Popular Cultures affect on Social Systems

On average social media, specifically twitter has 288 million monthly active users, 500 million tweets are sent per day and 80% of active Twitter users have the convenience of pulling it out on their mobile device and checking what is “popular” in social media (Twitter 2015). This activeness has created many issues today, and not only are people you see on the streets affected by issues such as cyber bullying but even some of the more famous people such as actress Ashley Judd are affected by threats received via social media. Ashley Judd, a 46-year-old actress received violent threats from random users following a tweet she made about a basketball game (Alter 2015). Following these threats she decided to speak out about twitter abuse and rape.

By Ashley Judd speaking out about her recent situation, it revels many issues such as marginalization when it comes to white females and sports. This idea of women being of small importance in the conversation of sports is most evident when females receive negative responses and threats from males. This all connects to the idea that sports are meant to be dominated by males as it is known to exclaim masculinity thus females are judged for their interest or participation in sports. Margaret Duncan an author of Examining Identity in Sports Media quoted “Sport is, according to commonsense understanding of the world, a celebration of manhood” (231). This patriarchal approach to sports limits the possibility for females to not only have an interest and be fans of sports such as basketball, but it disallows the possibility of success for females in sports. Ashley Judd, did her best to fight through the systems of misogyny and patriarchy but in the end it is a battle that will forever continue to be fought due to the social expectations and attitudes associated with gender (Aulette and Wittner). This gender socialization of masculinity to males and femininity to females is one that allows greater opportunities for males when it comes to sports. Males are taught to dream and succeed in sport where as females are only to play sports for recreation because once they reach a certain age there is no longer anywhere to go but work. The overall message that society presents is that sports is generally meant for males to play and succeed in. Should a female make a recommendation about sports they are either ignored or they are harassed for being “unknowledgeable.”

People can thank the concept of hyper-sexualization of females for the stereotyping of females (Aulette and Wittner 414 ). The way the media portrays females to be “sexy” or to show skin when dressed and to be thin with a clear face is the reason why females who are some times opposite of those traits are victims of social media attacks. Popular Culture has allowed people to find more convenient ways to victimize those who don’t believe in what they do. This conveniency is what has evolved rape culture in North American society. Rape Culture is one that encourages male violence against women; it is when a variety of women are being violated against verbally and/or physically (“What Is Rape Culture?”) Rape Culture doesn’t allow violence against women, but rather it perceives it to be a normal situation of life (“What Is Rape Culture?” ). With the way Popular Culture has quickly emerged to a piece of everyday life, it opens up the door of opportunities for more acts of sexual violence to happen. This is shown in Ashley Judd’s case where specifically males, take the opportunity of responding to her tweets and violates her by sending verbal threats (Alana Prochuk).

In the case of Ashley Judd, she has the ability to take to social media and have her voice be heard about the above problems. However, not everyone has this opportunity to be heard. Due to Judd’s white privilege and celebrity status, people are more than likely to listen to her issues and attempt to do something about it. But in the case of Stolen Sisters there is a case of indigenous women who’s voices are not heard due to the system of oppression. Stolen Sisters involves over 500 missing and murdered indigenous women and the number continues to rise today (About the Stolen Sisters Documentary). It is said that colonialism is the reasoning behind this situation, but due to the fact that many people are uninformed of this situation, no one truly knows the reasons behind it. People look to colonial logics as the anchor of the acts behind stolen sisters. The idea of taking, conquering and dominating over someone’s culture is exactly what is being seen in the case of Stolen Sisters (Cultural Appropriation 2015). Much the same in Judd’s case in terms of sexual violence, people look to dominate over one another to simply feel more powerful and thus the system of hierarchy is established.

Overall, popular culture has a major impact on systems of society today. People look to social media specifically to gain the attention of people so that problems such as rape culture can decline. However, there are also many negatives to popular culture, where as people tend to use it to hide behind and use systems of patriarchy and privilege to their advantage. Ashley Judd speaking out about her issue is a stepping-stone to positivity but at the same time, it allows opportunity for others to add to and cause more issues.

