Media slut-shaming of Ashley Judd well under way (UPDATED)

With all of the attention being heaped upon Ashley Judd and her much-rumored candidacy against Mitch McConnell, it was only a matter of time before the media turned its attention to the actress’  celluloid past.

But instead of debating the political import of “Bug,” or how Judd’s feminist views factored into her depiction of Marilyn Monroe, the boys’ club of political punditry has zeroed in on what’s really important: tits and ass.

Two stories — one national, one local — published yesterday have officially begun the slut-shaming mode phase of Judd’s still-hypothetical candidacy with craven pubescent zeal.

Writes Think Progress: “[The] Daily Caller, which has been trying to frame Judd’s feminist beliefs as fringe, has launched the stupidest salvo against her [of] all: arguing that Judd, because she has done nude scenes for her work as an actress, “has—literally—nothing left to show us.”

An excerpt from the fap-tastic Caller piece in question:

We are used to knowing just about everything there is to know about serious political candidates. But will Judd be the first potential senator who has — literally — nothing left to show us?

The actress has bared her breasts in several films and has had some raunchy sex scenes in others.

According to MrSkin.com, which bills itself as “the largest free nude celebrity movie archive,” Judd has flashed just about everything on-screen.

It seems like she was particularly liberal with nudity early on in her career.

In both 1996′s “Norma Jean and Marilyn” and 1999′s “Eye of the Beholder,” Judd went full frontal and bared her behind.

She went topless for 1996′s “Normal Life” and went topless and bottomless in 1999′s “Double Jeopardy.”

Judd did a lesbian sex scene in 2002′s Oscar-nominated “Frida” and has nine other films categorized as “sexy” by Mr. Skin, meaning that there is at least one racy scene in those films.

When you’re quoting Mr.Skin for an article about a U.S. Senate race, you’re doing it wrong (or absolutely right, depending on your ethics).

The only comparable example I can come up with is Arnold Schwartzengger, the former governor of California who in his pre-Terminator days posed for nude photos. But Schwartzenegger is a man, and as we all know, in politics and in American society in general, having a pair of testicles grants a level of immunity, in terms of behavior and conduct, which women would kill for. But this is the Daily Caller, so a certain level of tabloid smarmyness and conservative invective is par for the course.

As TP notes:

If a woman takes off her top in a movie, much less baring it all, Mr. Skin and his ilk will be there to catalogue it to make sure people who only want to see her as, in the parlance of that site, “breasts, butt, bush, underwear, sexy,” can skip the parts of her performance that would give her character humanity and context, and would remind us that she’s a woman playing a part. The movies Ashley Judd’s taken her clothes off in tend to have that kind of context, whether she’s playing a woman in love with a mentally ill man who claims to be a veteran in Bug or in Norma Jean and Marilyn, a biopic of Marilyn Monroe, a woman who, in real life, was devoured by audiences’ inability to see both her body and her mind simultaneously. If an actress goes nude for roles frequently, as, say, Lena Dunham has, she’s likely to be the subject of speculation about whether she’s some sort of exhibitionist, rather than whether her nudity enhances her roles, as if there’s no possible creative reason she could have for taking off her clothes or doing sex scenes. It’s a bizarre suspension of logic that applies to all other on-screen actions: no one thinks that Judd’s been married to a southern lawyer pulled into a racially-tinged trial, as she was in Time To Kill, or that she’s killed the ex-husband who framed her for murder as she did inDouble Jeopardy, or gives her credit for knowing how Washington and politics work because she’s playing the First Lady in the forthcoming Olympus Has Fallen.

But in an article published yesterday by The Courier-Journal, political reporter Joseph Gerth made it known that he was totally down for some bathroom muckraking, too, opining in a painfully uncomfortable voice-over whether or not Ashley Judd’s nude scenes would hurt her chances at unseating a man who has actually done objectively terrible things that do not include (so far as we know) posing nude per an artistic commitment to his given profession.

In his piece, Gerth says a Twitter follower posed the thought experiment:

A month or so ago, a follower on Twitter suggested that the problems of an Ashley Judd candidacy goes beyond liberal positions she has taken on coal and other issues over the years.

“Now all Judd has to do is buy up all the soft porn she made,” Mike DiGiuro said in his tweet.

Aside from absolving Gerth of having a dirty mind, DiGuro’s tweet opens the door, in CNN-reads-your-tweets fashion, to try and answer the asinine question coughed up by the peanut gallery.

Now, I haven’t seen a whole lot of Judd’s movies over the years but if the sample is representative, our definition of soft pornography is quite a bit different.

But DiGiuro, who was once a Courier-Journal Forum Fellow, is right in that Judd has bared her body in several movies.

