The witch-hunting of JK Rowling

The persecution of women who question transgenderism has got to stop.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Books Feminism Free Speech

Standing up for women’s rights is a risky business these days. Just ask JK Rowling. She has had merry hell rained down upon her over the past 24 hours. She has been called a stupid cunt, a bitch, trash, an old woman and so fucking ugly by an army of tweeting sexists. Her crime? She defended the right of a woman to express her opinion about sex and gender without losing her job.

The witch-hunting of JK Rowling, the ceaseless online abuse of her over the past day and night, exposes how unhinged, hateful and outright misogynistic the transgender movement has become. Rowling’s sin was to tweet in defence of Maya Forstater, the charity worker who was sacked for her belief that there are two sexes and that sex is immutable. That is, a man cannot become a woman, and vice versa. This week, an employment tribunal outrageously upheld Ms Forstater’s sacking and in the process it decreed what it is acceptable for people in the workplace to think and say. The judge said the kind of views held by Forstater are ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society’. This essentially gives a green light to the harassment, isolation and expulsion from the workplace of anyone who questions the transgender ideology.

Not surprisingly, this chilling diktat, this judge-led effort to outline what opinions we are allowed to hold, alarmed people who care about freedom of conscience and freedom of speech and who think that women should not be punished for holding particular opinions. There is a foul, pre-modern vibe to the idea that women should keep their filthy opinions to themselves and if they don’t they should be expelled from polite society. Trans-sceptical feminists in academia and the cultural sphere responded to the censorious persecution of Ms Forstater by tweeting their backing of her – #IStandWithMaya – and calling for freedom of speech for women who think biological sex is an actual thing. Rowling joined in. The bile she has since received perfectly illustrates the problem at hand – that it has become tantamount to a speechcrime to say there are two sexes.

Forstater has been punished for stating a biological truth, for expressing what humans have known forever to be the case: that sex is sex and it cannnot be changed. This is not an illiberal position. As Rowling said in her pro-Forstater tweet, people should be free to live however they please:

Rowling’s position is perfectly reasonable and tolerant. She’s defending the right of individuals to engage in any lifestyle of their choosing. She is simply saying that, at the same time, women should not be harassed and silenced just because they are worried about gender-recognition laws that would allow men to become women (legally speaking) simply by declaring it. Women absolutely must have the right to say that if you have a penis – or if you ever had a penis – then you are a man, not a woman. And they must be free to say that men should not be allowed in women-only spaces. This is a freedom-of-speech issue and a women’s-rights issue. That so many on the woke left, including in the Corbynista wing of the Labour Party, cannot see that, and instead have joined in the misogynistic harassment of Forstater and Rowling, confirms the extent to which they have sacrificed progressive principles at the altar of identitarian correctness.

The response to Rowling is getting madder and madder. Pro-trans Harry Potter fans are weeping online. Some are saying they ‘found safety in Hogwarts’ when they were kids and now they have been made to feel unsafe by Rowling’s ‘transphobia’. Star Wars legend Mark Hamill found himself being harassed too after he committed the click-crime of liking Rowling’s tweet. He has now expressed regret for his sinful, blasphemous pressing of the ‘like’ button. Oh Mark, what a letdown. Don’t let your opinions be dictated by intolerant mobs of censors and misogynists.

There is a powerfully Orwellian streak in the punishment of people for expressing obvious truths. That you can now be sacked and demonised for saying men are men and women are women confirms that the trans tyranny is out of control. This is why Rowling’s intervention was so important. The only way this woke censorship and persecution of disobedient women will be countered is if more individuals and institutions stand up to it. Everyone must now say what has, surreally, become unsayable: that sex is real, that sex is immutable, and that if you are born male, you will die male, regardless of what you do to yourself.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Books Feminism Free Speech


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