Ashley Judd, You’re Not Helping

Last week, actress Ashley Judd wrote an op-ed for The Daily Beast in response to recent media speculation about her puffy face and why it looks like it was on the receiving end of a botched, discount, back alley Dr. 90210 situation. In summary: the media has been pretty nasty about it (hide your shock), Judd got her feelings hurt, and she decided the best way to exercise her swollen emotions was by writing a few hundred words about her face, the big bad media who won’t shut up about it, and the super evil patriarchal powers-that-be that cause women to turn bitchy on each other. Since then, everyone has been tripping over themselves to put gold stars on her potentially-post-surgical forehead. But hold up. Let’s slow down for a minute and think about Ms. Judd and her words a little more carefully… because it’s possible that a rant like this is not doing as much to help the world as you might think.

(Let’s ignore for a second that if this was 1998 and Us Weekly was talking about how pretty she was — and back then, they totally were — Ms. Judd would likely not be spending time penning diatribes against modern standards of beauty and the media’s unrelenting dissection of them. Let’s disregard the fact that when she was on the sweeter side of the mainstream validation of superficial, youth-worshipping measures of a woman’s worth, she didn’t seem to have such a big issue with it. Let’s suppose that the problem with Judd’s knocking of the tradition of criticizing women’s physical appearances, and the societal underpinnings that fuel it, is not just an overblown excuse for her defending her recent “puffy face” because she was feeling defensive. We can ignore all of that for the purposes of our discussion, because her rant and people’s reaction to it raise much more pressing issues.

Oh. Furthermore, let’s move past the fact that celebrities know the kind of ceaseless media scrutiny they’re signing up for when they strive to become famous. This isn’t a new situation, friends. The dynamic between famous folks and the media is no different today than it was when Ashley Judd got into acting, and long before that. The rules haven’t changed, nor has their power on the rest of society. Her op-ed piece stinks of obvious truths about things that have always been true, that she has willingly played her part in. Every profession has its upside and downside. Downside to being a celebrity: public scrutiny during your less-than-charming moments. Upside: EVERYTHING ELSE. Now onto the important stuff.)

The fault here is not that Ashley Judd is wrong. Rather, the frustrating part is that, despite the fact that her arguments are definitively true, they promote a mindset that the rest of us have been working to move past. I’m not talking about the internalization of patriarchal ideals and the subsequent manifestations in our unkind treatment of each other that she is rebuking in her article — I’m talking about the mindset of continuing to complain about it from a victimized position.

The intrusive, unapologetic, destructive nature of the media is a story long since told; unflattering moments, when captured, will be taken advantage of to the fullest extent, judgment will be harsh, consistent, and taken to absurd and unnecessary degrees, and all of this will be done without any regard for the specific circumstances of your personal life. How dare the gossip media take pictures of you and raise questions about plastic surgery? Where do they get off hiding in bushes, catching you at your least-good-looking, not even caring that you’ve just been sick, and then warping this most minimal information into a fully-formed “news” story, chock full of theories and speculation? It’s not like you gave them permission to invade your life like that! Except that you did. When you decided to become a Hollywood actress. I’m not saying it’s right, and I’m not saying that it’s helpful, or healthy, or even interesting, or that every single thing in Ms. Judd’s op-ed piece isn’t accurate, but none of this is new information.

The fact that everyone is patting her on the head like she just cracked the goddamn DaVinci Code is ridiculous. Beyond that, the eager applause of her words supports the implication that she is somehow enlightening women about these issues — and it’s insulting. Women are not perfect, and we act like total assholes sometimes, to ourselves and each other. But to say that it is not our fault, to blame some subconscious influence over how we see and talk about ourselves, is more sexist and depreciating of women’s intelligence and awareness than the most scathing critique of our physical form. I’m not discrediting that those influences exist, and have for a long time, but I am saying that the days of portraying ourselves as unwilling subjects of their power are over. We are so much stronger than that!

