A perplexing inability to pipe down

Another Witchfinder General points and hisses at Rowling.

It starts badly.

J.K. Rowling spent Thursday once again demonstrating a perplexing inability to pipe down and enjoy her millions. 

Why the hell should she “pipe down”? Why should anyone? I bet Rachelle Hampton (the witchfinder in this instance) doesn’t want to be told to pipe down, so where does she get off telling Rowling to do so? What’s perplexing about the fact that Rowling, like god knows how many other people, says things on Twitter?

Rowling tweeted her support for Maya Forstater, a tax expert whose firing from a think tank over transphobic comments and subsequent court battle has generated a great deal of controversy in the U.K. In so doing, Rowling seemed to align herself with a virulently anti-trans group of otherwise liberal women, most often referred to as trans exclusionary radical feminists or TERFs.

Wait. One, calling Forstater’s comments “transphobic” is well-poisoning. Two, “generated controversy” is meaningless, and an only slightly more subtle brand of well-poisoning. Lots of things “cause controversy,” including good things that people oppose for bad reasons. Three, “virulently” is intense well-poisoning. Four, “anti-trans” is more well-poisoning and also a lie. Five, “otherwise liberal” is another lie. Six, “most often referred to” is chickenshit, since the word is a harsh pejorative and we reject it. That’s a lot of bad wording for two sentences from the opening paragraph.

Rowling’s tweet was immediately met with disappointment and anger, with critics pointing out that she fundamentally misrepresented the Forstater case.

Rowling’s tweet was also immediately met with admiration and celebration. Hampton doesn’t bother to mention that part.

Forstater’s contract with the Center for Global Development was not renewed due to a series of transphobic comments made in multiple forums. She repeatedly tweeted statements like, “I think that male people are not women. I don’t think being a woman/female is a matter of identity or womanly feelings. It is biology.”

This is the problem right here: those three sentences are not transphobic.

It’s not legitimate to make up new meanings for words, such as turning “phobic” into “stating material facts,” and then do your best to trash people’s lives by branding those phony new definitions.

It’s not any kind of “phobic” to say that men are not women. It’s just reality. It’s also, by the way, not any kind of “philic” (opposite of phobic, i.e. loving) to say that men are women. It’s not particularly loving to encourage adults to live in a fantasy world, and it’s certainly not loving to attack people who refuse to give up their grip on the truth.

In short, there is nothing in any way “phobic” about saying ” I think that male people are not women.” It’s ludicrous that we’ve arrived at a place where adults are claiming it is, with menaces.

In a workplace Slack she wrote, “But if people find the basic biological truths that ‘women are adult human females’ or ‘transwomen are male’ offensive, then they will be offended.” 

And? Still not seeing the phobia.

Forstater also purposefully misgendered a nonbinary councilor on Twitter, and when they complained, she wrote, “I reserve the right to use the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘him’ to refer to male people. While I may choose to use alternative pronouns as a courtesy, no one has the right to compel others to make statements they do not believe.”

Still not seeing the phobia. “Non-binary” doesn’t even mean anything. “Woman” is just wrong when it’s a man, but “non-binary” is just blather.

And in conclusion:

Rowling’s support of Forstater and apparent endorsement of her anti-trans views isn’t as surprising as it might seem at first glance. As Katelyn Burns noted in a March 2018 them.article, Rowling has liked tweets that refer to trans women as “men in dresses” and arguably trafficked in anti-trans tropes in books she wrote under her pen name Robert Galbraith. Thursday’s tweet was her most overt example of transphobia to date and demonstrates that, despite previously positioning herself as an ally, Rowling cannot be considered a friend of the LGBTQ community.

It does no such thing. Pipe down.

6 Responses to “A perplexing inability to pipe down”