The Gender Blender: An Open Letter to Joss Whedon (and Anyone Else Who Cares About Being a Better Ally)

Dear Joss,

My name is Teresa. I’m a Latina, heterosexual, cis woman. I’m a writer, and when I think about writers whose careers I’d like to emulate, I often think about you. I’m a huge geek, and your shows and comics are among my favorite stories in the world. I wrote an essay in the book Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon By the Women Who Love Them called “Why Joss Is More Important Than His ‘Verse,” where I not only tell my geek “coming-out” story (coming out as a geek, I mean), but I assert that your importance as a storyteller has less to do with the actual stories and more to do with your activism as a person. I cite your Equality Now speech. I cite activism taken on by Browncoats all over the world who were inspired by you and your work to make the world a better place. I make the case that as good a writer as you are, you’re a better human being, and that’s the reason why your presence in Hollywood is important.

This is why I was so disappointed when I was alerted to this blog post, which talks about a sarcastic comment you made on Twitter in response to a fan question:

I get that you were making a joke. I get that you weren’t even thinking about transgender people when you made this off-the-cuff comment…

And that’s kind of the problem. That it didn’t even cross your mind. And it really should. Because if you consider yourself an “LGBT” ally, you have to remember that the “T” stands for something, and deserves as much respect and consideration and care as all those other letters.

But even that is OK. Listen, even the most well-intentioned people screw up from time to time, or something inconsiderate slips out of their mouth that may or may not hurt someone’s feelings. It happens. Lord knows it happens to me! My problem isn’t with the original tweet. My problem is with what came after.

After several tweets calling you to task for that comment, your response was this:

So…a bunch of trans* fans reach out to you, upset because they feel slighted by you, and your response is basically “You guys, I was clearly not being serious, and if you don’t believe that, you’re free to unfollow me.”

REALLY?! Yup, that’s what I had a problem with. Because you should know better. and as I tweeted in response to you:

I know that you have a track record of feminism. I know that you want to be an LGBT ally. And that’s so important, and when you do it, you do it well. The thing is, being an ally means being a continual work in progress. It’s not something that’s ever “finished.” You can’t just call yourself a feminist and be done. You can’t just call yourself an LGBT ally and be done. It means being open to criticism and learning from it. It means acknowledging how privileged you are every single day, and knowing that despite your best intentions, sometimes you’ll say the wrong thing.  It’s fucking work.

And when you say something insensitive, and a member of a marginalized minority says “Hey, what you said kinda insulted my entire group,” the only acceptable response is, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I won’t let it happen again.” OR, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize what I said was offensive. Please tell me why so that I understand and don’t do it again.” The correct answer is never “I can’t believe you didn’t get I was sarcastic.” Once you start defending your sarcasm when other people are telling you they’re legitimately offended, you’re not acting like an ally anymore.

And when you think about it, what are you actually defending when you get defensive about something like that? Free speech? Your right to be insulting without consequence? Is that a right you really want to fight for? (And for the record, we always have the right to be insulting. And others have the right to express their displeasure. It’s how that works.)

This isn’t about whether it was a joke or not, nor is this about you being a horrible person. This is about your response to criticism. This is about not resting on your laurels. This is about acknowledging that you make mistakes, but that you want very much to learn from them. It’s about remembering that if we genuinely believe that words and stories have power, that we should all wield that power a little more carefully – but especially those of us who wield words professionally. Because others are watching to see what we do.

As for me, it’s about not being passive about the content I enjoy. It’s about knowing that the pen really is mightier than the sword, and speaking up when the people wielding the pens release a little more hate into the world than they might have intended. There’s a big responsibility on both sides, and it’s about neither side shirking it.

It’s about changing the world. Seems right up your alley. 🙂

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SONG OF THE DAY: “BRAND NEW DAY” – NEIL PATRICK HARRIS (from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog)

I feel good today! Yes, there’s big changes happening, but I’m able to prepare for them. There are people who love me. There are options. There’s hope.

What’s funny, though, is that my feeling good about upcoming changes isn’t all birdies and sunshine. There’s a lot of Fuck You in my determination to make the best of things. 🙂 I was trying to think of a song that would capture that, and every song I came up with was just too damn saccharine.

