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Joss Whedon and Jean-Paul Sartre: the Wanker Phallosophers

July 6, 2008

Above: Phallosopher contemplating his meaningless existence, and how deep his meaninglessness is.

Ok, so I’m currently thinking a lot about the episode of Firefly, Objects in Space. This was the last episode of the TV series before production was stopped. And as such it became one of the most important to the fans of the series. Now I did want to talk about the racism of this particular episode. And I will. I will be focusing particularly on the construction of lust, both in this episode, and in the series as a whole. But first I wanted to talk a little about male philosophy as Wank.

Joss Whedon really loves Wank. That is basically the moral of this episode Objects in Space. I will be referring to Joss Whedon as a Phallosopher throughout this entry. I envisage Phallosophers to encompass all the Great Male Phallosophers throughout the ages. From Aristotle to Camus to Sartre to Whedon. Phallosophy is characterised by self-obsession, misogyny, and a disturbing, yet relentless tendency to produce Wank. Phallosophers are generally Bores. Now, what is common to most Phallosophers is their acute susceptibility to Male Artist Syndrome, as theorized very superbly by Dissenter.

Male Artist Syndrome – a mental disorder commonly found in men who call themselves creative artists (artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers etc.) whereby the man in question is only capable of thinking and operating on the level of the foreground. His ‘art’ inevitably reproduces the values, ideas etc. of male-stream culture and the Phallic State, and is particularly characterised by misogyny, racism, the erasure of women, the erasure of radically Other ways of thinking/being/feeling, and thinly veiled egocentric self-portrayals. The work of Male Artists is highly prized by other Male Artists, and male supremacists in general, for its lack of thought, which is called ‘depth’ in a classic example of patriarchal reversal.

Male Artists are incapable of recognising women as creative beings, especially women who work and create in the Background and refuse to participate in the shallow narcissism and self-indulgent nihilism that passes for creativity in the foreground. The only acceptable role for women who exist creatively on a foreground level is to be the adoring disciples of Male Artists, always ready to listen to them, agree with them, champion them as brilliant, insightful etc., and support and reproduce their ideas. These women are forbidden to have ideas of their own, especially ideas that contradict the Male Artists, or to connect with creative women who have journeyed into the Background and rejected Male Artists and the Phallic State that supports and produces them.

Joss Whedon wrote the episode, Objects in Space, in order to explore his own Phallosophical relationship to the world and in particular to objects. He Wanks his Phallosophy onto the bodies of a Black man and a young woman, which is highly problematic of itself, but I’ll talk about that in another post.

In the commentary of the episode Objects in Space Whedon outlines why he wrote the episode and what the episode means to him. His discussion is as follows.

Now let’s go back in time to me when I was 16. It was at that age that I became old enough to realise that I had no faith and very soon after that I had, what I can very pretentiously describe as, an existential epiphany. And I had it, embarrassingly but somehow appropriately during a Spielburg movie. I was in London, by myself, during a school break, in the fall where I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind and something in me kind of snapped. I started to think for the first time in an adult fashion about life, about time, about reality, about dying, about all of the thing that are right there in front of us every day but that as children and often as adults, we take for granted, or find some easy explanation for if we can. In my case, I was presented with the totality of things but with no coherent pattern to put them in, I just suddenly understood that real life was happening.

Friend of mine gave me the most important book I ever read which was Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre. Apart from that, and a little bit of The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus I really haven’t read extensively about existentialism or absurdism, I don’t want to paint myself as an intellectual, I really don’t know anything about philosophy. But I did know that this book spoke to what I believe more accurately and completely than anything I had ever read. And what it talked about was the pain of being aware of things and their existence outside of their meaning.

Hmm… the pain of being aware of things existing. Deep stuff here.

So I decided to read this Sartre dude since Joss seems to be so enamoured. Dissenter had a copy of Nausea and I grabbed it off her and dived in. Now the guy who wrote this book was fucked in the head. The protagonist is a complete narcissist who seems to have an obsession with men who sexually assault children. The protagonist also hates women, no big surprised there.

