The harm surrounding the Twittersphere and rape culture

Media plays an impact on everyone’s life in current day society, influencing, and distracting people from the real harms being caused right in front of them. Through the use of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. today’s generations are very easily manipulated through the technological advancements that grow with these social medias. This often leads to blunt remarks, and uncensored comments promoting rape culture and abuse.  In the case of Ashley Judd a famous actress, she speaks out on behalf of twitters lack of protection against abuse and rape comments. Social media has no protective boundaries to help ensure the safety from alleged misogynistic remarks towards female users and celebrities, causing rape culture to be belittled.

“It was time to call the police, and to say to the Twittersphere, no more.” (Alter).

Actress Ashley Judd spoke out on the harassment she and many other women have faced from the twittersphere, after receiving hateful online comments from a harmless tweet about basketball.  Judd found a direct connection between the harmless tweet she posted and the cultural misogyny that fuelled her experiences with rape and incest at an earlier time in her life. For today’s youth and young adults, technology and social media has been around for the majority of their lives, and takes up a lot of their free time.  This causes hegemonic masculinities as women are being subordinated to violence, aggression, and hate in the social media universe. Society develops this veil of ignorance towards how people should act on social media, as it is seen as harmless activity.

This not only happens to women however, as seen in the article from the reading “Why Does Popular Culture Treat Prison Rape As a Joke?” societies attitudes towards sexual abuse specifically sexual abuse in prison can lead to a culture surrounded by permissiveness (Clark).  By having this comedic sense of rape being okay in prison it dehumanizes the inmates and places them on a lower social status. Thus causing further problems amongst rape culture. As long as rape culture is not taken seriously in society it will continue to grow as a harmful presence on the Internet. Jokes being made about prison and sexual abuse should not be tolerated, and should be taken offensively when movies portray this as a comedic act. By film media portraying sexual abuse in such a way it influences the non-critical consumers as they fail to see the harm behind the comedic remarks. However people do not see the true harm behind rape culture and continue to joke about it online. “The impact on the people who are abused is significant both physically and psychologically” (Clark). The Internet space can conceptually be viewed, as not real, by not giving it the validity and attention it deserves when people are being abused. As spoken about in the reading surrounding abuse in prison, it is perfectly visible that these jokes and remarks have not just a physical impact on people but also a psychological one.  Female celebrities are expected to “grow thicker skin” and to not take these remarks personally. The media causes females and prison culture to be oppressed and victimized from the safety social media should be granting them.

However the sexualization of women in media does not help promote against these misogynistic remarks surrounding rap culture and abuse. In video games, film, and television women are portrayed as overly sexualized figures. In the reading “Same Shit Different World” avatars can be made in the gaming world to be hyper sexualized, and lack diversity. However in these online gaming worlds, they enjoy a sexualized culture, with dirty talk, cybersex, and harassment. These games have very few rules protecting people from verbal and sexual abuse, usually between older men and tweens. Without proper laws in these gaming worlds it promotes and encourages the use of sexual and verbal abuse online. These games however do not just promote abuse in the games but promotes abuse on social media accounts.

In order for these misogynistic remarks towards women in media to be stopped, stricter rules and regulations will have to be enforced. These social media outlets should start enabling stricter rules, banning, and reporting those who use these accounts to promote rape culture, and to harass other users. The themes in Ashley Judd’s article reflect universally how we talk about girls and women and raise a chain of questions; why was she wearing that? What did she drink? Why was she in that area of town? How late was it? By putting these restrictions on social media, society will stray away from these questions, and will place legitimate restrictions on tweets such as that which Ashley Judd was exposed to.

“I felt like I had the chance to finally speak, fight and grieve, and be consoled and comforted. But then, on literally the very next day, I received a disturbing tweet with a close-up photograph of my face behind text that read, “I can’t wait to c-m all over your face and in your mouth” (Alter).

Works Cited

Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time. 2015 <;

Clark, Anna. “Why does popular culture treat prison rape as a joke? Our attitudes towards sexual abuse in prison leads to a culture of permissiveness that destroys lives.” Alternet. 2009



4 thoughts on “The harm surrounding the Twittersphere and rape culture

  1. I really enjoyed your post! This is something that I found myself discussing all year long, how people leave such disgusting, sexist, and racist comments on peoples post. Most of them tend to be so hurtful and offensive. It stirs up the conversation of what is hate speech and free speech. It also makes me wonder how people truly think, if they can give their honest opinions because they are behind a computer screen, whats not saying they will act upon those ideas/opinions. I agree that we need to find ways on how to fix and regulate this issue. What would you do to help stop or curb these comments?


  2. This review was spot on and well researched, I really like your writing style. The Veil of Ignorance covers way more than we think it does. I agree with Motherwillow that it draws up the discussion of hate speech and free speech. As in out Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there is a law that says we all have a right to self expression (so basically freedom of speech) and later in the subtext (I’m really paraphrasing here) that those expressions must be within accordance to the Criminal Code of Canada and under that code we Canadians do have a law against Hate Speech or referred to in the Canadian Human Rights act as “hate propaganda”. Now I’m no politics student, but that being said do you feel some of these commenters could be criminally charged for hate speech? And do you believe that calling the police had helped Ashley Judd in this situation?


  3. You did a great job on examining the cyberspace as a ground for hateful comments that have serious impact on the person being targeted. I agree that some restrictions are needed, however, I am not in favour of censorship. I think censorship only covers and does not solve any problems (even makes them worse sometimes). I’m especially shocked to see the comments on certain Youtube videos. The sheer volume of ignorant people reminds me that there is still work to be done and lets people know what others really feel about certain subject matter. So I think the internet has a great potential to bring people together and create movements. It is a relatively new phenomenon but I think it’s about time the justice system takes cyber abuse seriously and implement effective regulations, as well as to educate more people about these issues.


  4. Great post! I overlooked the culture of prison rape as an aspect of rape culture before you pointed it out. I feel like how we often restrict masculinity to men is damaging in its exclusivity. Men being violated in ways that society only associates with women, in a way strips a man of the masculinity, society tells him to cherish. This is wrong as society both likens femininity to weakness and tells a man he must be exclusive in his masculinity. I almost feel that rape culture in prisons is trivialized more than rape encountered by bodies that have not been removed from society, as society does not usually associate rape with men. As a last note, do you think that passively consuming messages of acting without consent in films like Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty, as we saw in lecture, socializes individuals to trivialize rape?


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