Anyone who has read (and reread and reread and reread and watched the films and shed tears of fury at how poorly the ending of the final film was handled) Harry Potter can guess as to author J.K. Rowling’s political affiliations. After all, it isn’t an apolitical series: throughout the novels, Rowling sets up “mudbloods,” house elves, the Death Eaters, Professor Umbridge, the corrupted Ministry of Magic, and more to make a clear and powerful statement about good and evil in the world, and the need for inclusivity and openness.
While she herself takes to Twitter with frequency to speak about politics, today she went online for a different reason — to call out so-called liberals who are actually operating on deeply-ingrained sexism.
“Just unfollowed a man whom I thought was smart and funny, because he called Theresa May a whore,” she begins her 14 tweet-long thread.
Just unfollowed a man whom I thought was smart and funny, because he called Theresa May a whore. 1/14
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 9, 2017
She goes on to slam the notion that disagreeing with — or even despising — a woman should call for misogynistic insults that suggest women are in some way inferior to men.
If your immediate response to a woman who displeases you is to call her a synonym for her vulva, or compare her to a prostitute, then drop the pretense,” she concludes her fiery speech, “and own it: you’re not a liberal.”
“Just unfollowed a man whom I thought was smart and funny, because he called Theresa May a whore. If you can’t disagree with a woman without reaching for all those filthy old insults, screw you and your politics. I’m sick of ‘liberal’ men whose mask slips every time a woman displeases them, who reach immediately for crude and humiliating words associated with femaleness, act like old-school misogynists and then preen themselves as though they’ve been brave. When you do this, Mr Liberal Cool Guy, you ally yourself, wittingly or not, with the men who send women violent pornographic images and rape threats, who try by every means possible to intimidate women out of politics and public spaces, both real and digital. Cunt’, ‘whore’ and, naturally, rape. We’re too ugly to rape, or we need raping, or we need raping and killing. Every woman I know who has dared express an opinion publicly has endured this kind of abuse at least once, rooted in an apparent determination to humiliate or intimidate her on the basis that she is female. If you want to know how much fouler it gets if you also happen to be black or gay, ask Diane Abbot or Ruth Davidson. I don’t care whether we’re talking about Theresa May or Nicola Sturgeon or Kate Hooey or Yvette Cooper or Hillary Clinton: femaleness is not a design flaw. If your immediate response to a woman who displeases you is to call her a synonym for her vulva, or compare her to a prostitute, then drop the pretense and own it: you’re not a liberal. You’re a few short steps away from some guy hiding behind a cartoon frog.”
She is, of course, correct. Feminism in no way calls for people to like all women or to agree with them or support them. It does call for respecting women as equals to men, refraining from using derogatory slang because their opinions differ from yours, and insulting them on something — anything! — else beyond their appearance or sexual proclivities.
Theresa May’s policies and rhetoric are not difficult to insult without turning crude, misogynistic, and threatening. There are a multitude of words at your disposal.