Writer-Director Joss Whedon Stands up for Equality for Women

That there is a gender gap in most professions in our country is no secret, and the fact that said gender gap is especially pronounced in film and media is no exaggeration. I’ve never thought of myself as an especially hard-core feminist or even a trailblazer as a female in animation, but that’s mostly because it boggles my mind why I would even need to. Why is there a gender gap? Why is this even a “thing”? Why would I be paid any less than a man for doing the same job? Why is this the way of our culture? It’s a question that may never be answered, and an issue that without a doubt needs to be set right.

That’s why this short video of a speech given by seasoned writer-director Joss Whedon resonated so strongly with me, to the point of giving me chills near the end. Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly and most recently the director of the Avengers, has long been known for creating strong female characters. He’s been creating them for so long, in fact, that he was honored by Equality Now for his solidarity with women way back in 2006. Thanks to the wonders of the “viral video”, this speech Whedon made at the Equality Now event seven years ago is just now going viral – and I love what he has to say, so I felt compelled to share it with you. But first, let me tell you a bit more about his track record.

Whedon’s strong female characters, from the resilient and resourceful Buffy to Firefly’s independent Zoe Washburne and genius River Tam, to Dollhouse’s butt-kicking Echo are always smartly written and directed. These ladies showcase more than just looks ; they are total-package “real” women, exhibiting physical strength, intellectual prowess, and critical thinking as well as a wide range of emotions. Whedon has written these characters at their best and at their worst to be real, and really strong.

So after years and years and years of answering the same seemingly asinine question, “So why do you write such strong female characters?” Whedon exasperatedly gave a definitive answer. It’s an answer I love and frankly, I don’t think I could have said it any better myself, so I’ll quote him directly.

“Because. Equality is not a concept. It’s 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.”

His words are true, and they are great…but they are even better with his own passionate inflection and expression. Take a few minutes to watch this video and stay with it for the fireworks around the 6:25 mark.

So…what did you think of Whedon’s speech? How long do you think it will be before reporters stop asking him “that question”?

  • Uber

    “why arn(t you asking hundred other guys why they don’t write strong women character?”… Brilliant ! 🙂

  • nancy gruver

    Great blog – and questions we all need to answer as we do our work! P.s. my email seems to go to your spam – nancyg at newmoon.com

  • Javier

    Wow! That was amazing. Never thought of equality as passionate as this fella seems to ;
    “is not part of human true nature” I like that. I want to be like him

  • What hurts is that 7 years later he’s STILL answering that question.
    Somehow, when I was my daughter’s age, I thought we’d be further along this road by now.

  • Cristian I. Fabio

    Interesting and true, the gap is verdar, made me think.

  • Brenda Chi

    Agreed, Brenda! I’m in a story class right now and another group, full of dudes who struggle in writing a female protagonist who is strong and has character arc. There’s some stereotype that female protagonists have to be weak and have no arc, and I’m so glad people like you and Joss create strong female protagonists that the entertainment industry has been lacking. I aspire to do the same, one day in the industry!

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