Earlier this week, Ashley Judd spoke out against the gender inequalities and violence that exists on Twitter, and now she’s penned a passionate essay for Mic Thursday about the link between that online harassment and misogyny.
The backlash all started when the actress was watching a basketball match on Sunday and decided to tweet her thoughts on the game, saying that the opposing team was playing “dirty.” What followed was a tirade of hate, with men calling her a number of expletives and threatening her.
Judd expressed this point in her essay, revealing the full extent of the negativity she faced. Below are five of the most powerful quotes from her essay.
“I routinely cope with tweets that sexualize, objectify, insult, degrade and even physically threaten me,” she wrote. “I have already — recently, in fact — looked into what is legally actionable in light of such abuse, and have supplied Twitter with scores of reports about the horrifying content on its platform. But this particular tsunami of gender-based violence and misogyny flooding my Twitter feed was overwhelming.”
Judd went on to explain how harassment has become the social norm, with millions of women and girls falling victim to it each day.
“What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the internet,” she wrote. “Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood. My tweet was simply the convenient delivery system for a rage toward women that lurks perpetually. I know this experience is universal, though I’ll describe specifically what happened to me,” she wrote.
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Judd recognizes the shocking flaw is society, whereby the victim is often blamed for the actions of others.
“The themes are predictable: I brought it on myself. I deserved it. I’m whiny. I’m no fun. I can’t take a joke. There are more serious issues in the world,” she wrote. “The internet space isn’t real, and doesn’t deserve validity and attention as a place where people are abused and suffer. Grow thicker skin, sweetheart. I’m famous. It’s part of my job description.”
She continued, “The themes embedded in this particular incident reflect the universal ways we talk about girls and women. When they are violated, we ask, why was she wearing that? What was she doing in that neighborhood? What time was it? Had she been drinking?”
The Divergent actress also recalled her own personal experience with sexual violence — in the summer of 1984 — one of the reasons that spurred her dedication to feminist social justice work.
“I am a survivor of sexual assault, rape and incest. I am greatly blessed that in 2006, other thriving survivors introduced me to recovery. I seized it. My own willingness, partnered with a simple kit of tools, has empowered me to take the essential odyssey from undefended and vulnerable victim to empowered survivor,” she wrote. “Today, nine years into my recovery, I can go farther and say my ‘story’ is not ‘my story.’ It is something a higher power (spirituality, for me, has been vital in this healing) uses to allow me the grace and privilege of helping others who are still hurting, and perhaps to offer a piece of education, awareness and action to our world.”
Read the full essay here.