Kentucky basketball fan and motion picture actor Ashley Judd was in the national and local news a few weeks ago. She was very upset because some critics had noticed her "bloated" face (she explained it was caused by medication she was taking for a sinus infection), and a few of her critics even implied that she may have had plastic surgery.
Judd hit back with a piece in the Daily Beast in which she said her critics' responses illustrated that we still live in a patriarchal society. Since most of the people who criticized her physical appearance were women, she of necessity had to define such a patriarchal society as "a system in which both women and men participate." She also condemned the media for its "all knowing" stance on issues like this.
Ms. Judd, a graduate of the University of Kentucky and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, also went on NBC's Nightly News and said the criticism was really about "hatred of women." I didn't view the newscast so I don't know if she offered an explanation as to how or why her female critics would be expressing such hatred of their own gender.
In related news, Ms.Judd was recently selected as a delegate to the Democratic convention from Williamson County in Tennessee. (BTW, Williamson, just south of Nashville, is, according to Forbes in 2010, the 17th richest county in the U.S.) The Williamson Democrats also selected a Hispanic to be a member of their delegation, Vilma Cueva. From the NewsChannel5 story,
Todd Sharp, a county Democrat, said the selection of these delegates represents the party's respect for women and Hispanics.
I wish Ms. Judd well in her role as delegate, and I suspect she probably has other future political aspirations as well.
But, I wonder. Are the Democrats in Williamson County not part of that patriarchal system she says we're still operating under? Just wonderin'.
I wonder also if Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Governor Nikki Haley and the five other female state governors, as well as Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg would agree that our system is still "patriarchal."
Most liberals would agree that Ms. Judd is on solid ground by continuing to make these arguments. But how '70s can you get? It's like, Here, hold my joint while I check my mood ring to see how much Watergate has upset me. I'm afraid that kind of thinking doesn't cut it with me any more. It just seems so uncool, so unhip, so old fashioned. Reverends Jackson and Sharpton, for example, seem to enjoy playing '70s politics and thus are still tiresomely beating the same old dead racist horse, even though we've got a black President, a black Supreme Court Justice, a black Attorney General, two black governors, numerous black congress persons, black mayors, black police chiefs, etc. Come on guys, give it a rest.
I respect Judd as an actress and she certainly has a right to speak her mind on any issue, but it seems to me her old fashioned "patriarchy" argument, which assumes that patriarchy is a "social construction," dates back to the early '70s and Kate Millett's book Sexual Politics. I'm guessing Judd must have read that book at some point during her time at UK or at Harvard. In my mind, the Millet argument was pretty much refuted back in the day when Steven Goldberg made the case that patriarchy (1) is more a result of inherent biology and genetics than social conditioning, and (2) patriarchy is a "universal feature of human culture."
As Wiki points out, Goldberg has his critics. But my real point is that these issues were relevant forty years ago, and resulting positive changes occurred. All you have to do is open your eyes and look around you. Women have had growing successes in all fields over the past four decades and are today an ongoing and essential force in business, government, and society in general. The patriarchy has been modified and that's good.
But it's apparently not good enough for Ms. Judd. She apparently wants to keep beating the old patriarchal horse in the same way Jackson and Sharpton continually whack away at the old issue of "racism" that liberals now conveniently define as only applicable to whites.
What does she want, a matriarchal society? One where women call all the shots and men make the coffee? What do Jackson and Sharpton want, a racist society where blacks can impugn whites continuously with no moral consequences? One where the entire federal budget is devoted to payback for injustices suffered by their ancestors and perceived injustices still permeating American society today?
This whole continuation of '70s issues tells me where Democrats are really at today. Conventional wisdom says Republicans are mired in the past, don't like change, etc. while Democrats are progressive, forward thinking people. But I'm sorry guys, it just ain't so any more. The world has turned. Time has passed. Truth is, the "progressives" are the ones whose ideas are looking tired and worn out these days.
While Democrats and most journalists and Ms. Judd are stuck in the past with their arguments against patriarchal societies and the need for more massive government spending (which goes back to at least Johnson's Great Society and some would say all the way to FDR's New Deal), today's Republicans are looking to the future and the consequences of all that accumulated national debt on our children and their children.
Progressives (and journalists) of today liked the '70s. That's when they were young and the fire of idealistic change burned in their hearts. Today they think that wild and crazy time would be nice to return to. But that's really a kind of escapism. What they see in the future is frightening because it's a consequence of their failed polices. So they either resort to denial or escapism. The deniers ignore the monster coming into the room and keep talking the same old line about a bigger government solving our problems. The escape artists turn away from the monster and talk about the things that made them feel good in the past. To me, either approach is REACTIONARY.
Conservatives are not afraid to look at the future, especially our financial future, even though it looks pretty bleak right now. They have proposals on the table to deal with this problem. The Democrats, however, prefer to talk about redistributing the wealth, class warfare, and patriarchal societies while ignoring the National DEBT.
I don't know about you, but I think Ms. Judd is a member of the wrong party if she wants the kind of change that will have a real impact on our future.