Naomi Judd: ‘Every Girl Needs a Mentor’
On Dec. 6, Time magazine revealed its Person of the Year for 2017: "the Silence Breakers," those who have stepped forward to share their stories of sexual abuse, harassment and / or assault. Among the people profiled is Ashley Judd, actress and daughter of country star Naomi Judd; she was the first to publicly identify movie mogul Harvey Weinstein as the man who sexually harassed her, and helped begin what's come to be known as the "#MeToo" movement.
In the week since the Person of the Year announcement, Noami Judd has been reflecting on her daughter's honor. Exclusively for The Boot, she penned the open letter below to show her support for all of those who have been victimized. In it, Judd shares her own #MeToo moment and discusses why it’s vital to continue the national conversation about why women -- and everyone -- need positive mentors: to assure them that sexual harassment, abuse and assault are never okay.
How the heck did this happen? How could I wind up with two wildly successful daughters? Wynonna, my former singing partner, has five Grammy Awards and is one of the best singers in all of music. The other is on the cover of Time's Person of the Year for the Silence Breakers.
Ashley and I are extremely close, and we even live on neighboring farms. One night, as she strolled into my kitchen, barefoot as usual, she said, "Mama, I need your opinion. Do you remember when Harvey Weinstein tried to molest me?" I told her, "Of course I do, Sweet Pea." She said, "Well, I'm thinking of going public. Like New York Times kind of public."
Pop was worried about the backlash, since Harvey was the most powerful man in all of Hollywood. But I told her, "Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. Go get 'em."
Jodi [Kantor], the New York Times writer, called me the next day to corroborate Ashley's story.
Here we are, almost two months later. My little girl has started a cultural shift that's changing America, and I couldn’t be more proud. She was the first celebrity to publicly speak out and expose Harvey Weinstein.
Every girl needs a mentor. Someone who believes in them. I wish I'd had one. At the age of 17, in small town Ashland, Ky., I found myself pregnant before my senior year of high school.
At 22 years of age, I was in a really bad place: I was living in Los Angeles, without job skills or a car, struggling to raise Wynonna and Ashley. I got a job earning minimum wage as a receptionist at an insurance agency. One day, my boss asked me to go out of town with him for a golf tournament. As I was staring at the family photos on his desk. [I] told him "no." I was soon fired.
I got a month behind on the rent and had to go on food stamps. Then, to make matters worse, I was beaten and raped by an ex-con who was high on heroin. I never let the girls know how desperate and scared I was. Through it all, I kept acting like we were in a movie. No matter what I was going through, I never stopped telling the girls they were special and could do anything.
That’s exactly what this movement is all about right now. Every girl, and guy, should be able to pursue their dreams without sexual harassment or sexual abuse. Children and teens need mentors in this world to guide them through what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s about TIME.
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