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Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York Monday, Ashley Judd delivered a passionate speech about the need to end male sexual violence and the consequences she has faced for speaking up, including the loss of work.
“Male sexual violence is the up with which we will not put, and, for me, it’s just the hill on which I’m willing to die,” Judd said. “I’ve seen too much agony, too many shattered souls, and too many women controlled and held back as farmers, as civil servants, as contributors to their community because they couldn’t plan and space the births of their children because when they introduce family planning they get beaten, or used for household labor and fetching water and cooking and cleaning while their sons eat more than they do.”
Judd, who is global goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund, has been outspoken about the issue of sexual violence against women and went on the record as one of Harvey Weinstein’s named accusers in The New York Times exposé in 2017. She began her speech Monday by listing several acts of sexual violence that she said had experienced starting at the age of 7, and then broadened the issue to examples she’s seen across the world and locally, including how the porn industry has normalized violent behavior against women, such as choking.
“And still, some say boys will be boys, but we say here today that we love them and they will be held accountable for their actions, their attitudes, their sins of omission. And frankly, I’m fed up with the emphasis being on building resilience in girls and women because we’ve gotta look upstream and see from whence this need for resilience comes,” Judd said.
The actress added that she has been labeled as a “man hater” and lost jobs for speaking out against sexual violence, most notably after reading a spoken word poem at the Women’s March in Washington D.C. that quoted President Trump’s infamous comments on female anatomy.
“Now it seems like you’re with me, but I kind of assumed this is the part where I’ve lost everybody and the media calls me a man hater and of course, my social media goes bananas with rape and death threats. I’m used to that,” Judd said. “This will be what it will be because we’re here to tell the truth. This is telling truth to patriarchy. Just like when I lost a big job after the Women’s March. I quoted the president. He said it, he got elected. I quoted him, I got fired and lost income that would’ve changed my life.”
Still, Judd said she had hope that there is a solution for “ending male entitlement to female bodies,” starting with a change in the ecosystems that keep women from having equal access to schooling and other opportunities, as well as more grassroots organizations supporting female political candidates and men coming forward and speaking up about it the need for change. She also listed an example of meeting a young, Syrian refuge who was a victim of rape and spoke out about her experience.
“So join her and me in telling the truth about male sexual violence. Tell it in your workplaces. Tell it on the streets. Tell it in public transportation. Tell it in your bedrooms,” she said.