25 votes

JK Rowling is dangerously wrong

11 comments

  1. [9]
    cfabbro
    (edited )
    Link
    This is a long and infuriating read (not because of anything the wonderful Eevee says, but because of what she felt the need to respond to coming from JK), but even so, I think it's important to...

    This is a long and infuriating read (not because of anything the wonderful Eevee says, but because of what she felt the need to respond to coming from JK), but even so, I think it's important to share here since IMO Eevee does a tremendous job debunking the incredibly hypocritical and misinformation filled "essay" that JK recently put out to defend her latest tweets and "gender critical" beliefs.

    p.s. As a reminder to all who might find themselves here, please keep in mind this is ~lgbt and not a place to debate over fundamental LGBTQ+ issues/rights, as @Deimos himself said in the previous post about this topic:

    After discussing with a couple of people (including the OP), I've removed a few comments in here and locked the thread.

    The discussion wasn't bad, but I think we need to find a way to be more explicit that ~lgbt shouldn't really be a place for having debates about fundamental LGBT issues. That's difficult to do on Tildes right now because the site doesn't really have clear separations between the different groups yet, but I think we need to try to find a way to do it. ~lgbt shouldn't feel like a place where LGBT people need to defend themselves.

    https://tildes.net/~lgbt/pm4/daniel_radcliffe_responds_to_j_k_rowlings_latest_tweets_about_gender_identity#comment-56ht

    15 votes
    1. [2]
      culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      I had only seen the initial tweets by Rowling and response from Radcliffe, so thank you for sharing this piece. I'm not very knowledgeable on most of the issues raised here, and it's given me much...

      I had only seen the initial tweets by Rowling and response from Radcliffe, so thank you for sharing this piece. I'm not very knowledgeable on most of the issues raised here, and it's given me much to consider.

      7 votes
      1. cfabbro
        Link Parent
        NP, and thanks for actually taking the time to read and consider it! :) I wish JK would do the same. :(

        NP, and thanks for actually taking the time to read and consider it! :) I wish JK would do the same. :(

        4 votes
    2. [6]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Yeah, this is a breathless, pointed, and necessary redressing of pretty much everything that's wrong with Rowling's statement. I'll never defend Twitter abuse, and I feel awful for Rowling, as I'm...

      Yeah, this is a breathless, pointed, and necessary redressing of pretty much everything that's wrong with Rowling's statement. I'll never defend Twitter abuse, and I feel awful for Rowling, as I'm sure we all do, for the in-person abuse she experienced and came out about here, but it's hard to ignore that so much of her statement is simply indefensible.

      3 votes
      1. [5]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Not going to lie, there is a large part of me that doesn't feel awful for Rowling getting abused on twitter. When you're arguing in an attempt to invalidate the identity of another person, I can't...

        Not going to lie, there is a large part of me that doesn't feel awful for Rowling getting abused on twitter. When you're arguing in an attempt to invalidate the identity of another person, I can't help but feel you deserve all the shit you get for it. Paradox of tolerance in action. Does that make me a bad person? I dunno, but I'm definitely an angry one who's tired of this hateful shit, that's for damn sure. Good on Eevee for being a better person than I, and addressing this situation calmly and rationally though.

        9 votes
        1. [4]
          kfwyre
          Link Parent
          I get that, and I totally understand where it comes from emotionally, but I'm ultimately of the opinion that abuse is abuse and it's wrong to do and a bad thing to celebrate. There's a bigger...

          I get that, and I totally understand where it comes from emotionally, but I'm ultimately of the opinion that abuse is abuse and it's wrong to do and a bad thing to celebrate.

          There's a bigger issue here of what constitutes abuse that is also crucially important because it is at times overstated, but I'm not going to address that particular wrinkle as I want to zoom in on abuse itself.

          The problem of abusive behaviors is for me is part moral (some things are just wrong even if done for good reasons) and part social (using abusive methods to achieve good outcomes validates abusive methods as effective to others).

