J.K. Rowling and The Chamber of Terfdom.

I’m going to be 27 by the time 2020 comes to a close and as someone who is firmly in the millennial category, the whole universe of Harry Potter has been a fixture in both my childhood and my adult life. As a kid I remember my dad taking time out from his taxi driving job on a Friday night so he could join the queues at my hometown’s sole bookshop to be one of the first to obtain the new Harry Potter book.

The first time I remember going to the cinema was in 2001 to see the first Harry Potter film and I remember my excitement to see the story on the big screen as a seven year old boy shivering outside the tiny, two screen cinema that was in the big town about a half hour’s drive from our house. I remember how magical it was to escape into that world and I remember the messages of overcoming adversity resonating with my young self, being the only boy in the class with cerebral palsy and having to wear brightly coloured leg splints and having daily sessions of physiotherapy.

In my teenage years, I retreated away from this world and dove full throttle into the worlds of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P Lovecraft, B-movies, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and 1980s slasher horror films. I believe these campy, macabre worlds were probably linked to the love my childhood self had for the kitchy, campy, creepy world of Harry Potter. As I approached my twenties and got diagnosed with a bipolar spectrum disorder, the world of my childhood provided much needed comfort at a time where I was experiencing frequent episodes of depression and psychosis whilst trying to complete a degree in English and live on my own for the very first time. Even during the current COVID-19 pandemic, one of my coping mechanisms at the beginning of lockdown was to watch a Harry Potter film on Saturday night by candlelight whilst eating Chinese takeaway.

All of this means that I was deeply disappointed by Rowling’s recent tweets that parroted the TERF talking points about “sex-based rights” and her absolute revulsion against the term “people who menstruate”. The damaging implications of sex essentialism have been documented on this blog and many others and I shall not repeat those same points. However, it says a lot that the world’s first billionaire author decides to use her time during a global pandemic and an uprising against state-sanctioned racism to further marginalise and vilify one of the most oppressed groups of people on this planet.

As a response to the criticism and fury she received on Twitter from trans people, queer people and their allies, she decided to write a 3,600 word essay on her blog. I’m not going to link it here because I do not wish to befoul this blog with transphobic rhetoric but it’s very easy to find if you want to read it; although, I would advise that it is very intense and it will probably be quite an upsetting read. I cried tears of rage reading it and I cried for the trans youth that I work with as a youth worker for a local LGBTQ+ charity.

In the essay, Rowling provides a narrative of her life in the early 1990s before Harry Potter exploded into our cultural consciousness. She frankly and openly talks about being a survivor of severe domestic and sexual abuse. As a sexual abuse survivor, I empathise with her and I do hope that she has been able to access the support needed to be able to process the trauma she has experienced.

The question that remains, however, is why did she choose this moment to speak about it? It plays into the unfounded, deeply bigoted caricature of trans women being men who just want to pose as women so they can sexually assault women in public bathrooms. When we look at the reality, we see that in the 21 countries which have introduced self-ID for trans people to change their birth certificates, none have reported an increase in sex crimes as a result. We can also look at several US States, the most notable being North Carolina, where bathroom bills were introduced and we see an increase in assaults being perpetrated against trans people in bathrooms and an increase in those same assaults against cisgender people who present in a gender nonconforming manner.

It is also important to consider that one of the “leaders” of the TERF movement, the increasingly irrelevant and deplorable former Labour Party hack that is Linda Bellos is actually on film saying that she would beat up a trans woman if she happened to be in the same bathroom as her. Approximately every 72 hours, a trans person is murdered somewhere in the world because of their gender identity and by playing into myths and caricatures, JK Rowling has put those people at increased risk.

Rowling also moves onto the topic of incels. Incels, for the record, are men who believe that they are owed the right to sex just because they happen to be male. They are angry that women choose not to sleep with them and several incels have gone on to commit murders of those women. They also harbour a hatred for the men that they see as stealing their opportunities to pursue the women that they wish to sleep with. Elliot Rodger murdered six people in California back in 2014 as “retribution” for his lack of sexual experience and activity.

In 2018, Alek Minassian murdered 10 people in a vehicle-ramming attack in downtown Toronto to instigate an “incel rebellion” and had written several internet posts praising Elliot Rodger. Many incels look at the Ecole Polytechnique massacre of 1989 as a positive thing and something to be inspired by. In this massacre, Marc Lepine burst into an engineering class, forced the men and women in the room to stand on opposite sides and shoot all six women there. He then rampaged for a further twenty minutes, killing eight more women before killing himself. His motive was to “fight feminism”.

