Patriarchy is not men

19 Apr

When actress Ashley Judd appeared in Canada last month to promote a new TV show, she definitely generated press, including comparative pictures of herself:

And much accompanying commentary: snarked, “Ashley Judd appeared on Canadian talk show, ‘The Marilyn Denis Show’ with seriously swollen cheeks that looked more nut-hoarding rodent than pretty Hollywood actress.” The site also reposted tweets from “fans” (as evidence for its case? I can only imagine):

When are celebrities going to learn that puffing their faces full of filler doesn’t make them looking younger, just weird. #ashleyjudd

So I’m not the only one who thinks #AshleyJudd has a #freakishly plumped-up face!

What happened 2 #AshleyJudd’s face? Bad night’s sleep – or bad surgery?

There are fillers and then there are FILLERS. #ashleyjudd

Another actress who’s succumbed to cheek implants or such like. She looks practically unrecognisable #ashleyjudd (

Less brazenly tabloid-y tabloids like US Weekly stuck to the passive voice in their coverage of this noteworthy story, diplomatically (but no less gleefully) writing underneath their own “before/after” photos that “it was speculated that injectable fillers were the cause of [Judd’s] puffier-than-normal face” ( Duly noted.

After much buzzing on the internet and Twitterverse, Judd added her own commentary: on the misogyny of the conversation about her face ( It’s an intelligent reflection on the issue underlying the “issue” of her appearance, from which I  wanted to share this excerpt:

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.

Amen. (Or shall I say: A-women?) Just as racism is not white people, homophobia is not heterosexuals and classism is not rich people, patriarchy and misogyny are not people but ideas that any of us can adopt in a fearful grab for power. As distressing as this truth may seem to those of us who have enjoyed the inherent righteousness of identity immunity (“I can’t be sexist because I’m a woman”), I believe it’s ultimately a relief to all of us. If the problem is biology, then we have to fix or eliminate them (and then who’s left standing?) But if the problem is, as Judd suggests, participation, then we have choice and a shot at change.

One Response to “Patriarchy is not men”

  1. sallyp1 April 19, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    I loved Ashley’s comments in The Daily Beast. She asks great questions, like “How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment?” What makes grown adults feel the need to spew such cruelty to their fellow human beings? It’s time for a conversation and I’m glad she stepped up to respond.

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