Steph's Place

JK Rowling’s Bottomless Brunch

Opinion By Freda

 

On the 10th April 2022, JK Rowling held a social function at the River Café in Hammersmith, London. I’m not sure how many ‘cafes’ you’ve been to in London, but this is one where a salad will cost you £55, and if you need something to wash that down, a flute of Prosecco starts at £10.

Fancy.

This was no impromptu ladies' lunch it was a very well-choreographed and symbolic piece of theatre to which the most influential media outlets in the UK were invited to document with carefully posed photography and professional lighting.

I want to look at the people at JK Rowling’s luxury party table from one particular photo in the Daily Mail in April 2022(above) and explain what might motivate them. Is there any genuine concern they could be expressing? What are the ambitions or objectives?

1 JK Rowling.

I remember reading the Harry Potter books as a young adult. I could understand this world JK Rowling created around a group of kids who felt like outsiders with something intrinsically different contained within them, who had to battle against all odds to self-actualise and eventually fight their demons. It made sense to me on a fundamental level. I was even sympathetic to some of Rowling’s ‘concerns’ myself at first. She talked about getting death threats for speaking her mind, which no one should have to endure. She seemed like some national treasure or surrogate mother to the kind of kids, like me, who love escapist fantasy worlds.

You will see people often ask, ‘what is it JK Rowling has said that is transphobic?’ which is a very duplicitous question seeking a simple answer. Until she states, ‘I hate trans people’ no response to this will pacify the little Twitter trolls who use her name as a dog whistle in their online profiles. ‘Standing with JKR’ isn’t about supporting an oppressed voice who is suffering indignity, it is about aligning with someone with 15 million followers and using her as the figurehead on a ship of fools to justify prejudice and validate an already narrow view of the world.

JK Rowling has drip-fed a steady stream of tweets, starting with what seemed like ‘genuine concerns about the use of language surrounding women/trans women and pronouns etc. One of her first tweets stated -

Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?

It all seemed very reasonable to the average reader, especially if you are unaware of who she is referring to or in what context these tweets are composed.

It was only 2 years later we see her sending a message of ‘big love’ to Caroline Farrow, a spokesperson for Citizen Go, an ultra-right-wing exclusionary Christian group with alleged Russian oligarch funding. Farrow is then featured on the Hearts of Oak podcast in April 2022, A collective of xenophobes initiated by Tommy Robinson, the rumour goes.

Over the last few years, Rowling has aligned herself with some of the most trans exclusionary voices in the UK. When those individuals and groups come to attack trans people on Twitter she has nothing to say in our defence, she is either blind to it or willfully ignorant, or more likely, she simply agrees with them.

How did she go from this tweet in June 2020-

“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so”

— to gleefully ignoring marches simultaneously in Brighton and Manchester, protesting a Conservative Party policy. A policy which would exclude trans people from a conversion therapy ban. Rowling’s luxury noshing and imbibing indulgence with her disciples was staged on the very same Easter weekend.

2 Suzanne Moore

In November 2020, after 338 follow Guardian Journalists and academics petitioned against Suzanne Moore for her increasingly trans-exclusionary stance, she decided to resign. We know the exact number because she subsequently published the list, presumably to make a stance against them. She has since conflated her criticism with the silence of women in the media. She has only become more prolific since.

In August 2020 Moore wrote a piece for The Guardian in which she stated-

‘’I will happily respect anyone’s pronouns, and I ask other people, too, to respect the language that defines my life in a female meat suit. Men are never spoken of as prostate owners, or vehicles for their penises or testicles. The fact is, when it comes to my appearance, I started wearing drag — makeup, heels, big hair — as soon as I knew that, in order to use my mind, I would have to appear on the outside entirely different to how I felt on the inside’’

This follows Rowling’s trait of drip-feeding her stance. First, the ‘I don’t have a problem with…’ which slowly descends into a very big ‘but’. Her interest in drag and body parts here is the first clue that 338 people might be right.

On 27th April 2022 Moore wrote a piece for the Telegraph entitled- If Stonewall doesn’t represent someone like Allison Bailey, then who is it for?

Here she sets out to portray Bailey as a survivor, freedom fighter and all-round champion of everything that is holy on the left, even citing her campaigning as a virtue which absolves her from any criticism.

Moore writes;

It must have been desperately lonely. Section 28, which was implemented in 1988, left gay teenagers with little support.

Interesting thing to bring up now when questions are being asked in parliament about the education of children around trans issues and the very same publication is happy to repeat and instil the same kind of fear in the electorate that they did in the 80s.