Here are some of the highlights from Nausea:

Since the Patron was there, I had to fuck her, but it was really out of politeness. She disgusts me slightly, she is too white and besides she smells like a new-born baby… I toyed absent-mindedly with her sex under the bedclothes… I let my arm move along the woman’s side and suddenly I saw a little garden with low, wide-spreading trees from which huge hairy leaves were hanging. Ants were running everywhere, centipedes and moths. There were some even more horrible animals: their bodies were made of slices of toast such as you put under roast pigeon; they were walking sideways with crab-like legs. The broad leaves were black with animals. Behind the cacti and the Barbary fig trees, the Velleda of the municipal park was pointing to her sex. “This park smells of vomit,” I shouted.

Flattering, no?

In the following passage the protagonist describes a man exposing himself to a little girl:

I… was fascinated by the little girl’s face. Her features were drawn with fear and her heart must have been beating madly: but on that rat-like face I could also distinguish something potent and evil. It was not curiosity but rather a sort of assured expectation. I felt helpless: I was outside, on the edge of the park, on the edge of their little drama; but they were riveted to each other by the obscure power of their desires, they formed a couple.

Fucked up shit. Little girls are evil and desperately want men to come up and expose their penises to them. They desire it, you know, ‘cause women and girls can never get enough of the Phallus Supremus.

There are many more disturbing things about the book Nausea but I am not going to list all of them. I just wanted to make the point that the book is sickeningly sexist. And Sartre, like Whedon, suffers from an acute case of Male Artist Syndrome.

But I’m not all that interested in Sartre. I am interested in the way that Joss Whedon responds to him. I don’t think it is all that surprising that Joss finds a misogynist like Sartre profound, after all, Joss himself is a profound misogynist.

But let’s go back to Whedon’s little existential epiphany. I would argue that straight, white, rich, Western men like Joss are the only ones who have the luxury of waiting until they are 16 in order to realise that they exist and that their existence is meaningless. Straight, white, rich, Western men are the only ones who have the luxury of realising this and calling it philosophy. So Joss shared his touching memory about realising that he existed and that life and death happened. He called his Wank an epiphany even, as he sat in his rich, white comfort, watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

So I’m going to share my own story. Though it was not an epiphany, nor was it an existential awakening, and it certainly wasn’t philosophy. When I was about 11 I was living in a two bedroom apartment, on the second floor, in Finland. There were five children and 2 adults living in this apartment, and my mother was pregnant and suffering deep depression. We, with our dark skin and hair, were outsiders in this white supremacist country, and we felt it. But that sets the scene.

The story is me, sitting on the ledge of the second storey balcony and wanting to jump. It is my belief that the only thing that stopped me was the knowledge that it wouldn’t kill me. So I was thinking of ways of making sure that I would die when I hit the ground. If I dived from the balcony head first that would break my neck, but no, there was still a chance I would survive and then everything would be even worse than before.

I did not have the luxury of waiting until I was 16 to have an epiphany about the fact that the world existed, that I existed and that I was meaningless. I did not have the luxury of realizing that death existed in an abstract fashion while sitting in a cinema. The knowledge of death, for me, was graphically represented by the thought of my body lying lifeless on the concrete. My knowledge of life and death, my struggle to exist as a multiracial female under white male supremacy has been a struggle since the day I was born.

There were never any easy answers. But this story is not one about an epiphany, this story did not make me who I am today. The only thing that I learnt from sitting on that balcony was the fact that I am too spineless to kill myself.

But men like Whedon and Sartre take one look at the fact that their lives are meaningless and their next step is to make books and TV shows about meaninglessness and they call it philosophy!!!. The nerve of these fucking morons.

My discussions with Dissenter have provided valuable insight into the reasons that men Wank and call it philosophy. “Men’s lives are an exercise in futility,” she says, “males are essentially pointless so they have to have all of this existential angst about their lives.” This is true. Men, being rather superfluous creatures, must excrete Phallosophical Wank and believe it to be meaningful.

For women, life is not about meaninglessness. For women, life is a struggle to create meaning. Women do not write books about being nauseated by our own existence. There is a whole world FULL of men out there who are already nauseated by our existence. Women write about the power and the meaningfulness of existence, of life, in its own right. This is powerful magic; the beauty of existing, the beauty of surviving.

