Irish author says online abuse against JK Rowling has been 'phenomenal'

An Irish author says abusive online comments made about JK Rowling have been "phenomenal." Stella...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.45 28 Sep 2020

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Irish author says online abuse...

Irish author says online abuse against JK Rowling has been 'phenomenal'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.45 28 Sep 2020

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An Irish author says abusive online comments made about JK Rowling have been "phenomenal."

Stella O'Malley co-wrote a letter, published in The Sunday Times, addressing the issue.

A number of prominent literary figures have signed the open letter supporting Rowling, amid the row over her stance on transgender rights.


It all stemmed after a person, who identifies as a man and a woman, won an award for Executive Businesswoman of the Year.

A tax expert called Maya Forstater described Pippa Bunce as 'a man in a dress', and subsequently lost her job.

She then took her employer to court and lost the case.

It was then that Rowling came to Forstater's defence on Twitter.

She wrote: "Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.

"Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?

Ms O'Malley told The Hard Shoulder: "She was defending this woman Maya who had lost her job, and absolute mayhem broke out."

"And she was called transphobic and she was called a bigot, she was really, really jumped on.

"The descriptions of what she was called was phenomenal, and then she didn't say anything.

"And then a few months later she said a couple more comments on social media - clearly angered by the whole thing - but she didn't say anything offensive.

"She said things like a jokey kind of, you know, basically 'what is a woman' and 'only women menstruate' and things like this.

"In, kind of I would say, in normal land that's just a perfectly fine thing to say: 'only women menstruate' isn't such a shocking sentence.

"However these days when a lot of people are very quick to kind of make a big deal out of every kind of false speak that somebody might make, they really lacerated her for this.

"And the online abuse she has suffered has been phenomenal.


"Then she wrote a book, as many people know, and released just a few weeks ago... and in that 900 page book, there's one sentence which refers to a man - he's a serial killer in the book - and he wore a coat and a dress in the 1970s.

"There's just a reference in one sentence to that person wearing a coat and a dress, dressing up as a woman.

"And that was considered transphobic, and as a result - for days - on social media there was the hashtag trending #ripjkrowling.

"And that's what inspired me really to write this because it was just such a hateful and nasty - there's certain lines we don't cross in the world and society, and to kind of jump in on some sort of pile-on over ripjkrowling because she had one sentence in a book - a 900 page book, one sentence referring to the serial killer having dressed up as a woman".

"It was just so absolutely, surreally inappropriate".

On the letter, she said they asked different people - especially writers - to get involved.

"Loads of people have signed it, we were delighted - people like Ian McEwan and Lionel Shriver - some huge writers, and more people had jumped on even since the letter came out yesterday in The Sunday Times."

She said the purpose of the letter was to highlight the online abuse directed towards Rowling.

"It was basically pointing out the level of abuse that she's been receiving since December was just unutterably inappropriate.

"It was absolutely misogynistic, very often sexual in nature, and incredibly dark, very violent and rage-filled".

"The letter was really not so interested in what she said but more interested in what is going on in social media that people think it's appropriate to engage in a pile-on that has ripjkrowling with pictures of her in coffins and stuff like that".

"When somebody is targeted, we de-humanise them and we act as if they're not really a real person.

"It's happened in many wars, it's happened all over the place - it's happening in schools today - where the person who is targeted, they're no longer seen as human, they're seen as a target and people join in".

Irish author says online abuse against JK Rowling has been 'phenomenal'

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Main image: JK Rowling during the opening of The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic at Edinburgh University in 2013. Picture by: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/PA Images

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JK Rowling Maya Forstater Pippa Bunce Stella O'Malley

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