This last weekend I not only had the honor of listening to one of my biggest influences talk about gender equality, but also had the opportunity to discuss it with him as well. Joss Whedon was a huge inspiration for me to be more bold about the feminist themes in my work. If you were to look back to my earlier work until now, you can actually see that message become more overt. Largely due to my introduction to the Whedonverse, I finally came to that realization it was important for me as a male creator in a male dominated world, to do so.
I grew up in a house hold where I had a strong female role model, and a father, who not only saw his wife as an equal, but listened and valued her counsel more than anyone else. In my mind, I never questioned that men and women were equal. I saw our togetherness as a 1 to 1 partnership designed to build each other up equally, not some other disproportionate ratio made to use and disadvantage our counterparts. It was only when I got older and began to see and truly hear what women were saying about their struggles and inequality.
My conclusion that I identify as a feminist came from my understanding that men, particularly privileged straight white males, need to be part of the solution not the problem. The word "feminist" isn't this scary beast that some men fear means women must have all the power; it not that at all. It's equality. Equal and fair opportunities for both sexes (and gender identities) that benefit everyone. Film, animation, comics, art, business, everything in our society has a subtle way of undermining women not only in our casual behaviors but even more so in our reinforced portrayals of women in our work. I’ve since dedicated a portion of what create to empowering women, by creating characters or pieces that show non-sexualized* strong women in ways that I, other men and women themselves should see women. Not our better halves, not a sexy trophies or un-realistic fantasized version of what no human can be, but our equals. We need to stop writing stories centered around male characters who win over women with their prowess, stop drawing women bent over in unnatural positions with their body parts barely holding themselves in their clothes, and start exploring a broader pool of interesting and valuable stories that just get pushed aside because “they wont sell.” It’s not that they won’t, they simply don’t because we don’t invest our money, our intellect and talent into creating more and more of this content with genuine interest and intent.
I am thankful for every opportunity that I have been given on this crazy ride I’ve been on creating, and hope that what I do empowers everyone. Hopefully one day message like this wont be a thing, that we can finally stop debating race, gender and every other different qualities that make us human… but until we get there, be kind, speak up for those who are disadvantaged and hopefully we can be the generation that stops spreading hate.
If you’re at all interested in what this event I went to was about, please check out this link: http://www.heforshe.org/ #HeForShe
*I do have sexualized content with women, but I take time to consider the female perspective when doing so. If I touch on these topics I try my best to make these genuine explorations of a characters sexuality, or a relatable scenario I realized women experience, just like men.