It’s gotta suck to be Ashley Judd these days. Though I am not going to lie, it sucks to be me most days and it probably sucks to be most females in general every day of the week.
I have written and talked about the ways I as a woman have felt wronged. I have never been shy about pointing out how I feel the society I live in has cheated my kind over and over again. And most importantly, I have tried to be the change I want to see in the world.
But I’ve been off in my thinking. I have never seen myself as part of the problem when the reality is that I have been in the most obvious of ways. Yesterday Ashley Judd published a very well thought out essay on the conversation about women’s bodies on The Daily Beast.
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.
I am part of that conversation not only as the topic, but also as one of those doing the talking. Like most of us, society has succeeded at making me a vehicle for negative criticism of things that are ultimately unimportant. Yes, I am guilty of calling Kim Kardashian a ghetto ass whore when perhaps I should have placed her worth in something outside of her physical and personal attributes.
And it doesn’t end there. I’ve done it to those around me.
But how could I have known better? Ashley is right when she says that “Patriarchy… privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women.”
At times I have worried more about maintaining my own dignity and integrity than I have about protecting other women’s, completely unaware that by diminishing them, I am doing a disservice to myself. And sadly our society makes it so easy that it’s hard to see the subtle ways or that moment when we ourselves become the problem.
I applaud Ashley Judd for making a statement on behalf of women that also serves as a cautionary tale for all women because even when we are in fact victims, we are often the bullies. And this is not okay.