A friend of mine went to a global health event a few years back, where he was seated at dinner next to the actress Ashley Judd. He said he had no idea based on her screen siren image how extraordinarily smart she was (At that point she had just been awarded a graduate degree from Harvard).

Her intelligence is on display in this fine op-ed about the objectification of women:

The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.

I can only say amen, and also how sympathetic I feel for parents who are trying to raise daughters in this cultural miasma. In my neighborhood, I see 12-14 year old girls in hot pants or miniskirts, with clingy tops cut low on one shoulder to show a bra strap. They are already defining their identity solely around their sexuality…but even that isn’t correct because it isn’t their sexuality, it’s a sexuality that has been foisted upon them by a media and cultural surround that are poisonous to the well-being of women and girls.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. He served as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 to 2010.