There is no doubt that this article is part of synchronised manoeuvring to coincide with Bailey’s hearing regarding her suing of Stonewall based on her trans-exclusionary view.

3 Julie Bindel

While Suzanne Moore might be careful what she says in the public arena, Julie Bindel is a much more straightforward operator. Her mode is very much more efficient in its attack and thankfully uses fewer words.

In March 2022 Bindel wrote an article for Unherd about a dangerous perpetrator named Harvey Marcelin. Marcelin is detailed in several reports as a ‘serial killer’ after it was revealed that three women were killed over a period of 60 years. In this article, Bindel links this to the Gender Recognition Act and how Self ID for trans people is somehow a present danger.

“It’s hard to deny that the practice of self-identification is increasingly open to abuse — in the UK, as well as in America. Only last week Baroness Nicholson broke the story of the rape of a woman in a female ward by a male-bodied transwoman, who had been allowed in the ward thanks to the acceptance by the NHS of self-identification”.

I’m not sure serial killers are writing to the home office or queuing for a form from the post office before enacting their abhorrent crimes, but it seems that in Julie Bindel’s mind, trans people are either already a danger to society or they are just that way when the government rubber stamps it. Either way the moral clamouring is clear, and her instinct to amalgamate trans people with the worst among us is disturbing.

The Baroness Nicholson she cites is a known anti-LGBT campaigner. She has famously conflated gay and lesbian people with a threat to children and recently proposed an amendment to the Health and Care Bill, which would exclude trans people from same-sex hospital wards.

4 Liane Timmermann.

Liane Timmermann is the figurehead for "Get The L Out", a fringe lesbian and feminist protest group which previously called for transgender people to be removed from the LGBT acronym. In 2018 GTLO staged a protest against ‘lesbian erasure’ with the focus being on the exclusion of trans and distancing themselves from the term ‘queer’ which they see as an affront to their identities as lesbians.

When asked for a quote in thegayuk.com after the incident they stated…

”We believe that lesbian rights are under attack by the trans movement and we encourage lesbians everywhere to leave the LGBT and form their own independent movement, as well as to be vocal and take action against the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act”.

Get The L Out seems like a strange name for an organisation hoping to get the T and Q out. If they wanted to get the ‘L’ out, no one is stopping them. There is obviously some confusion with what they think the Gender Recognition Act is. Do they believe people will stop being trans, nonbinary or just because there is no form to fill in or box to tick on application forms?

5 Helen Joyce

Helen Joyce, most famous for writing Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality (pub-July 2021). Before this, she expressed little interest in gender issues, and her background is in maths and geometry. Strange then, that she seems to have turned her attention to gender identities for the Economist as late as 2018.

She has a keen interest in fetishism which she can only ever see as a shameful thing, and she too and finds many duplicitous ways to weave the narrative into the implication that trans women are, yet again, some sort of threat to society. She clamours to conflate trans with sexual fetishism and in doing so reveals more about herself than anyone she proports to be describing.

“Moreover, autogynephiles often eroticise aspects of womanhood that most women dislike, such as menstruation, undergoing intimate medical examinations, experiencing sexism or wearing uncomfortable clothes. ‘Forced feminisation’ — someone making a man cross-dress or undergo sex-reassignment surgery — is a staple of transgender erotica.

After the dinner party she writes about the Twitter reaction in her blog

‘’I love annoying misogynists (both male and female) by simply existing.-I haven’t been monstered like many of the other women in the room, and I didn’t cry. But there have been many times since I first steeled myself to say what I really thought about the mad idea that men can be women that I have needed to cheer myself up’’

It must be difficult to hold back those emotions when you are amplified by the Daily Mail, a publication which seems to love featuring Rowling’s brave ‘feminists’ while simultaneously fumbling in its collective trousers over Angela Rayner’s legs or making excuses for politicians peering at pornography on mobile phones while at work.

6 Alison Bailey

Alison Bailey is the founder of LGB Alliance, a trans and non-binary exclusionary activist group started in 2019. In their short existence, they seem to have banked thousands of dollars while doing nothing at all of substance for their perceived Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual followers. They also seem to forget the Bisexuality in this equation by completely disregarding the fact trans people identify this way too.

I’ve tried to find evidence of community outreach or even funding for programmes they may have facilitated, but the only thing I’ve been able to find is a conference with a disco held in London at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre on 21st October 2021. Special guests included Graham Linehan, the comedy writer whose career has taken a steady nosedive after he compared doctors treating trans youth to Nazis on BBC Newsnight in February 2020. Also, making an appearance at the conference was a cardboard cut out of JK Rowling. Then at the same event an incident with Jen Ives, the UK’s premier trans comedian who caused trouble for both being there AND simply needing a wee in peace.

