Janel Dyan

Women Crushing It Wednesday

#WCIW: Ashley Judd

Actress.  Whistleblower.  Activist.

The #MeToo movement has steadily gained steam over the past few months, bringing together women from all over the world and from every walk of life. Decades, even centuries in the making, the movement stems from the outrageous and all-too-common acts of sexual abuse, assault, harassment, and degradation that women have endured at home, in the workplace, and beyond.  These instances are so commonplace that they've been accepted as “just the way things are,” “boys just being boys,” and “locker-room talk.”  

However, the rage that women felt under the surface for so many years has finally come to a head. The far-reaching issue is finally receiving the attention it deserves, and the justice that it demands.

Arguably one of the major catalysts of the movement was Ronan Farrow’s explosive October 23rd, 2017 article in The New Yorker, detailing several accounts of women abused at the hands of Harvey Weinstein. However, Farrow was not the first to break the story.

On October 3rd, The New York Times published an article in which actress Ashley Judd recounted her own harrowing experience with Weinstein, and the floodgates opened. The public was outraged. As more and more women came forward as victims, we asked ourselves:  how could this have been happening for so long, to some the most prominent women in Hollywood?  How could so many people have known about it and done nothing to stop it?  And, perhaps most importantly, how can we ensure that it never happens again?

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It's important to celebrate the women who came forward. To believe them, embrace them, and  listen to them. As one of the first to come out publicly as a Weinstein victim, Ashley bravely helped pave the way for for dozens of other victims, both of Weinstein and others worldwide, to come forward and tell their own story after hearing theirs. A story, it turns out, she had told many times before.  

Immediately after the incident by Weinstein, Judd told her parents, her agents, and other Hollywood executives. She was repeatedly advised not to pursue action against the powerful mogul, that no good would come of it. In an interview with Diane Sawyer, Judd recalled warning other actresses about Weinstein and being shocked when many responded that they already knew... because it had happened to them, too.  It wasn't long before Ashley’s career started to be affected by these events.

Recently, Director Peter Jackson admitted that during casting for his Lord of the Rings epic, Weinstein explicitly told him not to hire Judd or fellow actress, and victim, Mira Sorvino.  Afterward, both actresses saw declines in the number of roles they were offered.

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A woman of faith, Judd felt a growing need to speak out publicly and prayed over it intensely. Through that process she finally decided that she had to do it. She confided in her mother, singer Naomi Judd, who simply told her, “Go get him.”  And she did. 

As a result of her interview and the fallout that followed, Weinstein was fired from his own company and forced into treatment. It is, however, the lasting impact of Judd’s testimony that may have the greatest effect of all.

The #MeToo movement has been a call to action to women everywhere. In Hollywood, actresses have come together to launch the #TimesUp campaign. Time’s Up is not just a hashtag, it’s a legal defense fund to help women in every field — from hotel housekeepers to farmers to nurses to teachers — to take legal action against their attackers and harassers. So far, the organization has raised over $14Million for the fund, providing resources and support for victims and their families.

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None of this would be possible without the bravery and resolve of women like Ashley Judd, who are willing to set aside their fears and trepidations in the pursuit of justice, truth, and prevention.  For her role in this avalanche of a movement, Ashley Judd is this week’s #WCIW. 

To learn more about Time’s Up and to donate to the legal defense fund, visit www.timesupnow.com.

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