J.K. Rowling Defends Controversial Comments, Says She's a Sexual Assault Survivor

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling penned a personal essay in defense of her controversial tweets and shared that she is a sexual assault survivor.
By emily belfiore Jun 10, 2020 8:10 PMTags
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J.K. Rowling is defending her controversial comments.

On Wednesday, the Harry Potter author penned a personal essay in defense of her transphobic tweets. In the piece, she also shared that she is a survivor of sexual assault.

"This isn't an easy piece to write, for reasons that will shortly become clear, but I know it's time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity. I write this without any desire to add to that toxicity," she began. "I've met trans people, and read sundry books, blogs and articles by trans people, gender specialists, intersex people, psychologists, safeguarding experts, social workers and doctors, and followed the discourse online and in traditional media."

As she continued, Rowling shared her beliefs, citing that she is "concerned" about "the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning."

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She later added, "I've wondered whether, if I'd been born 30 years later, I too might have tried to transition. The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge."

Speaking to her controversial tweets, where she voiced her upset at the phrase "people who menstruate" while sharing an opinion article from a global health website titled "Creating a More Equal Post-COVID-19 World for People Who Menstruate," Rowling insisted that such "inclusive language" is "hostile" towards women. 

"But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman' is not a costume. ‘Woman' is not an idea in a man's head. ‘Woman' is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive," she wrote. "Moreover, the ‘inclusive' language that calls female people ‘menstruators' and ‘people with vulvas' strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who've had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it's not neutral, it's hostile and alienating." 

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Rowling then went on to detail her past with domestic abuse and sexual assault, explaining how the trauma of surviving those experiences has shaped her feelings about women's rights and trans issues. 

"I've been in the public eye now for over twenty years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor," she wrote. "I have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor. This isn't because I'm ashamed those things happened to me, but because they're traumatic to revisit and remember." 

"I'm mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who've been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces," she continued. "The scars left by violence and sexual assault don't disappear, no matter how loved you are, and no matter how much money you've made."

Related: Katie Leung Seemingly Responds to J.K. Rowling's Transphobic Tweets

She also shared, "I have a visceral sense of the terror in which those trans women will have spent their last seconds on earth, because I too have known moments of blind fear when I realised that the only thing keeping me alive was the shaky self-restraint of my attacker." 

Concluding her essay, she asked her fans and critiques to exercise more empathy to all in the future. "The last thing I want to say is this. I haven't written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one," she said. "All I'm asking – all I want – is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse."