Ashley Judd does Kentucky proud

Ashley Judd recently wrote a piece for The Daily Beast addressing speculation over why her face has appeared puffy. She gets right to the point in the first sentence. “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.” As a former women’s studies major, it was all I could do not to stand up in the middle of my living room and shout “AMEN!”

However, I feel pretty confident not all Kentuckians will feel the same way about her feminist critiques. Kentuckians have a complicated relationship with Ashley Judd and I believe that relationship only further proves her point.

I remember the first time I learned Ashley Judd was from Kentucky. It was probably when I realized she was a JUDD Judd - daughter/sister of the famous country music duo. I felt such pride. She was so beautiful, so talented, so articulate. I loved that she was from my home state. Even though I'm not a huge sports fan myself, I loved that she was such a passionate UK fan, always making her way home for big games. And of course, we ALL remember the famous hockey team poster.

Yet, as her celebrity grew, so did her political consciousness. It quickly became clear that Ms. Judd leaned  more to the left on the political spectrum. She also became an outspoken feminist - unafraid to speak her mind on controversial issues like abortion and most recently the objectification of women in the media.

(Side note: I met Ashley Judd at pro-choice march in Washington, DC, and she was nothing but incredibly kind and gracious to me...especially when I told her I was from Kentucky.)

Suddenly, I began to notice not every Kentuckian experienced the pride I felt when talking about Ashley Judd. People would criticize her outspokenness and say nasty things about her appearance or personal life. In fact, the place I noticed the most vitriol was among UK fans. You want to read some mean, nasty stuff about Ashley Judd? Go to a UK fan board.

It is almost as if Kentuckians feel they own Ashley Judd. But we don't. We have no more right to criticize her than a citizen of any other state. The truth is people's dislike of her has little to do with Kentucky and more to do with the subject of her essay - patriarchy.

Everyone (in Kentucky or anywhere else) was fine with Ashley Judd as long as she followed the #1 rule for women as "objects" to be enjoyed - you are to be seen and not heard. When she was the stunning actress who just happened to love UK, everything was fine. When she opened her mouth and started challenging things and making people (men and women) uncomfortable, the meanness began.

You know what's funny? I don't hear the same vitriol directed at George Clooney. Also a proud Kentuckian and incredibly physically attractive person, you'd think he'd be subject to the same rules. However, Mr. Clooney is just as liberal if not more so and he has said just as revolutionary things about women in the media. Yet, people seem much more comfortable with George Clooney saying things they disagrees with. I would argue it's because they don't see Clooney as an object they have some ownership of or power over.

Either way I am still proud Ashley Judd is from my home state. In fact, with every political statement or feminist critique, my pride only grows.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland