Joss Whedon Slammed by Ex-Wife Kai Cole as ‘Hypocrite Preaching Feminist Ideals’
Joss Whedon, the writer/director behind numerous successful properties including The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Firefly has long been lauded as one of Hollywood’s most outspoken feminists. However, a bombshell essay from his ex-wife Kai Cole is calling Whedon’s image into question.
In the piece, written for The Wrap, Cole reveals that Whedon carried on numerous affairs during their 16-year marriage, using his power and influence as a male Hollywood producer to get close to other women.
Cole writes that Whedon confessed to her that his first affair had happened during the early years of Buffy. She wrote:
“On the set of Buffy, Joss decided to have his first secret affair. Fifteen years later, when he was done with our marriage and finally ready to tell the truth, he wrote me, ‘When I was running Buffy, I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.’ But he did touch it. He said he understood, ‘I would have to lie — or conceal some part of the truth — for the rest of my life,’ but he did it anyway, hoping that first affair, ‘would be ENOUGH, that THEN we could move on and outlast it.’”
However, according to Kai Cole, the on-set affair was far from “enough” for Whedon.
“Joss admitted that for the next decade and a half, he hid multiple affairs and a number of inappropriate emotional ones that he had with his actresses, co-workers, fans and friends, while he stayed married to me. He wrote me a letter when our marriage was falling apart, but I still didn’t know the whole truth, and said, ‘I’ve never loved anyone or wanted to be with anyone in any real or long-term way except for you ever. And I love our life. I love how you are, how we are, who you are and what we’ve done both separately and together, how much fun we have…’ He wanted it all; he didn’t want to choose, so he accepted the duality as a part of his life.”
When Cole finally learned the full truth of her husband’s infidelities, she claims that he attempted to blame them in part on modern American culture, telling her:
“‘I let myself love you. I stopped worrying about the contradiction. As a guilty man I knew the only way to hide was to act as though I were righteous. And as a husband, I wanted to be with you like we had been. I lived two lives.’ When he walked out of our marriage, and was trying to make ‘things seem less bewildering’ to help me understand how he could have lied to me for so long, he said, ‘In many ways I was the HEIGHT of normal, in this culture. We’re taught to be providers and companions and at the same time, to conquer and acquire — specifically sexually — and I was pulling off both!’”
Following the end of the marriage, Cole said she suffered from PTSD, haunted by the notion that Whedon had used her to brandish his own image. She continued, “He deceived me for 15 years, so he could have everything he wanted. I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights, committed to our marriage, and to the women he worked with. But I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield, both during and after our marriage, so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.”
Cole ended her op-ed with a call for Whedon’s fans and supporters to reevaluate their opinions on him.
“I want the people who worship him to know he is human, and the organizations giving him awards for his feminist work, to think twice in the future about honoring a man who does not practice what he preaches.”
Following the op-ed’s publication, Whedon’s spokesperson released a statement which read, “While this account includes inaccuracies and misrepresentations which can be harmful to their family, Joss is not commenting, out of concern for his children and out of respect for his ex-wife.”
Reaction to Cole’s article was swift on social media, with many users calling out the director’s apparent hypocrisy.
joss whedon blaming patriarchy for cheating on his wife is the culmination and only natural outcome of contemporary mainstream male feminism
— julia? (@frozenblueber) August 20, 2017
joss whedon cheated on his wife for 15 years and kept her around so his perfect geek-feminist reputation wouldn’t be ruined. he’s garbage
— gabi (@harleivy) August 20, 2017
It remains to be seen what, if any, effects that allegations have on Whedon’s career. Currently he’s finishing Warner Bros’ Justice League after Zack Snyder stepped away to deal with a family tragedy, and he’s currently attached to the studio’s Batgirl film. Longtime Whedon fan-site Whedonesque did shut down the day after the allegations were made public, though it was left ambiguous as to how related the closure was to Cole’s letter.