Hold on, guys, I’m gonna go to my bunk and, uh, Google this just to make sure that Twitter guy is right. Just a couple minutes. It’s research.

Gerth continues:

The question is, how does that effect her chances of winning election if she decides to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year.

In recent weeks, Judd has appeared to step up her consideration of a race against McConnell. She’s met with monied backers in Louisville and with power Democrats in Washignton, D.C.

Meanwhile, McConnell and a super PAC supporting Republican candidates have mocked Judd in an Internet video and a television commercial, respectively.

Neither of them brought up Judd’s au naturelmovie appearances but its doubtful she could make it through a race without someone doing it.

I didn’t major in political science, but I’m willing to go out on a limb by saying the reason McConnell and American Crossroads didn’t spend millions of dollars to rally the public in a moralistic fervor to lambast a woman for disrobing in a fucking movie is 1) it’s too low for the likes of McConnell and Karl Rove, which is saying a lot, really; and 2) why say what a few desperate journalists are willing to say for free, especially when they can take the hit for the inevitable backlash?

Indeed, in a shrewd attempt to capitalize on the intense public interest in Judd’s potential candidacy, the press is tripping over their collective dick to feed the beast with anything and everything they can think of. But for a race that’s still almost two years away, in which one of the candidates in question hasn’t even declared she’s actually running, you’d think the media would have waited a little bit longer to start discussing, with a straight face, the electoral calculus of exposed areolas.

Gerth goes on to discuss the plight of disgraced former New York Congressman Anthony Wiener, who accidentally tweeted pictures of his dick and in so doing single-handedly destroyed his political career, but not before he could blame it on hackers — a plight that in no way resembles Judd’s nude scenes in “Norma Jean and Marilyn.”

Despite Gerth’s attempt at a good humored vibe (and the fact that his work is generally a lot less sexist than this) his piece (and it’s Daily Caller companion) just show how much work the press has left when writing about women in politics.

UPDATE: A couple of addendums.

(1) As a commenter below points out, we forgot former Massachussetts Senator Scott Brown’s “nude” centerfold for a girly mag 20 years ago. To the best of my efforts, I cannot find pictures of this man’s genitals, either through lack of skill or ambition. The commenter also correctly points out that ”we’re discussing this at all is just another way of avoiding talking about the policies that Mitch McConnell has supported or opposed (mostly just opposed, the last few years), and the impact of those policies on families in Kentucky and around the country.” And for the record, there is also  this semi-nude picture of Minnesota Senator and former SNL alum Al Franken, posing here in a diaper in a picture that I’m not 100 percent certain isn’t Photoshopped. In all, Judd’s filmic nudity trumps Brown’s, which still apparently typifies the norm in mainstream depictions of bathing suit areas, as WFPL’s Erin Keane succintly notes here in this local NPR story;

(2) Gerth isn’t alone: WHAS-11′s Joe Arnold released this gem, with the poetically titled “Naked Ambition? Judd nude scenes latest buzz in talk of actress’ senate bid.”

Another great day for women in Kentucky!

4 Comments

  1. BrianK
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    All this, and not a single mention of ex-Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who posed for a nude centerfold spread in Cosmo? It didn’t seem to hurt him in his initial win.

    But the fact that we’re discussing this at all is just another way of avoiding talking about the policies that Mitch McConnell has supported or opposed (mostly just opposed, the last few years), and the impact of those policies on families in Kentucky and around the country.

  2. Ralph
    Posted March 4, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    This is sleazy, but when you’re dealing with McConnell, what do you expect? I wouldn’t think, however, that he’d want to exploit anything marginally sexual in content — not with all the rumors that for years have been circulating in Kentucky, and Washington, about his sex life. Somebody might decide this is reason to finally dig into them and see if they’re true. When he made his ex-girlfriend a federal judge and his wife a cabinet secretary, “some people” in Kentucky — to use Fox News’ favorite attribution — said the jobs weren’t nepotism; they were hush money.

  3. Bob
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    This misogyny is coming from news media who would like to be considered professionals and who contend the media they work for has special newsworthy value based on reporting. They contend they should therefore be paid as full-time professionals, while at the same time they choose to conduct themselves in a profoundly unprofessional way.

    This ejaculation of hate in a single day from multiple sources is impossible to be coincidental. McConnell is too good to live fingerprints on it, but he has clearly enrolled these “journalists” in his latest attack for political survival. The fact that they have willingly done so is the surprise in all this.

  4. NativeSonKY (@NativeSonKY)
    Posted March 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Yeah when I saw Joe’s hatchet job on the WHAS website I about puked. Talk about Yellow Journalism – and I HATE to use the J-word anywhere near Joe Arnold after that.