The feminist blogosphere is all up in arms about Joss Whedon’s speech at “Equality Now”. The Atlantic claims he is ignoring all of feminist history. Our Feminist Playschool says “Whedon is the type of feminist ally that only wants to participate in a feminism that is quiet, gentle and happening at the academic level of privileged white people.” Shattersnipe says “Dear Joss Whedon: STFU” and then accuses him of various unfeminist behaviors (which will be addressed in this blog at some point. ) My Elegant Gathering of White Snows says “A rich, white dude like Whedon… will never understand what it is like to be a woman in a culture which hates us.” and a blogger in Amsterdam says “Yay! Permission from a white cis dude not to identify as a feminist!”
And here I was, just lapping up his words, saying he was setting things straight with his speech. I personally think he comes close to setting things straight with every speech, though he sometimes falls short of expressing exactly what he means. But I hadn’t imagined the complaints that would be lobbed at him! Why am I so naive? They called him “cis”! I had to look it up. It’s the opposite of trans, as in transexual. Cisexual means that your physiology is in line with your psychology, as far as gender is concerned. You might consider yourself lucky to be “cis”! But did you know, it means you are that much less oppressed than you could be, and in need of that much more reeducation? Well it’s true.
Joss does not only suffer from White Male Privilege, he suffers from White Cis Dude Privilege. The particulars of who he is as a person be damned.
I have sympathy for Joss, having incurred the wrath of many “feminists” myself over the years. There is a deep vengefulness inside the Oppression community. They don’t take well to jokes or jokers, that much I know. They also focus a lot on their own oppression and make judgmental assumptions about the lives of people who do not rack up the Oppression Points in obvious ways.
There are oppressed white cis dudes, you know. They’re called geeks, and they get oppressed all the way through public school. Joss Whedon was one of those so oppressed, and he was also oppressed by his father and older brothers. He was a small guy who sucked at sports. It wasn’t until he was older that he became all privileged with his white male standing and all that. Sure, a trans-geek is going to be more oppressed than Joss and therefore more entitled to an opinion, but Joss is not just some cis white dude. He’s my hero!
Cis, white, or whatnot, I think I’ll keep standing up for Joss, in my inarticulate way. That is because his works have been by my side (or on my TV) all these years and have seen me through all sorts of times. I’m grateful to Joss for giving me characters who are like my friends. I’m grateful to him for Buffy, for so many reasons I’ll say them some other time. I’m grateful to him for creating stuff for smart, thinking people! And I’m grateful to him for always saying things that make so much sense. He grounds me and makes me feel less alone in the universe (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. notwithstanding.)