Works Citied:

About the Stolen Sisters Documentary. Dir. Antonio Hrynchuck. About the Stolen Sisters Documentary. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from http://www.stolensisters.com/index.html

“About Twitter, Inc. | About.” About Twitter, Inc. | About. Twitter, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from https://about.twitter.com/company

Alter, Charlotte. “Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Twitter Abuse and Rape.” Time. Time, 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 1 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from http://time.com/3750788/ashley-judd-speaks-out-about-twitter-abuse-and-rape

Aulette, Judy, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 3rd Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

“Cultural Appropriation: Settler Colonial Logics and Representations of the “Imaginary Indian” in Popular Culture.” Queen’s University. Biosci Auditorium. 9 March 2015. Guest Lecture.

Duncan, Margaret. 2010. “Gender Warriors in Sport: Women and the Media.” Pp 231-252 in Examining identity in sports media, edited by H. Hundley and A. Billings. Los Angeles: Sage Publications

Prochuk, Alana. “What Is Rape Culture?” WAVAW Women Against Violence Against Women. Rape Crisis Centre, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from http://www.wavaw.ca/what-is-rape-culture/



  1. thelazyriser · April 9, 2015

    This is a very well written article about what I believe to be huge issues in present day society. The idea that sports are a celebration of man hood is so ridiculous. Even in the media today, mens sporting events receive so much more attention than female ones. People grow up knowing the names of dozens of professional male athletes but most people can only name a few female athletes. I also like how you also brought up the issue of the pressures faced by women to be tall, thin, and dress in a very sexual way because of how the media portrays the “ideal woman.” This creates so much pressure, especially on young girls to look and act a specific way, if girls do not fit that description, they view them self as broken, or as not being good enough. These are huge issues that I am so glad you brought to attention. Very good article!


  2. curlyfrypoutine · April 10, 2015

    What I found most fascinating about your discussion of Ashley Judd’s case is the topic of white privilege, and how it allows her to bring certain issues to light. It certainly would be interesting to hypothesize about how things would be different if it had been a woman of colour who had filed the same complaints regarding the misogyny towards women in sports, or maybe a gay woman, or a transgender woman. However, I think that in this case, Ashley Judd’s privilege works against her in some ways, since the popular reaction towards her complaints was that she needed to develop a thicker skin and suck it up, because she’s a celebrity. I also think that it is possible for people to write off Judd’s important message about sexual harassment against women due to her privilege, saying that she’s whining about “first world problems” — that as a woman of relative privilege, her complaints are not legitimate. I can understand where this viewpoint could come from as there are women in developing countries who are suffering far worse traumas than receiving sexually harassing tweets. However, what is important to remember is that NO ONE should have to deal with sexual harassment or threats of rape, no matter who they are or what their positionality is. And if Judd’s privileges as a celebrity can help bring this issue to light, then I don’t see any problem with it.


  3. 4pce · April 16, 2015

    I appreciated how you touched on the issues of women feeling they are unable to succeed in sports due its association with masculinity and manhood. Women do not see themselves represented on the television screen making them discouraged to try to create a living in an industry that is unlikely to promote them into a professional career. I think another key to this is that the image created of sports and masculinity causes girls, particularly when they begin puberty, to be discouraged to participate for fear that they will then be connected with masculinity and will therefor be perceived as unattractive. Many of the young female athletes I was surrounded by growing up drifted away from sports in middle school, the age typically when puberty starts. They did not want to be considered “one of the guys” or a “tomboy” particularly in sports with high contact such as wrestling and hockey as they believed it would ruin their chances of pursuing romantic relationships with the boys in their classes. This caused there to be fewer female sports teams at our middle school because there was a lack of interest and participation. There were just fewer female athletes, which promoted the notion that women cannot be knowledgeable or participate in sports.


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