Bailey is currently raising money to sue Stonewall (hearing in progress at the time of writing) because she believes their stance to protect trans people through the Value System is an insult to her free speech. Bailey alleges that Stonewall was in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

It seems to boil down to her need to express her ‘protected belief’ that trans women are not women and her unwillingness to see trans as part of any discussion on gay/lesbian inclusion. She even asked in court that she refer to trans women as MEN and use incorrect pronouns!

Bailey wants the right to exclude trans women based on the idea that trans women are men and anyone arguing otherwise must be in error. It never seemed to occur to her that an organisation such as Stonewall might prefer not to have anything to do with such blatantly divisive values.

Bailey stated in September 2020 —

 “We are in a battle against fanatics who would have male boxers & rugby players lay waste to women‘s sports & safety & put rapists in women’s prisons, whilst harassing & trying to silence women who resist. We are not going to back down & we will triumph”.

She has never expressed any interest in fairness or parity in sports or prison reform for women unless she can filter it through her distorted lens of demonising trans people as an amorphous group and existential threat to society.

7 Maya Forstater

Maya Forstater is the founding partner for the lobby group, Sex Matters.

They describe themselves as having “a singular mission: to re-establish that sex matters in rules, laws, policies, language and culture”.

The premise is that if organisations cannot delineate based on biological sex, then abuses become a risk. There is lots of talk about ‘safeguarding’ on their website, particularly focusing on schools and education. The inference is that if trans people are mixed based on gender identity rather than sex this equates to risk. The website is full of fictional scenarios designed to build an argument against gender identity as the protected characteristic.

“A person’s sex can be a risk factor in abuse, particularly sexual abuse, both for perpetrators and people at risk of harm. Put bluntly, statistically female pupils are most at risk of being subjected to sexual abuse and males — whether pupils or staff — present a larger risk as perpetrators”.

Again, as with Bailey, there is no interest in the welfare of women or girls unless there is also the implication that trans people and already well-established employment laws are the focus of the problem.

In 2018 Forstater was working as a tax expert for the think tank Centre for Global Development. She received warnings on the basis of her trans-exclusionary stance in the workplace. Her contract was not renewed and she brought the case to court. She fundraised over £120,000 for it with the help of JK Rowling retweeting the #istandwithmaya hashtag. She lost her original employment tribunal case in 2019 with judge James Tayler concluding that she

 “had caused enormous pain by deliberately mis-gendering a trans person”.

In reality the only thing being argued is that Forstater has the right to her own beliefs. What she cannot do, however is use those beliefs to exclude someone or go against the consensus within a professional organisation. If someone refuses to correctly gender a person this is not only a problem for trans people, it is an issue for the employer and how they manage staff. This is not a case of ‘women standing up for rights’. It is an outlier being given a platform beyond their importance.

“becoming the acquired gender ‘for all purposes’ within the meaning of GRA [the Gender Recognition Act] does not negate a person’s right to believe, like the Claimant, that as a matter of biology a trans person is still their natal sex”

She ‘lost’ the first case then one on appeal of that. All she won, apart from the clarification of her ‘beliefs’ was the right to appeal her employment tribunal case for not having her contract renewed. The result of that is due later this month.

If Forstater wins, all she wins, in reality, is the right to her own view of the world which she always had. Her employer didn’t sack her in the first place. It seems they simply knew the position was untenable. Why would any public-facing organisation want the kind of person who is active on Twitter weaponising data against trans people as part of any team?

8 Kathleen Stock

Kathleen Stock was a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex. She joined the university in 2003 and has written on subjects as diverse as music, film, aesthetics and the human imagination. When she was honoured with an OBE in 2020, more than 600 fellow philosophers signed an open letter expressing concern for her trans-exclusionary views.

In 2021 A student campaign followed backed by the university union, but despite her stance being defended by the University Board, Stock found that her position was untenable. It seems she felt pressured to leave, and after it was brought to the house of commons, by MP Taiwo Owatemi that Stock was a trustee of Alison Bailey’s LGB Alliance, she took the decision to resign and on 28th October 2021, the university announced Stock’s resignation.

