Shock is a privilege.

[Trigger warning for sexual violence.]

Actress Ashley Judd has written a memoir, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, which was released today and contains, among other things, Judd's recollections of sexual abuse as a child and young woman.

I've seen a bunch of stories about the book, or about Judd's appearance on The Today Show this morning, during which she was promoting the book, and most of them included, sometimes right in their headlines, a description of Judd's history as "shocking," or some variation thereof: attention-grabbing, headline-grabbing, surprising.

I'm not sure why, exactly, the fact that Ashley Judd is a survivor of sexual trauma is "shocking." It can only be truly "shocking" to someone who's never heard (or doesn't believe) the statistic that one out of every six women is a survivor, or to someone who expects a survivor to behave a certain way: Why, I never would have pegged her as a survivor; she seems so positively unbroken!

It's quite reasonable to feel sad, or disturbed, or angry that Judd was assaulted, but to be shocked, given what is true of the world, is a privilege.


On a related note: I've also noted some curious language being used in regard to Judd sharing her personal history. She "claims" abuse. (Possibly a liar.) She "admits" abuse. (It's so shameful.) She "finally reveals" abuse. (Doesn't she know we are entitled to know everything about celebrities' lives?) It's amazing how much of the rape culture is embedded in the choice of language used to discuss sexual violence.

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