Ashley Judd really loves UK basketball. After all, she is an alumna and avid lover of the game. And just like millions of other sports fans, she tweets her approval and dismay when her beloved team wins and sometimes sucks, especially during March Madness. So then why did the decorated Hollywood actress, philanthropist and humanitarian become a target for sexually explicit harassment over a silly sports tweet?
When when I express a stout opinion during #MarchMadness I am called a whore, c—, threatened with sexual violence. Not okay.— ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) March 15, 2015
The harassment has led Judd to press charges against users who explicitly attacked her over a tweet she posted during the SEC championship game Sunday between Kentucky and Arkansas. In the since deleted-tweet, Judd suggested that the Arkansas Razorbacks were playing dirty against UK. Little did she know what this single sports opinion of hers would lead to.
I am sorry to retweet but this is a typical example. “@Leeroy_MAX: .@AshleyJudd Go suck on Cal’s two inch dick ye Bitch whore.”— ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) March 15, 2015
I hope Ashley Judd gets a yeast infection.— @buzrd (@buzrd) March 14, 2015
@AshleyJudd is a cunt.— Bill O'Keefe (@thatbillokeefe) March 17, 2015
Police Chief: Guys I need you to stop investigating that murder case & get over to @AshleyJudd’s STAT; someone called her a cunt on Twitter.— Pin Head (@PiercedSkull) March 17, 2015
But Judd isn’t letting these comments slide. “The amount of gender violence I experience is absolutely extraordinary,” she told the Today show, “and a significant part of my day today will be spent filing police reports at home about gender violence that’s directed at me on social media.” It’s as if a woman tweeting out her opinion on social media, especially about sports, is an open invitation for men to hurl gender related insults at them. All while they hide behind their computer screen, probably in the dark eating take-out Chinese, or something.
Suddenly women aren’t being “cool” if they speak out about being sexually harassed on the web. Why? Some users echoed “because it’s the Internet.” Women are more likely to report being stalked or sexually harassed on the Internet, especially between those aged 18-24 according to a Pew Research survey in October. “The Internet” is a sorry excuse.
Relax Ashley Judd, you’re being no fun about this…. pic.twitter.com/MF6YCfW3cb— El Chapo (@chumplinjosh) March 17, 2015
Even though many have come to Judd’s defense, including Curt Schilling, there’s an unsettling feeling about this entire issue. And this just isn’t Twitter, either. Reddit users are also known for their cruel comments and harassment toward women.
Judd is lucky because she has a significant amount of power to actually get these guys in trouble, but what about the rest of the women on the Internet? And it’s not because women can’t handle receiving criticism online, it’s really just because we don’t like to be called cunts for having an opinion.
Nicole Theodore is an editorial assistant at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter.