In an article featured on Time’s website, author Charlotte Alter sheds light and attention towards the topic of Ashley Judd and the twitter abuse she received that went from snide remarks to violent threats, all over a tweet about basketball. Judd remarks in the article, and her own written essay on the matter at hand, that the incident that occurred was the result of her tweeting her response to a game within the march madness season. Sending out the tweet, which was the short message entailing “‘playing dirty & can kiss my team’s free throw making ass.'”(Pass the Mic, Judd), it welcomed a barrage of hate messages sent to Judd, most of them including insults and threats towards the actress, with a majority of them coming from males. An avid feminist, actress and a graduate from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (Time, Alter), Judd did not take lightly to the unjust response she received, and instead responded back, defended and explained her actions, while addressing the backlash that she was thrown, and making connections to the world and the way women are treated within it.
One of the connections Judd makes once she looks at all the messages she received is the connection to the same kind of abuse and violence she experienced as a child when she was raped (Time, Alter). In both the Time article and her written essay, she states that the online attacks carried the same predictable themes, stating that she was asking for it, she brought it upon herself, she should know better, she should have thicker skin as she is a celebrity; the excuses go on and on. This can be seen the same way the world treats women, often first blaming them before looking at the bigger picture, as can be seen when people victim blame women who experience rape and sexual assault.
A number of the people who responded to Judd’s now deleted tweet coincidentally fit into the category of a “macho” man, defined by Aulette and Wittner in Gendered Worlds, as men who present themselves as extremely hyper masculine, with the impulse to respond to most things physically and to dominate women. The language they use plays a big part in this analysis, especially focusing on how and what they are saying, even more so when looking at who it is coming from. Looking at Judd’s original tweet, she chastises her opposing team and calls them out for playing dirty, and expresses that they can kiss her ass. However, one should remember that Judd is an active march madness fan, and finds herself caught up in the moment just as everyone else watching, regardless of her gender being female. Her tweet would not have been responded to in the same manner if it had been a male who tweeted it, a point Judd brings up herself, as do many of the people who defend her on twitter (shown in her essay). Yet, because of the social construction of gender, the response to a females angry tweet about a basketball is taken in the sense that a female should not have a comment about the game in general, as basketball and sports in general, fall into the category of things that belong to males. A large number of responses also tied in with the idea of emphasized femininity, chastising Judd for straying from the idea of the perfect woman, telling her the age old joke of going back to the kitchen and continuing to submit to the dominate male.
Focusing again on the language demonstrated, a common, and yet disgusting, theme among the response that Judd received was a number of tweets threatening her with sexual violence, both describing what the person responding wanted to do to her, and wanted to be done to her. Using graphic words, images, and threats, Judd’s body and mind were both insulted, humiliated, and threatened to the point of contacting the police to deal with the response. Just looking at the type of language that she received, the same types of ugly words and threats that were used all came from the same type of people; men who believed that she had no place discussing the game simply because of her gender. Regardless of their view based off of what team they support, whether they believed her opinion was valid or not, or if they just wanted to start a fight, the main point of the attacks that she received were targeted at her because she is a woman. Looking at the world analytically, one questions where males learn this attitude towards women, and what they can and not comment on? When do the gender roles that have been proven to be systemically negative to society start being taught? Is it when parents usher their boys off to soccer and baseball practice while teaching their daughters to play with dolls? Perhaps looking at Ashley Judd’s case can trace back to where these ideas of what women can and cannot do really start being taught from, and why it leads to such drastic measures such as the online attacking that Judd received, to the violence that numerous women will also go through.
In conclusion, Judd does not take the incidents that happened to her lightly. She does, however, look at her life in a positive manner. Using her past experiences and growing from them, she states in her written essay that she sees her story as a higher power that she can use to assist others with, offer her support, create awareness, bring education, and create actions into making the world a different and better place. She also states within her essay that self care is essential to feminist social justice work, further justifying the need for feminists not only to take care of others, but themselves also. Just like Judd had to come to terms with her own experiences and deal with them properly, she encourages others to do the same and to use their own powers for good. Judd presents herself as a victim of sexual assault and rape, but also as a survivor and encourages her fellow women to stand up against abuse, whether it be verbal or physical, that is thrown at them from males demonstrating strong cases of hegemonic masculinity, demonstrating her agency, the ability to make new ideas and ways of thinking after demolishing the previous ways.
Judd, Ashley. “Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Towards Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass.” Pass the Mic. 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.
Aulette,Judy Root and Judith Wittner. “Gendered Worlds.” New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Print.
Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time. 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.