          In fact, its the latter point that worries me the most. When we make justifications for abusive behavior we end up enabling frameworks that help terrible people do terrible things with impunity. This happens in two ways: first, we make abusive actions seem like they're simply part of normal human interaction rather than anathema to it, and second, we normalize the idea that targets of abuse can do things that make them deserving of it.

          One of the saddest truths of abusive relationships is that the abused often genuinely feel at fault. They are led to believe that they are somehow responsible for their ill treatment ("It's because I'm so ugly"; "It's because I can't do anything right", etc.). This is not true, of course. Abuse is something that, fundamentally, no one deserves, but the shifting of blame to the victim is a manipulation the abuser uses in order to escape accountability for their actions. They frame their target as "deserving" so that what they do seems justified. Without that lens, their actions would be seen for what they are, intolerably and unfairly cruel.

          Intimate personal relationships don't directly map to online social media, so I don't want you to think that Rowling getting threatened on Twitter is nearly the same as someone living with an abusive partner. That said, as different as they are, they don't exist in separate worlds either. The people who are operating on social media are also all navigating real world relationships, and many of the norms and lessons they learn in one, they apply to the other.

          When we say that someone like Rowling deserves her abuse because of what she's done, we're normalizing the concept that abuse can be justified in the first place. When we ignore it because the outcomes it achieves conveniently suit our preferences, we're normalizing the idea that abuse can be an effective method for change or persuasion. Consider how both of those mindsets, when genuinely believed, set up so many people to both accept behaviors that are unjustly harmful to them and engage in or excuse behaviors that are unjustly harmful to others.

          Ultimately I believe that abusing Rowling is wrong, period. I also believe that her views on trans people are wrong and are themselves abusive, period. The harm that she does in overriding trans people's identities, agencies, and experiences is real and serious, but I cannot endorse meeting that with deliberately harming her in response, nor can I say that she deserves the lesser abuses she receives as an individual because the harm she has done is greater. Harm does not erase harm, and harm is not solved by placing it into a hierarchy.

          In fact, harm often amplifies or recreates harm. One of the other sad facts about abusive situations is that being abused raises one's likelihood of abusing someone else. It is often harm that triggers our anger, and we so often respond, in that same anger, with harm.

          I can't find it in me to support behaviors that not only increase the potential for transitory hurt like this but that also lay widespread groundwork for toxic relationship dynamics. I also simply can't support discourse that's fundamentally rooted in damage. Those behaviors are wrong to me, and they remain wrong in or out of context, on their own terms or on someone else's.

          8 votes
          1. [3]
            cfabbro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I understand what you're saying and largely agree with you; You make well reasoned arguments, and I definitely don't want to be a part of normalizing abuse. However, IMO there are certain lines...

            I understand what you're saying and largely agree with you; You make well reasoned arguments, and I definitely don't want to be a part of normalizing abuse. However, IMO there are certain lines that when crossed deserve open scorn, contempt, and yes, even abuse in extreme cases. And someone being openly intolerant of others, attempting to invalidate their existence (or worse, argue it be snuffed out), spread their gospel of hate, and then having the gall to claim to be the "real" victim for having such intolerance soundly rejected by both the public and courts, is one such line for me. And I strongly believe that unless we vehemently reject such hateful ideologies and their propagators, and shame them into silence so they stop spreading their message and being able to recruit others to their cause on public platforms, we risk losing our ability to be tolerant at all. Paradox of Tolerance.

            p.s. It's also worth noting that what JK seems to classify as "abuse" is pretty tame, especially by internet standards... so I take her claims of "abuse" with a heavy dose of salt, especially given her propensity to play the victim. See: https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1269401983095648259

            8 votes
            1. [2]
              kfwyre
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Yeah, I very much agree that it's common for people like her to overstate harm or frame things as abusive that really aren't. I actually wrote recently about exactly this, if you're wanting to...

