Watch out, Ryan Gosling: The blogosphere has a new folk hero. Missing star Ashley Judd made waves yesterday with a powerful, articulate Daily Beast essay that slammed the media for making cutting remarks about her looks. But the piece isn’t just about Judd’s appearance — it’s a feminist call to arms that charges both men and women to stop playing into a patriarchal system, one that equates female beauty with worth. The bottom line: Judd is, emphatically, not just another pretty face.
Judd began a big promotional push for her new ABC show last month. Around the same time, she found herself the subject of various catty articles — writers were speculating that, because the actress’s face looked fuller than usual, she must have had some kind of plastic surgery. In reality, Judd’s cheeks looked puffy because she was treating a sinus infection and flu with steroids. But Judd argued that it wouldn’t matter even if she had gotten work done; the comments are indicative of a larger problem. As she wrote:
…the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.
Judd went on to lament the fact that women are not only “joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance,” but are also responsible for shining a spotlight on her “puffy” face in the first place. According to Judd, this proves that patriarchy “is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate… It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it.” She concluded her essay by writing that this misogynistic “insanity” must stop. “…As focused on me as it appears to have been, it is about all girls and women,” she wrote. “In fact, it’s about boys and men, too, who are equally objectified and ridiculed, according to heteronormative definitions of masculinity that deny the full and dynamic range of their personhood.”
The actress’s words have struck a chord with both regular folk and boldface names. Fellow actresses like Julie Benz are promoting the essay by tweeting about it; as of 10 a.m., the article had amassed 1,410 comments and 152,000 Facebook likes.
What’s your response to Judd’s manifesto, PopWatchers? Do you agree with her points about patriarchy? And does this essay make you see the actress in a new light?