Here are some things Joss Whedon wants you to know: he didn’t quit Twitter because of feminist backlash, and the backlash wasn’t necessarily from feminists.
Yesterday we reported the news that Joss Whedon had left Twitter, closing down his account just after he’d wrapped up the Avengers: Age of Ultron press tour.
While Whedon had previously stated that he’d be leaving Twitter to get back to writing new content, the outpouring of negative (read: derogatory and hateful) feedback he’d received after the release of Ultron led many to believe that he’d simply had enough of the abuse — and after reading through some of his mentions, we wouldn’t have blamed him if that had been the case!
But in a BuzzFeed interview, Whedon sets some things straight about his reasons for leaving Twitter, and the nature of the abusive messages he received.
On why he left Twitter, he says, “I just thought, ‘Wait a minute, if I’m going to start writing again, I have to go to the quiet place.’ And [Twitter] is the least quiet place I’ve ever been in my life.”
Whedon also addresses the claim that feminists were the ones attacking him, all-caps shouting about Age of Ultron‘s (alleged — this isn’t the place for us to argue one way or another!) issues with Black Widow, perceived misogyny, and a joke about Prima Nocta (the ancient European law giving ruling Lords the right to sleep with newly married women).
“I saw a lot of people say, ‘Well, the social justice warriors destroyed one of their own!’,” Whedon (who himself identifies as a feminist) says. “It’s like, nope. That didn’t happen. I saw someone tweet it’s because Feminist Frequency pissed on Avengers 2, which for all I know they may have. But literally the second person to write me to ask if I was OK when I dropped out was [founder] Anita [Sarkeesian].”
At this point, it is also important to note that the people sending him hateful tweets are not necessarily feminists. They are trolls; however they claim to politically identify doesn’t excuse or explain their behavior.
Whedon continues, “for someone like Anita Sarkeesian to stay on Twitter and fight back the trolls is a huge statement. It’s a statement of strength and empowerment and perseverance, and it’s to be lauded. For somebody like me to argue with a bunch of people who wanted Clint and Natasha to get together, not so much.”
“You don’t really change people’s minds through a tweet. You change it through your actions,” Whedon empathizes. “The action of Anita being there and going through that and getting through that and women like her — that says a lot.”
He does empathize that for all the mean tweets, there’s also been plenty of support. “So many people have said mean things, but so many people have said wonderful things,” Whedon says. “But how much approbation do I need before I become creepy?”
Will he ever re-open his account? Maybe. But, “right now I’m the man who thinks he could do better without [Twitter].”
It’s nice to hear that Joss Whedon didn’t leave Twitter because of the trolls, but it’s still unfortunate that this type of backlash has to happen at all. Do we really need to actively seek to remove someone else’s autonomy, to make our own voice heard?