Until I thought of the perfect song.

Today’s Song of the Day is “Brand New Day” sung by Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible in Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Enjoy!

Now if you don’t mind, I’m gonna go get The Boy the keys to a shiny new Australia.

** DON’T FORGET THE POUND BY POUND PLEDGE DRIVE –RUNNING APR. 5TH 2013-APR. 5TH 2014 **

Tor Post: “The Joss Whedon SDCC Firefly Talk You Might Have Missed”

Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Tim Minear, Sean Maher, Nathan Fillian, and Joss Whedon. (Summer Glau is next to Whedon on the floor, but that tattooed dude got in front of me so I couldn’t maneuver! A photographer, I am not.)

We’re in the home stretch of SDCC posts, Ladies and Gentlemen! 🙂 Karin Kross over at Tor.com did a great write-up of the Firefly 10th Anniversary SDCC panel in Ballroom 20. I, however, was lucky enough to get into the Firefly 10th Anniversary press conference immediately afterward, where I got to hear a little more in-depth discussion about Firefly and what it means to the creators and cast.

Excerpt:

One of the more interesting quotes of the day came from Whedon, when a reporter, who brought up Star Trek as a more hopeful look at our future and Firefly as a less utopian one, asked him what he thinks Firefly says to us about our future. “We’re doomed? [laughs] I don’t have any faith in mankind, but I love my friends desperately, and the faith that I have is in their ability to band together when things are appalling and protect each other. That is the definition and biological reason for family. And created family is what I believe in. And so, no, I don’t think we’re gonna solve the problems and have the Federation…”

For the complete article, or to comment on the post, CLICK HERE.

Tor Post: “Buffy Season 9: Dark Horse Lets Buffy Grow Up”

Check out my latest over at Tor.com today! I take on the Buffy Season 9 (and 8) comics and let you know why they’re they’re the best thing you might not be reading. If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon or the Buffyverse, go on and give it a read, will you? 🙂

EXCERPT:

I’m 32 going on 33. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer film (starring Kristy Swanson as the titular heroine, and the dreamy Luke Perry, riding high on his Dylan McKay fame) came out when I was thirteen; when High School was still new and exciting, and a sixteen-year-old like Buffy Summers seemed so worldly. I saw the film in the theater, and thought it so awesome that I immediately got posters and bought the tie-in novelization. By contrast, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show (starring Sarah Michelle Gellar) came out when I started college. Suddenly, Buffy was two years younger than me, and watching her high school antics seemed more nostalgic than current. Over time, I fell in love with the show, mostly because of Joss Whedon’s writing and that of his brilliant team, but I didn’t watch at first, because the whole thing seemed a bit silly. What had once made sense to me as a high schooler suddenly felt cheesy.

Which is why I’ve been such a huge fan of the continuation of the Buffyverse in Dark Horse Comics. They allow Buffy Summers to grow up.

To read the full article, or to comment on the post, CLICK HERE!

My Response To Moviefone

The Guy’s Guide To Raising Kids: What You Need To Know If You Know Nothing**

by Joe Blow

As your girlfriend has probably told you, she’s knocked up, and the kid’s coming any day now. And you, dutiful boyfriend, are gonna Man Up. But you hate kids, and you don’t even, like, have little cousins or anything. (Of course, that’s not a slight against the dudes who actually wanna be dads – ie: those guys you know who wear pastel colors and are a little effeminate and watch movies like Knocked Up without any irony – but for this, let’s just stick with the stock view of dudes, dudes!)

Still, there’s no need to worry. Beyond the fact that having a MiniYou will be Awesome (note the capital A), we’ve created a streamlined Guys Guide to ward off any confusion or middle-of-the-night how-the-hell-do-I-attach-this-diaper whisperings.

Including all sorts of girlfriend-impressing shit (stuff that’ll totally get you back in her pants once she’s not carrying a kid anymore), below is everything you need to know about being a dad:

The Backstory
Seriously, dude? You didn’t use a condom? You couldn’t spring for an abortion? This shit’s on you now.

