? Right into it, and all the old skool hate / Othering bullshit, right?

    We’ll make it simple: Change is hard, and you ain’t changed.

    Just Like Weldon.

    Damn Girl!


    No, really.

  115. Yes, TO/Cthulhu, we know about the loophole in the 13th–it’s called “the prison-industrial complex” if you want to Google the American controversy on it. We know it’s a bad problem. Unfortunately, someone’s lousy campaigning put Arkham Asylum’s inmates’ day-care charges in office, so we’re probably going to table all such issues for 4 years.

    This is the first time I saw hints that you weren’t American. You’re still so far out on the left that you’re sniffing a little too much conspiracy-flavored glue; you ought to dial that back a bit. Venality and stupidity are far more common explanations for the evils done by mortal men than Illuminati-style conspiracies.

  116. Dear Folks,

    Hmmm, I appear to have stung a squid-lion.

    I wonder if that is anything like poking a bear.

    I expect fervent and incomprehensible protest will follow, but perhaps I shall be proven wrong.

    It would be nice to be wrong this time.

    pax / Ctein

  117. TO, et al:

    I think this particular line of inquiry has gone as far as it can go. Consider it tabled from here on out.

    Also, comments off for the evening. Back on tomorrow!

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