A friend of mine whose blog I read linked to this article. I don't think I have ever been so appalled by someone who, initially, I would want to agree with.
I was almost willing to go along with the essayist's ideas until she started saying Joss Whedon rapes his wife. Yes, she really said that. And not just once, but several times, both in her essay, and in the comments.
"Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Joss uses his own wife in this way," from the essay.
"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." from this comment
These are the most tasteless, baseless, unnecessary statements ever put in an essay. If she was so bent on focusing on the pilot episode--something she asserts in the comments, why throw that in there? It is an ad hominem attack, even ignoring how inappropriate it is.
"What the fuck is this feminist man trying to say about women here? A black woman calling a white man ‘sir’. A white male captain who abuses and silences his female crew, with no consequences. The women are HAPPY to be abused. They enjoy it. What does this say about women, Joss? What does this say about you? Do you tell your wife to shut up? Do you threaten to duct tape her mouth? Lock her in the bedroom? Is this funny to you, Joss? Because it sure as fuck ain’t funny to me."
If I tilt my head to the right and squint a little, I can see her argument about the racist and sexist take on the Mal/Zoe/Wash thing, as well as the Kaylee thing. But just because I can see it, doesn't mean I agree with it. At no point in the series or the movie, do I get the impression Zoe would put up with an ounce of disrespect from either man, directed at her or anyone else.
I find it very disingenuous that the essayist totally glosses over the fact that the reason Zoe is "violent," and the reason she calls Mal "sir," is because she is a soldier. During the war and on Serenity, Mal is her superior. These facts have nothing to do with his maleness or her skin color.
Lastly, I found her take on Inara and the Companions thoroughly repugnant. She went past hating sex work, and straight to hating sex workers, which is really unconscionable. According to her profile, all comments to her journal which are pro-porn or pro-prostitution will be immediately deleted. Likewise, she says in a later comment, "I would argue that most 'sex' between men and women, in the contemporary 'sex-positive', pornographic, male-supremacist culture, is rape."
This kind of radicalism completely ignores the real world. Yes, there are men who rape. Yes, there are men who emotionally leech from the women around them. Yes, there are men who oppress, and hate, and restrict. But not all men do. Moreover, not all men do so out of an inherent misogyny, but because of an indoctrinated cultural setting that can be unlearned.
I don't believe this woman can conceptualize a man striving to reframe his world view.
Ironically enough, from everything I know of him, that is exactly what Joss Whedon tries to do. Whatever this woman's interpretation of the Whedonverse is, the fact is, he has written the majority of the strong female characters that have graced the small screen in the last fifteen years. This is a man who, whatever of his she may disagree with, consistently proved that a show with a female lead could have staying power. Whatever critiques someone may have about his reliance on archetypes, I never felt for a second that he didn't try to set those same archetypes on their ears.
Joss Whedon is a man who has done everything in his power to present strong, intelligent female lead characters, and to support the female characters of other creators. To call him a misogynist--not even going near the other accusations laid at his feet--is grossly innaccurate.
A phallus is not automatically a weapon. The act of sex is not automatically an act of violence. Context is everything. If you go looking for misogyny, in any and all works, you will find it. But don't go marking things as misogynist that aren't.
And for the love of all that's holy, don't go around saying someone rapes their wife because you disagree with them. That's just not okay.