I saw Age of Ultron opening weekend. I loved it. I was in awe of the million different moving parts, character interactions, and just general awesomeness! I was thoroughly looking forward to seeing it a second time before I wrote my review of it because I know I missed some things and I want to give it the attention it deserves.
And then the “feminists” hit.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this generation of feminists has completely destroyed the word, tainting it and twisting it so far from it’s original meaning and purpose that it is nigh on unrecognizable. They’ve blurred the gender line until it is impossible for a woman to be feminine without being considered weak, while simultaneously weakening men until they feel ashamed for being masculine. They’ve altered the way we interact with the opposite sex until we’ve entered this strange realm of “chillness” as both sides try to determine what is the appropriate pace and what it is acceptable to want out of a relationship.
But these things, these questions, these blurred lines and confusing interactions should have no place in a discussion of a Marvel Universe film, so why bring them up at all?
Because people are throwing the words anti-feminist and misogynist at the only director who has ever written, directed, filmed, basically thought into being a truly heroic female character!
All because some people disagree with the way he portrayed Black Widow in the film.
There’s been talk of him being racist and sexist and something called “ableist…” There have been hateful tweets sent with language that isn’t even acceptable in impolite company! Tweets threatening his very being, telling him to kill himself, and cursing anyone who would support him.
Well screw you, Twitter!
I support Joss Whedon!
Unlike most of the haters out there, I’ve seen a little show called Firefly which has a supreme badass warrior woman character, two of them in fact, and one of them happens to be a woman of color. But let’s not forget about Inara, the bisexual “Companion,” who’s job gave her a diplomatic power that helped her to save the crew on a number of occasions. Or the girl mechanic who managed to be unbelievably childlike and innocent, nevermind her near MacGyver level of skill with machines…
So, you’re telling me he became a racist/misogynist since he finished Serenity 10 years ago?
I don’t think so…
Nor do I think his portrayal of Black Widow and Scarlet Witch in anyway suggests that they are weak characters. I think that Joss Whedon did the best he could to create characters with an interesting back story and great development given the constraints placed on him by the other elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which kind of promotes her coquettish side above her kickass side.
*Please note, if you continue past this point, there will be spoilers to the Age of Ultron movie.
These people forget that he’s not working with his own original material here. Let’s not forget that the execs made a comment about not needing to push the female characters because parent company, Disney, already had “the girl’s market on lockdown.”
Or that he’s also got to remember the way the character of Black Widow has been portrayed in the previous movies:
- She flirts with Tony Stark to get the job at his company (when we first meet her).
- She uses her presumed weakness as a woman as an asset in the beginning of the first Avengers movie.
- She points out that she “batted [her] eyelashes” at the Hulk, again in the first Avengers movie.
- It’s hinted that there is something between her and Hawkeye when Loki asks her if she loves him, again in the first Avengers.
- She even gets a little flirty with Captain America (as he points out in Age of Ultron).
Plus, in the show Agent Carter, they’ve introduced basically the prequel to Black Widow’s training program, where women are trained to be flirty and deadly at the same time. So her Red Room Graduation ceremony that makes her unable to have kids seems totally believable. The fact that her choice was taken from her is the real atrocity, and the fact that she is saddened by the loss of that choice is the most feminist thing I can imagine!
Being a feminist means promoting equality in the workforce and equal pay for women, supporting women as they fight to become CEO’s and major players in all fields of business and STEM fields. It means raising women up and helping to educate them and get them out of oppressive situations. It means helping women in oppressed situations to get out of the home and into the workforce or onto the battlefield. It means all of those things that help to promote equality until it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, but how well qualified you are for a job.
But it also means supporting women who choose to leave the workforce because they want to be a stay at home mother. Or applauding a mother who manages to work and raise her kids at the same time.
Being feminist means changing people’s opinion so that as a society it is no longer believed that a woman’s sole purpose is to birth and raise children, for sure. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should look down on a woman for wanting to have children.
When Black Widow says that she is not the only “monster on the team,” I didn’t get the impression that she was referring to her inability to have children making her a monster. That is definitely a side effect of her being a monster, but what makes her a monster was her training and the fact that she could coldly see how an operation to make her sterile was “efficient.” What makes her a monster is her lack of choice, just as Banner has no choice about becoming the Hulk sometimes.
What I find particularly sexist about this whole situation is that no one made similar comments about Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, telling her first that he couldn’t have children. In the first Avengers movie, he touches a baby cradle as he tells Black Widow that sometimes people don’t get what they want. It’s subtle. I didn’t catch it until I heard them discussing it during the commentary.
A child is something that the Hulk wants, but we don’t see people ranting and raving about how misandrist Whedon is by suggesting that a man isn’t complete if he can’t have children.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term of misandry, that’s because we don’t hear it often. Misandry is the mistreatment and hatred of men. We talk about how bad men treat women, but we don’t often talk about when feminism goes wrong and women mistreat men.
To accuse a true feminist of being the villain because he wrote a character who manages to be a super spy, who parties (and flirts) with some of the sexiest men alive, who kicks ass as well as said sexy men, and who happens to have a nurturing side? The illogicality of such a thing…I just can’t even.
As Mark Ruffalo pointed out, the anger seems misplaced. Maybe people can be angry at the lack of strong female characters, but the personal attacks on Joss Whedon are misandry at it’s best.
I think this outrage has pointed out something about what feminism has become compared to what it was meant to be:
And until people stop misusing the word “feminist” (or we find a new word altogether), I refuse to be called a feminist.
In the meantime, I #SupportWhedon.