At this point in our evolution as a society, women know the score — and if we continue to choose to conduct ourselves in less-than-savory ways, or continue to uphold unhealthy ideals of beauty, that is our choice. It’s not being forced on us anymore, and it is blatantly sexist, counterproductive, disempowering, and infuriating to suggest otherwise. Moving past patriarchal control over mind and media used to be about calling out the injustices. And now it’s about valuing ourselves and our minds enough to take ownership of how we behave, instead of making ourselves victims in order to shirk blame for acting lame. That is self-inflicted sexism and articles like Ashley Judd’s do nothing but perpetuate it.

The one service you could claim her op-ed serves is that — while, yes, many people already recognized the media and societal conditions she’s disparaging — her prominent position as a celebrity helps bring these issues to the masses. Which is a good point! It’s one thing to discuss the media’s effect on perpetuating dysfunctional, male-driven, destructive standards of female beauty and the woman-hating, “eating our own” ways in which we ruthlessly dissect each other, but hey, if you can use your power as a famous person to bring that message to millions of people, then you’ve done a real service to the overall state of womankind! Three cheers for Ashley Judd!

Except Tina Fey already did that with Mean Girls 8 years ago.

Oh, and Tina Fey chose to convey the message in a way that didn’t mirror Judd’s position of women as put-upon victims of a mean, nasty, unfair, male-controlled firestorm of physical criticism — she instead taught the upcoming generation of women how to stop portraying themselves as defenseless, brainwashed women in order to deflect blame, to take responsibility of their bitchy behavior, see the damaging aspects of this kind of conduct, how to empower and love themselves and each other, and how allowing ourselves to sink into catty nonsense has wide-reaching implications far beyond just calling someone a “fat slut.” In other words, the message wasn’t just complaining and preaching, it was effectively teaching women how and why they need to conduct themselves above all that old-school, sexist thinking.

Blaming the patriarchy is for weak little babies; the rest of us are already living beyond that. Blame, guilt, and frustration no longer have the front seat in the thinking woman’s social advocacy repertoire. Getting bogged down by those feelings does not equate to moving past the patriarchy’s stagnation of the advancement of women — it’s a continuation of it. Sometimes you have to declare that you are already beyond a problem in order to empower yourself to truly be past it. Projecting the reality you desire is infinitely more powerful and progressive than angrily bemoaning a less desirable status quo. In other words, talking about how sh-tty things are is not constructive toward solving anything, especially when you aren’t even illuminating any brand new truths.

The failure of Judd’s piece is that it takes us back a step. These problems were identified years ago (which is – duh – why people are accepting and supporting her views so readily and strongly. We already knew we agreed. No one’s mind is being opened by her words.) The light has been seen. Let’s move on, armed with knowledge about where we need improving as a society, and take some personal responsibility for being the living embodiment of that improvement. TC mark


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  • 5'6'' Owl


  • Jeanne d'arc


  • Jessica Blankenship

    Before everyone gets their panties all tangled, remember this: I’m not saying that anything Judd says is untrue. It’s all true. But it’s lazy to not think beyond her viewpoint. I’m not denying patriarchal influences – I’m putting forth the wild notion that stopping the fight in the Complaint Department is not taking things far enough. We have to integrate a new vision for how we view, treat, talk about, and conduct ourselves – THAT’S how you effectively move past these problems. Not by rehashing the same complaints over and over.

    If you can’t think abstractly and progressively and confidently enough to see that, then go ahead and get upset.

    • Nishant

      I agree with what you’re saying in this comment. But what you’re saying in this comment isn’t what you’re saying in your post.

    • Koba Chan

      Very mature, telling us we’re getting our “panties tangled” for not agreeing with you and giving this article the reality check it deserves.

      Don’t write if you can’t take criticism.

    • James L.

