I’ve already reviewed the first two episodes of Megan Phelps-Roper’s “The Witch Trials of JK Rowling.”
I am now going to review the next two episodes of Phelps-Roper’s podcast and hoooo boy.
Phelps-Roper is determined to piss EVERYONE off.
And that includes TERFs.
Yes folks, Phelps-Roper has put together a podcast where she actually tries to give each side an equal voice.
So naturally everyone is going to hate it.
The first two episodes of “The Witch Trials of JK Rowling” were mostly very sympathetic towards Rowling. The third episode “A New Pyre” continues that trend but the fourth episode “TERF Wars” actually gives trans people a voice.
It’s clear that Phelps-Roper disagrees with Rowling when it comes to allowing trans women to use bathrooms.
Phelps-Roper puts Rowling on mute for awhile in the fourth episode “TERF Wars.” Instead of Rowling, Phelps-Roper interviews Nathalie Wynn. Nathalie Wynn is a trans woman, known more commonly as ContraPoints, who talks to Phelps-Roper about the indignity of trans people not being able to use public restrooms. We hear that trans people are going out less and less because of public restroom anxiety.
Less outside socialization, of course, leads to higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidality.
As a huge TERF, I had not even considered this. I didn’t know that trans people were simply going out less because of public restroom anxiety.
I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t listened to “The Witch Trials of JK Rowling.”
So, you know, before you start criticizing Phelps-Roper for being transphobic…. keep in mind that she is also opening the eyes of a few TERFs as well.
In other words, Phelps-Roper is pissing off EVERYONE.
Interestingly though, while Phelps-Roper makes Rowling look like an asshole in the episode “TERF Wars” it was Nathalie Wynn (AKA ContraPoints) who decided to throw a huge fucking tantrum after Wynn was interviewed by Phelps-Roper. And keep in mind that Wynn, like Rowling, has a huge social media platform, a massive Youtube channel and a great deal of pull among Gen Z commenters.
Wynn is hardly powerless.
Nathalie Wynn’s interview was really interesting in “TERF Wars” so it’s unfortunate that Wynn later decided to whine that she was subjected to “a pretty miserable three-hour interrogation” on the podcast.
The word Wynn uses, “interrogation,” is silly. Really? Phelps-Roper interrogated Wynn? Phelps-Roper didn’t let Wynn leave the room? Take a glass of water? Break for the restroom or lunch? Is a polite interview where Wynn’s views are examined (and her responses fairly presented) an interrogation?
That’s like calling a barista accidentally misgendering you “genocide.” Let’s be real folks.
In episode three “A New Pyre,” JK Rowling addresses the criticisms of how she is a rich and powerful person attacking a vulnerable minority (trans folk) by advocating for women-only spaces.
“‘You are wealthy. You can afford security. You haven’t been silenced.’ All true,” Rowling says, “But I think that misses the point. The attempt to intimidate and silence me is meant to serve as a warning to other women. And I say that because I have seen it used that way… I literally had someone say this to me the other day: ‘I was told “Look! Look what happened to JK Rowling. Watch yourself.”’”
Rowling makes a strong case here. I still remember the smile of Emma Weyant, the young swimmer who came in second to Lia Thomas at the NCAA. I am positive that the pressure put on Weyant to praise Lia Thomas was SEVERE.
Weyant has kept diplomatically silent. She has not praised Thomas because she knows Thomas’ gold medal win was an injustice.
And Weyant has not objected to Thomas’ gold medal win because Weyant does not want to lose her job or possible future sports opportunities.
Weyant’s silence is her answer to Thomas’ gold medal win. For women less powerful than JK Rowling, silence is the only way for them to object to the more misogynistic aspects of the trans activist movement.
I believe JK Rowling was thinking of women like Emma Weyant and the victims of Karen White when Rowling said she refuses to “serve as warning to other women” by being silent.
Rowling’s argument, however, starts to become flimsy towards the end of “A New Pyre.” Rowling talks about Milo Yiannopoulos being protested on college campuses. Rowling disapproved of the anti-Yiannopoulos protests. “I thought it was a terrible strategic error,” she says, “You are giving this man way more power than he deserves by behaving in this way.”
Rowling says that instead of protesting Yiannopoulos, feminists should have instead “Get on that platform and eviscerate his ideas. Get on that platform and expose him for the charlatan that he is.”
