Why Every Woman Should Watch Ashley Judd's TED Talk

Ashley Judd's TED talk is an inspiration for us all.

The actress delivered the speech in October, but it's only been made available online today. In the moving talk, Judd spoke about the rampant sexual harassment of women online — and what we can do to stop it.

Judd opened the speech by reading abusive tweets that have been directed at her over the years. The actress noted that she's a survivor of "all forms of sexual abuse, including three rapes," in addition to being subjected to rape and death threats on the internet. Some of the worst harassment Judd received online came after she weighed in about a Kentucky Wildcats game.

Her words are so important: Even when you're a confident, self-assured feminist, it can be difficult to receive the harassing messages so many women face online each day. Judd admitted that even she "internalized the patriarchy," at times when reading the messages sent to her on Twitter.

The online harassment Judd faced eventually inspired her to start the WMC Speech Project, which she now co-chairs. The website raises awareness about online abuse and how to prevent it. "When we curb abuse, we will expand freedom," the actress and activist said.

Judd also recognized her privilege as a celebrity, saying that she was able to start the WMC Speech Project because she has access to resources that most people don't. She also noted that online harassment is an intersectional issue, as people are harassed based on factors like race and sexual orientation, in addition to gender. "Online misogyny is a phenomenon endured by us all," Judd said in the speech.

She's not giving up, though. Judd refuses to leave her social media platforms. In the talk, she said that "we're gonna win this fight." She also outlined several ways to combat online harassment, including updating laws to reflect technological changes and ending sexism in tech workplaces.

The full talk, available in the below video, is definitely worth watching.

If you've been the victim of online harassment, you can access the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative's crisis help line here.

An earlier version of this article linked to the Crash Override Network's crisis help line, which was recommended by the WMC Speech Project. The hotline was suspended in December, and we have replaced the link with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative's crisis line.

More from News


R29 Original Series