      Responding to comments is fairly bad form for a writer. That having been said, I think that, in pursuit of this grand form of thinking you espouse, you yourself are missing your own point. You’re getting your panties in twist about people getting their panties in a twist, and continuing the same misogynistic cattiness that you would claim to move past. The hyperbolic and snarky descriptors you use belie any attempt to take some semblance of high road here. To dismiss entirely anyone who disagrees with you is more telling than anything. You claim it’s lazy to not think past Ms. Judd’s viewpoint, and yet you put down anyone who thinks past yours. I imagine that if you were to write about the collective perspective of all women, and not just your own, you’ll find a warmer reception to your ideas. 

      • Koba Chan

        Wow, well said sir! *applause*

      • Anonymous

        First of all, shame on you for trying to remove the author from the dialogue. Would you get angry at Ashley Judd if she responded to this article? Let’s be fair.

        Second, I don’t think you quite understand Jessica’s goals. It isn’t about having a warmer reception; it’s about being honest with ourselves and trying to assert a better, more constructive avenue to self-empowerment. She’s implicitly arguing that women (and really, any minority group) should stop attempting to aggrandize itself by attacking “the other”; it only reinforces it.

        They should instead find new ways to reconstruct the narrative and not play by the “patriarchy’s” rules.

      • Eden Mabee

         I would beg to differ that “responding to comments is fairly bad form for a writer”, James.  The point of most writing is to communicate an idea, and communication is all about interplay, a dialogue. 

        On the other hand, I certainly agree with Koba Chan just below, that it is not up to the author to say in effect “oh, how could you have not understood my meaning?”  As a writer, Ms. Blankenship should always strive for clarity and welcome input as to whether she has achieved that.  And since this is an op-ed piece, she should accept the fact that not everyone will agree with her.

    • Anonymous

      Jessica, I agreed with you. For someone so smart, she shows a curious lack of forward thinking here. If anything, I think her message should be something like, “Yeah, maybe I get shit shot into my face (a possibility she curiously sidesteps by keeping the focus on plastic surgery), but who cares? Either way I can’t win, so I’m doing what I need to do to look and feel my best. If some people don’t like it, that’s their problem.” It’s 2012 and you’re a movie star. Own it.  

  • 500fingernails

    no, this is wrong. this whole piece is ignoring the point that because something is status quo that’s the way it has to be. fuck that.

  • Guest

    i disagree with you here… though it might be popular knowledge, it is not, however, something that is taken head on in a real way in the mass media. and thats what i think she is being applauded for.

  • Anonymous

    Did you seriously just hold Mean Girls up as a legitimate mainstream critique of the problems of patriachy? I mean, I agree with your point in that victimization is not healthy, but I’m not convinced that there isn’t still a serious need for persons like Judd to step up and voice out these problems. 
    I think you start from the assumption that everyone is WELL AWARE of feminist critique; that the feminist project has sufficiently educated and dismantled the status quo when uh it does not – see; actual war on women being conducted by the Republicans As We Speak.

  • Alia Ceniza Rasul

    Jessica Blankenship, You’re Not Helping.

  • Melissa Hymel


  • Bebezeva

    You are yet another fauxmenist who perpetuates patriarchy by trying to minimize it. Textbook case of distracting your audience from a force that benefits you so that you don’t have to deconstruct it and can continue reaping privileges from it. Patriarchy is the foundation of Western society and neither gender is “beyond” it. That Ashley Judd is a beautiful celebrity has absolutely NOTHING to do with the validity of her arguments, and to discredit her for assumed personal motives is a fallacy. I knew this article was shit as soon as you went on your victim-blaming rant in the fifth paragraph. 

    • Fashion Cappuccino

      Yes! Thank you Bebezeva for calling this shitty article for what it is.

    • Kim Truong


  • Anna Gustafson

    Yeah, I’m sorry.  I know what this article was trying to say, but it was completely ironic to do it in such a negative sense. If you want to help, praise her standing-up for bringing the conversation once again into the public sphere, and then tell us how we can move forward with it.
    The truth is, what she’s saying ISN’T common knowledge to a lot of people. A lot of people even in academic, intellectual settings still don’t want to talk about it. So talking about, seeing it featured in major news outlets is STILL a good step forward, and not laziness as this author suggests.

