Actress Ashley Judd has written a powerful essay about violence against women, and it all stemmed from a Tweet about March Madness, no less.
An avid basketball fan (and non-bandwagon University of Kentucky supporter), she recently tweeted something negative about a college basketball game.
Despite how ephemeral and harmless this was, the star was quickly on the receiving end of a "tsunami of gender-based violence and misogyny."
"Tweets rolled in, calling me a c--t, a whore or a bitch, or telling me to suck a two-inch d--k. Some even threatened rape, or 'anal anal anal,'" the Insurgent star writes.
If only it stopped there. It only got worse. Appallingly so.
"I deleted my original tweet after the game, before all hell broke loose, to make amends for any genuine offense I may have committed by describing play as 'dirty.'"
"Of course, other people, including my uncle who is a chaplain, also expressed fear that the athletes would be hurt badly."
"But my uncle wasn't told he was a smelly p---y. He wasn't spared because of his profession; being a male sports fan is his immunity from abuse."
"What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the Internet," Judd went on.
"Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood," Ashley adds, and described it in detail.
"My tweet was simply the convenient delivery system for a rage toward women that lurks perpetually. I know this experience is universal, though I'll describe specifically what happened to me."
"I read in vivid language the various ways, humiliating and violent, in which my genitals, vaginal and anal, should be violated, shamed, exploited and dominated."
"Either the writer was going to do these things to me, or they were what I deserved. My intellect was insulted: I was called stupid, an idiot."
"My age, appearance and body were attacked. Even my family was thrown into the mix: Someone wrote that my 'grandmother is creepy.'"
The experience hit home on multiple levels for the 46-year-old Judd, who went on to recount her own multiple experiences with rape and assault:
"I am a survivor of sexual assault, rape and incest. I am greatly blessed that in 2006, other thriving survivors introduced me to recovery. I seized it."
"My own willingness, partnered with a simple kit of tools, has empowered me to take the essential odyssey from undefended and vulnerable victim to empowered survivor."
"Today, nine years into my recovery," she writes, with the passage of time and the perspective it offers, "I can go farther and say my 'story" is not 'my story.'"
"It is something a Higher Power (spirituality, for me, has been vital in this healing) uses to allow me the grace and privilege of helping others who are still hurting."
Perhaps, she says, the simple act of speaking out about these difficult topics can help "offer a piece of education, awareness and action to our world."
If it does, the world will be better for it.