What’s Current: Ashley Judd speaks out about male demand for female children

Image: YouTube/Women’s March on Washington

Ashley Judd opens up about her own experiences being sexually exploited as a girl, in order to speak out against the paid rape of children.

Brendan Orr is jailed for two years after being found guilty of raping a teenage girl at his university campus. Sentencing, Lady Scott said Orr’s “attitude to sexual matters” may have been affected by the “pornographic material” he consumed.

Evidence shows a majority of people still hold a bias against women of colour with natural hair.

A large study supports what many women have claimed, over the years, about a connection between the Pill and depression.

You don’t love women, Thomas.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • anne cameron

    Brendan Orr… another fat-faced fucker! Thinks his behaviour is excusable because he had previously had consensual sex with the sixteen year old… he had to hit on a CHILD, no adult woman would want the pudgy pismire! Two years in jail isn’t enough, but it’s a start…

  • Marla

    I’ll give Judd a lot of credit here in that it appears she did not jump on the post third-wave band wagon of spewing that “empowerment” shit after the women’s march like so many of her contemporaries.

    “We have normalized the proliferation of pornography in the form of advertisements, clothing and activities that exploit children’s natural freedom with their bodies for consumer gain.”

    As if Judd only now discovered the true evils of the capitalist system. Exploitation becomes an end to itself. People like Judd who fall into this sick system do it not just out of nativity, but because they rarely question those who tell them what to do when money is involved. The porn industry is a race apart that operates with a cool premeditation with far-reaching tentacles. How else do such “businesses” such as modelling and tacky clothing trends (hello, are you listening, Forever 21 and NastyGal?) continue to present women – young women – as mere fuck objects which in turn becomes an interpolation for rape culture?

    Too many women who go into such such avenues with high hopes end up being molested and sex-trafficked by too many men who are highly predatory and unconscionably violent. Their cruelty feeds on itself; it serves no purpose other than profit and for that reason provides an endless supply of women to be ruined. This is why I don’t read/buy or even glance at fashion rags, listen to music that promotes misogyny, rape, and sexual vices as societal norms even if sung by women who suddenly deem themselves “empowered.” I maintain my zero interest in celebrity/pop culture that depicts women as trophies by the men who abuse them and anything along the lines that gives sexual exploitation as being pragmatic.

    I feel positive about Judd’s intentions. She has suffered on unethical motives of criminals and has unfortunately lived the life that left her traumatized more than she will let on. The time to remain silent is over. No women anywhere needs or has to live though such a nightmare.

  • Rachel

    “Human beings are not for sale — at any age, for any purposes, under any circumstances, by anyone” – well said Ms Judd. I welled up when reading that speech, and just how messed up our society is, sunk in again. What is wrong with these grown men that want children?
    As a die note – I was watching a show about clubs and how they would use women to draw people in – whether that meant strippers, or “gorgeous” women outside promoting the bar, or giving free drinks to women so that it was draw “the most beautiful women in.” And it just made me feel sick. It was so glorified, as if natural and harmless and glamorous, but all I could think is how they were using women as toys and advertising. It wasn’t even women in advertising (as people like see it as), it was women ARE advertisements. Totally dehumanised.

    How can they not have seen a strong link to depression and the pill yet? They always say it’s a possible side effect of some pills, and it’s just “trial and error” finding the right one. Well, I’ve loved with severe depression since I was 14/15, which included a lot of suicidal ideation and a couple of attempts, and was later diagnosed as bipolar. And I can tell you if there was any “well” period I had on my life – the pill completely destroyed that. It made everything so much worse, and I’ve been on most of them. Now if this were men experiencing all the adverse symptoms from using the pill, they would certainly work much harder to have found one that works without the depression and bloating and acne and increased chances of cancer, and on and on and on.

    • FierceMild

      Well said. Not women in advertising but women as advertising. Spot on.

  • Rachel

    Oh my God and that Brendan Orr!!! Who gives a fuck if he’s a straight A student – what does that have to do with anything?! That poor child – tied and blindfolded and raped. How horrific. I hope she heals from that, and I honestly can’t imagine she will be able to trust men ever, and my god I hope she doesn’t End up trying to subconsciously re-enact her trauma (which often happens), through the sex trade or through abusive men.

    That’s completely right – Thomas’ “apology” was not an apology at all. I couldn’t believe reading about the legal action – my god what is wrong with people! And it’s that typical blame the victim “I’m so sorry (I was caught), and please except my apology (you better accept) because I don’t want to have to take legal action (so fucking accept or I will bitch) because I’m a nice person and it was just a joke (it’s your fault because I’m usually nice to everyone and also your fault because you can’t take a joke).”

