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Trudy Bourgeois Headshot

What's Your Conversation?

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Perhaps you read the April 9, 2012, response that actress Ashley Judd released in reference to the recent media frenzy on her "puffy" appearance. As I was reading her well-written comments, it struck me as to how applicable -0 how relatable -0 her insights on reactions to women's bodies were to the topic of women being recognized and rising in corporate America today.

Most disturbing to me was the root of the problem.

Who are the major contributors in bashing women? In critiquing every fault or even nonexistent fault? Men, you say? Oh no... I'm afraid not, my sisters. Whether we're discussing women's bodies or women in the business world or communities at-large, it always saddens me to say that we -- WOMEN -- are often our own worst enemies. And that, my fellow women, must change.

Our conversations must change from critical to COURAGEOUS champions of women. Immediately. The energy spent being critical and condescending is wasted and serves no one -- not even yourself. Wisely investing your time and words in sponsoring and encouraging conversations about the value of women as leaders, mothers, role models and world changers will reveal legacies that need to be recognized. The contributions that we as women can make and are making are connected to the success of corporate America, society and the world.

Take just a moment to read parts of Ms. Judd's response and apply it to women in your circle of influence...

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...

That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. 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. This abnormal obsession with women's faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times -- I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women...

A case in point is that this conversation was initially promulgated largely by women; a sad and disturbing fact. (That they are professional friends of mine, and know my character and values, is an additional betrayal.)...

I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances. It doesn't actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule and invalidation, as if they belong to others -- and in my case, to the actual public. (I am also aware that inevitably some will comment that because I am a creative person, I have abdicated my right to a distinction between my public and private selves, an additional, albeit related, track of highly distorted thinking that will have to be addressed at another time)...

It affects each and every one of us [men and women, boys and girls], in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings. Join in -- and help change -- the Conversation.

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I agree. Let's all join in -- find your voice and become a supporter of women. Let's start a new 'Conversation' about the power, purpose and potential of women. Right now!