(Photo: Getty Images For SXSW, Karl Walter)

Whether it’s deserved or not is debatable, but Joss Whedon has a reputation for being a feminist writer/director who has a particular penchant for strong, well-rounded female characters. However, someone who probably knows Whedon better than most people has now stepped forward and declared that the perception of him as some kind of feminist hero is wrong. That person is Kai Cole, his ex-wife, and she has written a guest blog for The Wrap in which she says that he’s a “hypocrite preaching feminist ideals.”

Details about the relationship between Whedon and Cole have been fairly slim up until now, as she says she’s “a very private person” in her post, but Us Weekly says the two were married in the ‘90s, separated in 2012, and finalized their divorce in 2016. Cole lays out the early days of their relationship in her post, recounting how they met in 1991 and how she convinced him to pursue his Buffy The Vampire Slayer concept as a TV show after he was disappointed by the movie, but the larger point is that she saw herself as a true partner to him. She later says she was a “powerful influencer” on some of his career decisions, but in return for her love and support, she says, “he lied to me.”

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Cole says Whedon had a “secret affair” on the set of Buffy, even after she had expressed concerns about the amount of attention he received from the women he worked with and his many female friends, but he chalked it up to his feminist upbringing and the fact that he got along better with woman than men. Cole explains that he was full of shit, though, and over the years he “hid multiple affairs and a number of inappropriate emotional ones that he had with his actresses, co-workers, fans, and friends,” all while staying married to Cole and claiming that he loved her and only wanted to be with her. “He wanted it all,” she says, “so he accepted the duality as a part of his life.”

Throughout the piece, Cole doesn’t necessarily paint Whedon to be some kind of womanizing monster, but she does make an effort to underline that he “never conceded the hypocrisy” of “preaching feminist ideals” while still lying to his wife and cheating on her with other women. “I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield,” she says, “so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.”

All of this came at the expense of Cole, who says her “entire reality changed overnight” when he confessed to the affairs. She says it changed her from “a strong, confident woman” to “a confused, frightened mess,” and having been diagnosed with Complex PTSD from the trauma of Whedon’s gradual betrayal, she has spent the last five years trying to pick her life back up and “make sense of everything that happened.” That’s part of why she wanted to write the blog, explaining that she wanted “to let women know that he is not who he pretends to be,” and that the organizations giving him awards for his feminist work should “think twice in the future about honoring a man who does not practice what he preaches.”

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The post ends with a note saying that Whedon told The Wrap that his ex-wife’s statement “includes inaccuracies and misrepresentations,” but he won’t comment “out of concern for his children and out of respect for his ex-wife.”