Ashley Judd wrote a poignant, compelling and important essay about the gender violent threats she experienced on social media after tweeting about sports.
She was writing about her team Kentucky playing Arkansas in the SEC championship game last Sunday. "I tweeted that the opponent was "playing dirty & can kiss my team's free throw making a—," recounted Judd in the Mic essay, headlined "Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass."
The vitriolic responses that followed on social media were filled with sexually and physically violent threats. "Tweets rolled in, calling me a c--t, a whore or a bitch, or telling me to suck a two-inch d--k. Some even threatened rape, or 'anal anal anal,'" wrote Judd. "I read in vivid language the various ways, humiliating and violent, in which my genitals, vaginal and anal, should be violated, shamed, exploited and dominated."
She pointed out that when her uncle expressed similar concern at the play, he "wasn't told he was a smelly p---y" because "being a male sports fan is his immunity from abuse."
"Instead, I must, as a woman who was once a girl, as someone who uses the Internet, as a citizen of the world, address personally, spiritually, publicly and even legally, the ripe dangers that invariably accompany being a woman and having an opinion about sports or, frankly, anything else," said Judd. "What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the Internet. 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."
In the essay, Judd brought up the multiple times in her life she was a victim of rape and incest. She spoke about the healing process, and discussed the impact a sexually violent threat tweeted at her had just a day after therapy.
Judd discussed the reaction people had when she shared the news earlier this week that she was looking into pressing charges against her harassers:
"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. 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. The themes embedded in this particular incident reflect the universal ways we talk about girls and women."
Judd has shared her essay on Facebook, and the comments section is already filled with more gender violent threats.
Read Judd's full essay here.