Rowling will be acutely aware of how horrific these events are and how the state does not take violence against women seriously enough. Again, we have to question her motives around bringing up these issues in this particular moment. It is morally abhorrent and repugnant of her and her supporters to link trans people and their allies to incels. I’m a cisgender man but I stand with trans people who are just trying to live their lives as their authentic selves and be recognised as such. We are not murdering women to further this cause and we are not terrorists. We simply believe in human rights and in bodily autonomy. She should be ashamed of herself for insinuating that there is anything linking us to the incels and it proves that her interpretation of feminism is fundamentally and objectively wrong.

The final part of her essay I wish to address is where she talks about “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD). ROGD is a pseudoscientific term used by the TERFs and their allies to try and explain away the large increase of young people seeking help and support with their gender identity. They like to blame a plethora of things for this which include but are not limited to; Japanese anime, tumblr, YouTube and autism. There is a link between being autistic and being transgender but that link is being actively researched by experts in the fields of neuroscience, neuropsychology and cognitive psychology and will probably take a long time to come to any semblance of a conclusion. On the other hand, ROGD has seemingly been invented in a chat room on Mumsnet.

As a youth worker who is directly working with these young people, I can confidently say that ROGD is baseless and unfounded. Young people have access to the internet and they are able to learn about gender outside of a Eurocentric viewpoint. Young people have always explored their gender identity but it is only now that they have the tools and the vocabulary to be able to do so fully. Do I think that every single one of my young people who identify as transgender is going to end up transitioning as an adult? Possibly, possibly not. In spite of that, it is important that young people are able to access the support and guidance that they need whilst exploring their gender identity.

They need compassionate and empathic people around them especially as 80% of trans young people will self harm and about half will attempt suicide. These young people are very vulnerable in a world where transgender people are treated as though they are the lowest class of citizen and by using ROGD as an excuse to explain all this away, Rowling and her allies are creating moral panic reminiscent of the moral panic around gay men in the 1980s and 1990s. It is this kind of language that causes governments to enact legislation like Section 28 that will damage a whole generation of young people.

I do not believe that JK Rowling is an inherently hateful person because a hateful person could not have written the Harry Potter series which is essentially an antifascist parable; despite its use of questionable antisemitic and racial stereotypes. What I believe is, like many women who grew up in second wave feminism, JK Rowling is using her platform to try and stay relevant in a culture that has long since moved on. I also believe that she has possibly been radicalised by the likes of Linda Bellos and Graham Lineham on Twitter. Rowling does not need to indulge in this desperate attempt to remain culturally relevant as Harry Potter has become a permanent and ubiquitous fixture of popular culture. People come from around the world just to have their pictures taken at Kings Cross Station where they’ve set up the entrance to Platform nine and three-quarters.

Rowling has often tried to pander to us LGBTQ+ folks, wildly announcing that certain characters in the series are LGBTQ+ when no hint of that was given in the original stories. It is this that makes her latest outbursts beyond offensive. She has used our community to make money and royalties for herself whilst throwing the most vulnerable people in our community under the Hogwarts Express.

I still love those stories of my childhood and I am taking relative comfort in Barthes’ The Death of the Author to take some sort of ownership of those stories and to separate them from a woman I once admired. Her following is large but the loudest voices in that following are the minority and many of the actors who brought those stories to life have expressed their unequivocal support for transgender people. We will win this fight and we must stand in solidarity with our trans siblings, always.

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”

– Albus Dumbeldore

Paul Haw

You couldn’t make it up.

It would appear that that Evil Ollie Letwin the arrogant, two-faced, racist, old-etonian advocate of austerity, privatisation and robber-baron capitalism, has re-invented himself as the radical conscience of the tory party!

Liberals have short memories.

Rioting, Legislation and Estate Demolition: A Chronology of Social Cleansing in London, 1999-2019

Architects for Social Housing

Mounted police charge Poll Tax demonstrators in Trafalgar Square, London, 1991

‘We show respect to everyone — to each other, the general public and to the government and police. We engage in no violence, physical or verbal.’

— Extinction Rebellion

1990  Did the UK Poll Tax demonstrations in 1990 mark a watershed in the relations between governments and crowds? Certainly not in the violence used by the former. The troops of baton-wielding police who rode their horses into the packed crowds on Trafalgar Square were the same who charged the picket lines of striking miners at the Orgreave coke plant in 1984. And certainly not in the lies the government used afterwards to justify that violence. What Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher denounced as ‘Marxist agitators and militants’ using the Poll Tax demonstrations for their own political ends echoed her description of the 1981 uprising in Brixton against unemployment, cuts to public spending and police racism as a ‘fiesta of crime, looting and rioting in the guise of social protest’ — with both demonstrations subsequently imprinted on public perception as ‘riots’. Perhaps the difference, then, was that, where the violent suppression of the miners’ strike and the Brixton protests that spread across the UK had little impact on Thatcher’s reign, the Poll Tax demonstrations are credited with bringing down a Prime Minister who had ruled over Britain for 13 years.