Let’s take me for example. A whole world full of people told me that my existence was meaningless. My first meaningful act of resistance was to love my mother, to break one of the most solid rules of male supremacy. The second was to love my sisters, and to love myself. Books, the wonderful cuntspeaking of women, helped me, more than anything else, to survive. So I learnt to write. Because myth-making and storytelling have long been used against us by men, but women were the first storytellers, we were the first poets. Believe it. We are more powerful with words than they are. And words can change the world.

At eleven, I believed that my life had no meaning. Now my life is full of meaning. I know who I am. I love. I experience beauty. I write.

I am not a philosopher. I am a poet, I am a cuntspeaker. Cuntspeaking is simple and meaningful. Cuntspeak is powerful and direct. Cuntspeak means. Cuntspeaking was a word Jane Caputi discovered by reading the work of an Athena who called Andrea Dworkin a cuntspeaker as an insult. I think cuntspeak is powerful as an image and as an ideology. You can read Caputi’s essay on cuntspeak in Not For Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography.

In conclusion, Phallosophers suck majorly. Cuntspeakers rule!!!

27 comments

  1. Thanks for this very moving and powerful post.
    I feel that many women spent their lives looking for ways their lives to have a meaning, not in self-obsessed way, but as a way to discover how to survive and in the long-term find joy in their lives.

    I was very moved by your memory of when you were eleven, it made remember a similar event when I was nine.
    I remember being at my bedroom window, about three or four floors up, and thinking calmly about killing myself. I remember thinking I would not die, just go to hospital.
    I was even then scared of hospitals.

    I wanted to die not for any deep reason. There no profound noton that I was meanlessness.
    No, I wanted to die because I knew my stepdad would have sex with me. I wanted to die coz I could not imagine anyone believing or helping me. I wanted to die coz I was in pain.

    When I read highly privileged men whining about the “meanlessness” of their existence, it makes very angry.
    They think the world circle round them. Do they believe that when their eyes are shut all existence vanishes.

    For many women who have survive living with male oppression, the bravery to go forward and survive gives their live great meaning.

    I had many experiences that Wankers would call epiphanies, but I would called seeing the reality of the hate and violence that men choose to put on me.

    I saw it in the dead eyes I saw in porn,
    I saw it felt myself become a robot for my stepdad.
    And I know it when I violently abused as a prostituted woman.

    Those times give me an relationship with death.
    Wanting to die was not a self-indulgent philosophy, but a logical way to survive.
    Death was the only thing that was private to me.

    I am sorry to go on so long, and in an incoherent way.

    But the reason I write is make some sense of the chaos of my past.
    And to to learn to forgive myself.

    Writing is extremely powerful. For it can give women their lives back.


  2. Great post, Allecto. Ever since I had a few personal realizations and became a feminist myself, I’ve had a lot of those “smack myself in the forehead” moments when I look back at liking Buffy in high school. Luckily I was never into Firefly, haven’t watched through a single episode. Did see Serenity, though.

    Really puts the hypocrisy of Whedon’s “Equality Now” speech into perspective.


  3. thank you for your discussion and passion. You inspired me to post a poem that I was afraid to post for some reason.


  4. Rebecca, thank you so much for that comment. You have no need to apologise for sharing your insights. You know that I think you are amazing and you have taught me so much.

    Everything you say hear makes so much sense. Especially, “Writing is extremely powerful. For it can give women their lives back.” Very true. I see that shining through in your writing.

    Aerik, thank you. I loved Buffy when I was younger. But yeah as I got older I began to see problems with some of the things that show was saying. But I only got angry enough to write about Joss Whedon when I saw Firefly. I almost think it is worth watching as an indication of how misogynist our world has become.

    dredgirl, I’m glad you have the courage to post your poem. Speaking out is sometimes very scary. I find it very difficult to write about my past even. It seems to make me more vulnerable.


  5. allecto, I can’t tell you how much this post means to me. There is more life in your blog alone (and Rebecca’s) than there is in all the “male-stream media” combined. The extreme dreadfulness of the great majority of journalism, films, and etc. now is indicative of how coddled, ignorant, life-hating men churn out the foreground for the sake of ego, money, and power while not having a clue about real life. A frightening percentage of men, certainly including the phallosphers, are mere trophy humans.