Excuse me? Doesn’t Rowling know that the first rule of 21st century debate is “Do not feed the trolls?” Milo Yiannopoulos never once pretended that he actually believed in his own ideas. Yiannopoulos was a troll, full stop. He didn’t care about counterarguments, he just wanted rage and “liberal tears.” The idea that Rowling is putting Yiannopoulos on the same level of conservative commentators who at least pretend that their arguments are based on logic, like Ben Shapiro and Jonah Goldberg, is bonkers. Rowling is smarter than that.
I won’t say exactly that Rowling was gaslighting about Yiannopoulos in “A New Pyre,” but I will admit that I caught a few whiffs of paraffin.
Phelps-Roper ends “A New Pyre” and starts “TERF Wars” with a very frightening voice clip from apparently a trans activist protester:
“FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU YOU UGLY PIECE OF SHIT! YOU LOOK LIKE YOU GOT YOUR TEETH KNOCKED OUT YOU FUCKING FASCIST! NOBODY KNOWS WHO YOU ARE AND NOBODY CARES! YOU WILL DIE ALONE! YOU WILL DIE ALONE AND YOU WILL BURN IN HELL!”
The voice is masculine and it is enraged. The out-of-control shrieking of that masculine voice will raise the hairs of any domestic violence survivor.
When you are a domestic violence survivor, you automatically brace for the punch when you hear that masculine rage. I found it upsetting that Phelps-Roper kept using that clip of the enraged male voice protesting feminists, but I understood why Phelps-Roper believed that clip was important.
Phelps-Roper wants to draw a parallel between the more misogynistic protests against TERFs and domestic violence.
The next episode “TERF Wars” deals with domestic violence. Phelps-Roper gives a trigger warning but I still found myself growing so upset listening to it that I had to stop the episode.
I waited until I was hiking and receiving a nice boost of endorphins flowing through my brain before I restarted “TERF Wars.” Good thing too because the beginning of “TERF Wars” is brutal. The descriptions of how back in the 20th century nobody seemed to give a damn about women who were beaten by their husbands were horrendous. The first shelter for women escaping domestic violence did not appear in the UK until 1971.
Safe spaces save lives, and women have fought hard for them.
Phelps-Roper also manages to score an interview with Dr. Erica Anderson, a trans woman and psychologist who has worked with trans youth. Anderson is hardly a biased source when it comes to TERF talking points so it’s interesting that Anderson appears to agree with a lot of findings that most trans activists have called “transphobic.” “I’ve been concerned for some time that there are providers who are not following the standards of care which historically have invoked the need for an individualized congruence of bio-psycho-social evaluation prior to the initiation of medicines,” Dr. Anderson tells Phelps-Roper, “(T)here are some young people who are going to providers and obtaining puberty blockers and hormones but not having a full mental health evaluation. I think that’s sloppy and bad practice.”
Dr. Anderson implies that there is too much fast-tracking of young kids into gender transition. If gender dysphoria is a symptom of, say, past sexual trauma and not a true trans identity then children are being given the wrong medical treatment and in some cases permanently altering their bodies.
And when people suffering from past trauma receive the wrong mental health intervention, that increases the possibility of future psychosis and suicidality.
It’s not just trans activists who are responsible for the mental health crisis in trans teens because teens have been irresponsibly fast-tracked through gender transition without a full evaluation. Phelps-Roper does also point the finger at TERFs. Phelps-Roper does not soft-pedal the threats trans people face from rightwingers. “Online, just as there are some trans advocates who send violent and harassing threats towards the people they call ‘TERFs,’ there are also many others- often coming from the right and the altright- who send violent and harassing threats towards trans activists and their allies,” Phelps-Ropers says, “Some based on accusations that any attempt to teach kids about trans identities is actually a smokescreen for a desire to sexually exploit young children. In this climate many activists feel that feminists calling for open dialogue and good-faith debate are really just opening them up to greater harm.”
Oooofff. Yes, that’s right folks. Phelps-Roper isn’t letting the TERFs off either. She’s making both sides here are getting a good dose of medicine.
“The Witch Trials of JK Rowling” is very, very well-balanced with no easy answers.
Which is why it’s gonna piss off EVERYBODY.