    • Nishant

      To add to your comment, it is SO important that celebrities come out and say such things. Not in stupid advertisements or special functions organized once a year, but in well-written, cogent articles like Ashley Judd did.

    • shannon

      i agree wholeheartedly. i think overall judd’s piece has a positive impact if for no other reason that it’s bringing up these conversations among people who would otherwise not be having them. 

    • Losing your audience catalog

      Thought catalog should give some writing pieces from Jessica Blankenship and Chelsea Fagan to people like Anna Gustafson (I don’t know her – just an example).

      This website is turning into a cross between the College Republicans Newsletter (women’s studies is stupid! don’t blame the patriarchy!) and Cosmo Teen (girls are like this! boys are like that!).

  • Dana Sukontarak

    Yeah, this was really bad and kind of pointless. I liked Ashley Judd’s article better. 

    • Fashion Cappuccino

      Me too and I think Scruzz is her boyfriend. 

  • guest

    Why do we have to look at Judd’s comments and evaluate them within the context of her past? Why can’t we just take them at face value right now and appreciate that she is starting a really awesome dialouge and awareness among a broad audience? Sure, she was once praised for her beauty and youth..that does not in any way invalidate the validity of her statements now. It’s exhausting to have to analyze every nuance of every syllable! Frankly, this whole article was tiring to read and made me upset because it detracts and distracts people from the heart of her message.

    • Anonymous

      Because words don’t exist in a vacuum. People have to create them, and people are created by pasts, experiences, and worldviews.

      If anything, where someone is coming from probably colors the tone/validity of what someone says more than the actual words themselves.

  • Anonymous

    I think one of the most important things about this is how much the “celebrity/public figure” angle falls into this. I would have a hard time thinking of a big celebrity (male or female) who hasn’t been objectified, scrutinized, judged, or mocked for their appearance at one moment or another. For example, in the past few days alone, I’ve seen about 10 different things on Tumblr and Facebook making fun of Leo Dicaprio looking significantly worse/more bloated than during his Titanic heyday. It’s pretty much accepted that people who put themselves in the public eye are going to get torn apart and kicked when they’re down, because we like to see people who were on such a pedestal fall from grace. It’s human nature.

    But when a celebrity simply cries out to stop scrutinizing their appearance, or attacks the paparazzi/media who is perpetuating it, they are usually met with a general response of “you got what you wished for,” “you’re a celebrity, you make millions of dollars to act in movies, who cares,” or “it’s part of being famous.” We have seen so many celebrities lash out in one way or another at the media scrutiny, especially about appearance and privacy. If Ashley Judd had simply written, “It’s digusting the way the media jumps on the looks and lives of the famous to bring them down and normalize them,” it wouldn’t have garnered much response or attention–and would have probably been seen as rather self-indulgent. But if she blames the patriarchy specifically, and emphasizes how much of a problem this is for women, she is guaranteed to get the “gold star-treatment” that Jessica was talking about.
    I’m sure her publicist was very happy about the letter, if he/she didn’t have a serious influence in its writing in general. It was definitely an effective way to put a spin on the usual media accusation of plastic surgery and make it a net positive. If nothing else, it certainly achieved that goal.

    • Guestropod

      making fun of Leo Dicaprio looking significantly worse/more bloated than during his Titanic heyday”

      blasphemy, I would still hit it so hard… 

      • Jessica Blankenship

         Truth. Then, now, and forever.

    • Alex Manuel

      This might be the first time in my life, however, that I’ve seen an argument about patriarchy get any such “gold-star treatment”. People usually respond essentially negatively to anything that even sounds remotely feminist. IF there are people applauding her more loudly than usual, I would think it’s because a notable figure — someone who IS often paid attention to more for her looks/ability to act than for anything that bares more of her as a person, like writing about a specific topic for a living — actually paid heed to many of these ideas that are typically either ignored or rebuked.

