Equality & Inclusion Feminism Health Human Rights Jo Edwards LGBTQIAP+ Privilege

Supporting Survivors by Jo Edwards

CONTENT WARNING/TRIGGER WARNING – This piece discusses sexual assault and rape, MeToo, Sarah Everard, Harvey Weinstein and transphobia

So, here we all are again, another round around the Earth, with only 12 days to the big day, most of us are preparing for another Covid Christmas and all that entails; making the best of it, trying to make sure our family and friends have a good time while being safe.

It’s been a challenge for many the last few years, financially and mental health wise, so we are all focusing on making special days count. Gender critical ‘feminists’, however, seem to have a whole different idea for Christmas. I have, of course, written about the very same subject this time last year for Ungagged; because transphobes refuse to take a day off.

So, what Christmas gift have gender critical ‘feminists’ given us this year?

Why it’s the gift of wisdom; and from a well-known children’s author no less, sharing some Christmas spirt through her inspiring, joyful words. Let’s read it together, I’m sure we will all find some comfort in it…

“War is Peace.

Freedom is Slavery.

Ignorance is Strength.

The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman” – JK Rowling 

Wait, what?

…that surely can’t be right?

I’m afraid it is.

This is a real tweet posted by JK Rowling on the 13th of December 2021 in which she posts an article from The Times with a subtitle of “Absurdity of police logging rapists as women”.

It’s 12 days to Christmas and Rowling has chosen to post what is highly likely a triggering, retraumatising comment for many survivors – and without any kind of Trigger Warning; which really is just the icing on that cake. The intent of this tweet does not come across as “genuine concerns” it comes across as a dig at trans people wrapped up some Orwellian nightmare.

I can understand, as a survivor myself, wanting to talk about the issue, but I’m not seeing how this comment is helpful to survivors, or how it in any way furthers the discussion around sexual violence by men towards women.

From another tweeters research JK Rowling has in fact never, not once, tweeted on the #MeToo. Nor has she tweeted about Harvey Weinstein, nor has she tweeted about Brett Kavahaugh, nor has she even tweeted about the horrific rape and murder of Sarah Everard. I gave this a check myself and got the same result. When someone who never appears to talk about sexual violence against women any other time outside of its relation – in their mind – to trans women, it feels that, maybe, their focus isn’t specifically on the sexual violence against women, it’s on the trans women.

Often, I feel that we have to remind some people that sexual assault and rape are not some topic you pick out of a hat for conversation starters – at any time never mind at Christmas – these are serious, trauma related issues, and if you want to talk about them you have to do so with extreme empathy and compassion.

When discussing sexual assault and rape, they must be discussed with the awareness of the survivors in and around the discussion. We should always be careful how we speak about sexual violence to avoid causing or contributing to triggers or retraumatising survivors. Especially in public online forums or public settings. To not take this into consideration is extremely irresponsible and dangerous.

Comments like this often do not help the discussion, they more often inspire some of the vilest responses towards survivors. We just have to look at the comments Rowling’s tweet appears to have provoked around technicalities of what is and is not rape, with hundreds of comments dismissing survivors experiences with “rape is with a penis in UK law” as if this is somehow going to magic away the trauma a person experienced in other types of sexual assaults.

Surely our goal should not be to post highly triggering cryptic ravings which create a cascade of belittling and dismissing survivors, nor to retraumatise any survivor, but to further the cause for survivors, to support them, and to show them the safety they were denied exists with us? And I think, if we are honest with ourselves, we know comments like the one JK Rowling posted are not positively influencing or leading to meaningful change on the issue.

I believe the resulting ‘discussions’ which arise from these kinds of comments only serve to create a narrative in which we as a society are absolved of the responsibility to create a safe environment in which survivors can feel and be safe and supported, and absolves us of any responsibility to change current inadequate laws which do neither. For me, the comment from Rowling does not radiate support, empathy or compassion for survivors. It comes across as extraordinarily unfeeling and completely disconnected from the reality of sexual violence and the resulting trauma survivors are left with.

And at Christmas, out of all the holidays we celebrate in any given year, surely we can all find it within ourselves to feel, to feel empathy, to feel compassion, to feel for other people, to wish them well, to wish them a happy, healthy and joyful Christmas? To show them kindness, compassion and understanding, especially when it comes to trauma and survivors?

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy Solstice and Yule, and I hope the discussion around these issues can be conducted in future with the empathy and compassion that it is currently so lacking. Show each other kindness, support each other, and importantly, let survivors know they are safe with you.

One thought on “Supporting Survivors by Jo Edwards

  1. this has led to a hardening and mainstreaming of the ‘you where not raped’ narrative among GCs who may otherwise never have known about it.

    JK has only made it harder for women and she does not care

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