As much as I am sick of men who think having a dick is the same thing as having a logical argument, I am doubly sick of men who mistake unimaginative misogyny for shit talk. Men who confuse the two are all over this story about Ashley Judd getting abused on Twitter during March Madness because she, as a supporter of Kentucky, was throwing out actual shit talk about her team’s competitors. Her description of events:
During a conference championship game on Sunday, I posted a comment to Twitter that some found unsportsmanlike. I didn’t much care for three players bleeding on the court, and I tweeted that the opponent was “playing dirty & can kiss my team’s free throw making a—.” The volume of hatred that exploded at me in response was staggering.
I routinely cope with tweets that sexualize, objectify, insult, degrade and even physically threaten me. I have already — recently, in fact — looked into what is legally actionable in light of such abuse, and have supplied Twitter with scores of reports about the horrifying content on its platform. But this particular tsunami of gender-based violence and misogyny flooding my Twitter feed was overwhelming.
Tweets rolled in, calling me a cunt, a whore or a bitch, or telling me to suck a two-inch dick. Some even threatened rape, or “anal anal anal.”
Let’s be clear here: Shit talk is not the issue here. Shit talk is an important tradition in the world of sports and I, as a fan of a clever insult, would be sadder if the world had less shit talk in it. But shit talk is also an art. One should strive to be clever and inspiring when burning motherfuckers. Insight into your target’s character and behavior is the goal here. The premise of the insults aimed at Judd fall into two basic categories: 1) That being a woman is inherently shameful or 2) That being someone who is penetrated during sex is inherently shameful. As neither of those propositions is true, any attempts at shit talk based on either means that the person speaking has failed at the art of shit talk and should, in recompense, delete his Twitter account and take a vow of silence until he learns what “humor” is.
Judd’s tweet that drew so much attention isn’t like the funniest thing ever, but it at least touches on the bare minimums for proper shit talk: 1) She calls out behavior (in this case, playing dirty). 2) Her claims of superiority to the target of the shit talk are based in actual metrics. Her critics are working with the premise that a man is inherently better than a woman. Judd, on the other hand, is working on the premise that being good at the free throw line is better than being bad at it. Her joke is automatically better than theirs because her joke, unlike theirs, is based on a thing that is actually true about the world. It is better to make free throw shots than not. She even noted the irony of how fouling the other team works against you if they keep hitting free throws. Genius level observation compared to people who think that you’re a gross and foul person because you have a vagina.
In light of this, Mark Fuhrman’s remarks on Fox News regarding this situation prove, above all other things, that Mark Fuhrman is a classic mansplainer, in this case, trying to explain humor while possessing none of it.
“She doesn’t have a case because it’s March Madness,” he opined. “It’s college basketball. It’s the playoffs. All bets are off, all laws don’t apply.”
“So, you can threaten a woman with physical and sexual violence?” Fox News host Andrea Tantaros asked.
“This is my personal opinion,” Fuhrman insisted. “During basketball, during March Madness, if you don’t want to play then shut up. This is March Madness. Everybody’s getting out their best picks, the top four. You know, this is the time you lose money on basketball. And everybody’s crazy.”
Indeed, it is true that one should not engage in shit talk if one is not willing to deal with shit talk. But, as noted above, tweeting “cunt” or “anal anal anal” at someone is not shit talk, because shit talk is supposed to be funny. The only people being babies who can’t play the game here are the men who are dog piling her. These men are so void of even the barest of wit, so much so that a fairly mediocre burn about free throws reduced them to gibbering idiots whose only retorts are variations on, “Oh yeah! Well, you’re a woman! So there!” Unable to compete with their wits, they instead just harass and abuse, hoping to silence those who are better at the game. The only people unable to take the heat are the misogynist harassers, who really do need to shut up until they can learn to distinguish between the art of shit talk and just baseless harassment.