JK Rowling is embroiled in a 'betrayal' dispute with authors society chair Joanne Harris
on Aug 17, 2022
JK Rowling has chastised fellow author Joanne Harris, who chairs the Society of Authors, for failing to defend novelists who disagree with her on gender identity issues.
The Harry Potter creator, who recently shared a threat she received, said she and two other women felt "betrayed" by the authors' union and its leader's lack of public support.
In response, Harris condemned Rowling's threat and stated that she fought for the rights of all authors, even if she disagreed with their views.
Rowling has been a source of contention since she spoke out in June 2020 against the use of the phrase "people who menstruate" instead of "women," claiming that it was "erasing the concept of sex."
After fellow author Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed on Friday, she posted a threat she had been sent telling her "you are next". Police are investigating, and she said they "were already involved on other threats".
When Harris was quoted as saying she had expressed sympathy for Rowling "and to everyone in a similar position", the Harry Potter author responded that she had "received no communication whatsoever from Harris expressing sympathy for the death and rape threats I've received".
"Harris has consistently failed to criticise tactics designed to silence and intimidate women who disagree with her personal position on gender identity ideology and has said publicly, 'Cancel isn't a dirty word. We habitually cancel things we no longer want.'
"I find it impossible to reconcile the society's stated position on free expression with Harris' public statements over the last two years, and I stand in solidarity with all female writers in the UK who currently feel betrayed by their professional body and its leader."
Harris, who has a trans son, responded in a lengthy Twitter thread, saying, "My personal feelings about the gender-critical movement don't affect my belief in free speech, or what I do for the Society of Authors."
"We strongly support free speech," she added. "However, free speech includes the equal right to a response."
"JK Rowling has every right to her opinions," she added. It's okay if I don't share them. And I completely condemn any threats made against her, as I do against anyone.
"I believe the literary world can do better than this manufactured culture war, and that's what I'm attempting."
Rowling cited the cases of two authors, Rachel Rooney and Gillian Philip, who she said had suffered "severe personal and professional harm" for questioning "a fashionable ideology that has been remarkably successful in demonising those who protest against the current assault on women's rights."
Both authors told The Times that they did not feel supported by the Society of Authors.
"Perhaps an attack like this is rare, but sadly, the threats, abuse, and harassment that many authors receive is not," the society said in a statement published on Sunday about Rushdie, who is now beginning his recovery.
"For every high-profile death threat, such as those made against JK Rowling just hours after the attack on Rushdie, scores more go unreported."