The Main Players:
You: Hell, yeah you’re the Main Playah, Playah! But you can’t make it like it’s all about you. It’s your job now to pay the bills and shut the hell up. Wifey (I don’t care if you’re married or not. Once she’s your Baby Mama, she’s Wifey) makes all the decisions from here on in.
Wifey: Baby Mama. Practice saying the following in the mirror – “Yes, baby. Whatever you want, baby.” Because from the time that kid is born, you become Number Two, and there aren’t even particles small enough to signify how little of a shit Wifey will give about what Number Two says. “Number Two” is code for shit for a reason. She already thinks you’re shit, so she ain’t gonna give any about you. Except when she wants to give you shit, which will be all the time.
The Baby: MiniYou, but don’t ever say that. If Wifey asks, always say it looks like her even if you know better. Will be seeing Wifey’s titties more than you will from here on in. ‘Nough said.
Wifey’s Parents: Where she got all her crazy ideas from.
Your Parents: Sure they put you through college, but even they’re leaving you high and dry, taking Wifey’s side just cause they want a cute grandkid.

Terms:
Diaper Genie: No, it won’t grant you three wishes. What it will do is force you to have a big-ol’ strand of shit-filled sausage links. Somehow, someone got the idea that having a big plastic  container of shitty diapers was better than throwing them out one at a time. And you’d better pretend you like it too, even though half the time you’ll end up taking the top off and cramming all that nastiness back into the can, because the top part doesn’t work right. I don’t care how smart you are. You will fuck it up at least once.
Baby Bjorn: No, it’s not the hot Swedish nanny you want to hire. Or the one you wish was Wifey. Or that chick in that porn you bookmarked on the laptop Wifey doesn’t know you have. This is the thing you’re going to be carrying MiniYou around in. Sure it’ll make you look like an asshole. But you’ll be an asshole carrying a kid, which means that somewhere, there’s a woman that your potent ass boned and made pregnant, and that’s pretty sweet.
Desitin: At some point, you’ll have to rub this on MiniYou’s ass. Keeps their ass cheeks from getting all chapped and shit from their diapers. Try to convince Wifey to get Anti-Monkey Butt instead. It’s the same stuff, pretty much, but the name is hilarious.
Yo Gabba Gabba: A kid show that you will inevitably have to watch at some point, and will make you want to shoot yourself in the fucking face. But you better learn all the songs, otherwise MiniYou is gonna throw, like, twelve tantrums, and Wifey will throw the thirteenth. But yo, seriously? Biz Markie is on it. I wouldn’t lie to you, Bruh. It’s true.

Bromance:
Yo, I know the only team you play on is the one where you get to impregnate ladies. I mean, that’s how you got here in the first place, right? But if you want a good dad example, who was more badass than fucking Phillip Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes? Answer: nobody.

Lady Crush:
I know you wish that your Baby Mama was as hot as Katherine Heigel in Knocked Up, or fucking Ellen Page in Juno. But she’s not. You just need to get the fuck over it.

What NOT to say:
“Of course I love you, Juno. I mean, Wifey.”
“The baby looks like an old man.”
“I didn’t get to be involved in your ‘pro-choice,’ so I’m not getting involved in changing shitty diapers.”

What to say:
“I wasn’t using my manhood anyway.”
“I don’t have an opinion.”
“Whatever you want.”

_________________________________________________________________________

Dear Moviefone:

THAT is satire.

YOU.

ASSHOLES.

Though, understandably, you might not recognize it as such, being that it’s well-written and factually accurate. And spell-checked.

I will be going to see The Avengers this weekend, because I’m actually already a fan of both Joss Whedon and comics. And people like me are the only “guide” a newcomer to either Whedon’s work or the medium needs.

**For those not in the loop, this is in response to a really stupid post at the Moviefone website about The Avengers that was supposed to be a “satire,” but was actually really offensive to me, not only as a woman, but as a geek and as a fan of the English Language.

Fun With Fandom!