What it didn’t end, however, was

More

Red And Black Telly: THE STOKE CENTRAL AND COPELAND BY-ELECTIONS.

Letwin disgrace: well we all knew he was a fascist.

Letwin disgrace

Something else to add to his delightful C.V.

The Guardian: Oliver Letwin blocked help for black youth after 1985 riots

 

Oliver Letwin M.P.

Some constituents in Bridport have made a video about their M.P. and would like you to share it as widely as possible, ta.

A brief biography of ‘Evil Oliver’ Letwin, M.P. for West Dorset:

When asked about his membership of the Cambridge University Liberal club he explained: “I was also a member of the Fabian Society. But I am sorry to have to tell you that this was because I was interested in the thoughts of Liberals and Fabians … rather than because I was ever a Liberal Democrat or a Fabian.” – The technical term is ‘hypocrite’.

In 1988, with John Redwood he published a pamphlet entitled Britain’s biggest enterprise; his blueprint for selling the NHS. Both of these MPs were directors of NM Rothschild Corporate Finance Ltd‘s international privatisation unit. Letwin remained a director until December 2009, being paid £60,000 a year for an eight-hour week whilst he devised Tory party policies in line with their corporate agenda.

In 2001 Letwin failed to live up to his name when he ballsed up Hague’s election campaign by telling the Financial Times that the party would slash public spending by £20 billion a year. They hid him until after the election

Later in 2001, as Shadow Home Secretary he was credited with forcing the Home Secretary to withdraw his proposal to introduce an offence of incitement to religious hatred.

In 2004 Letwin  told a group of economists that it would be “irrational” to tell voters by how much he wanted to cut public spending. He later astonished a gathering of construction industry representatives in his constituency by saying that within five years of a Conservative election victory “the NHS will not exist anymore”, according to one of those who were present.

Between 2004-2009 Letwin claimed claimed more than £80,000 in parliamentary expenses for a cottage in Somerset.

In 2009, according to the daily Telegraph, he was induced to repay a bill for £2,145 for replacing a leaking pipe under his tennis court.

In October 2011, the arrogant twat dumped a pile of his constituents’ personal letters  in public bins in St. James’s Park – how fucking rude! If he was going to breach their confidentiality he could at least have done it in Dorset.

In 2012 by e-mail to Terry Stewart, president of the Dorset branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England Letwin said:

“I anticipate that subsidies for both solar photovoltaic and onshore wind will come down to zero over the next few years and should have disappeared by 2020”

Along with his colleague, Richard Grosvenor-Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax M.P. for South Dorset, whose family introduced slavery to the Caribbean and made their fortune from brutal sugar plantations, he is a vociferous opponent of wind farms, mainly on cosmetic grounds. Despite campaigning for the abolition of renewable energy subsidies, Drax will now cash in on a 174 acre solar installation on his vast estate, over the heads of 500 local objectors. If ever a piece of land was paid for by the blood of the working class, it is the 7,000-acre Charborough house, surrounded by what is known locally as ‘the Great Wall of Dorset’

In July 2014 he told a meeting of right-wing think-tank Politeia that an improvement in the economy would open the way for a flat tax rate, so that preposterously wealthy toffs like him (and most of the cabinet) would pay the same rate as us.

Here are some of Ollie’s replies to e-mails, on his own website, in which he supports fracking, foxhunting, raising the pension age for fire-fighters and the transport of live animals for slaughter. He also expresses the opinion that legal controls on dog breeding are adequate (he says he hasn’t got time to attend the debate, sorry) and implies that the education secretary Michael Gove knows what he’s doing!

More info:

The Dorset Health Campaign

Journal of the Royal College of Physicians: Opening the oyster: the 2010–11 NHS reforms in England

Recipe for Ruin: TTIP the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Why do politicians tell us Debt/Deficit myths which they must know to be untrue?

Roll of dishonour, M.P.s with their hands in the N.H.S. till.

Autonomy Films presents – Political fiction author event, Bridport, Sunday 12th October 2014

 

futuresFUTURES: Commodities, cocaine and the City under Thatcher

John Barker reads from his new novel and discusses the role of political fiction.

John Barker served time for his political activities in the 1970s, described in his prison memoirs Bending the Bars.

With his new hard-boiled novel Futures, set in the cynical money-hungry world of Thatcher’s London, Barker asks whether fiction can be more immediate and effective than non-fiction in raising political issues.

