Equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity, we need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now.
—Whedon’s 2006 Equality Now speech.
Hello everyone, Michelle here! As our first theme is Celebrity Feminists I’m here today to talk to you guys about Joss Whedon. You may know Joss Whedon as the guy behind The Avengers, but to me he is the genius behind my favourite tv show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you’re not familiar with this show, it’s about a girl named Buffy (inspired by the blonde girls in horror films that gets killed almost immediately) who is ‘ the Vampire Slayer’, though she also slays other demons and monsters. Buffy is a strong, realistic female character. She is the Slayer, so she’s obviously physically strong, but throughout the show she goes through hell and back, growing mentally stronger with some breakdowns here and then, because before being the Slayer she’s human. She struggles with trying to be a normal girl who hangs with her friends, goes shopping and goes to school while also trying to save the world. She falls down and gets up again. But Buffy isn’t the only amazing and strong (and when I use the word strong, I don’t just mean physically. I mean women who are their own person and stand up for themselves, who go through amazing character development and are role models for girls and women all over the world): Willow, Cordelia, Anya, Tara, Dawn, Joyce, Fred (okay, so she never appears in Buffy and only in the spin off Angel, but sssh. I couldn’t not mention her) and many others. Sometimes they need to be rescued. Sometimes they need to be rescued by other women, sometimes by men. But you know who also need to be rescued? The men. There is female power and there is male power. It doesn’t matter what gender you are and that’s one of the many reasons why Buffy the Vampire Slayer was such an important and inspiring show for me growing up (and still is).
One of the most important episodes of Buffy in my opinion is the season 2 episode Go Fish. Now, I’m not going to talk about the overall plot of the episode (the members of the swim team are turning into sea monsters- yikes!). What’s important about this episode is something that happens in the beginning with Buffy and one of the swim team members. She and the guy, named Cameron, are in a car together when Cameron tries to grope her without her consent. Buffy, being the Slayer, is a lot stronger than him and bashes his head against the wheel, causing his nose to break. Next scene they’re in the nurse’s office where Buffy is blamed by the principal and the coach of the swim team. After all, she shouldn’t have dressed like that and provoked him. This episode aired in 1998- yet women still get this argument thrown at them when someone (tries to) sexually harasses or abuses them. It might have been a small part of the episode, but it really left it’s mark on me, because the audience knows what had really happened, but the men believed Cameron’s side of the story and put the blame on Buffy.
Feminism can be found throughout all of his work, not just Buffy. (like Dollhouse, which is amazing and should’ve had more than two seasons), his mother being his inspiration. I haven’t seen it all yet, but I do know that I admire this man and agree with him on a lot (if not everything) of things he says. As a feminist and a writer, I really look up to him and thus wanted to tell you guys about this man.
In 2006 he was awarded the Equality Now Award. I’ve included his acceptance speech below and urge you to watch it, because it’s very important.
Whenever I watch this speech I feel like clapping, even though I’m not in the same room with him and I’d look like some excited seal- I don’t care. If I ever meet Joss Whedon, I will just clap like the excited seal I (secretly- though according to my mom I’m more like a dog… Do dogs clap?) am.