    All reverence to you and Rebecca and the other women’s liberationist bloggers who keep me focused!

    You have blown my mind in your expression of this woeful fact. And you have validated my own personal epiphany in the 1970’s as a Religious Studies major (at my university this was pretty much the same as a Philosophy major–we studied the same dead, dead guys as interpreted by the same deadly living prof’s) when I decided, the hell!, my opinion was as good as that of any of these “wankers.”

    All reverence to you, Rebecca, Heart, and all the other women’s liberationist bloggers and authors who keep me focused and hopeful!


  6. Well, my glitchy editing led to including TWO blessings in the same post, but you actually deserve many, many more than that, so “so be it”!


  7. Jean Paul Sartre was an arsehole, unfortunately so was Simone De Beauvoir. They both sexually exploited young women they taught.


  8. Oh Level Best, you are going to have to stop all of these songs of praise. Rebecca and Heart? I’m no where near as awesome as those two. :) I’ll get a big head!!!

    Yeah I studied one semester of philosophy. I couldn’t understand why they kept calling bullshit and wank philosophy. You want real philosophy? You want stuff that makes you think deeply about the world and our place within it? You want intellectual stimulation, beauty, passion, integrity, interconnectedness, love, meaningful poetry, depth… DON’T READ MEN (or male-identified women for that matter). Sad, but true. Audre Lorde, Ntozake Shange, Vandana Shiva, Farida Ahkter, Nawal El Saadawi, Rebecca Mott, Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff, Lara, Polly, pisaquari, Renee over at Womanist Musings, Mary Sunshine, Debi Crow, Naomi Downie, Level Best, SheCodes, polly stryrene, Dissenter, Celly Cel, dredgirl, demonista EVERY SINGLE WOMAN ON MY BLOGROLL…argh there are too many, you get the point, every single one of us has more depth in our little finger than the Phallosophical Wankers of the world. Men know this. They hate it. It is part of why they try to keep us down.

    polly, I didn’t know that. How do I find out more about Satre and De Beauvoir’s sexual exploitation of young women?


  9. Thanks Allecto and Level Best. I just write my truths as clearly as I can, and hopefully though years of being writer I can use some poetical prose.
    I think there are moments and events when I knew could or could not have control. Those are life-changing moments.
    But it not philosophy, in the end I like most women and children that have survived multiple abuse it is just chosing to live, when death was often the easier choice.

    I write to speak from my experiences, and hope that can give some voice to the silence that suffocates women who survived mutlipe forms of male violence. I cannot and would not speak for others, but if other women can connect to my words, I am deeply honoured.

    I feel much of philosophy is wrong because it is taking the personal view, and then saying everyone think that.
    When most philosophy is written by rich white men, that is plainly ridiculous.
    I am white and from a rich background. But they sure as hell don’t speak for me. So it very clear that philosophy is a selfish belief system.

    I have found in my life that abusers use philosophy to make their lives have a purpose.
    My stepdad with warped hippie philosophy. This was not the “love and peace” version.
    No it was the words of Charles Manson. It was the “philosophy” that all sex was good and would be the ultimate liberation. This included adults having sex with children. For that was what children wanted in order to be free. In this philosophy de Sade was a king.
    So philosophy is a scary word for me.

    Even as a prostituted woman and girl, I had male philosophy forced into me.
    It was given in the books that some men give me. Books like “Lolita”, Anais Nin and sex manuals. I had to listen to men saying “deep” reasons to justify themselves. Often making me into what I wasn’t.
    They would justify by the image of the mistress. Their mind would pretend it was an equal “relationship”, that they were in love with me.
    They would write shit and say words they I would not hear. They built a philosophy of romance.
    But like many male philosophy it was just about the sound of their own voice, the wonder of how they may become a “great” writer. It nothing to do with me as a real person.
    They did not want know me. All their “love” would vanish if I had said ok I will live with you. No, I was a sex object. I was there to fuck, not to talk or have thoughts. If I had a voice, it destroyed their romantic illusion.

