Combatting gender based violence

Ashley Judd, famous actress known for her role in the movie Divergent, recently spoke out about online gender violence through her personal experiences. During a Sunday night basketball game, Judd tweeted that the opposing team was “playing dirty & can kiss my team’s free throw making a—“(Judd). After Judd sent out this tweet she received back numerous tweets that were misogynistic and filled with gender based violence. Judd stated that “tweets rolled in, calling [her] a cunt, a whore or a bitch, or telling me to suck a two-inch dick. Some even threatened rape, or “anal anal anal”” (Judd). What I find most of all disturbing is that after these misogynistic, violent, and sexist tweets were released, many others failed to recognize the overall harm. This is a big reason why movements fighting gender-based violence are crucial in our society. Judd states that many tweets declared that she brought this violence on herself, she deserved the threatening tweets due to her whininess and lack of humour (Judd). Judd is incredibly passionate and determined to end gender based violence on Twitter, but it is important to notice the point of view she is writing from. She is a white heterosexual female speaking from an upper-middle class perspective which inevitably includes some degree of bias. Ashley Judd’s incident on social media is unfortunate but is not uncommon, previous to her experience there has been incredibly large activist movements that are organized to combat gender-based violence. This essay will discuss more thoroughly a movement commonly known as “SlutWalk” that takes place yearly in Toronto. SlutWalk is a feminist movement combatting gender-based violence, rape and the autonomy of female bodies. This essay will argue that although SlutWalk beneficial in some aspects, it fails to be inclusive which becomes problematic when trying to achieve a common goal.

Gender-based violence is an unfortunate reality of many people, but often it is not brought to the publics attention unless the victim is white, heterosexual and likely influential. Specifically, gender-based violence becomes more problematic when African American women are involved because race is an underlying factor to the violence being experienced. Another common target group for gender-based violence would be trans sexual and trans gender individuals. Recent studies on trans people showed hat “20 percent had experienced physical or sexual assault due to their identity, and that 34 percent were subjected to verbal threats or harassment” (DiMenna, Hillary). Seeing as black women and trans women are a primary target of gender-based violence one would assume they need SlutWalk just as much as any other group of women. The main issue that black women have with this movement is the use of the word “slut” seeing as the history of this word particularly pertains to white women bodies and thus joining the walk would in an attempt to reclaim this word would be ineffective (An open letter from Black women to the SlutWalk).

Trans women are another group excluded from the SlutWalk movement. Veronika Boundless responds to SlutWalk Chicago expressing her concern with the lack of trans inclusion in the movement. She states four reasons why it is crucial that trans individuals are included in this movement, one reason being that “the popularity of the stereotypes of the transsexual prostitute and the stealthy deceiver play into the slut-shaming of trans women and trans feminine people” (Boundless, Veronika). Slut shaming is one of many reasons why movements that combat gender-based violence are needed in society. Slut-shaming, or publicly shaming a woman because of the way she expresses sexuality, is another aspect of gender-based violence and is demonstrated in Judd’s twitter incident. I chose to search on twitter some of the tweets aimed at Judd after her March Madness tweet and it was horrifying to see tweets related to Judd’s incident that involved not just men slut-shaming but also numerous women slut shaming other women.

SlutWalk fails to be an effective movement for many reasons, one being the lack of intersectionality shown through the exclusion of trans and black individuals. An infamous example of the failure to be intersectional comes from a poster an individual participating in the walk paraded with, which said “Women is the N*gger of the world”. This poster only emphasized the divide between black and white women which involves the white privilege that white women receive versus the racism that black women receive daily. However, this does not deny the legitimacy of the harsh experiences white women go through when it comes to gender violence and rape, but there are other groups that need recognition as well. Overall, I find it incredibly important to fight for an end to gender based violence, but the way which this is done can be difficult to accomplish. In order for a movement such as SlutWalk to be successful, it would need to be intersectional and inclusive of all groups of women.

Works Cited

  • Judd, Ashley. “”Kiss My Ass”: Ashley Judd Stands Up to Threats, Fights for Women Online.” Mic. 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.
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3 thoughts on “Combatting gender based violence

  1. Hey Feminist12345,
    I enjoyed your blog. I thought that the story of the outpouring of gender-based violence towards Ashley Judd after her sending a tweet served as a great bridge into broader themes. I especially like that you did not limit yourself to simply explaining the progressive and necessary nature of Slutwalk, as you dug deeper and questioned the exclusionatory nature of the event. I whole-hearted agree with your commentary that the event is catered towards white women, leaving black women and trans people to not feel comfortable in participating.However, I also think that you could have mentioned the other groups which Slutwalk clearly discriminates against. Disabled people may be among the largest group, as participating in the Slutwalk necessarily entails being able to move a relatively large distance in (typically) the summer heat, while being surrounded by large groups of people. This experience can be jarring for many people with mental illness, and impossible for people with certain physical disabilities. Further, after researching the Slutwalk, I have noticed the majority of participants seem to be slender women, without physical blemishes or scarring. Since the participants in the Slutwalk expose most of their body, I would also argue that the event is exclusionary of those who feel uncomfortable exposing themselves to a large group of people. This could be for any variety of reasons, including low self-esteem because of perceived lack of beauty, religious regions, and others. Do you think the Slutwalk achieves its primary goal, given that the even excludes so many groups of people? Could you think of better, more inclusive ways to raise awareness for gender-based violence?
    I am sorry if my comment went a little long, I also know that you were limited by the 900 word count, so your not mentioning the other excluded groups is certainly understandable.
    Good work!

    Like

  2. Hi feminist12345,

    I really like the critical stance that you took for this post – it is thought provoking. While I appreciate that there was an article on Judd’s abuse, you got to me to consider that it is typically only white and cisgender victims that receive any media attention. Moreover, you’ve informed me of the exclusive nature of SlutWalk, pulling examples from black and trans women’s experiences. My family took part in SlutWalk last year, so I will definitely inform them of these issues. Do you think that it’s possible for the movement to improve itself? Or does it need to be replaced entirely?

    Your arguments were a little jumbled, so I would suggest that you revisit the structure of your post. I think that it may have been more effective to discuss the exclusion of black women in one paragraph, and of trans women/transfeminine individuals in another. I also think that it might have been clearer to if you focused on slut shaming towards trans women after explaining slut shaming of women in general, rather than the other way around. Finally, if I am correct, it is not possible for something to have a “lack of intersectionality” or “fail to be intersectional”. Did you mean to say that the movement lacks diversity and inclusion? I would suggest revising proper usages of term “intersectionality”, because I know it’s been difficult for many of us to understand.

    Overall, however, I really appreciated your post. Great job!

    Like

  3. Hey Feminist12345,

    Your blog was really thought provoking, well done! I had always favourably viewed the SlutWalk, so it was interesting to see your analysis of it. I think you’re very right in saying that it should be more inclusive in order to really be effective.

    Your blog made me think of two questions. Firstly, do you think advocating for less gender based violence on social media is less important than fighting for the same thing in real life? Are both fights equally valid? Are they really separate at all? Secondly, do you think rallies like the SlutWalk do more harm than good because of their lack of diversity? Do they make slut shaming a white woman’s problem?

    Your blog clearly had a lot of thought poured into it, but I would suggest restructuring it to create clearer arguments. I know that the word limit can be hampering, but it was a little confusing to read about both black women and trans women in the same paragraph… however, I generally enjoyed your blog! Well done!

    Like

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