JK Rowling says she hasn’t been silenced over trans views
In the latest episode of the Witch Trials of JK Rowling podcast, the Harry Potter author said she wasn’t silenced after she expressed her views on trans issues.
The Harry Potter author said it’s “true” she hasn’t been silenced, but argued that such discourse misses the point.
In the third episode of The Witch Trials of JK Rowling, released on Tuesday (28 February), Rowling reflected on how she became an “idealised figure”.
Speaking to the podcast’s host, former Westboro Baptist Church member Megan Phelps-Roper, Rowling spoke extensively about the “threats” she has received online since she started weighing in on trans rights, such as gender recognition reform.
“There have been a lot [of threats],” Rowling said.
“A huge amount – as every woman will know who speaks up on this issue – a huge amount of, ‘I want her to choke on my fat trans d**k’ – very sexualised abuse.
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“I don’t think all of them mean it literally but attempts to degrade, to humiliate – people might say ‘Well that’s not really a threat’ and you know what, up to a point you’re probably right, though it’s very unpleasant to be on the receiving end of it particularly in the quantities I’ve had it.”
She continued: “I’ve had what the police anyway would regard as credible threats, yeah.
“The pushback is often, ‘You are wealthy, you can afford security, you haven’t been silenced’ – all true. All of that is true. But I think that misses the point.
“The attempt to intimidate and silence me is meant to serve as a warning to other women and I say that because I have seen it used that way.”
JK Rowling was ‘disturbed’ by Tumblr culture
The rise of social media and the internet is a central theme of the episode, with JK Rowling reflecting on the popularity of Harry Potter forums like MuggleNet and the significance of Twitter.
The author said she became “very interested” around a decade ago in “what was going on online”.
“I was fascinated by Tumblr culture…” she said.
“I started to be intrigued by the use of the word ‘identify’, this was something I was seeing rising in culture particularly from the younger generation.
“And I don’t see that as necessarily a malign thing because I think we all have an identity, and identity is important to all of us for a stable sense of self, but I was noticing something that I thought was interesting that began to disturb me.”
She continued: “I was starting to think about this a lot, subcultures that have their own rigid rules and acceptable beliefs, non-acceptable beliefs, everything becoming very reductive.”
Rowling said she saw “authoritarianism” growing across all political persuasions, arguing that efforts to deplatform the “alt-right provocateur” Milo Yiannopoulos only served to make him look “sexier and edgier than he deserved to look”.
“I thought it was a strategically appalling turn – get on that platform and eviscerate his ideas,” Rowling said.
“Get on that platform and expose him for the charlatan that he is. You push back hard but you’ve given him so much power by refusing to talk.
“I have marched in my life, I’ve certainly been part of mass movements, I’ve signed petitions and I’ve demonstrated in certain ways, but when it comes to a speaker like that I just thought they were undermining their own ends.
“In fact I thought they were serving his purposes, because he was able to walk away from that saying, ‘Look, they don’t dare debate me this is how dangerous and edgy I am.’”
Closing out the third episode of the podcast, Rowling said she felt the need to speak up as those she saw as being “on her side” of the political aisle started to break with her views.
“I was becoming unnerved by some of what I was seeing. I thought the way this activist movement is behaving is troubling me. I was starting to see activists behaving in a very aggressive way outside feminist meetings,” she said.
“There was a feminist meeting in which they were banging and kicking on windows – very threatening, they were masked – which frankly is never a good look. If you’re a good guy you’re probably not going to be standing there in a black balaclava.
“I watched that happening and I was deeply disturbed because now – this movement I had started being interested in – now this is really happening, it’s playing out very fast.”
The Witch Trials of JK Rowling is billed as an audio documentary examining “some of the most contentious conflicts of our time through the life and career” of JK Rowling.
As well as JK Rowling, Phelps-Roper spoke to trans YouTuber Natalie Wynn, known as ContraPoints.
Wynn has said she felt used after the interview, and said agreeing to chat with Phelps-Roper was “a serious lapse in judgment” after she was grilled about her decision to transition.
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