    Men who used extreme violence on prostituted women and girls are continually inventing philosophies to make their actions justified.
    There is the concept of the “willing whore”, that fantasy women or girl who love to be degraded and has a high pain threshhold. God, those lies were drummed into me. I have heard so many times men teling me in complicated “liberal” ways why is ok to torture and rape women like me.
    As they speak those words, they may contrast for effect, how they will treat “good women”. Forcing into my mind the lies that I, as a prostituted woman or girl, should be grateful to raped and tortured for it for the greater good.
    Many will dare to say that if they are allowed to violent to me, it will stop them raping real women.

    Living inside male violence, is often being drowned in their justifications. These justifications are often named philosophy.


  10. Wow, allecto, thanks for yet another powerful and thought-provoking article. I have never read Sartre, but those passages are truly, deeply scary, and make me ashamed to be a fan of Joss Whedon, a man who apparently found passages such as this “moving” and “enlightening.” I still like Firefly, and “Objects in Space,” though my interpretation is clearly much different than yours (and probably different from Whedon’s in many ways.) However, listening to his commentary on the episode was unbearable. I too thought that the “philosophy” he went on and on about was boring, stupid, self-serving, and totally disrespectful to those who have actually had to struggle to exist and find meaning in the world. But it wasn’t until I read this that I realized how offensive Joss Whedon can be.

    I still consider myself a fan of his work, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the man himself.


  11. Wow, Allecto, you are on fire at the moment! This post burns so bright, it is wonderful, illuminating…just bloody fantastic. You are such an inspiration, and I sometimes marvel at writing like this coming from one so young. You are wise beyond your years and I wish and hope that you get published (in book form, I mean) and more widely read at some point – it’s so exciting – if you can write like this at 26, what amazing work will you produce when you’re 66?

    And I’ll second what Level Best said, you and Rebecca – on opposite sides of the world but doing the same hard work – I really admire both of you. xxx


  12. I would just like to add that the only reason I own a copy of Nausea is because it was compulsory reading for a university course I once did. I found it very boring, and the lecurer, who went on about the beauty of Paris all the time, a little strange.

    Still, being highly accomplished in the art of regurgitating what we got told in class, I got 90% for my essay. I think my lecturer liked seeing his opinions so faithfully reproduced.

    Try as I might, I couldn’t fit the beauty of Paris into it, though. Perhaps then I would have gotten 100%.


  13. “Living inside male violence, is often being drowned in their justifications. These justifications are often named philosophy.”-rebecca

    This is amazing writing, rebecca. You can see the truth so absolutely and then show it to others.


  14. It has been fairly widely reported that both Sartre and De Beauvoir had sexual relationships with students they taught, which is completely unethical at best. This book was written about the subject:

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2274736,00.html


  15. Rebecca,

    You are amazing. Your insights are just absolutely right on. Thank you.

    Debi,

    Thank you. Your support means so much to me. You also are a writer whose words burn brightly. There are so many unbelievably skilled feminist writers in the radica feminist blogosphere who all should be published. I wish I had the money to publish an anthology of radical feminist writing from the internet. It is actually something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

    Dissenter, sorry I should have acknowledged that in my post. Of course You think Satre is a moron too!

    Thanks Polly. I might look into it a bit more sometime. If De Beauvoir was helping to procure young women for Sartre to abuse that is very disturbing.


  16. I LOVE this post. It really speaks to me because in the past several years I was also finding that most male philosophers were self-serving and self-absorbed. Essentially, they engage in what one of my old professors would call “mental masturbation” (can you believe my professor was a man and recognized this?? haha). And it’s so true, most of the creative works, writings, philosophies, and visual arts of males are extensions and expressions of their perspectives forced upon objects and other people, particularly women. I work in an art gallery, and whenever we have depictions of women, or figural work, by a male artist (or even by female artists) they are always titled or depicted as abstract concepts: “epiphany,” “innocence,” etc. The women in these paintings are not actual women. They are just male conceptions of femininity or “woman” used as the universal ideal for women. They are just voids, silhouettes, vessels, empty images of these men’s fantasies and fears. And so it is the same for these male phallosophers, as you call them (love the label ;) ).
    And thank you for quoting parts of that Sartre writing, I didn’t know he was that big of a creep. Yech…
    That’s some scary shit.


