Rowling and Cancel Culture: Why She is Just Plain Wrong
Recently, J.K. Rowling said some awful things about trans people that got her cancelled. As is common when upset people voice their concerns online, this sparked a whole huge discussion about cancel culture. Now, high and mighty Rowling has decided that she’ll sign some stupid document claiming that their free speech is being hurt by cancel culture.
Yeah. You can probably tell that I’m pretty upset by all of this. In fact, I’m fuming. I was someone who spent so much of my time defending Rowling and her actions. Before the Crimes of Grindelwald came out, I was one of the people who had hope for her. I thought that she probably didn’t mean to hide all of her gay characters. Maybe she’d write something about Dumbledore that would show that he was gay all along. Right?
Well, I was wrong. Not only was I wrong, but she is now on a tirade against the rights of LGBTQ+ people. And you can bet that as a pansexual, agender person, I feel as though she has let me down.
But if anyone knows me, they know that I don’t dismiss people’s ideas just because they make me feel bad or sad. No. So let me explain to you why everything she has done as of late is bad and wrong. Cancel culture might be real, but that doesn’t mean we have to shut up and take Rowling’s transphobia.
Cancel Culture Is Real
I have been cancelled. I’m not saying this to compare my plights to Rowling’s. I don’t need to. However, I need to say this to let you know that I have a very unique perspective when it comes to all of this.
Back a good few months ago now, I defended an Episode author who made a joke about a black man being… big. When this happened, people were quick to clip me out of context and claim that I had said things I never did.
In reality, my point – that we need to give white writers who try a chance and not scream at them when they make mistakes – was completely lost in this huge wave of people blocking, insulting and mocking me.
All I wanted to say was that, while we can always do better in our representation, we shouldn’t let the way we respond to a mistake cause people to be too afraid to improve the diversity of their stories.
While I get that black men being big is a huge stereotype, we shouldn’t get rid of big black men completely. Instead, we should just add more black men to stories. Increase the diversity of our black men. We don’t want to take away the few that we have!
That isn’t what people took from what I said. They said I was defending racists. I lost friends. I lost followers. People didn’t talk to me and express their disagreement. They didn’t try to reason with me. They just shut me down and the conversation I wanted to have with me.
I’ve done a lot wrong in my 23 years of life, but the way they destroyed my whole image in that community was completely uncalled for.
I get that cancel culture is real.
But Rowling Isn’t a Victim of It
Rowling, however, is not the victim of cancel culture. She has not been cancelled. She’s fine and she always will be.
She is a multi-millionaire with a huge platform. Many, many people still support her! In fact, she is one of 150 public figures who have signed that bogus free speech document that I mentioned before. She’s got plenty of people out there who are ready to support her.
The truth is that the rich and famous rarely really have to deal with real cancelling. James Charles is an exception, but I am going to reserve my judgement on that matter because the whole beauty community is a complete mess.
They have this cushion of wealth and privilege to cover up the true effects of cancel culture. There are way too many people who would lap up anything that their favourite celeb says. Then, there is this huge group of people who just don’t care.
Real cancelling can mess up a person’s life and career. When I was cancelled, I lost revenue and views and a big chunk of the small platform I had, sure. However, there was something worse: I was being blocked, reported and shut down by the people who I needed from a mental health point of view. My own community turned me out to the dust. The only people I had online.
The fact that people disagreed with me isn’t “cancel culture”. They destroyed so much of what I built for myself. That’s cancel culture.
Rowling is not a victim of cancel culture. In fact, she still has her platform and her love and adoration. She still has her money. She’s just fine.
“Free Speech” is a Dumb Defence
So let’s talk about all of this free speech nonsense.
Wait. Before I start, let me just clear something out before you take me out of context. I am not against free speech. The thing that’s nonsense is Rowling claiming that “cancel culture” is threatening her free speech. That is the only thing that’s nonsense here.
People with reactionary opinions have a tendency to scream “free speech” whenever they get the slightest bit of criticism. Instead of actually defending their arguments with good, reasonable evidence, they just defend their right to have an opinion instead.
Sure, Rowling did release her essay on why she thinks what she does. However, she spent a whole lot of time talking about violence against women and lots of children detransitioning. Basically, things that either have nothing to do with trans rights or are just plain wrong.
Sure, it is Rowling’s free speech to say things that are wrong and transphobic. However, it is other people’s free speech to comment on those things and call her out.
I will say this again: cancel culture isn’t bad because people disagree with you. No! I love debating with people who don’t see the world the way I do. The problem with cancel culture is how they treat you and what they do when they disagree.
She’s spending a hell of a lot of time talking about things that no one is arguing against. Most people aren’t saying that she can’t say what she wants. They’re saying that she’s transphobic. That’s all.
Sure. You’re going to find people who say “free speech is bad” or “sex isn’t real”. There are silly people on every side. They are not the majority, though. So why is she focussing on them? Because she can’t argue with the rest of us.
Rowling’s Tirade Is Irresponsible
The real victims of Rowling’s recent cancel culture tirade are the trans people she is alienating.
