Following online backlash from fans over her casting as Batwoman, Ruby Rose is the latest actor to leave social media.
Yet another actor has left social media due to fans’ trolling. This time, it is Batwoman herself, Ruby Rose, ComicBookResources reports. Rose was recently cast as Katherine Kane in The CW’s Arrowverse crossover slated for later this year, with the hopes that she will headline a solo show in 2019.Photo Credit: Batwoman/The CW, Brad Triffitt Image Acquired from CW Publicity
Unfortunately, as is increasingly becoming common in today’s digital world, the announcement was met with vocal derision by some segments online. Concerns have risen about her acting talents, her physicality, her religious leanings and even the veracity of her sexuality. The deluge of negativity appears to have been enough for Rose, who shut down her Twitter account and disabled comments on her Instagram page. This is a disturbing trend that has come into focus especially over the past few years.
Long Line of Celebrities Facing Online Harassment
Ruby Rose follows an ever-increasing list of female-identifying actors and public figures turning tail from social media because of trolls and angry fanboys. Titans star Anna Diop came under attack for her casting as fan-favorite Starfire due to her race and skin color, leading her to disable comments on her Instagram account. Prejudice and bigotry were so common for The Flash’s Candice Patton that it led to her and fellow Arrowverse stars Caity Lotz, Melissa Benoist and others to create Shethority, an ‘online global collective to discuss the unique challenges of the female experience’.
This is sadly not a new phenomenon. Following the release of the Ghostbusters reboot, star Leslie Jones left Twitter after prolonged racist harassment.
Thankfully, she is back now and providing hilarious content about everything from RuPaul’s Drag Race to Avengers: Infinity War.
Sexism, however, appears to be the biggest player in these online attacks. In June this year, Star Wars: The Last Jedi actor Kelly Marie Tran deleted her Instagram account following vitriolic comments about her character Rose Tico. Noticeably, Rian Johnson, director and writer of the film and character, did not receive a similar kind of backlash. Tran isn’t the only Star Wars alum to quit the photo platform – in 2017, Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey in the new trilogy, also shut down her Instagram account following backlash over her comments about gun violence.
Even Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, an actual child, left Twitter after becoming the target of a series of racist and homophobic memes – somehow these users weren’t perturbed by the idea of trolling a 14-year-old.
Women Bear the Brunt of Online Abuse
There is a disproportionately large number of women who are forced out of social media by trolls and so-called fans and the list includes several non-celebrities as well – people who have been victimized online for simply having an opinion. The most famous example of this is GamerGate, an online campaign lamenting the diversity in modern gaming, which quickly devolved into a harassment movement that targeted high-profile female video game experts and creators.
It started with attacks against female game developer Zoe Quinn and moved on to fellow game developer and US House of Representatives candidate Brianna Wu, as well as media critic Anita Sarkeesian, to name just a few. Sarkeesian has long been the target of misogynistic attacks as she continues to burst the bubble of white, male gamer privilege through her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series and her non-profit organization Feminist Frequency.NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 23: Anita Sarkeesian (R) and U.S. Senator for California Kamala Harris on stage during the Women in the World Summit held In New York on April 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)
The trouble with online platforms is that they allow for anonymity and this leads people to behave in a way they may not in the real world. Studies have shown that social media affects women and girls negatively with regards to well-being and body image. They are also likely to suffer higher rates of depression due to social media attacks, which always tend to be overtly violent or sexual in nature.
Misogyny is at the Center of Online Harassment
This is not to say that men have not also been targeted through social media. Tom King, writer of the latest Batman series, received death threats following the publication of Batman #50, leading DC to employ a bodyguard for his appearance at San Diego Comic-Con. This isn’t the first time online threats have led to people taking extra security measures offline and as Amnesty International reported in their case study Toxic Twitter, online threats impact offline lives. In the study, Amnesty International quoted US reproductive rights activist Pamela Merritt saying:
‘After five years of online harassment coupled with offline harassment, I have basically reconciled with the fact that I’m prepared to die for the work I do. That might happen. If you get 200 death threats, it only takes one person who really wants to kill you.’
Doxing, stalking, revenge porn and actual violence are threats to the well-being of these individuals. Yet, repercussions are few and far between. In June this year, Chloe Dykstra, actor and cosplayer, wrote a heartfelt post on Medium about the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of her former partner. She never named him, but media outlets put two and two together and made Chris Hardwick, host of The Walking Dead aftershow, Talking Dead.
Hardwick was swiftly suspended from his role and scheduled convention appearances, only to be reinstated less than two months after Dykstra’s article was published. Online, she was labeled a liar; demands were made for her to provide evidence of his actions. On the other hand, the moment Hardwick refuted the claims, his fans believed him and were quick to support him.SARASOTA, FL – APRIL 20: Chloe Dykstra, James Smith and Sarah Goldberger attend the 2018 Sarasota Film Festival on April 20, 2018 in Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Sarasota Film Festival)
This is yet another disturbing trait of misogyny. It took more than 50 women to accuse Bill Cosby of sexual assault and rape before he was finally charged; 80 women to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct before a criminal investigation was begun. British entertainer Jimmy Savile died before his predatory pedophilia even came to light.
Yet, Anthony Rapp made one allegation against Kevin Spacey leading to Spacey being ostracized by the entire industry, removed from his lead role in Netflix’s The House of Cards and digitally replaced in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World. This swift justice is what is needed for accusers of all genders, but women are still expected to provide ‘evidence’ if they make any allegations.
Social media is a great place to make connections, meet like-minded people and topics, but a few toxic elements continue to make the online experience detrimental to many. There is an obvious gender bias to these campaigns which enables face-less online trolls to continue harassing women and people of color because they do not see anyone suffering from the repercussions of these actions. I think many people have forgotten that the meaning of ‘fan’ is to love and admire something or someone. So, in the words of Rose Tico, ‘We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love!’