  17. Well…I don’t know that I think Sartre is a moron. I completely agree that his work is “mental masturbation” as Lara puts it, but I imagine if you were to do a study of Sartre’s life, you’d actually find that he behaved in very clever ways, in terms of how he promoted himself, got in with the right crowd, attached himself to other intellects and got the benefit…all the usual stuff Male Artists do to disguise the fact that they are, as you say, nothing more than big wanker phallosophers.

    I don’t think we should ever forget that, at least when it comes to self-protection and self-promotion, these men are not stupid, they are very, very smart.


  18. YEEEAAAHHH, allecto!!!

    (calms down) I’m overjoyed to have a fellow cuntspeaker on board! I remember asking in fb and my lj about it, and the three repliers to it shot me down. But I remember you replying to my bringing it up (in your old lj)–so I’m glad that you’ve read the wonderful Jane Caputi now! I also highly recommend the two books of hers I’ve read: The Age of Sex Crime and Goddesses and Monsters. But I can hardly expect you to get right on it, considering some authors have been on my “to read” list for 6 years!

    You should do an anthology, too :)


  19. Yeahh, you’ve got a point Dissenter. It’s scary when these guys are both clever and big wankers.

    By the way, Allecto, I do not mean at all to interrupt the thread, but I wanted to invite you to my new blog:

    http://rychousmama.wordpress.com

    It’s barely a day old, but I will be adding new posts to it probably every few days :)


  20. Hi, first time commenting. I really enjoyed this post Allecto, you have some really good insights into the way men’s minds work and the misogyny in many works of fiction/philosophy. Or Phallosophy, which as you say is a much better word for it. I’m glad that you have the courage and skill to tell the truth about Joss Whedon and make these points on why he is not a feminist, despite that wide misconception. I know you must be pretty busy and so this is explicitly a question not a suggestion, are you going to deconstruct that Dr Horrible thing that he put on the internet?


  21. Hi Linda,

    Thanks for the praise. I haven’t seen the Dr. Horrible thing nor do I know anything about it. But now you’ve piqued my interest and I will find out. I am having a lot of fun writing these posts on Joss’s work so if I hate the Dr. Horrible thing enough I will likely want to write on it. :)


  22. I always thought that Wash is Joss’ Male Artist effigy in the Firefly series. Wash, that creative fun-loving humorous guy who was large-minded and progressive enough to bed with a Black woman and let her fulfill every fetishistic cultural stereotype white men have of Black women. Militant! Hawt! Be kickin’ yo’ ass after polishin’ you off! Still ultimately for sex! He pines for her subservience, constantly goading her for it, testing her for weakness, which is in itself a passive-aggressive threat. And note that the Wash character is always cast as weak compared to the other more Manly Men who do important plot things like killing people and beating up women. He is pathetic in that episode where he rivals with Mal over his Black woman.

    In the movie, Joss kills him. Why? So Zoe can go all postal and decide that she has nothing left after her white man is gone now, and so she doesn’t mind being raped and eaten. How touching. But it’s so sad that the artist dies. The sweet, harmless, humorous creative character who let his wife have more leash than most.

    White male wankery.


  23. Woman,

    You are awesome and that comment is just awesome. Thank you for that flash of brilliance. I totally agree.


  24. Yes. I used to think I was missing something about many of these classic philosophers – there had to be more to what they were saying than there seemed to be! Then I figured out that, well, no.


  25. Lol. Yeah, that about sums it up prof. I’ve added you to my blogroll ’cause you’re cool. :)


  26. [...] of Gorgon Poisons, in another of her denouncements of Joss Whedon, brings us Joss Whedon and Jean-Paul Sartre: The Wanker Phallosophers, discussing the narcissistic shallowness of male, patriarchal [...]


  27. [...] of Gorgon Poisons, in another of her denouncements of Joss Whedon, brings us Joss Whedon and Jean-Paul Sartre: The Wanker Phallosophers, discussing the narcissistic shallowness of male, patriarchal [...]



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