Stock’s book, Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism, was published in March 2021 and was pushed on the back of a ‘cancel culture’ promotional drive. The play on the Madonna song is interesting for its tackiness, but has no relation to its contents. As with Helen Joyce’s the book, it sets up arguments against gender identity and for the biological reality of individuals as the central defining element of being male or female. She cannot simply say she doesn’t believe that trans women are women or trans men are men; she has to clamour for a moral leverage in each of her eight chapters. In her thesis, trans people must always be presenting a problem for society in one capacity or another. It reads like a paranoid dystopia JG Ballard might think of if he were scared of fetishism rather than fascinated by it. Stock has no background or recognition in gender-based studies in her doctorate and considers this an advantage in her introduction to Material Girls.

It starts well enough…

Trans people deserve lives free from fear, they need laws that properly protect them from fear or violence. But as l will argue, laws and policies based on gender identify are not the right route

For a philosopher, she seems uninterested in the metaphysical and more entrenched in her version of the purely tangible, even to the point of suggesting that men and women feel pain differently based on sex or that we are reactive to different medicines based on our genitalia. It begs the question, does she think trans people don’t know what their biological realities are? Does she think we live in a collective delusion where we just believe our bodies are the same inside our minds as the outside?

Stock’s reaction to being criticised and the student protests is to equate it with bullying. She feels hounded out of her employment and has described childhood bullying at school.

“To be honest, I reacted by sort of dissociating myself from what was happening to me. I was incredibly passive and just kind of hoped it would go away. I didn’t have any fight in me at all. It was just so overwhelming and there all the time, with no escape.

We could all have some sympathy with that in the trans community, but unfortunately, she seems to enjoy redirecting that hurt outwardly. For Lesbian Day of Visibility this year via Twitter, she cited Magdalene Burns (someone the trans-exclusionary movement see as a hero and martyr due to her deeply entrenched pathological extremism) as “still the bravest, funniest, angriest and best”.

9 Angela Wild

Angela Wild prints T shirts and bumper stickers which JK Rowling seems to like.

10- Mystery woman on the left.

Maybe she just popped in for the 50 quid per bottle prosecco and pitted Pendolino olives from Tuscany. Who knows?

In conclusion.

Increasingly it seems to me that the people pictured at her soirée are in a battle with an enemy they have constructed for themselves, an enemy which is created and maintained mainly by online factions that have no genuine interest in facts or common ground, that wouldn’t give them any traction. 

Twitter isn’t set up for reasonable debate; the algorithm prefers the manufacture of conflict. As we know, Angry people click more. None of us in this debate are exempt from feeding this monster, but some are more complicit in spreading disinformation than others.

When these people try to tell you they are fighting from the ground up for women’s rights it is clear that this is a fallacy. They are amplified and promoted by the most influential media corporations in the world. 

I’m not exactly sure what motivates those ‘journalists’, but I know one thing for sure - it isn’t the protecting or safeguarding of vulnerable women or girls. The very same publications are silent on injustice directed at women on the margins of society and happy to promote a steady stream of misogyny, as they have done for years. They are only interested in feminism (fauxminism) when it can be weaponised against another vulnerable group or be cashed in on by riding another culture war wave.

They want to be seen as the scheming witches who are the victims of threats, when in actual reality, they are the puritans with pitch-forks. 

Witches with the backing of mulit-millionaire media moguls and their little attack dog hacks who are very willing to play along for a few scraps from the top table.

When the top story is always JK Rowling pretending to be a feminist at posh lunches, surrounding herself with people who are happily conflating trans women with killers, rapists and criminals, it allows people to look the wrong way. 

Perpetrators like nothing more than people looking the wrong way. 

It’s what allows someone such as Wayne Couzens to go unchecked for so long. These people are part of the problem, they are the patriarchy and oppressors turning a blind eye to real injustice in favour of a soft target.

I am hopeful. 

Young people no longer care about JK Rowling and her crazy wizard school, they are too busy dancing to Kim Petras’ Slut Pop on TikTok and generally having a great time. 

They haven’t got time for this nonsense. I want to protect them from it, but we also have to keep our eyes on people who want to strip back our hard-fought rights.

When Rowling tried to hijack #LesbianVisibilityWeek this April, the author of the hashtag and lifelong gay rights campaigner, Linda Riley wrote,

“Wow! I certainly did not create Lesbian Visibility Week so that people like Rowling could use it as a vehicle to stir up more hate within our community”.

I feel somewhat betrayed by JK Rowling because I’m into all that wizard and dragons stuff, but we all have to grow up I suppose and l have to get on with life.

So, in the words of Emma Watson- I’m here for ALL the witches!

 

Authored and opinion by Freda Wallace.

May 2nd 2022


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