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Ashley Judd, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Lawrence vs. Our Toxic Misogynist Culture

by Sophia Savage
April 10, 2012 5:29 PM
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Psychologist Kelly Brownell:

"These kind of messages are toxic. They pressure people, especially girls, to be at odds with their bodies and to fight against whatever natural weight they might have. They force into the public psyche an arbitrary and unrealistic ideal that is attainable by few and leaves a great many scars in its wake."

Women and Film's Melissa Silverstein:

"[Lawrence's] male co-stars look even healthier (and have some seriously big muscles) yet no one thinks they are too healthy or big boned or big boobed or just plain old fat."

Many of us have trouble with accepting a powerful female as feminine and/or sexy. Recall the attention to Angelina Jolie's leg at the Oscars? We laugh, because it's absurd.

The physically powerful female (see Lisbeth Salander) disrupts the idea that men are meant to be the burly heroes. It's sending Hollywood folks to their doctors for $10,000 per year HGH prescriptions--and what starts in Hollywood will trickle down.

These attacks on actresses challenge our ability to accept ourselves and each other. We are not showing young girls (or boys) ways of finding or accepting their own intrinsic value. We put celebrities on a pedestal and feel better about ourselves when they crash and burn. We are impressionable and easily controlled by our insecurities (see: the economy), and it's eating away at us. This is how our culture works. But who does it help?

[More: On Hollywood's gender problem; The sexualization of women and girls on screen.]


  • Seminal Jones | April 11, 2012 1:53 PMReply

    When privileged women stop creating drama where none exists, stop relying on laughable concepts like patriarchy and misogyny and just get it done, we will finally take them seriously as peers. Until then you are playing the damsel in distress card. Life is hard, if you can't take it get back in the kitchen and bake me a pie.

  • James Kustes | April 11, 2012 12:45 PMReply

    Misogynistic means men are the ones doing it. I have never heard of men calling a woman fat at the level women do. Most would have sex with Jennifer Lawrence or Christina Hendricks. It's like when black people blamed white people for a Hispanic shooting a black kid or when black people owned each other as slaves that built the pyramids and then blamed white people for slavery. You do the crime, we do the time.

  • SoulHonky | April 11, 2012 9:30 AMReply

    There seems to be a disconnect here. Even when you're bemoaning the focus on the physical, you seem to fall back onto the importance of physical strength. What made Lisbeth Salander great wasn't her physical power, it was her intellect. (Not to mention that Rooney Mara was tiny in the film; hardly fitting into this discussion here any more than rail thin Zoe Saldana or Angelina Jolie, none of whom are making it easier on the bigger women out there.)

    Also, I find it hard to feel for actresses who make millions off of their looks and then get upset when people fault them when their looks start to fail them. I'm not saying that Judd doesn't have some talent but for her to bemoan the focus on looks is kind of like her denouncing nepotism, in my opinion.

    And the bottom line is that this is nothing new. The only difference is that the internet has given more people a voice and more often than not, that voice is insulting or, at the very least, without filter. Ashley Judd isn't going through anything than Rita Hayworth didn't deal with (well, Hayworth probably wore more uncomfortable clothes to try to give the illusion of an unreal body.)

  • Lizzie | April 10, 2012 6:02 PMReply

    While there's definitely too much misogynistic criticism of women's bodies, I'm not sure The Hunger Games criticisms fall into that category. Katniss IS from a place where people are starving, to the point that they risk a game to the death for an extra ration of food. That's not the same as posting paparazzi snaps of an actress's thighs.

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