This past week, awesome human and genius of cinema Joss Whedon was honored by Equality Now at the Beverly Hills “Make Equality a Reality” event for his work on gender equality. When called to the stage, Whedon proceeded to make the most perfect speech, critiquing the word “feminist” and exposing the way in which words today carry such incredible power with them.
Addressing equality and his problem with “feminist,” (not feminists, he quickly clarifies) Whedon explains,
“Because you can't be born an ist. It's not natural. ... So feminist includes the idea that believing men and women to be equal, believing all people to be people, is not a natural state. That we don't emerge assuming that everybody in the human race is a human, that the idea of equality is just an idea that's imposed on us. That we are indoctrinated with it, that it's an agenda. And that's when I realize what my problem is (well, one of my problems). My problem with feminist is not the word. It's the question. It's the question. "Are you now, or have you ever been, a feminist?'"
Whedon’s focus on the word “feminist” perfectly addresses the many female celebrities today who claim to not be feminist. Signaling out Katy Perry in particular, he states,
“The great Katy Perry once said – I'm paraphrasing – ‘I'm not a feminist but I like it when women are strong.’ That's lovely, Katy. Don't know why she feels the need to say the first part, but listening to the word and thinking about it, I realize I do understand. This question that lies before us is one that should lie behind us.”
Though fourteen minutes long, the speech is a must-watch. Through his signature wit, Whedon makes a compelling and passionate argument, tackling today’s genderism and urging people to consider what “feminist” really means before making grand assumptions about the word.