Stories of women being subjected to abuse from extreme trans activists no longer have the power to shock. We have grown used to gender critical academics having urine thrown at their office doors or needing bodyguards to accompany them to lectures simply for defending women’s sex-based rights. We watched as Kathleen Stock was hounded out of her Professorship at the University of Sussex.
JK Rowling has long been a target for the woke mob. She has questioned the erasure of the word “woman” and, recalling her own past experience of domestic abuse, argued that women need access to single sex spaces. In response, she is routinely sent graphic rape threats and has received “enough death threats to paper [her] home”.
This week, the Harry Potter author has reminded us why we must never turn a blind eye to the abuse faced by women who speak out in defence of their sex.
Three activists staged a protest outside Rowling’s family home. They photographed their antics and posted the pictures — which exposed the address — on social media. Revealing such details online, a practice known as “doxxing”, is a tactic employed by activists apparently intent on spreading fear.
Learning that someone wants to kill you is horrific. Online threats are often anonymous and can, with effort, be rationalised away. But when your address is made public, death threats become terrifyingly real. Suddenly, it is not just you being targeted but your family, the people you most love and want to protect.
Rowling has spoken of watching, “appalled” as women such as Marion Miller, Rosie Duffield, Joanna Cherry, and many others with no public profile, have been harassed and abused by extreme trans activists. “None of these women are protected in the way I am,” Rowling has said. “They and their families have been put into a state of fear and distress for no other reason than that they refuse to uncritically accept that the socio-political concept of gender identity should replace that of sex.”
Rowling is right. A hardcore fringe of trans activists are waging a scurrilous campaign of intimidation and abuse designed to frighten women into submission. They want to silence critics and will, it seems, stop at nothing to make women shut up. Rarely has free speech been so explicitly threatened.
The mob’s censorious campaign is successful because, as Rowling points out, their threats have an impact that extends far beyond the relatively small number of high profile women targetted. Activists who engage in doxxing and harassment send a message to all women tempted to speak out: you could be next. Criticise the shibboleths of the trans movement, question whether a man becomes a woman just by declaring himself to be female, and you too could lose your job, have your privacy invaded and be subjected to abuse.
Rowling is fortunate that her books give her an independent source of income and allow her to buy a degree of protection. Most women are not that lucky. So it is hardly surprising that, in the face of such intimidation, many women choose to remain silent even when their rights are being eroded and the safety of vulnerable women may be at risk. As silence is, by definition, unquantifiable, we simply do not know how many people feel unable to speak freely about sex and gender.
Activists may have failed to intimidate Rowling and Stock, but they have been successful in chilling public debate. They ensure that whenever issues are up for discussion, it is their voices that are heard most loudly. Despite employing aggressive tactics, they present themselves as victims in need of legal affirmation, protection, rights and resources. To question the assumptions of the trans activists is to be heartless and unsympathetic: “be kind” comes their hypocritical retort.
The recent celebrations of the twentieth anniversary of the Harry Potter film franchise have shown that JK Rowling risks being written out of her own famous creation. A London school has dropped ‘Rowling’ as a house name. This is a terrible pity. Rowling’s fortitude, bravery and dignity make her a perfect role model for children. Her refusal to be silenced offers a lesson to us all in how to respond to censorious, abusive woke mobs.