She has this huge platform and touches the lives of so many children and young people and she is using her reach to hurt people just because she doesn’t understand them. People who look up to her, no less!
All you have to do is look at what happened with the kid’s picture on Twitter. Sure, she didn’t mean to paste that explicit sentence in the middle of her tweet, but I think it just symbolises the effect she can have on others. One wrong move and she can very easily traumatise some very vulnerable people.
And with that power, she chooses to fight against the phrase “people who menstruate”. She spends her time telling us that characters are gay and then just not showing it. Then, when people start to question her opinions, she doubles down and makes some weird, logical link between male violence and trans women?
By saying “sex is real” all the time, she’s making it seem like she’s fighting against people who say that sex isn’t real. There aren’t a whole lot of people saying that. Most of the people who disagree with her are saying “sex and gender aren’t the same thing”
When she says “detransitioning”, she is lying. Not many people find that they weren’t trans the whole time.
When she talks about male violence, she makes it seem as though trans women are men in disguise assaulting women. If she was telling the truth, she’d let you know that trans women are usually the victims of violence. She should be their ally.
That is irresponsible.
Why We Need More Trans Resources
Cancel culture aside, let’s humour Rowling for a moment. Say that there are way more people transitioning than ever before.
Well, if that’s the case, then shouldn’t we support more resources for diagnosing gender dysphoria and educating people about trans issues? Surely, the more that people know, the easier it will be for them to really have a think about if they’re trans or not.
I am agender. If I didn’t know a whole lot about gender identity and expression, I might have been confused. It would have been very easy for me to confuse my lack of gender with being binary trans! It was the fact that I had the education I did that made it so much easier for me.
If people knew more about being trans, then the chances are that there would be fewer people thinking they are trans when they really aren’t. Plus, as info about trans people and their lives becomes more mainstream, we can get more doctors specialised in giving trans people the help that they need. There will be more medical research on trans issues. More doctors will be well-educated and so they can diagnose dysphoria a lot better. More education means less mistakes!
Plus, people would be better equipped to notice her own contradictions. Rowling has compared hormone treatment to gay conversion therapy. However, in her essay, she has also got a problem with people who don’t medically transtion using women’s bathrooms. Uh. Pick a side, Rowling.
Why “People Who Menstruate” Makes More Sense
Not all people who menstruate are women. Not all women menstruate.
In the midst of this whole trans rights cancel culture thing that Rowling has thrown herself into, she thought it would be a great idea to call out an article for using the phrase “people who menstruate”.
Since we already know that Rowling does not care about trans people, let’s put aside the whole trans part of this for a second and focus on the other reasons why what she said is so profoundly stupid.
As a 50-something year old woman, you would think that Rowling would know a thing or two about being a woman who doesn’t menstruate. She either is one already or she will be very soon. So when you no longer menstruate, do you stop being a woman?
Plus, there are plenty of non-menopause reasons why cis women might not have their periods. Health problems and eating disorders. Drug abuse. Malnourishment. Contraception. Just being born without the ability to have periods. Plenty of reasons. Are they not women? I guess Gatekeeper Rowling might not think so, but I do.
Plus, what about 11 year old girls? I thought we stopped calling children who have their periods “women” back in the Middle Ages? Or maybe the definition of “woman” doesn’t include the word “adult” anymore?
So basically, Rowling thought it was a great idea to throw all cis women who don’t have periods under the bus just to spite trans people.
So, What Should We Do?
Should we cancel Rowling, actually? No. I don’t think that would do a whole lot of good. In fact, all it does is give the right ammo against us. Look at this damn document Rowling has gone and signed now.
Should we just say “Death of the Author” and forget all about her? If you want to. If that makes it easier for you to enjoy a story you’ve loved for years.
To be honest, though, I don’t think that does a whole lot of good, either. I thin it’s much more responsible for us to respond. She has a huge, huge platform. She can influence so many impressionable people. We need as many people as possible to find ways to counteract the damage she’s doing.
Do we stop consuming anything to do with Harry Potter? Maybe. Lindsay Ellis makes a good case for it.
I think the important thing to do, though, is make sure that you fight for trans rights in any way you can. Read up on trans issues. Educate yourself. Listen to and plug trans voices.
This whole “cancel culture” thing reminds me a hell of a lot of GamerGate back in 2016. Back then, people who saw themselves as centre-left were radicalised by the right. They attacked marginalised people and then yelled “free speech”. Then, it was women. Now, it’s trans people.
To be honest, I’m scared.
Happy reading, I guess.
Cancel culture can definitely be damaging, and you raise a good point that it hasn’t really happened to her. It’s very hard to successfully take away the success of incredibly popular people. There are probably a lot of social factors at play that stop that from happening well that would have to be dealt with. It just saddens me to see her complaining about something that barely even hurts her rather than addressing the actual issue. Her comments were terrible, and she comes off (to me, at least) as whiny and not like she listens to the comments that people have against her. It’s just disappointing.