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.
- Boundless, Veronika. “An Open Letter to SlutWalk Chicago.” Faithful Image. WordPress. Web. 8 Dec. 2014. <https://faithfulimage.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/an-open-letter-to-slutwalk-chicago/>.
- DiMenna, Hillary. “Gender Block: SlutWalk Toronto 2014.” This Magazine. 14 July 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://this.org/blog/2014/07/14/gender-block-slutwalk-toronto-2014/>.
- Judd, Ashley. “”Kiss My Ass”: Ashley Judd Stands Up to Threats, Fights for Women Online.” Mic. 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.