“Online misogyny is a global gender rights tragedy and it is imperative that it ends.”
A few weeks back, TED released a talk by Ashley Judd about the current abhorrent state of misogynistic cyber bullying. Judd is a musician and actress and badass feminist activist, most recently seen speaking at the Women’s March in D.C. The moment I heard Judd’s talk I knew I needed to share it, not because I wasn’t aware that sexist cyber bullying exists, but because I think a lot of people don’t realize how absolutely awful it is.
“Because even I, an avowed self-declared feminist who worships at the altar of Gloria, internalize the patriarchy.”
Judd begins her talk by reading out a few tweets about herself. Ranging from awful to completely obscene, I was instantly pleased that she was saying these out loud for a large audience that included cis men. Judd spoke about trying to ignore the threats of rape and terrible insults, but she eventually had to hire somebody to censor her social media feeds because she was getting increasingly triggered. Judd is the survivor of “all forms of sexual abuse, including three rapes” and grew mentally exhausted having to fight off all the people (mostly men) screaming at her about wanting to cum on her face.
“Every single day online misogyny is a phenomenon endured by us all, all over the world, and when it is intersectional it is worse.”
Judd’s talk didn’t just point out cyber misogyny as an issue, it also pointed to strategies for change. She spoke to the similarities in bodily response to being threatened versus being actually physically harmed — your body has the same response in either situation. When you’re being attacked, the increased cortisol helps you survive and when you’re being threatened online that same increased cortisol leads to trauma, anxiety, and depression. Judd tells the audience that this is an epidemic that won’t just be stopped by education, but by real legal change. As of right now, specific social media threats are not at all treated with the same weight as threats by phone or mail. Not to mention, the solution for this is often a restraining order, which does virtually nothing to stop cyber attacks. Judd now chairs The Speech Project, an organization specifically fighting this kind of threatening abusive Internet usage.
The best part of Judd’s talk is the end, in which she openly and outwardly affirms herself (with the audience’s participation). “I have a right to be here!” she belts. The audience responds “Yes you do!” “And I love you!” the talk ends with a smile, a wave, and a room full of thunderous applause.