My Role as the Thing That is Judged

I love this piece by Rebecca Traister so much. This part, especially, hit me in the gut:

But at its heart, it was a story about how women are assessed: by disciplinary committees, police departments, their friends, the public, and by the people they identify as their assailants. It was about how female availability and consent and intoxication are appraised based on how women look, dance, dress, and act, even when those appraisals are at odds with medical evidence, eyewitness accounts, inconsistent stories from accused parties, and certainly with the woman’s own interpretation of her experience or intentions.

This comfort with group assessment of femininity in turn reminds me of the ease with which women’s choices regarding their bodies, futures, health, sex, and family life are up for public evaluation. Women are labeled as good or bad, as moral or immoral, by major religions and “closely held corporations,” whose rights to allow those estimations to dictate their corporate obligations are upheld over the rights of the women themselves by high courts.

More and more, I can’t escape the feeling that I am public property, that I am always up for assessment, that power in our society is granted to the people who sit in judgement and, while some people’s “natural” role is that of judge, a whole lot of other people have figured out that they can make a way in this world by working themselves into positions where they prove their ability to judge, and thus given some power.

Don’t get me wrong. I think discernment is an appropriate skill to develop. Discernment can save a person a lot of heartache. But sitting in judgment, as a mode of entertaining oneself? That concerns me.

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One thought on “My Role as the Thing That is Judged

  1. Thus week as a new group of women were added to the uk parliamentary cabinet, the press commented most about their hair, their looks and their clothes. Sigh.

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