  • Cassandra

    Aw Ashley, you made me cry. THANK YOU for speaking out for FEMALE girls—using the word “female” and naming the agent—males. I was also exploited. So many of us are. It is the single biggest and longest running crime against humanity that men demand and get away with raping girls and calling it consensual, natural, or “sex work.” Thank you so much again for being brave in the face of so much hatred toward us in this world right now. It is because we are FEMALE.

  • With respect to Thomas’s inappropriate joke, it’s important to note that a patriarchal pattern is operative. In this case, the pattern is men being able to articulate sexist statements and then have them accepted as a form of good-natured “humor.” Here is a remark from a male student that appeared in my high school yearbook:

    “Personally, I don’t think women should be in school at all after about third grade. At that point, they should be taken out and taught their responsibilities i.e., cooking, cleaning, etc.”

    I did note that the male student’s comment included a note from the educational facility which read: “The opinions of this student does not reflect the opinions of the yearbook staff or the school faculty.” However, the fact that this type of misogynist statement gained validation through publication in the yearbook is deeply problematic. In my opinion, sexist jokes are never acceptable. While I find many aspects of this student’s comment offensive, one particularly troubling element is the attempt to confine women into roles that require hard work while simultaneously precluding the workers from attaining the public recognition and/or economic rewards that the work warrants. As noted by Gloria Steinem, homemakers “work harder than any other class of workers, and are still called people who “don’t work”” (167, Outrageous Acts And Everyday Rebellions). Additionally, they are not paid for their work. Apparently, this is the slavish state that the sexist student from my high school thought women should live in. Or, if he was “just joking,” he thought it was acceptable to make light of the fact that women are still a slave class.

    This is all very unacceptable and I think part of the feminist call to consciousness is recognizing how these sexist jokes pervade the environments in which women are embedded such that we are led to believe that being made fun of about our subordination is somehow permissible. It is not.

    • Marla

      “..men being able to articulate sexist statements and then have them accepted as a form of good-natured “humor.”

      I don’t do the social media crawl. One reason is because of the endless Thomas trolls who are looking to score brah points among their misogynistic brotherhood. I disagree with you that his statement was articulated (much less his watered-down apology). Must have took him what, 5 seconds to write it?

      • You’re right. Using the term “articulated” seems to elevate his statement to the level of an academic argument or intellectual assertion when it was neither.

        You’re also right about the misogynistic brotherhood. This is essentially a phallocracy in which men affirm their membership and commitment to one another by dehumanizing women. Lierre Keith draws attention to this reality when she notes that “…men know what they are capable of. They know. They know the sadism they’ve built into their own sex. Do it to her, is what they say to each other. Not to me, the human being. But her, the object, the thing” (from “The Girls And The Grasses,” pg. 292 in Female Erasure). Thomas’s sexist statement really illustrates the accuracy of Keith’s assessments regarding how the misogynistic brotherhood works because his “joke” reduces the female body to the sphere of passive receptacle, making woman the object or thing on and in which derogatory acts are completed.

        It is because of this misogynistic brotherhood that women’s cultures (separate spaces) are necessary. Yet men invade these separate spaces because they want to ensure that they always have access to women’s bodies and can continually enforce their hegemonic ideologies over women rather than enabling them to establish and adhere to alternate systems of thought which revere the female somatic form as sacred. In reading Female Erasure, I am more convinced than ever that separate spaces are not optional for female liberation. They are imperative. Even the presence of “male allies” or “male feminists” is oppressive in these spheres. Ava Park draws attention to this reality upon noting that

        “Our one mixed circle a month is a good thing and we continue to hold it. Our Temple’s male members are gentle, honoring and kind human beings, sitting in circle respectfully, speaking thoughtfully. In spite of that, something still happens: when people with penises are present, the people with vaginas censor their natural speech. Trained to have little to no Queen, most of the vagina people are not comfortable leading the penis people, or even simply confidently expressing their natural selves in front of them” (77, “Female Erasure: A Sampler,” from Female Erasure).

        This is why I refuse to call men my “allies.” Even well-intending men complicate and compromise the feminist project of complete liberation from andocracy. Thus while Park interprets their inclusion in a monthly meeting as “a good thing,” I question whether this assessment is accurate considering the fact that the male presence engenders female self-censorship and silence.

        • Marla

          “You’re right. Using the term “articulated” seems to elevate his statement to the level of an academic argument or intellectual assertion when it was neither.”

          I wasn’t attempting to be facetious with you in my statement but rather to simply say how Thomas’ lack of social skills and intelligence and feigned apology go way beyond his guilt. Chances are high he has been in a situation like this before and most likely will be again. If he possess any articulation at all, it’s in his lying techniques.

          “This is why I refuse to call men my “allies.” Even well-intending men complicate and compromise the feminist project of complete liberation from andocracy.”

