His argument hinges on insisting that there’s no equivalent to the term “racist” for gender (“sexist” not being good enough basically because Whedon says so). The upshot is that racism is positioned as something everyone agrees exists, establishing a rhetoric baseline to work from. In the first place, this just isn’t true; “racist” is an extremely fraught and contested term just like “sexism.” (See here for just one recent example.) And in the second place, if you’re talking about racism and sexism in the same breath, it seems like it would be a good idea to acknowledge, however briefly, that women of color exist, and that for many of them the experiences of racism and sexism are not necessarily separable. It would perhaps be useful also to point out that the biggest problem with the term “feminist” is not formal but historical. It’s become so associated with exclusively white, middle-class issues that many women of color feel it doesn’t represent them—thus Alice Walker’s effort to create a more inclusive term, womanism.
Whedon, then, delivers a speech on the term “feminist” without any reference to feminist history, without any apparent awareness of feminist theory, and without even any demonstrated knowledge of the most important objections or conflicts around the term “feminist,” the use of which he is purportedly discussing. Instead, from his position as celebrity and writer, and, one fears, from his position as white man, he takes it upon himself to simply define feminism himself so that he can discard it. The result is what Tania Modleski acidly referred to as “feminism without women”—equality as erasure.