After the release of his big fat summer movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, God of Geeks Joss Whedon dared to quit Twitter. And the internet responded by throwing a temper tantrum, as the internet is wont to do. So, someone had to be blamed.
The first wave of blame was targeted at overzealous/threatening fanboys, but quickly shifted to those dreaded “militant feminists.” Well, Whedon calls “Horseshit” on that. So settle down Patton Oswalt.
Yep. There is a "Tea Party" equivalent of progressivism/liberalism. And they just chased Joss Whedon off Twitter. Good job, guys. Ugh.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 4, 2015
Buzzfeed reached out to Whedon, because now we as a society need an explanation when a celebrity decides they want a break from hearing from the whole world all day and all night. His response is long and thoughtful, and I’d recommend reading the whole thing. But basically he is a big boy and ally that gets how feminism and internet discourse works, for better or worse.
“That [feminists chased me off Twitter] is horseshit. Believe me, I have been attacked by militant feminists since I got on Twitter. That’s something I’m used to. Every breed of feminism is attacking every other breed, and every subsection of liberalism is always busy attacking another subsection of liberalism, because god forbid they should all band together and actually fight for the cause.
“I saw a lot of people say, ‘Well, the social justice warriors destroyed one of their own!’ It’s like, Nope. That didn’t happen. I saw someone tweet it’s because Feminist Frequency pissed on Avengers 2, which for all I know they may have. But literally the second person to write me to ask if I was OK when I dropped out was [Feminist Frequency founder] Anita [Sarkeesian].”
The real reason Whedon left Twitter is that he needs a quiet space to get to writing again, emhasizing, “And this is the least quiet place I’ve ever been in my life. … It’s like taking the bar exam at Coachella.”
So from the Joss’s mouth: it wasn’t feminists who chased him off Twitter. But that doesn’t mean Whedon doesn’t have a bone to pick with feminists. He explained:
“I’ve said before, when you declare yourself politically, you destroy yourself artistically because suddenly that’s the litmus test for everything you do — for example, in my case, feminism. If you don’t live up to the litmus test of feminism in this one instance, then you’re a misogynist. It circles directly back upon you…
“There was a point during the whole Jurassic World thing where someone wrote the phrase ‘championing women marginalizes them,’ and I was like, OK! We’re done! The snake hath et its tail. There’s no way to find any coherence when everything has to be parsed and decried.”
I feel for Whedon here. Feminism is a deceptively simple concept: people should be treated the same regardless of their gender identities. But there is no roadmap for fighting for this equality. So often we’re infighting, attacking allies for not doing enough or doing it wrong. Potential discussions become Twitter free for alls.
I don’t know what the solution is. Like Whedon, and like the rest of you, I’m figuring it out as I go. And I’m depending on all of my fellow feminist allies to keep me thinking and keep me honest, but hopefully without biting my head off.
Perhaps, when it comes to arguing with our allies, we should take a page from my mom’s edicts, delivered whenever my sister and I inevitably scuffled: Fight Nice.
Kristy Puchko isn’t so much an angry feminist as an exhausted one.