          The guy I’m currently dating I would say is pro-radfem. In fact, he is the one who got me out of the boxed thinking of the third-wave nonsense that I was lost in in after my discharge from military service. That is a story onto itself. I do see him as an ally even though we maintain our differences and neither one of us will compromise the others’ belief system. He’s a male who grew up in a violent environment and was taught women were/are the cause of all his suffering mainly from a father who loved to see women being abused. He has worked hard to dismantle his upbringing that hatred toward women is not a societal norm nor is it an acceptable behavior in any shape or form. He’s ex-Marine like me and working on his Masters in Sociology & Criminology – as am I.

          Now I wouldn’t say the tide is tuning for I’m willing to bet Thomas here was raised in the same dysfunctional environment with the only difference being he feeds on the negativity and social depravity that was taught to him. Women, particularity strong, successful women, are a threat to him and the only avenue he knows how to deal with his own lack of proper behavior is to instill his “hegemonic ideology” by degrading them as a means of a personal, sadistic outlet. I guess I can see your point of view of why men can never be regarded as allies. Thomas’ bizarre emotional behavioral mindset towards women will never change not as along as he and others like him choose to go on the defensive whenever their actions are questioned.

    • Raysa_Lite

      My favorite part of that entire thing is how males go all “ladies just don’t understand what’s really funny, amirite.”

      It’s a part and parcel of the system that they created to avoid responsibility for literally everything. They hide themselves and each other in it with an invisible set of male favored rules.

      “Women don’t understand humor.”
      “Women aren’t smart enough for higher education.”
      “Women tease us into raping them.”
      “Women trick us into marriage.”
      “Women can’t science because uterus.”

      Every single idea, law, or societal thought about how women aren’t capable of an action directly relates to males wanting to keep all of the opportunities and choices to themselves. Or the serve to keep us in a place of service to them.

      • Karen Eisen

        “Women can’t science because uterus.” it’s a bit off-topic, but that’s why I was very disappointed that Bernie Sanders didn’t disavow the uterus comment….

        • FierceMild

          I like to say men can’t do chemistry because it’s all about relationships. Totes ladysciene.

    • FierceMild

      Another humorless feminist I see. Don’t you know it’s riotously funny to mock people for being abused?

      Shakespeare may have observed that, “tis a cruelty to load a falling
      man,” but he said nothing of adding to the burdens of already over-burdened women because that’s totes fine.

  • lk

    Ashley Judd’s letter is amazing…really happy to see someone in Hollywood saying something like this!!

    I love this part though: “Human beings are not for sale — at any age, for any purposes, under any circumstances, by anyone. It matters not if the seller is their own parents or other relative, a stranger, a profiteer, or any other person or authority. There is no combination of factors..that makes it okay to use a child or adolescent for sex.”

    Back when I was pro-legalizing prostitution, I used to always feel sick to my stomach when a prostitute would defend child sex work..there is no such thing as child sex work…only child rape, abuse and molestation..paying the child does not make it work.

    The other day I was reading an article that was talking about the famine in Yemen and the article particularly focused on parents marrying off their daughters to adult men as a way to make sure their daughters would be fed. The part I remember about the article was how the girl described how physically painful her wedding night was…How awful that little girls must be sold for sex just to avoid starvation.

    The fact that people can defend men buying children for sex just boggles my mind.

    • FierceMild

      Agree. And I would like to add that the fact that people can defend men buying women for sex is equally mind-boggling. We aren’t things. We aren’t for sale.

      • Exactly. We aren’t things. We aren’t for sale. Yet the global necrotic project of patriarchy continues to insist that we are, and our commodification isn’t confined to the perverse sexual demands of men. For example, Lierre Keith notes that “There are entire villages in India where all the women only have one kidney. That’s because their husbands have sold the other one” (Lierre Keith, “The Girls And The Grasses”).

        In recognizing these undesirable realities (which result from the Patriarchal Imperative’s insistence that men have access to women’s bodies), it is time to demand remedies. I have already articulated separatism as an ideology and praxis that can yield results. Another strategy is consciousness-raising regarding the Big Lie, Gender, and how it adversely impacts the psyche of young women. Atrocities such as the global sex trade and extraction of a woman’s organs for sale are acceptable because we live in communities committed to the process of female socialization, which Keith defines as “a process of psychologically constraining and breaking girls-otherwise known as “grooming”-to create a class of compliant victims” (291). This learned compliance ensures that when men buy and sell girls or a woman’s body parts, women will acquiesce the patriarchal order rather than arguing for the abolition of destructive practices. I think we need to unlearn femininity and all of its adverse outcomes, some of which include self-silencing and continually altering one’s ideologies and actions to attain male approval.

        • FierceMild

          Precisely. They sell access to our genitals, they sell our eggs, our breastmilk, our organs. Many Indian women are now being pressed into service as incubators for wealthy westerners. It is stomach-turning.