My Fandoms (ie: the fictional worlds I love, and that I love to explore with other fans):

Doctor Who (both New and Classic)

Grimm

Fringe

Once Upon a Time

Star Trek (all series, except Voyager, which is the only one I haven't watched yet)

Battlestar Galactica/Caprica (yes, equally!)

Lost

The Whedonverse

So…I came across this on Tumblr, but since my Tumblr’s so very specific, I don’t like to bog it down with fangirl squeeing (unless that fangirl squeeing has some sort of feminist bent!). But I love surveys/questions/memes like this, so I thought I’d bring it home to the blog. In a comment, choose three letters you’d most like me to answer, and I will reply.

Yay! I love answering questions!

FANDOM EDITION: Are these the kind of things you’d like to be asked? (courtesy of imafangirlnotadoctor)

A – Your current OTP
(“One True Pairing” for my non-geek friends!)

B – A pairing you initially didn’t consider but someone changed your mind

C – A pairing you have never liked and probably never will

D – A pairing you wish you liked but just can’t

E – Have you added anything stupid/cracky/hilarious to your fandom, if so, what

F – What’s the longest you’ve ever been in a fandom

G – Do you remember your first OTP, if so who was in it

H – Do you prefer characters from real action series or anime series

I – Has tumblr (or social media) caused you to stop liking any fandoms, if so, which and why

J – Name a fandom you didn’t care/think about until you saw it all over tumblr (or social media)

K – How do you feel about the other people in your current fandom

L – Your favorite fanartist/author gives you one request, what do you ask for

M – Your favorite fanart or fanartist

N – Your favorite fanfiction or fanauthor

O – Choose a song at random, which OTP does it remind you of

P – Invent a random AU for any fandom (we always need more ideas)

Q – A ship you’ve abandoned and why

R – A pairing you ship that you don’t think anyone else ships

S – Show us an example of your personal headcanon

T – If you mostly have homoships, do you have any heteroships

U – If you mostly have heteroships, do you have any homoships

V – Are you one of those fans who can’t watch anything without shipping

W – 5 favorite characters from 5 different fandoms

X –  3 OTPs from 3 different fandoms

Y – A fandom you’re in but have no ships from

Z – Just ramble about something fan-related, go go go

Whedonistas Panel At Geek Girl Con!

As you might have seen on Twitter or Facebook, I have the privilege of moderating a Whedonistas panel at Geek Girl Con in October! SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8TH from 5:30-6:30PM to be exact. There will also be a pre-panel signing that morning, from 10:30AM to 11:30AM in the vendor room at the University Book Store table (booth 308-309).

But whom will be on this panel, do you ask? I mean, in addition to fabulous, wonderous me? 😉

None other than the fabulously talented JANE ESPENSON (Buffy, BSG, Caprica, Torchwood, and her new webseries, Husbands), who has an exclusive interview in Whedonistas; NANCY HOLDER (NY Times bestselling author of The Watcher’s Guide among a million other things) whose piece in Whedonistas talks about her time spent on the set of Buffy; and MARIAH HUEHNER (IDW Comics – writer on Angel and True Blood comics, among others!), whose Whedonistas essay talks about why she loves Buffy even when Buffy is sometimes difficult to love. I get to share a stage with these women, y’all. So, if you can get to Seattle, you need to come check it out!

If only to catch me when I pass out and fall off the dais because of the sheer awesome of it all.

So, the deets once again:

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8TH

10:30AM-11:30AMWhedonistas signing with JANE ESPENSON, NANCY HOLDER, MARIAH HUEHNER, and TERESA JUSINO at the University Book Store table (Booth  308-309).

5:30PM-6:30PMWhedonistas panel with JANE ESPENSON, NANCY HOLDER, and MARIAH HUEHNER. Moderated by TERESA JUSINO. There will be talk of Whedon (natch), as well as the Whedonistas reading short excerpts from their pieces in the book, plus time for Q&A, and some Whedon Trivia, where you might be able to walk away with a free copy of Whedonistas (and perhaps some other prizes!). Do you love Joss Whedon? (and really, how could you not?) Think you know everything about the man and his work? Put your knowledge to the test at the Whedonistas panel at Geek Girl Con!