JK Rowling responds after Putin namechecks her in speech condemning ‘cancel culture’

‘Critiques of western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance,’ posted author

Ellie Harrison
Friday 25 March 2022 15:32 GMT
Putin uses JK Rowling as case for Western cynicism and 'cancel culture' aimed at Russia
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JK Rowling has spoken out against Vladimir Putin after he defended the Harry Potter author in a speech condemning “cancel culture” in the west.

The Russian president claimed the west was trying to cancel Russian culture, including the works of great composers such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergei Rachmaninov.

He said the British author had also been “cancelled” over her stance in transgender debates.

“They cancelled Joanne Rowling recently – the children’s author, her books are published all over the world – just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights,” he said during a televised speech.

He continued: “They are now trying to cancel our country. I’m talking about the progressive discrimination of everything to do with Russia.”

The leader went on to liken “cancel culture” to Nazis trying to burn books in the 1930s, a theme he has returned on a number of times during the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Responding on Twitter, Rowling shared a BBC News report about a Putin critic who was jailed, writing: “Critiques of western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics. #IStandWithUkraine.”

She also shared numerous posts about the work of her children’s charity Lumos in the country, which has been under attack from Russia for more than four weeks now.

Rowling has repeatedly come under criticism for various social media posts, which many have accused of being transphobic.

In June last year, Rowling sparked outrage for posting a series of tweets about menstruation that critics labelled “transphobic”. Taking offence at an article’s use of the phrase “people who menstruate”, she tweeted: “’People who menstruate’. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

While many Twitter users supported Rowling, there were others – including numerous celebrities like Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness and Harry Potter stars Katie Leung and Rupert Grint – who criticised her comment as “anti-trans”, arguing that transgender, non-binary and non-gender conforming people can also menstruate.

The author’s 2020 novel Troubled Blood also became the subject of controversy last year, as the book centres around a cisgender male serial killer who fetishises women’s clothing, and in one instance in the book, disguises himself as a woman to trick the person he is abducting. Activists said the book’s anti-trans plot line could be harmful to the community.

Earlier this month, the author sparked a backlash over a tweet regarding International Women’s Day in which she criticised the Labour Party’s position on women’s rights.

She posted: “Apparently, under a Labour government, today will become We Who Must Not Be Named Day.”

Rowling also personally criticised Labour leader Keir Starmer for saying “trans women are women”.

She had also been critical of the Scottish government’s proposal to introduce a law that would make it easier for transgender people to self-identify.

Rowling has repeatedly rejected the idea that she is “transphobic” and has said that she “knows and loves” trans people. The author has also received death threats over her posts and previously had her address in Scotland leaked online by activists.

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