Ashley Judd on Objectification
Ashley Judd has published a funny piece decrying the bad mean objectification:
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.
This might have some value if it didn’t come from a Hollywood actress, a person whose only job is to look pretty and get paid huge sums for that. If you bring absolutely nothing to your job but a cute face and a skinny figure, then why shouldn’t you expect to have them picked apart and analyzed from here to eternity by consumers? What I bring to my job are my teaching and my research and I routinely undergo the very unpleasant procedure of having them picked apart, analyzed and criticized in very harsh terms.
Judd wants to extrapolate her reality of a Hollywood starlet who needs to be fresh in order to be attractive to consumers onto every other woman, which is why her repeated use of “our” rings hollow. Unlike in Judd’s job, in my profession nobody gives a rat’s ass about my celestial beauty. I can have the most perfect face and the most statuesque figure in the world but if I arrive at my yearly review with no publications, no service activities and lousy student evaluations, my contract will simply not be renewed. I’m not objectified at work and my personhood and accomplishments are not dismissed for the simple reason that I’m selling the products of my intellectual labor. If Judd chooses to sell pictures of a cute ass, it is hardly a huge feminist issue that the product she sells has an expiration date.
It’s also hilarious how Judd used to be completely fine with the Hollywood objectification to which she contributed as much as she could by offering her photoshopped appearance to the world on every occasion that presented itself. Now that she can’t sell those manufactured looks as well as she used to, she starts ranting against “objectification.” Like a local greasy spoon owner who gets outraged when a McDonald’s opens in town and who starts denouncing the evils of fast food to malign his competition, Judd is upset that the system she has benefited from enormously and that made her extremely rich and famous cannot be milked in perpetuity.
After a passionate diatribe against all those horrible people who only care about women’s looks, Judd tries to persuade her readers that, contrary to popular opinion, she is still quite ready for consumption:
My skin is nearly flawless, and at age 43, I do not yet have visible wrinkles. . . When I have gained weight, going from my usual size two/four to a six/eight after a lazy six months of not exercising.
Our anti-objectification activist protests against women being held up to impossible standards of beauty and, in the same breath, brands those who have visible wrinkles at age 43 as “flawed” and those who are bigger than size 8 as “lazy.” And then she wonders why women are not rushing to defend her when the same labels she puts on others are attached to her. What a blathering hypocrite.
What I find especially entertaining is that many pseudo-feminists have started jumping on Judd’s wagon, promoting her as some kind of a feminist. They don’t even notice that, in a highly misogynist gesture, Judd consistently refers to herself as “an actor.” What other evidence do we need that she does not have an ounce of respect for those very women in whose name she claims to speak?