It would be amusing, if it weren't so sad. Those who fight for feminist ideals have to struggle against not just the patriarchal need to portray capital-F Feminists as man-hating, reactionary, and logic-less; they also have to fight against self-professed Feminists who further those same stereotypes by their actions and words. Enter A Rapist's View of the World, _allecto_'s FUD filled jaunt through Joss Whedon's Firefly universe.
Let us just assume, for the sake of the argument, that every point Dani makes regarding the inherent misogyny within the confines of the television show Firefly (and the subsequent Serenity movie) are 100%, unequivocally true. I'll leave the dissection of the largely fallacious and severely maladjusted viewpoints expressed therein to those with more interest in chopping up pop culture into its various literal bits. Instead, let us observe how the author injects linguistic venom toward men into her screed, exposing her view not as that of a feminist pointing out a problem, but as a misandrist attacking men under the guise of feminism.
Let us begin with language. Language is supremely important. We'll start with something as simple as:
For myself, I'm not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, showed potentially powerful women bashed, demonized female power and selfhood, and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women's faces, male voices drowning out our words.
Now, this is a reasonable statement. I utterly disagree, but you can certainly see how this case could be plead. Instead, our esteemed author chose to phrase it this way:
For myself, I'm not sure that I will recover from the shock of watching the malicious way in which Joss stripped his female characters of their integrity, the pleasure he seemed to take from showing potentially powerful women bashed, the way he gleefully demonized female power and selfhood and smashed women into little bits, male fists in women's faces, male voices drowning out our words.
See any differences? Injecting words like "gleefully" and "malicious", indicating that there was "pleasure he seemed to take"; how could a rational person derive these emotions from watching the show, special features, or interviews and scripts that are readily a vailable? Simply put, one cannot. The author recognizes that the degree to which she expresses anger is only really justified if Joss's supposed transgressions are intentional and malicious, so she thrusts those intentions upon him. It is an insidious way to present your case; one lawyers, politicians, and liars of all bents grow to rely on. It is the plea to emotion, and it is fallacious in nature.
Of course, _allecto_ wasn't content to attack merely Whedon's body of work. In order to elevate him to true villain status, further ad hominem attacks were required. Dani goes on to state, while describing Inara's "whore" position on the ship:
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Joss uses his own wife in this way. Expects her to clean up his emotional messes. Expects her to be there,eternally supportive, eternally subservient and grateful to him in all his manly glory. I hope the money is worth it, Mrs. Whedon.
Let that sink in for a moment. In an attempt to smear Joss Whedon with the misogynist and rapist (yes, rapist) brush, the author indicates that Joss's wife is whoring herself for his vast wealth and that he must treat her horribly, without any evidence of this that this is; and it is typical of someone lashing out at an object of his or her hatred--this lack of care about collateral damage, this lack of concern for the actual people involved. Whedon and his family are merely fodder for an anti-male agenda to people like _allecto_, case in point:
I feel awful for Joss Whedon's wife. From what I've read about him and the interviews I've watched, I'm fairly certain that he rapes his wife and abuses her in various other ways. I honestly can't think of anything worse than living with a man like Joss who thinks of women like the way he portrays in his tv shows. How awful.The comment about the money was meant to be about how I personally could see no benefit from being with a man like Joss OTHER than money.Joss uses and abuses her. Probably rapes her and thinks of women as whores etc, etc. Obviously, Ms Whedon has her own reasons for staying. Fear, patriarchal concepts of love, etc. But I would argue that she gives everything and gets nothing. Money is the only concrete thing that she could possibly gain. But as I said money is worth nothing compared with self-integrity, self-esteem, love(sister/lesbian/ gynaffectionate love) etc. So she still loses out. Poor woman.
This is a direct quote (emphasis mine) by _allecto_ in the comments of her post. Apparently the only form of love is that between two women; affection between two men is homo-erotic and between a man and a woman is unfathomable or rape.
As if that were not enough, _allecto_'s racial issues surface in the middle of her uninformed diatribe as well.
Let me just say now that I have never personally known of a healthy relationship between a white man and a woman of colour.
Well let me just say now that anecdotal racism is still racism. Period. Full stop. End of story. This is absolutely no different than every misogynist preaching that women are inferior or every racist preaching race X is inferior.
The problem isn't that one misguided, ignorant individual is exercising her free speech on the Internet; I mean, this is the Internet after all, home to all manner of fools and bigots. The problem is that, by calling herself a "radical feminist", she is making herself part of the problem; a tremendous part. Every "radical feminist" like this demeans every rational feminist in existence. It lends credence to arguments that feminism is mere man-hatred. It gives demagogues something to point to when they're trying to persuade reasonable people that feminists have nothing logical or intelligent to say. One well formulated rebuttal of feminism, citing a handful of articles of this nature, can do significant damage to the valid educational efforts that feminism is striving toward. For feminist causes to continue to make headway, this sort of thing must cease, or at least a manner of managing the damage it causes must be found.
Unfortunately, saying "she's not a real feminist" is insufficient. To begin with, it is a fallacy of equivocation; there is no definition of a "real feminist", so there can be no "true feminist" by which these pseudo-feminists can be measured and discarded. More is required. What we are stuck with is constantly having to defend true, rational feminism from being usurped by the "radical feminists" who are really no such thing. I know it exists, though. I am currently engaged to a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman who is a feminist-- a feminist that has maintained her sense of humor, dignity, and logic despite a cottage industry designed to get women to act any way but. The difficulty lies in showing others that these sort of people (and, frankly, these sort of arguments) exist.
What can we do? I, for one, have started to be more careful what causes or champions I am willing to promote. Close examination of the views of those feminists that I have chosen to laud as enlightened has yielded some eye-opening information. But that's just a start; the most important thing we can do is to persevere, and loudly. Don't be scared away from pointing out when a fellow feminist expresses a patently absurd idea. Don't fear being labeled as owned or fooled by the patriarchy (or as just another man who wouldn't know what he's talking about anyway). It takes a tremendous amount of courage, but that courage is out there. Recognize for every Sheila Cronan or Valerie Solanas (or our esteemed rape-redefiner Dani, here), there are women like Betty Friedan, Maxine Kingston, and Christina Hoff Sommers; brilliant women that fight for equity feminism as opposed to separatist, divisive feminism. Finally, it is time to take back the language. I subscribe to Katha Pollitt's belief that gender politics that seek to divide rather than unite should be referred to as sexist, rather than feminist. Men and women that subscribe to these beliefs aren't feminists, they are sexists--practitioners of misogyny and misandry. Nothing more.
Generally speaking, I am no longer shocked when I read such libelous, odious, and noisome tripe. That fact bothers me more than anything else.