I originally posted this on my personal Tumblr, almost word-for-word, last night. Paul was aghast (rightfully so?) that I didn’t use it for the blog. So here we are.
During the Joss Whedon Reddit Q&A yesterday afternoon, one user asked, among other things,
I would love to know anything about your personal motivations for being such a strong feminist, as well as your other positions on atheism, etc. Has being vocal about these positions ever been professionally difficult for you or caused you to lose work?
Joss answered (emphasis mine),
As for my political bent, it comes from how I was raised — and my own very strong sense of being helpless and tiny and terrified (that goes away, right?). The only trouble it’s ever caused me is that once you take a stance as a person, people are always using that as a yardstick in your work, which can be kind of limiting.
I’ve been thinking a fair bit about this lately, especially in terms of Joss’ work, because who am I kidding, that’s all I ever think about. Joss is a known feminist, and since I started watching his shows at the tender young age of 11, his work opened my eyes to a lot of things. After you see the blonde cheerleader walk down the alley and fight back, it’s a lot harder to accept the weak-willed sex objects and victims that populate not just horror, not just genre fiction, but every type of fiction (not to mention advertising). Sexism became a lot easier to recognize, and much more difficult to tolerate, after I started watching Buffy.
As Joss alludes to, though, he is so well-known for his feminism that there are those who measure everything he does by it. I remember one essay in the great collection Finding Serenity which chided Joss for the supposed anti-feminist message of Firefly; I also remember being overjoyed when another essay rebuked it in the following collection, Serenity Found. Firefly was a profoundly humanistic show, one of its best qualities being that it found the strengths and weaknesses in every character, male or female.