      She has a MUCH bigger soapbox than I, so if she’s saying things that I wish more people understood, I’m going to be massively supportive of her. Besides which, even if she hadn’t brought feminism into the fold, she still stated her case quite well; it wasn’t structureless ranting or firing insults back at anyone. She made a damned good point — if you look too good, you’ve had work. If you look terrible, you’ve had work. In other words, women can’t win, and this isn’t just a celebrity problem, it’s a woman problem, especially when you extrapolate that into matters like sexuality (if we don’t ‘put out’ or dress sexy, we’re prudes; if we do, we’re sluts; etc).

    • erin f

       I would have to seriously disagree. Ashley Judd has a long history of social activism, particularly in regards to women’s issues. The fact that she wrote this article isn’t all that surprising. I think writing it off as a publicity stunt is ridiculous, particularly if you look up anything about her.

      I am also shocked that both you and Jessica think blaming patriarchy guarantees “gold-star treatment”. I wish this gold-star treatment existed that you so eloquently keep talking about because maybe then birth control, and equal pay wouldn’t be so fucking hard to get in this country.

  • Alex Manuel

    Absolutely could not disagree more. “She knew what she was signing up for” is, especially, a terrible argument. Celebrities are not public property, at least not in the sense that they’re not allowed to fire back when they’re fired upon first. That’s an absolutely terrible standard to set. 

    I think her comment was timely, eloquent, and I don’t believe it was hypocritical of her to have not spoken out earlier in her career, ESPECIALLY since acting careers in their early stages can be made or broken by being the type to open your mouth. The more famous you are, the more you can get away with; that’s a reality, and I’m glad she used her relatively secure status to call attention to the fact that looking even the slightest bit different or unwell or unkempt is a rallying cry for indignant wankers to take shots at her or any other actress. She was just as judged in her younger days — all actresses are — but it’s the assumptions and conclusions jumped to when a celebrity’s appearance suffers that I think are the key issue of her rant. Just because she’s puffy doesn’t automatically mean she’s: fat, had Botox, had surgery, on drugs, or whatever. 

    She was absolutely within her rights to say, “Hey, f**k you” the moment gossipers began ripping on her. 

    • guest

      I agree, and would like to add that she didn’t just speak out “as a celebrity” about “celebrity problems”. She used that context to make a point on a much larger scope. It is important not to get caught up in who is delivering the message in this case and instead take the words at face value.  And honestly, if you have ever seen Judd in interviews about other topics (specifically human right) she is refreshingly well-versed. She is definitely able to hold her own. Also, a lot of Americans didn’t go to college and get a crash course into women’s and gender studies, so her remarks were new ideas to many.

  • lilypad

    Jessica Blankenship, you’re making things worse. By minimizing the point that Ashley Judd makes in her op-ed you are pushing the argument into the background where it will do no one any good. And your catty little comment about getting our “panties tangled” is subliminal sexism itself! Would you have said that to a group of men who were upset about your comments? Hell no. You have every right to feel however you like about Ms. Judd’s article – just don’t act like you know better than she does. Very few people are subject to that kind of constant criticism and scrutiny. Her voice and viewpoint are incredibly valuable in this conversation.

  • Jessica Blankenship

    I don’t disrespect her on a
    general level, but I don’t think her article does anything particularly
    revolutionary or even especially insightful, and her tearing down of the
    media and social elements that she finds
    hurtful is undermining her own consensual participation
    in them. And conveying the message that we should blame men and the
    media is dismissive, insulting, disempowering, and entirely

    In no way am I minimizing the issues Ashley Judd brings up. I’m critical of her approach to dealing with them, and challenging everyone to go further than that. Sometimes criticism is the most supportive, loving position to take – the bottom line is, you either understand what my words are trying to accomplish or you don’t.

    There is ABSOLUTELY a time and context for discussing the patriarchy – a celebrity defending her physical appearance against a media assault is not it. And anyone with a brain can see that addressing these wider issues was not the primary motivator behind her writing that piece. If she didn’t want to personally defend herself, and get as much attention as possible while doing so, she never would’ve written that. That’s just PR basics, folks, and you can bash me for that all you want. Talking about the patriarchy is the added ingredient necessary to take her from run-of-the-mill, “stop being meeean!” lashing out at the media (which is not newsworthy) to something with more broad cultural implications. Like Chelsea said, her publicist loves it.

