Rowling vs Walsh: Whence Trans Militarism? Ex Nihilo or from Feminism? What Does This Tell Us About Her Work?

Rowling has this week disavowed any sort of alliance with critics of transgender activism who do not also believe feminism is necessary, good, or even in alignment with established facts about the differences between the sexes. The Presence went so far as to tweet that conservative journalist Matt Walsh, who has been fighting transgender over reach since at least 2017, is “no more on my side than the ‘shut up or we’ll bomb you’ charmers who cloak their misogyny in a pretty pink and blue flag.”

Walsh responded with characteristic humor:

He went on to say, though, that Rowling’s blind spot, one he suggests “might be worth thinking about,” is her inability to see how the defining premise of feminism, the supposed absence of differences between the sexes, leads inevitably to transgenderism. Inez Stepman explains this connection in several tweets and via a talk she gave at the Claremont Institute:

Rowling has blind-spots as do we all. Her relatively unique tragedy is the degree to which her status and choice of friends now serve only to foster her closely-held misconceptions and protect her from the ideas of those with whom she disagrees. The borderline hysteria of her reaction to Walsh — “You’re no better than people threatening to kill me!” — speaks to the visceral threat his cogent common sense vis a vis the origins of transgenderism represents to her core beliefs.

What does all this have to do with Rowling as a writer? Plenty.

The Cormoran Strike books are in large part an allegorical journey of two wounded people, an archetypal man ‘Fisher King’ and a woman ‘Handless Maiden,’ to come to terms with relationships with the other. This is Shakespearean psychomachia in the end about soul and spirit, but it turns in its visible representation on postmodern agonies and confusion about how the two sexes relate.

Robin has a vocation as a detective for which she has sacrificed a marriage, her financial security, and her physical safety. She has put this above the biological stirrings she has as a thirty year old woman looking at the sand run out of her reproductive hourglass and even above her feelings for Strike. All of which is painful to her because these feelings and stirrings are very real.

Strike, too, has wanted nothing more than to be a great detective — if to be free of responsibilities of protecting and providing for a woman, be it mother, sister, or wife, runs a close second. As with Robin, though, per Aunt Joan and misogynist Dave Polworth, he’s realizing that he has needs and longings beyond his vocation that only a relationship with a woman can bring him.

If Rowling is writing this drama to advance a militant feminism, I think the nuance and depths with which she is writing is undermining that cause. There is a great disconnect in the story as written thus far and the public persona she has put on to disavow the critics of feminism, men like Walsh and women like Stepman, who argue along lines very close to those of the Strike mysteries: sex matters, men and women are different, all have vocations, et cetera.

We will have to wait decades, if the Lord tarries, until the psycho-biographical volumes exploring the relation of Rowling’s personal history, beliefs, and her written work are published. Right now, though, I think serious Rowling readers are obliged to note the conflicts between her strident and uncompromising tweeting posture and the subtlety of her novels’ covert arguments with respect to sex.

Addendum: Walsh discussed his difference of opinion with Rowling on a podcast. The relevant remarks were:

Lots of other feminists in the so called “TERF camp” or the “gender critical camp” as they prefer to call themselves, have echoed and agreed with this sentiment from Rowling, in fact I’ve heard this from feminists quite a lot since my film came out. That it’s easy for me, they say … I don’t know what it’s like, I don’t have to make the same kind of sacrifices, I don’t put the same things on the line, I don’t get treated the same way, nobody attacks me the same way they attack women who speak out. And now Rowling, whose courage on this issue, as I said, I really respect and I’ve said that many times, is singing the same tune.

But she’s completely wrong, of course. And it just shows that feminists who criticize the trans agenda, even though they’re right about the issue of trans-genderism, they’re still hamstrung and handicapped by Left wing identity politics and victimology. They can’t accept an alliance with a man because they resent us for our perceived privilege, even though it’s a privilege they’ve completely invented in their heads. Because the fact is that nearly everything she describes, the things I can’t understand supposedly because they only happen to women supposedly, they have happened to me with great frequency and ferocity over the past month and before that, but especially over the past month.

I’ve had many death threats. I’ve been doxxed many times. I don’t talk about these things a lot, I mention them here and there, I don’t spend a lot of time talking about them, but I can assure you they are happening. I’ve been threatened, harassed, insulted, they’ve tried to deplatform me, they’ve tried to get me fired, they’ve tried to get my advertisers to boycott me, et cetera and so forth over and over and over again.

I don’t doubt at all that trans activists are vicious monsters towards any woman who defies them but the operative aspect there is “defies” them, not “woman.” They cannot tolerate defiance from anyone. The survival of their fragile world, as we’ve seen, depends on silencing all of the opposition no matter who it’s coming from. The idea that if it’s coming from a white conservative man, they’re going to lay off “no he’s one of the good ones, let’s leave him alone,” it’s just … it’s hilarious.

But here’s the thing. If I had, over the past month, or if at any time in the future, cave to the mob and pull a Macy Gray, I would deserve scorn, too – endless amounts of it. I’m telling you right now, if I ever were to do that, you should scorn me and despise me for that. Now it’s not going to happen – I can assure you of that because I would quite literally rather be dead than surrender to these people. I’d rather take a bullet to my head than debase myself the way Macy Gray did, and it wouldn’t even be a difficult choice. But if that were not the case, and I crumbled under the onslaught and turned traitor on truth for the sake of protecting myself I would be a worse villain in this story than any individual trans militant. Because, as I said in the original tweet, the cowards are the ones who got us into this mess.

Why is that? Well, because there were never enough, and still aren’t enough, trans militants to forcibly drag our society into the mass epidemic of madness that we’re currently experiencing. They can’t do it on their own without our consent as much as they would like to, as much as they’re trying to – they can’t. In order for this to happen, it has required and will continue to require the acquiescence of countless people who know better, who know the truth, but implicitly or in this case explicitly renounce and disavow that knowledge in order to preserve their own comfort and their own safety.

But most of the time it’s just their own comfort, because most of the time their safety is not really in jeopardy. Sometimes it is, but in most cases it’s not. You know I don’t really think that anyone was going to kill Macy Gray because of a one minute conversation she had on Piers Morgan. I wouldn’t put anything past these people, but I really doubt that was going to happen. What she was trying to protect was her financial security and her comfort and really she just wanted to get along with her Hollywood friends and her friends in the music industry, and that’s what she was trying to protect.

Every time a coward collapses like this, betraying themselves and all the rest of us on Team Common Sense when we’re betrayed in this way as we are so often, they only make it that much harder for whoever the mob turns its sights on next. So it’s not a victimless crime here. The mob is emboldened and fueled by every person who sells their souls to it. They are vultures who feed on the dignity that you abandon and leave on the floor. They feast on your subservience and your submission and your self debasement. The only way to stop it is to starve them of this fuel. It’s to look them in the eyes and say, “No, I apologize for nothing. I’m right and you’re wrong, now go scream about it some more, you damned hobgoblins. I don’t care. You don’t scare me.” And laugh in their faces. That’s how you handle it. Anything less than that and you’re part of the problem.