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Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon is the creator of several popular television shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and Dollhouse. He also made several movies such as The Cabin in the Woods and the movie The Avengers based on the Marvel comics.

Many people congratulate Whedon for his kick-ass female characters, however, many also question his feminist credentials.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Whedon first came to feminist attention for Buffy the Vampire Slayer which originally aired from 1997-2003, running to seven series over that period.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" showed a teenage girl, Buffy Summers, as a hero. Buffy was feminine in appearance, and cared about normative teenage girl things like cheerleading and fashion, while also fighting to protect her community against supernatural threats. The show "Buffy" also had many other female characters, both good and evil, and frequently passed the Bechdel test.

"Buffy" was widely analysed and spawned a field of academic studies originally called "Buffy Studies" or "Buffyology" and later called "Whedon studies" (see below).

On strong female characters and Whedon as a feminist writer

Many of the women in Whedon's work have been called strong female characters. Buffy is the most obvious of these, though characters like Willow Rosenberg and Zoe Washburne are also given as examples.

Joss Whedon describes this in a speech: "Why do you write these strong female characters?" (on YouTube)

Some other writing on Whedon as a feminist includes:

However, in more recent years there has been considerable opposition to Whedon as a feminist writer, and criticism of his work for its racism, portrayal of rape culture, women in refrigerators, and other problematic tropes.

Buffy studies/Whedon studies

The academic study of Whedon's work is called "Whedon Studies" or formerly "Buffy Studies". The main centre of these studies is the Association for Whedon Studies, who have produced the journal "Slayage" has since January 2001[1].

The following academic authors/books examine Whedon's work from a feminist perspective or discuss gender in Buffy:

  • Rhonda Wilcox
    • "Sex and The Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer for the Buffy Fan" (2005)
  • Lorna Jowett
  • Stacey Abbott
  • Roz Kaveney

More may be found in the following links which classify Buffy Studies articles by topic:

See also:

Feminist praise for Whedon's work

Criticisms of Whedon's work


Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel: the Series

"Buffy on the other hand is kept almost virginal and is punished severely almost every time she has sex."


Dr. Horrible


"Me: Have you got anything without rape? Joss Whedon: Well, there's rape, intrigue, shirtless Helo and rape, that's not got much rape in it."


A number of notable feminist fanworks have been produced from, and/or in response to, Whedon's shows, including:

External Links