21 votes

JK Rowling

1 comment

  1. kfwyre
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    Oh hey, something I can speak to! It's always hard to know where to start with ContraPoints videos simply because there is SO much there (which gives me empathy for everyone I've ever dumped...

    Oh hey, something I can speak to!

    It's always hard to know where to start with ContraPoints videos simply because there is SO much there (which gives me empathy for everyone I've ever dumped essays on here on Tildes), but I actually read the book Natalie references, Conflict Is Not Abuse, several months ago. I highly recommend it, not necessarily because I agree with all of its theses (nor do I necessarily disagree with them) but because it prompted significant critical thinking about issues that I consider myself better for having undergone.

    I think we've been trained to not just align issues but our thinking with "sides", and Schulman's book was challenging for not fitting the good vs. bad, left vs. right paradigm we're so used to. Here's an excerpt from some of my thoughts on it at the time:

    Schulman's book doesn't directly talk about this binary, but it is implicitly highlighted for me all the same because she doesn't neatly fit into it on either side. On paper she sounds like she'd be on the left, as she's a feminist lesbian, but in her writing much of her critiques align with more right talking points, including those brought up about "cancel culture". That said, most of her arguments and conclusions seem to avoid any sort of foundational right or left anchoring, or at times seem firmly rooted in both. It's honestly disorienting, as she's entirely on her own ground and I'm having to do a lot of independent critical thinking in order to process not only what she's saying but whether or not I think it's valid. In many ways it's also forcing my own response out of another limiting binary -- wholly good or wholly bad -- and into something far more textured, nuanced, and substantive. The book avoids being yet another volley in the team-based talking points tennis that seems to dominate modern political and sociological discussions, especially online.

    Because I couldn't pin down Schulman's political position, I found myself not knowing how to process her points. Do I trust her? Is she trying to pull one over on me? What's her real motive here? Even outside of the subject matter of the book, it was valuable for me because it showed how often I'm used to using a left-right distinction as a sort of heuristic for processing argument.

    I think Natalie does something similar in this video, where she rejects the convenient simplification of Rowling = bad, Rowling criticism = good that this issue often gets reduced to. Ironically, I think Natalie actually ends up making the far greater case for Rowling = bad than many other arguments I've seen, which seem to stop mostly at the idea that she is bad because she's transphobic. That's certainly accurate, but Natalie goes through significant lengths to detail how that transphobia is backed by a deliberate duplicity that attempts to give it credibility and moral standing. Natalie anchors this aspect so well in her analysis that it makes her empathetic examination of Rowling's trauma and Twitter abuse a separate issue with different moral standing rather than a sort of "balancing" of Rowling's character that the good/bad binary this discussion is often nudged towards.

    8 votes