    Oh, and criticizing me for responding to comments is silly – I’m not a “writer” trying to abide by an “appropriate writerly code of conduct”. I’m a woman and a human and someone who cares about participating in a conversation about issues that directly influence me. The fact that I write publicly about them doesn’t undermine that. But this is the last I will comment on the issue. 

    • -Sam-

      When you have to write a whole new article in the comments section to defend what a shambles your original article was, that pretty much says it all. PLEASE stop writing about things you don’t understand. It’s embarrassing.

      • Anonymous

        And when you have to hide behind the anonymity of internet to make a heavy-handed comment, that pretty much says the level of your maturity. It’s annoying.

      • -Sam-

        How else do you want me to make it? Should I call her? I’m not hiding just because I don’t have a picture of myself on here. I guess we’re not all as brave as you Scruzz! You white knight! The “anonymous Internet commenter” argument is so boring and overdone.

      • Anonymous

        It has nothing to do with whether or not “I’m brave”, or “a white knight”. It has everything to do with how easily people criticize while not providing any means in which someone can hold them accountable. You – and the boring and overdone anonymous commentators – probably wouldn’t type half the things you did if you did. That’s all I’m saying.

      • -Sam-

        Sure I would.  But the default response when someone doesn’t like something a commenter says is always “oh god you’re only saying that because you’re safe behind your anonymity.”  No, I’m saying it because it’s true.  Nobody bemoans anonymous internet commenters when they’re saying “this is fantastic, I needed this blah blah.”  I presume Scruzz is your full name?  Because you’re like, the only person here who’s not anonymous aren’t you?  

    • auuuuuuu7

       I think this article seriously overlooks one of the most important points I took away from Ashley Judd’s poignantly written response. It’s quite cynical, in my opinion, to think she comes from the perspective of purely wanting the media to shut up about her appearance. Otherwise I don’t think she would have said this:
      “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.”

      The fact that she highlights society’s unhealthy obsession with women’s bodies and physical appearance to society itself–sexism and denigration of women as collective behavior–to me says she understands that the blame on men being responsible for perpetuating this behavior has long been misplaced, and I think she is trying to convey this to a wider audience who may not have necessarily given it much thought before.

  • Guest

    “It’s not being forced on us anymore” …EXACTLY! Feminism for me is more about living my life to the fullest possible potential rather than with a victim mentality.  

  • CA

    Thank goodness I’m not the only person who thinks this essay is completely missing the point of Ashley Judd’s statement and people’s response to it.  Anna Gustafson (and other smart folks) said it well.  Also, guess what?  Ashley Judd’s status as a celebrity brings people’s attention to this subject who normally wouldn’t think about it or wouldn’t be in the place to hear about issues of patriarchy regularly/normally.  “We” all agreed that racial profiling was wrong but guess what, people still do it (ie: Trayvon Martin), so clearly these conversations still need to happen.  Mass media and pop culture don’t address these issues nearly enough. It’s great to have a celebrity being eloquent and outspoken on issues of relevance and substance.

  • Disappointed

    Terrible, terrible article. Wondering whether this was a one-off I went and read the previous one on Courtney Stodden and feminism. From these two articles it is clear the writer has no idea what feminism actually is, especially if she considers herself to be one. 

    In regards to Judd, it’s clear to anyone who read the “whole” article she wrote that she simply used the physical denigration she has received lately as a starting point for a larger dialogue. 
    The comment by Blankenship about “integrat(ing) a new vision” is quite ironic. How does one start something new without first addressing and critiquing the old? You don’t paint over the problem as if it never was, you deal with it first. Using the word ‘integrate’ as opposed to create suggests working with the old. We can’t work with it but ignore it at the same time. The comment by Blankenship contravenes the article entirely. Neither is remotely valid, nonetheless.

