J.K. Rowling worked on Harry Potter in Edinburgh cafes, while she and her daughter were living on unemployment. She was given the pen name J.K. She wrote under the name Robert Galbraith. It’s a man’s world. It should come as no surprise that Rowling would be willing to tell the truth, even if it means facing a mob of enraged village people shouting ‘burn the witch!’
“I quite like J.K. … I think I — I wouldn’t have chosen it… But I was so grateful to be published, if they told me to call myself Rupert, I probably would have done to be honest with you.” —Rowling, CNN
Once again, male-run media has slammed J.K. Rowling. Her crime this time? Liking a tweet defending the lesbian community. The tweet in question was written by Stonewall veteran, Fred Sargeant, who founded the first ever Pride March, back in 1970, along with Craig Rodwell, and lesbian activists, Ellen Broidy and Linda Rhodes.
In an article titled J.K. Rowling likes another anti-transgender tweet, Muri Assunção, of the Daily News, writes, “In fewer than 280 characters, Sargeant managed to belittle and misgender Drummond, a transgender woman who’s a constant target of anti-trans rhetoric for her defiance of preconceived notions of what a trans woman should look like.”
Alex Drummond, an advisor at Stonewall (UK), “the most influential LGBT lobbying organisation in Britain,” claims to be “widening the bandwidth of how to be a woman” and a “lesbian,” and even goes into schools to educate children on the matter.
In an article titled We guess J.K. Rowling has had another ‘middle-aged moment’, because she’s been caught liking hideously transphobic tweets again, Nick Duffy of PinkNews writes, “this week the multimillionaire has been caught liking a message [by Fred Sergeant]…” (as if Nick is about to call the cops).
The video below, by lesbian feminist vlogger, Magdalen Berns, provides a run down (full length video here), but points to larger issues—frustrations with appropriation, loss of autonomy, censorship and the resulting harm.
“Stonewall UK… your fucking minds are so open, your brains have fallen out. Lesbians exist, and this is not it. You do not represent us. You are absolute fucking treacherous money-taking bastards.”
The push to redefine “lesbian,” the loss of autonomy, and the ripple effect that comes with it, is something I’ve written about many times.
In fact, when I wrote about it in a 2017 article for Huffington Post, Co-opting the L: Homophobia & The Thought Police, the article was promoted and then quickly demoted the next day, after men’s rights activists read between the lines and decoded what I’d written. It’s still up, but it’s been buried and is no longer searchable without a link.
The idea that a woman would have to write in code in order to have her voice heard in mainstream media seems crazy, right? Well, at the time, that’s exactly what needed to be done to sneak my words past the iron gates of the left mainstream. Especially as a lesbian.
Even within so-called “lesbian” mainstream publications (of which there are just a few remaining), this has been an issue. It all circles back to money and where the money comes from.
Each click encourages media to carry on this way. If you want to change things, one small way to make a dent is to stop clicking on those articles (funding comes from the ads). For alternatives to accessing the articles—so you can still stay informed—check out the replies of the following:
The difference between how male-run media frames females vs. males is glaring.
Below, lesbian feminist vlogger, Arielle Scarcella, points out that she was labeled “transphobic” (over a joke), while—in the same publication, in the same week—trans influencer, Naoufal Moussa, isn’t labeled “homophobic” (after calling for the hunting down and outing of gay men on social media, causing death, death threats, suicide, and evictions in Morocco, where being gay is illegal).
Not a lot of men are jumping to stand up for us either.
That said, a small number of men, like Sargeant, have been coming forward, and that allyship is invaluable. Why would we need men to elevate our voices? you may ask.
The censorship of women’s voices in male-dominated media isn’t a new problem. Nor is biased media coverage. And unfortunately, men still have to ride in on a white horse and say it first before anyone will listen. The socialization that perpetuates this problem runs deep.
Abby Haglage, reports that a study published in the American Sociological Review found men made up a whopping 82 percent of media coverage. The article, titled Media Is Still for Men, by Men, was last updated in 2017, just 3 months after my article, Co-opting the L: Homophobia & The Thought Police, was demoted.
If you really want to understand why media coverage is as it is, look to our history for the answer.
If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend the movie Suffragette, a movie detailing what women had to do, just 100 years ago, in order to get permission to vote—highlighting how media’s refusal to cover the issues, was one of the biggest obstacles to change.
Previously, media dragged Rowling’s name when she backed up a woman (one of so many) who faced employment consequences after publicly acknowledging that biological sex is real.
Back in December of 2019, those headlines were over the same issue—a woman’s right to tell the truth without repercussions. A woman’s right to say something when she’s being forced to lie. But there are far worse consequences to going along with the lies.
At one of the few “lesbian” publications remaining, I, not too long ago, discovered they had just one lesbian writer on their staff. People like Drummond take lesbians’ seats at the table. They become the “lesbian” voice.
This is how autonomy, of one of the most subjugated groups, becomes lost. This is how a young lesbian reads an article telling her that lesbians should carry condoms for “PIV [penis in vagina] sex,” and is groomed to think it’s the norm.
And this loss of autonomy doesn’t just apply to lesbians (as Rowling brought attention to this time), it applies to women in general (as Rowling has brought attention to in the past).
Do not despair… When I first started speaking up there were a whole lot of tumbleweeds, avatars, and very few other women willing to step forward and say #fuckfear. Women were understandably scared—for their families, their jobs, their safety, their ability to provide… After all, look at what happens when you speak up. Women have always been controlled through dominance and fear of consequence.
But the tide is changing…
Now men are starting to speak up more and more, groups like LGB Alliance have formed, and women in positions of power, like J.K. Rowling, are braving the storm… all to elevate the voices of women. Because that is what it takes for women to be heard.
جوليا ديانا — Julia Diana Robertson, is an award-winning author, and journalist—A first generation Arab-American, who grew up between worlds, and currently resides somewhere in the middle with a bird’s eye view.