          Also, Lierre Keith is a woman of such towering, intellect, strength and compassion she makes me believe in giants. More than that, she makes me believe we could win.

          • Exactly. Thanks for bringing up the issue of winning. This is something I have been giving serious thought to after reading an important quote from one of my favorite radical feminists, Andrea Dworkin. In discussing political resistance, she noted:

            [W]hen I talk about a resistance, I am talking about an organized political resistance. I’m not just talking about something that comes and something that goes. I’m not talking about a feeling. I’m not talking about having in your heart the way things should be and going through a regular day having good, decent, wonderful ideas in your heart. I’m talking about when you put your body and your mind on the line and you commit yourself to years of struggle in order to change the society in which you live… A political
            resistance goes on day and night, under cover and over ground, where people can see it and people can’t. It is passed from generation to generation. It is taught. It is encouraged. It is celebrated. It is smart. It is savvy. It is committed. And someday it will win. It will win.
            (The Sex Liberals and the Attack on Feminism).

            I find these words very inspiring and I agree with Dworkin’s assertion that real political resistance is not sporadic or merely mental, but rather a continual force that moves the individual to put her body and mind in perpetual jeopardy for the purpose of fighting phallism. But I do question whether the feminist cause will “win,” as well as what constitutes winning. Now that I am roughly 4/5 of the way through Female Erasure, I have learned quite a bit about the historicity of women struggling against male power. It seems that there is no linear progress but rather an ongoing, intense antagonism marked by gains and losses on both sides. I even see this when I take a quick glimpse at what is transpiring on the contemporary landscape. I was so excited when Rachel Moran and other women were successful in ensuring that Ireland would pass the Sexual Offences Bill. Yet in studying the second wave, I was disappointed to see that the ERA wasn’t ratified. I was also excited to read about the Dworkin-MacKinnon Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance but then disturbed to see it blocked according to amerika’s deceptive rhetoric of “free speech.” (This really means that men can create and celebrate the hate speech that is pornography but the individuals who try to speak out against it will be deplatformed and ostracized.)

            I do hope that we win. I am thinking about whether that is possible while also understanding that I will continue my work (writing against rape, pornography, and prostitution) irrespective of the outcome.

    • Exactly. The female pain engendered by the patriarchy’s demand that women be sex and be bought as sex is a devastating reality to contemplate. The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) makes this practice worse because, as noted by Lierre Keith in “The Girls And The Grasses,” extreme forms of it involve the labia being cutting off and the vagina being sewn shut. Then, on the wedding night, “the girl’s husband will penetrate her with a knife before his penis” (290). In a word: no!

      According to my research, FGM is one of the most extreme manifestations of patriarchal sadism. Yet it is not the only form. Many if not most cultures interpret the female body as inherently problematic and defective, thereby rendering it a thing that warrants ongoing “discipline.” Keith describes this process when she notes that “Under patriarchy, the female body is loathsome; its life-giving fat cells vilified; its generative organs despised. Its natural condition is always ridiculed: normal feet must be turned into four-inch stubs; rib cages must be crushed into collapse; breasts are varyingly too big or too small or excised entirely. That this inflicts pain-if not constant agony-is not peripheral to these practices. It’s central. When she suffers, she is made obedient” (290).

      The solution, as Lierre Keith says, is to demand remedies. There are many. One includes advancing the ideology of separation rather than promoting the patriarchal rhetoric which insists upon condemning it as a manifestation of misandry. (I see a patriarchal pattern of women being accused of being man-haters any time they attempt to attain any form of autonomy. This shows me that Marilyn Frye’s interpretation of reality is correct. There does exist a Patriarchal Imperative which insists that men have ongoing access to female bodies.) Marilyn Frye cites various forms of separation by noting that this political process can include “everything from divorce to exclusive lesbian separatist communities, from shelters for battered women to witch covens, from women’s studies programs to women’s bars, from expansion of daycare to abortion on demand.”

      Another solution is discussing pseudo-solutions and why they are ultimately ineffective so we can cease appropriating them. Frye argues that some of the pseudo-solutions (oftentimes promoted by feminist apologists) include “band-aid projects, like legalization of prostitution, liberal marriage contracts, improvement of the treatment of rape victims and affirmative action.” I agree that the first two are band-aid solutions but disagree that the last two are. Rape victims need to be treated with great care and sensitivity because they can be rehabilitated and restored. Failing to acknowledge and respond to their unique needs creates a breeding ground for their mental instability and revictimization. On the other hand, rehabilitation can engender psychosomatic wholeness while also enabling the survivor to develop self-concepts which situate her outside the patriarchal schema in which woman is always and only a subordinated body that men are entitled to violate. Affirmative action is problematic because it affirms assimilationist values, but it can be effective in the sense of disturbing the phallic order which insists that men always have more access to a society’s resources than women.

      Thanks for your post.