    I would say more but the insightful commenters of TC got there first.

  • Anonymous

    This rubbed me the wrong way the same way everyone criticizing RT’ers/rebloggers of KONY2012 for not knowing about him since the 90s did. And I don’t even support that specific organization.

    I’m so tired of this “hate on any overwhelmingly popular opinion simply because it’s overwhelmingly popular right now” stance that’s becoming a marker on our generation. If it’s spreading knowledge and not mindless entertaining bullshit to the masses, how is that not a complete win?? 

    Funny or Die just highlighted the disturbing amount of young people on twitter who didn’t know the Titanic was real until it came out in 3D. And how about those racist hordes of teens who actually read the Hunger Games, yet still managed to work out that Rue had to be white because she’s just so sweet and innocent? When you get to a certain amount of intellect, it gets harder to believe just how stupid and uninformed the average american can be. Putting down those who choose to enlighten them instead of adding to the discussion with thoughts and ideas of it’s progression is so counterproductive I can’t even deal.Bottom line: Quit shooting the messenger. It draws attention away from the message itself.

    • Disappointed

      PERFECT. Especially the last two sentences.

    • guest

      This, this exactly. 

    • Fashion Cappuccino

      Thank you for this!

  • Guest

    The actual text of the op-ed that Ashley Judd wrote does not strike me as that of a victimized complaint.  It encourages personal responsibility and careful reflection on subtle patriarchal influences, just as the author of this piece herself rightly urges. For example, Ms. Judd writes: “I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? If not in the conversation about me, in parallel ones about women in your sphere? What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about? What is the self-righteous alleged “all knowing” stance of the media about? How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment? How can we as individuals in our private lives make adjustments that support us in shedding unconscious actions, internalized beliefs, and fears about our worthiness, that perpetuate such meanness? What can we do as families, as groups of friends? Is what girls and women can do different from what boys and men can do? What does this have to do with how women are treated in the workplace?

    It’s not clear that you are actually disagreeing with respect to your ultimate message.  Maybe you’re both helping.

  • Kat Lawson

    I understand your point, but I don’t agree that she’s coming across as a victim. Rather, I think she’s making an effort to point out the internalized misogyny and endless shitstorm of self-loathing that’s being cycled through society, which is the first step to actually changing anything. I would be willing to bet that most women don’t understand that they’re supporting patriarchy by buying into the beauty myth, it’s a realization that I sort of JUST came to myself this year.

  • Rachel

    You want Ashley Judd–a civil activist–to “do more” to challenge the status quo? Go look at her track record before you claim that she isn’t doing more than writing so-called “bitchy” articles. And maybe you should take a look at yourself, too.  

    • Rachel

      To clarify: I don’t mean that you should go look at your own track record because, to be perfectly honest, I don’t think you have one. I meant that you should look at yourself and what your own article represents before you complain that Ashley Judd is merely a writer of whiny fluff. 

  • Guestalot

    “speculation about her puffy face and why it looks like it was on the receiving end of a botched, discount, back alley Dr. 90210 situation.”

    Ohmygosh you should’ve stopped writing after this sentence because it’s quite clear you’re part of the problem.

    • Disappointed

      in a word: YES.

  • Tim McEown

    ‘At this point in our evolution as a society, women know the score — and if we continue to choose to conduct ourselves in less-than-savory ways, or continue to uphold unhealthy ideals of beauty, that is our choice. It’s not being forced on us anymore, and it is blatantly sexist, counterproductive, disempowering, and infuriating to suggest otherwise.’ I think this is the money quote. so if people disagree this is true and can demonstrate that, then there is an argument to be had. People can choose to act however they wish but to pretend ignorance that those choices have risks and consequences attached is a fool’s game. And while the Patriarchy is far from dead it’s no longer hidden or as protected as it once was. To cast blame only elsewhere and deny your own agency is to speak to the part of the problem individuals have the least control over. 

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