Internet abuse is a common problem for women, and not even one of the most beloved authors in the world is immune. Following last week's U.K. elections, author J.K. Rowling spoke out on Twitter about abuse she receives for her political opinions, because although she says she's come to expect a certain amount of disagreement and backlash, lately the trolls and bullies have crossed a line. And she decided not to stay silent about it.
Rowling, who was born in England but currently lives in Scotland, was a vocal opponent of the recent referendum on Scottish independence, and donated £1 million to the Vote No campaign. She also supported the Labour Party in last week's election, while most of Scotland backed the Scottish National Party (SNP). But while most people can accept that a public figure has their own political opinions, for some it's an opportunity to say hateful, ignorant things, particularly at women.
Internet harassment is not just something that famous people have to deal with, and we shouldn't only care about the problem when someone recognizable has to deal with it. Still, it seems especially remarkable that anyone could send hate to the woman who gave the world Harry Potter. And yet Rowling was called everything from a "traitor to Scotland" to "Blairite scum." One particularly delightful tweet, which has since been deleted, read, "Go f*** yourself you disgusting slimy Labour c***. All you lefties are finished in this country, especially you JK b****face.”
Isn't civilzed discourse grand?
Rowling, however, didn't just sit back and take the abuse. As she explained to one user, she believes "in standing up to bullies."
According to Rowling, the trolls were apparently entirely from the SNP or from the U.K. Independence Party, one of the more far right parties in the U.K. Rowling shot back at several ignorant tweets with quips of her own.
Earlier in the week she even referred to one user's comment as "Death Eater-y" after they referenced "racial purity."
And this one especially was excellent.
But lest you lose your faith in humanity that anyone would call the woman who gave us Albus Dumbledore and Hermione Granger and Dobby the House Elf "disgusting," Rowling wasn't fielding only harassment. In fact, after several people told her she should leave Scotland, other followers began tweeting her that she was welcome to come visit them any time.
As the supportive tweets kept rolling in, Rowling also said how much she appreciated all the love.
In the future, perhaps we can all agree that just because someone doesn't agree with you, that doesn't give you the right to be a jerk to them. And famous people — yes, even women — have the right to their own political beliefs, which don't have to align with yours. You still owe them respect.