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JK Rowling’s sexual-abuse revelation is timed to deflect from her ‘transphobia’ – and, by #MeToo logic, it should’ve worked

Jason O’Toole
Jason O’Toole

Jason O’Toole is an author of several best-selling books who has worked as a senior feature writer for the Irish Daily Mail, a columnist with the Irish Sunday Mirror and senior editor of Hot Press magazine.

Jason O’Toole is an author of several best-selling books who has worked as a senior feature writer for the Irish Daily Mail, a columnist with the Irish Sunday Mirror and senior editor of Hot Press magazine.

JK Rowling’s sexual-abuse revelation is timed to deflect from her ‘transphobia’ – and, by #MeToo logic, it should’ve worked
Had the Harry Potter author opened up about her experience of historical sex abuse and domestic violence before, she’d surely have won widespread support. Does the silence she’s received now mark the death of the #MeToo movement?

I certainly wouldn’t do JK Rowling the great disservice of comparing her recent actions to pen such a confessional essay to that of the sleazy actor Kevin Spacey coming out as gay in a desperate and very crass attempt to shift the narrative of his sordid scandal.

Nevertheless, I’ve no doubt that Rowling intentionally revealed it in an effort to seek sympathy and put a stop to the ongoing backlash she’s being on the end of, thanks to her contentious comments on gender identity earlier this week, when she was denounced as being “anti-trans” for posting a tweet mocking an article that referred to “people who menstruate” rather than “women”.

A lie is a lie,” as the Haim sisters sing on the opening track of their superb new album, due for release at the end of this month, which I’m coincidentally listening to right this second as I type this up. And no matter how she attempts to spin it, Rowling told a big whopper in her controversial 3,600-word transgender essay when she wrote, “I'm mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy.” Really? That’s total BS.

After 20-odd years in the limelight, she is certainly not naïve enough to believe that dropping some sensational bombshells out of the blue like this wouldn’t garner huge media coverage, because it obviously would and did. It was splashed across the front pages of several UK papers on Thursday, with the Daily Mail running with the headline, “My domestic abuse and sex assault hell by JK Rowling.

Come on, JK! We all know it was done solely in a vain attempt to distract the irate keyboard warriors and hopefully give everybody a guilt trip. It’s the oldest trick in the book called the Dark Art of Spin, and it’s disingenuous of you to claim otherwise.

But whether I’m right and she tried to invoke them on purpose or not, this was where #MeToo was supposed to kick in. However, in her case, there was just silence… followed by another round of online ire as she faced “a fierce backlash” on social media. The questionable pity-me tactic “backfired” on her, as the Daily Mirror put it.

You wouldn’t need to be Einstein to see the online attacks restarting, but I was taken aback by the eerie silence of the once-powerful #MeToo movement. Why have they failed to come out in support of Rowling in her hour of need?

It would’ve been unthinkable two years ago for a celebrity to step out of the shadows like this without them being hailed by #MeToo – never mind suffering any criticism for doing so without facing their great ire.

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With Tara Reade’s recent claims against Joe Biden being met with a wall of silence, it was already starting to become clear that the liberals and their media supporters were conveniently forgetting their once strongly held view of “believe all women” – an axiom even once uttered by the US presidential candidate himself.

But the lack of response from the #MeToo crowd about Rowling brings into question whether or not this movement that radically shook things up is now, once and for all, officially dead. It certainly looks like it, because #MeToo was most definitely on its last legs when the actress Rose McGowan recently tweeted her unease about Biden’s nomination and nobody batted an eyelid. That, it seems, was its death rattle – and Rowling’s statement was the final nail in its coffin, it appears.

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There’s no disputing that the #MeToo movement was a hugely significant moment with some notable scalps, like the repulsive Harvey Weinstein, getting his just deserts. But I’ve always been very uneasy with alleged rapists being publicly named on social media without proper due process taking place first.

Even Samantha Geimer, who has been known all her life simply as “The Girl”, after she was raped at the age of 13 by the film director Roman Polanski, once told me herself that even she had concerns about #MeToo.

During an in-depth interview in May 2018 that lasted well over three hours, Samantha said: “I don’t really think it should be used to take down celebrities. We’re trying to get equal wages and equal rights, and to end a society where sexual harassment is tolerated. So, I feel trying to take out Woody Allen or Roman Polanski or James Franco, it’s like, ‘Hey! Focus! We’re trying to make the world better for women, and being mean to celebrities – that’s not it…’ Listening to everybody who wants to say, ‘Al Franken touched my waist’. OK, just stop! Let’s move forward. If it just turns into a weapon to use against celebrities and politicians, then that’s pretty sad. I think all this celebrity-bashing is a distraction, and it’s not really nice.”

READ MORE: TERF war: How a tweet from JK Rowling exposed the militant intolerance of the trans lobby

Geimer also agreed with me that victims should exhaust all legal channels, rather than making a song and dance about it all on social media. “Go to court – otherwise don’t be accusing people of things and expecting dire consequences when you’ve never bothered to prove it. That sounds kind of s****y – I’m sorry. We’re having #MeToo now, so every single celebrity is going to have a bunch of people talk about stuff they did 20 and 30 years ago. OK, it’s probably true – I don’t know. But who’s this helping?

She added: “I don’t think #MeToo should be a weapon. We should be strong, moving forward, stopping abusive treatment. If you’re using it as a weapon to take people out, over stuff that happened maybe a while back or a long time back, I don’t see the value in that. #MeToo is not supposed to be a weapon. I feel that it’s getting used that way by people and it bothers me.”

You could say that she was, in fact, the first high-profile #MeToo rape victim – the reluctant “poster child,” for lack of a more tasteful description – which certain adds weight to her words. As she told me herself, “It wasn’t #metoo. It was like #justus. It was a lot harder to be all by yourself than it is to have a hashtag and a bunch of celebrities into it.”

As I say, I applaud any victim of sexual abuse to go public with their story – yet I wonder if Rowling has lost some of her dignity here by playing the victim. She would’ve been better served by keeping her powder dry, so to speak, and accepting the criticism.

That way, she could have told the world about her abuse at a more appropriate time and then there would never have been any question about her true motives for sharing it. As it is, judging from the reaction on social media, she has lost a lot of people’s respect.

It’s a crying shame, because those Harry Potter books won’t have the same magic now for many fans. They’re deeply unhappy about the controversial views she shared in both her recent tweets and the essay itself, which is a can of worms in itself, and best tackled in a separate analysis.

As the old adage goes, there’s a time and a place for everything – and clearly this wasn’t the appropriate moment for Rowling to pour her heart out. I bet she’s wishing she had a magic wand to make this all disappear. Seeing as she has a propensity for putting her foot in her mouth, perhaps she should just stay away from Twitter.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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