Ashley Judd Stands Up For Women

04.11.2012, 9:00 AM

Ashley Judd, in the Daily Beast, notes:

“The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted….

That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.”

Say, what am I doing posting this piece at Family Scholars Blog (FSB) anyway?

Well, conversation about women’s bodies- pregnancy, bodily autonomy, gamete donation- are a part of the regular discourse at FSB. As we question and debate these issues and practices, how might they relate to some of these other narratives about women’s bodies and who gets to control them and how they get talked about?

Also, I often wonder, how many women are turned away from feminism in general, and feminist analyses like these in particular, because know-nothing “critics” of feminism like Rush Limbaugh threaten women with loss of the Real Woman Card if they dare embrace feminism? (Limbaugh’s infamous, ignorant quote about feminism is easily found on Internet, so I won’t re-print it here.)

How do upholders of the patriarchy drive wedges between women as they pick apart our appearance, engage in gender role policing, and act as though there is only one correct and authentic way to be a Real Women?

Another interesting tidbit. Notice the headline of the Judd article:

“Ashley Judd Slaps Media in the Face for Speculation Over Her Puffy Appearance”

Writers don’t generally write the headlines of their pieces as major media outlets. I doubt Judd wrote that headline, either. But it is telling, isn’t it?

In the article, Judd is standing up for herself and for other women, imploring that our appearances not be endlessly critiqued and used to diminish our self-worth. And that, we are to believe, is an instance of Judd inflicting aggression on the media. She is, we are to believe, “slapping” an institution/people in the face?

Notice the flip-flop that’s going on- the way that a feminist is accused, even figuratively, of being the violent aggressor.

In this way is feminism further defamed in service of patriarchy.

One Response to “Ashley Judd Stands Up For Women”

  1. Amy Ziettlow says:

    Great insights. I have been chewing on Judd’s piece for a few days and was so happy to see that you highlighted it. So many different thoughts swirl in my brain from the philosophical lens (patriarchal and otherwise) shaped by nature and nurture that inevitably shape and warp everything we see, to questions of how we unpack the lens we carry, keep the ones that build others and ourselves up, lose the ones that are “mean” as Judd says…I see Mary Daly’s axe chopping words and Delores Williams or Katie Cannon retrieving the prophetic and grace-filled lives of women from the shards of history or Amy Poehler and Tina Fey proclaiming that b— is the new black…Fierce women, funny women, insanely intelligent and articulate women…
    I watched Betty’s White new TV show tonight called “Off Their Rockers” which is basically a candid camara type show where silver-haired men and women of the plus 80 age set play pranks on people. They say disgusting potty humor comments, expose themselves, curse, etc. all pretty adolescent (which is of course offensive to adolescents), but I was fascinated by how most people don’t say anything or giggle or ignore them. Quite Shakespearean in that old age is shown to descend into folly. Sad.