Yesterday, Esquire writer Ned Hepburn published an open letter to actress Jennifer Lawrence, and, in the long tradition of open letters (celebrity-related or otherwise), it fucking sucked. Which, sure. That makes sense, right? Anyone who thinks highly enough of themselves to think that they have the right to give advice to someone they don’t even know, it sort of goes without saying that such a person will only be able to offer words that are, at best, vaguely condescending and probably smarmy, and are, at worst (as is the case here!), misogynistic and explicitly patronizing.
In a recent interview, Jennifer Lawrence spoke about her infamous fall at the 2013 Academy Awards, recounting that she had been intoxicated during the Awards show, and later wound up vomiting at an Oscars after-party. While there really shouldn’t be anything inherently surprising about a young adult drinking to excess on a celebratory night, because Lawrence is a woman, and because
all men many in the media enjoy nothing more than shaming women for behaving in ways for which men more often than not get celebrated, Hepburn took upon himself the task of warning Lawrence against straying down a dangerous path.
Hepburn’s letter is remarkable if only because he managed to hit upon every single possible way that men traditionally use to diminish the confidence and self-worth of powerful women, from bestowing upon Lawrence a familiar nickname (“Hey Jennifer. Can I call you Jenny? Okay. Jenny.”) to comparing her to someone with whom she shares nothing in common other than the condition of being female (“Don’t be Sean Young”) to mocking the fact that Lawrence might not have eaten very much leading up to a night upon which her appearance would be judged as critically as anything else about her (“Would it have killed you to hit up In-N-Out on the way to the Oscars?”) to attempting to shame another young woman for no good reason (” If Miley Cyrus is the one telling you to relax, maybe slow down a little”) to dismissing her critically lauded talent and reducing Lawrence to her physicality (” You’re lucky you’re a total stone-cold fox with a face like a million dollars and a better rack than a master carpenter”). It’s a disgusting display that Hepburn might be trying to cast off as being nothing more than a joke, but which is really just another all too serious example of the despicable double standard that exists on every level for women who transgress from accepted social norms.
Just to be clear, it’s not just Jennifer Lawrence who doesn’t need some random man’s behavioral policing—it’s all women. None of us need to be condescended to; none of us need to be reduced to our behavior on a single night. None of us need your snarky career advice (which, really? you’re advising an Oscar-winning actress on what to do and not to do? fuck you!); none of us need your concern trolling about our eating habits. Unless a woman is specifically asking you for your advice or your help on an issue, do not assume that you know better for her than she does. It’s insulting, sexist, diminishing, and is not something that any man does to another man. And, Ned Hepburn? If you need a reminder? Just read Sarah Miller’s excellent response on The Hairpin, and remember that not only does Jennifer Lawrence not give two shits about what you have to say, but neither does any other woman. We’re doing just fine on our own.
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