Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. These forms of social media, which have become entrenched within our everyday vernacular and daily routines, are in their infancy. The first forms of modern social media were developed less then 20 years ago and, though still in their juvenile stages, social media has had a profound impact on the nature of relationships, communication, and societal functioning. This newly fledged medium, centred about user generated content, has showcased and facilitated innovation and goodwill, spurred on change and reform and fostered relationships. However, social media is far from an autocratically positive innovation, but rather it is a tool that has been utilized by many to instill hate, perpetuate hetero-patriarchal, racist, cisgender and colonial scripts and to devalue personhoods. This phenomenon is not rare or isolated to a select few instances, but rather an issue that has been synonymous with the construct of social media from the get-go, and is only becoming more and more normalized within society.
This disparaging and innately harmful use of social media takes on many forms; however, the intent is analogous – cyber harasser’s chief intent is to exercise and gain power and dominance over the intended subject, through the infliction of psychological, sexual or verbal torment and insult via virtual forms of communication. Such practices have become so ingrained into the fabric of society, and seemingly condoned, that such harassment is publically solicited to heighten the amount of damage inflicted against the intended target. One such example is the overtly hateful, disparaging and vile response and backlash that actress Ashley Judd received in response to a quip she posted to Twitter about the sports rival of her alma mater during March Madness. The backlash was swift and severe, but out of respect for Ms. Judd and all others who have been victim to such forms of harassment, I shall not validate or award any additional reiteration of the comments themselves. The slanderers’ remarks were pervaded by misogynistic themes that sought to humiliate and embarrass her through the degradation of her personhood by leveling violent and overtly sexualized responses. These responses further questioned her qualifications as a woman, and subsequently her capacity to comment on and have an opinion on sports. More importantly, they are emblematic of the egregious institutionalization of the sexual violence, objectification and harassment inflicted against females, both verbally and physically, which has occurred at every level of society. That is, in today’s society, a woman’s character, physical appearance, reputation and identity, are seemingly all qualifications of her merit and validity as a person and key qualifiers of any act enacted by or against her. The scrutiny leveled against Ashley Judd in response to her post were by no means limited to her knowledge and qualifications of college basketball, which may have been appropriate to question, but rather included responses that addressed her appearance, sexuality, intellect and age. It is here where the misogynistic and hetero-patriarchal rhetoric is overtly obvious, and the construct of hegemonic masculinities becomes evident – if a male had posted the same tweet, any responses leveled would have been contained to the realm of college basketball and not situated about the reduction of a person’s character. It is not until one critically evaluates, through an intersectional analysis, that the true nature and depth of disparagement leveled against women and other minority groups by social media users becomes evident.
This apparent institutionalization of language and conduct has thus conferred and established a quasi-pseudo status quo, which is situated about a phenomenon termed culture of humiliation. That is, we live in a society situated about binary thinking and polarities, where social validation and acceptance comes at the expense of social humiliation, where such humiliation is ultimately puppets of misogynistic, patriarchal power structures. The continual public and private verbal raping and disparagement of females’ qualifications across social media outlets are emblematic of the androcentric and gender polarization themes that pervade our culture. This culture of humiliation is thus utilized as a policing agent to dismember and abate any acts or qualifications that threaten the established hegemonic ideologies.
The semblance of anonymity allotted to social media has resulted in a vicious and damaging double standard, where the words spewed across the dark abyss of the Internet and social media sites are insults and slander that would never be spoken in the real world. However, there is a paradoxical disconnect on how we, as society, view the Internet versus reality. That is, we understand the Internet as being a space that is fluid, instantaneous, fleeting and thus nonpermanent, which seemingly is justification for some to insult and disparage. This understanding is erroneous and obtuse at best, and there is a deep and urgent need for a transformation in understanding of the implicit and lasting impact that cyber harassment has on individual personhoods, as ones’ presentation across social media is now an analogous form of the public and permanent record.
To find out more about this story, read Ashley Judd’s articulately and eloquently penned essay, which you can access here.
 Nuccitelli, Michael. “Cyber Harassment: Internet Defamation & Internet Trolls.” IPredator. IPredator Inc, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.
Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” TIME 19 Mar. 2015. Web.
 Judd, Ashley. “Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass.” Identities Mic 19 Mar. 2015. Identities Mic. Web. 1 Apr. 2015. <http://mic.com/articles/113226/forget-your-team-your-online-violence-toward-girls-and-women-is-what-can-kiss-my-ass>.
 Lewinsky, Monica. “The price of shame.” TED. March 2015. Lecture.
 Judd, “Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass.” 2015.