Sunday 12th October 2014 7.15pm for 7.30pm start at THE GEORGE (in the Snug), South Street, Bridport (opposite the Town Hall). (NOTE DIFFERENT DAY AND VENUE) FREE if you buy a coffee or drink at THE GEORGE. BOOKS FOR SALE

EVENTS ORGANISED BY OTHERS

Wednesday  8th October  8 am

Join the Dorset Health Campaigners  to make your views known whilst inside the building the Clinical Commissioning Group makes the decision about the selling of the Dorchester Hospital Pathology Dept. Outside the Children’s Centre at Dorchester Hospital

Saturday 11th October All morning

Join the  day of action to raise public awareness of TTIP,  Transantlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, the secret US-EU deal being hatched which will give multinationals power over sovereign governments.  They will be able to sue governments that make decisions against their interests, e.g. US pharma giant Eli Lilly is currently suing the Canadian government for $500m  for trying to stop using their drugs.  More details online from 38 Degrees.

Dorchester outside Tesco’s,
Bridport location t.b.a.

Saturday 18th October (Same day as London Anarchist Bookfair) National ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ demo in London organised by TUC.
Assemble 11am on the Embankment near Blackfriars, dept. 12pm for rally in Hyde Park.

Wednesday 29th October  7.30 pm

Meeting of the 1912 Bridport Wildcats project Planning for a re-enacted costume photograph and commemorative bench for the women wildcat strikers of 1912.  Come and put your name down if you want to take part in the event in February.

At The Avenue (next to Costa), West Street, Bridport
 
Saturday 1st November all morning

Music, singing, and performance of locally-produced cartoon play about the NHS and privatization.

Bucky-Doo Square, Bridport

Martin on Thatcher’s demise.

“You get better riots under the conservatives.”

Day of action in memory of Dead Thing.

Trafalgar

A group of us travelled up to London to attend the ‘thatcher’s dead’ party called by Class War about a decade ago. During the day we divided ourselves between UK Uncut’s ‘bedroom tax’ action at Lord Fraud’s house and North London SolFed’s workfare pickets in Wood Green.

On the lawn at Iain Duncan Smith’s & down Lord Freud’s street – Report by Anarchist Federation

The workfare pickets continued both SolFed’s campaign against Poundland and supported Bristol AFed’s new initiative against Homebase; we were able to have some interesting conversations with staff and customers. The area is stricken by the government’s austerity programme with the crappiest jobs imaginable drawing hundreds of applicants. People here are in absolutely no doubt what is being done to them, why, and by whom. Homebase pickets were simultaneously conducted in Bristol and Bath.

I was going to buy something – but fuck it! Bristol Solidarity Federation.

Meanwhile in Bournemouth: Bournemouth Uncut took on the Tory MP’s and councillors of Bournemouth and Poole this weekend for their “Who wants to evict a millionaire?” action. Their homes were dressed as crime scenes with yellow markers, crime scene tape, evidence bags with ‘blood’ soaked cotton buds, and some lovely eviction notices. Some of the lucky recipients of our crime scenes were Robert Syms MP, John Beesley of Bournemouth Council, and other usual suspects like May Haines, Carol Evans, Ann Stibley, Mike White and Peter Pawlowski. At a time that people are facing losing their homes due to the bedroom tax, we thought it high time those architects of misery felt (for a few seconds) what it would be like to face eviction from their own homes. Very nice homes indeed…with plenty of spare bedrooms.

eviction 1-page1

On to Trafalgar square, a picture circulated on twitter showing the square fenced off and surrounded by police proved to be bogus, trying to put us off? Not a hope, even the rain couldn’t do that, the vibe was joyful and good-natured, and solidarity was palpable. During the course of the evening a steady 3000 revellers divided their time between the square and surrounding pubs. A few incidents of  police misbehaviour were swiftly and efficiently dealt with by the crowd, who had to clear them all out of the way from time to time; similarly, a smattering of fascists showed up to spoil the fun and got battered for their trouble. It’s worth pointing out that we can do this perfectly well without the ‘vanguard’ of press photographers that hurl themselves into the fray at the first hint of bother.

Of course this was not just about celebrating the death from natural causes of some demented old fascist (what was her name again?) who was admired in some circles for doggedly sticking to her principles of greed, self-interest and disdain for anyone who didn’t share her precise ethnic origins and social prejudices. Many present had their own lives blighted by the Dead Thing and had good reason to gloat; but far more importantly this was a positive affirmation of our determination to bury her mean-spirited ideology with her.

We, the working class will do this, we have no faith whatsoever in political or industrial representation, our future is in our hands, as the hangovers fade, let’s get organised!

That Trafalgar thing: Amila Bosnae

Thatcher Death Party, UK Uncut and DPAC Make It Personal – Johnny Void

Thatcher’s grave set to become largest outdoor toilet in Europe.