              Yeah, I very much agree that it's common for people like her to overstate harm or frame things as abusive that really aren't. I actually wrote recently about exactly this, if you're wanting to wade through another of my long comments. I think a lot of anti-LGBT rhetoric in particular is rooted in a false sense of harm by positioning gender, sex, masculinity, sexuality, biology, or whatever else as "under attack" so that their abusive actions get interpreted as "defense", which Rowling certainly does.

              I think my issue is sort of flipside to the deliberate overstatement of harm -- a willful understatement of it. I very often see abuse get treated as an "all-or-nothing" situation in instances like these. Plenty of people will rightfully identify that some of what the person deems abuse is really just legitimate critique/callout/pushback, but then they'll use that genuine truth to deny any and all abuse happening to that person.

              Rowling identified that she received death threats over this, and I believe that she genuinely did. If we conflate her inflated accounting of abuse with actual instances of it, we muddy the waters, making it harder for her to understand why much of what she's experiencing isn't genuine abuse. Furthermore, should we excuse or deny the real instances of abuse, we're committing a sort of gaslighting. Sending the message "your abuse isn't real" is only valid and instructive if there isn't any genuine abuse. That's part of why I do take such a hard line with this. Rowling already considers herself aggrieved, and when we deny that she is even facing abuse, especially for the purposes of social/political expediency, it's easy for the genuine abuse that we permit through our filters to validate that position for her even further.

              I've spent a lot of time on Rowling specifically, but I want to zoom out and note that this isn't a defense of her specifically or any particular allegiance to sides of a cultural war. Many people -- trans and black people especially; women too -- have to navigate this exact same thing online and in real life all the time, as they too are simultaneously abused and then told that their abuse is either not real or it's deserved. This also tends to be backed up by systemic forms of oppression that magnify the impact of the abuses that privilege would otherwise somewhat dull. I believe that normalizing abuse is destructive partially because its damage disproportionately falls on the most vulnerable.

              I do agree with the paradox of tolerance, but I think where we differ is that my opposition to intolerance stops at abusive methods, and there's plenty that I think we can do instead of utilizing those. I'll also say that, as much as I'm intellectualizing this right now, I still totally understand where you're coming from on an emotional level. It's one thing for me to say abusive methods are wrong in all circumstances, but there have been times where I've cheered on instances of it myself. I see what I'm saying more as an ideal than a fully lived experience. It's something I think we, myself included, should work towards.

              4 votes
              1. cfabbro
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                To be clear, when I say some people might deserve "abuse" I absolutely do not mean threats of violence or death, which I don't think anyone deserves no matter how much I despise their hateful...

                To be clear, when I say some people might deserve "abuse" I absolutely do not mean threats of violence or death, which I don't think anyone deserves no matter how much I despise their hateful ideology. But you do also make a good point, and I definitely shouldn't be trying to minimize or deny the level of abuse and threats JK has likely received. The internet is a pretty vile place, so even with JK having a bit of a victim complex and her thinking being called a "TERF" is "abuse", I have no doubt she probably also did receive some serious threats as well. :(

                And I actually already read the other comment you linked to, and was planning on PMing you about it, since I didn't actually have anything substantial to say about it, but just wanted to let you know it was also well written and made me stop to seriously consider some things.

                As always, thanks for being an awesome person, @kfwyre. I may still disagree with you a bit here, since I think the Paradox of Tolerance is a very real threat, but you do make good points and have made me take some time to really reconsider my positions. :)

                3 votes
  2. ntgg
    Link
    I'm amazed at how homophobic and toxic JK's whole essay comes off. If for some reason you ignore or agree with her points about trans people it still comes off pretty shitty.

    I'm amazed at how homophobic and toxic JK's whole essay comes off. If for some reason you ignore or agree with her points about trans people it still comes off pretty shitty.

    11 votes
  3. moonbathers
    Link
    It sure is great having your entire existence questioned by a good chunk of people.

    It sure is great having your entire existence questioned by a good chunk of people.

    8 votes