Warning: This post contains graphic language about sexual violence.
Ashley Judd is firing back against misogyny in the Twittersphere.
In a brave and revealing essay for Identities.Mic, the "Insurgent" co-star writes, "I routinely cope with tweets that sexualize, objectify, insult, degrade and even physically threaten me." Of course, sexist and violent vitriol is nothing new in the world of social media — who among us dares to read the comment sections on most websites, even? — but Judd has come to a breaking point after receiving a torrent of hateful messages after she tweeted about a basketball game.
She explained, "This particular tsunami of gender-based violence and misogyny flooding my Twitter feed was overwhelming. Tweets rolled in, calling me a cunt, a whore or a bitch, or telling me to suck a two-inch dick. Some even threatened rape, or ‘anal anal anal.’"
Judd, who is a survivor of sexual assault, rape, and incest, went on to describe some of the worst Tweets she received, which included detailed threats about what would be done to her and insults focused on her age, intelligence, and body.
On Tuesday, the actress, activist, and writer (she released "All That is Bitter and Sweet," a memoir, in 2011) told NBC’s "Today Show" that she’s pressing charges. "The amount of gender violence that I experience is absolutely extraordinary," said Judd. "And a significant part of my day today will be spent filing police reports at home about gender violence that’s directed at me in social media."
Gender-based harassment has been tolerated for far too long in the online sphere with little to no recourse for victims. We are hopeful that by speaking out, Judd, who has worked with the International Center for Research on Women, Women for Women International, and Equality Now, will serve as a public reminder of the very dark and disturbing side of the Internet that is all too often swept under the rug. We desperately need laws instituted that will lead to consequences for the perpetrators of heinous abuse and intimidation. Threatening to rape someone is monstrous and wholly unacceptable behavior — and it’s time that it is recognized as such.
Relatedly, we feel that now is a fitting time to remind readers about "GTFO: Get The F#$% Out," Shannon Sun-Higginson’s doc, which premiered at SXSW last week. "GTFO" explores misogyny in video-game culture. In an interview with Women and Hollywood, Sun-Higginson shared what drew her to the subject matter: "a friend forwarded me a video of a young woman being sexually harassed during a gaming tournament. Not knowing much about the gaming community at the time, I was shocked. I immediately began researching and filming this documentary and titled it ‘GTFO’ in reference to the exclusionary response that many women encounter while gaming."
During a recent presentation at The Sydney Opera House, frequent GamerGate target Anita Sarkeesian summed up our frustration — and Judd’s and Sun-Higginson’s as well — perfectly: "I’m angry that I’m expected to accept online harassment as the price of being a woman with an opinion."