This week I’ve seen a theme in my reading online: women judging other women, and women speaking out about how judging each other holds us all down.
Ashley Judd Slaps Media in the Face for Speculation Over Her ‘Puffy’ Appearance Ashley Judd gets top billing today because she’s a fabulous Kentucky lady who penned a mini-manifesto about the media’s insane obsession with the slightest variations in the appearances of female celebrities. She’s also probably the most famous UK fan there is, so I’m honoring her and the winners of championship #8 by sharing this awesome pic of my brother Nate the super-fan (he’s the T) and his buddies with Judd at a UK game this winter.
I’m just so impressed with Judd for putting the recent remarks people have made about her in the context they belong in. These comments, along with all of the judgemental celebrity news about “bikini bodies,” “baby bumps,” and “who’s had work done” is, exactly as she says, nasty, gendered, misogynistic, objectifying, ageist, patriarchal, and outrageous. It was mostly other women saying all these things about her, of course, and mostly women watching it. When we judge each others’ bodies, we send a message that our bodies are scenery to be commented upon, that it’s ok if men see us as only as bodies and not people. Participating in this conversation as it currently exists has no real long-term rewards for any women; Judd is heroic for speaking out against her own detractors to change the conversation.
A French Feminist Fights the New Feminine Mystique This snippet is about Elizabeth Badinter’s new book The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women. Badinter criticizes the way even liberal mothers are expected to subsume themselves in childcare. Ideologies like attachment parenting and “breast is best” suck away a woman’s time if they try to follow them and penalize them with guilt and judgement if they don’t. This article only scratches the surface, of course. The book comes out in a week or two, and I have it on hold at the library already.
My Pregnancy Rebellion This article is about a woman who goes out to get her hair dyed while she’s pregnant. *GASP!* I’m sure you can imagine the dirty looks she got at the salon. She discusses how oppressive the lengthy list of off-limits foods and activities is for women who are used to doing what they want. The focus isn’t just on avoiding harm, though: it’s on maximizing the child’s physical and intellectual perfection. Baca says, “This is a world where having a baby can feel less like participating in an ancient biological process and more like taking on a high-stakes independent research project. The goal of said project? To produce the most intelligent, healthy and successful offspring possible, preferably one who will attend an Ivy League school.” Good for her calling BS on that. She points out that these little sacrifices, from sushi to hair dye, are giving up pieces of yourself. They add up to an “identity loss that is never fully recovered.” The fact that women are pressured to make these sacrifices and adopt an identity in which “mother” is not just central but all, is probably the thing that terrifies me most about having a child someday. (That and the effect of childbirth on my bladder.) Of course pregnancy and motherhood involve sacrifice, but there has to be a point where a woman can draw a line and say, no, that one thing is too important to me and I refuse to give it up. What makes most women scared to draw that line is the thought of those dirty looks they might get from the ladies in the salon, the other women who judge them for neglecting to devote every second of their lives to chasing perfection through their children.
Judging Moms May Be Good for Your Traffic, But It’s Bad for Your Feminism This article calls out a lot of mommy bloggers for responding in a catty way to celebrities and others whose parenting practices they disagree with. Crosley-Corcoran basically accuses these bloggers of throwing other mothers under the bus to drive up their pageviews. The essay goes on for a bit too long about placenta pills for my taste–the point isn’t to defend or condemn that particular practice, but to comdemn all of the judgement and to support all mothers in making whatever choice they feel they need to make for their well-being and that of their children. For me this essay served to tie the others together under a common theme: women judging other women is anti-feminist, and usually results in us oppressing each other, doing the patriarchy’s work for it.