What Is Cancel Culture and Should I Stop Reading J.K. Rowling Because of It?

Photo Courtesy: Ask Media Group

I’m a huge mystery reader. I love a murder plot with a few red herrings thrown in and lengthy descriptions of characters, the places they inhabit and even the food they eat. Because of that, I’m a huge fan of the Cormoran Strike series. Written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, the five books in the series star a couple of London private detectives adept at solving seemingly impossible crimes.

The latest addition, Troubled Blood, was released on September 15, 2020. Unlike with previous Cormoran books — or even Harry Potter titles before that — I didn’t preorder Troubled Blood so that it would be ready to read that same day. Instead, I was puzzled and in disbelief.

In June of last year, Rowling had gone public with her transphobic views about keeping bathrooms and changing rooms separate for cisgender women. Some of the arguments she makes as a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor should be heard. But what made me and others cringe was Rowling’s determination to speak about "biological sex" and her belief that the term gender is replacing the eroded legal definition of sex.

At one point during her +3,500-word essay, the writer complains of "never, ever expect a nuanced conversation" on Twitter. Yet, she used that same platform to simply dismiss the phrase "People who menstruate," which was used in a news headline. Rowling preferred the use of the less inclusive and less precise term "women." Well, not all people who menstruate are women and not all women menstruate.

I think Professor and Director of the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan, Lisa Nakamura, put it better than most when she advised Rowling via Twitter to stick to fiction. "Gender theory is not your thing," she added.

I sure wish she had stuck to literature. I still can’t comprehend what possessed her to be so vocal about such a complex issue, one in which she’s no expert. She could be using her voice for so many positive things instead. One of my favorite authors has been canceled.