On Twitter, it is a mistake to assume that a retweet means agreement. For instance, when author Stephen King retweeted J. K. Rowling’s quote of the feminist Andrea Dworkin, Rowling made the mistake of thinking that King was lending her support in what has become a particularly nasty screed of misogynistic abuse directed at the Harry Potter author, and from people who claim to be “progressive.”
This latest tweetstorm began after British Labour Party MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, accused Rowling of weaponizing her experience as a domestic-abuse survivor (yes, really) in the pages of an obscure magazine. In response, Rowling posted a nine-tweet thread defending her position and explaining that her “primary worry” remains the risks of transgender extremism “to vulnerable women.” She continued: “As everyone knows, I’m no longer reliant on communal facilities, nor am I likely to be imprisoned or need a women’s refuge any time soon. I’m not arguing for the privileged, but the powerless.” Then, at the end, she shared a Dworkin quote: “Men often react to women’s words — speaking and writing — as if they were acts of violence; sometimes men react to women’s words with violence.” That is the part King retweeted.
“I’ve always revered @StephenKing, but today my love reached — maybe not Annie Wilkes levels — but new heights,” Rowling wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted. “It’s so much easier for men to ignore women’s concerns, or to belittle them, but I won’t ever forget the men who stood up when they didn’t need to. Thank you, Stephen.”
Well, it turns out this reverence was entirely misplaced. When one of his followers demanded to know what he meant by retweeting this statement, King penned the stunningly original and inspiring words: “trans women are women.” Her online bullies and trolls were pathetically delighted.
Really, Rowling’s only mistake was to give another writer the benefit of the doubt. And the only person who ought to be embarrassed by this is Stephen King.