Strategic Ignorance and JK Rowling

My experience of the gender debate has been one where, for three years, I have been pointing at a fair old gaggle of atrocities committed against women and children, and everyone keeps talking about my finger.

It’s always about how I’m ugly, how my knee shakes, how my stance on these matters has left me isolated/unemployable etc. Believe it or not, none of this is news to me. And none of it answers our points about the importance of sex-segregated spaces to women and girls. None of it touches on the advisability of telling children, sometimes young enough that they still think Santa tumbles down the chimney every year, that it is feasible, even PREFERABLE to be “born in the wrong body”.

The screenshot above was from the recent Newsnight report on the Tavistock. Have celebrity ‘trans allies’ said *anything* about that devastating report since it aired over a month ago? If so, what is their answer to this claim of homophobic parents transing their gender-nonconforming children? Have you heard a convincing answer to this from any ‘LGBT ally’?

Do they not get the BBC? What’s the problem?

There is a book out called ‘The Unknowers: How Strategic Ignorance Rules The World’, and by God, that’ll stick. ‘Strategic ignorance’. Perfect. How else to explain the fact that none of these celebrity enablers, John Harris the latest in a disappointingly long line, even attempt to address the issues we’re continually raising? Here’s John in his recent Guardian piece, saying precisely nothing at all about a matter that affects the privacy, safety and dignity of 51% of the population.

It’s an existential threat to women and girls, John. It’s not about wizards.

Strategic ignorance is the only explanation for the fact that there are a lot of middle-class, liberal men out there who feel confident that the safety of women and girls is theirs to give away. They behave as if they’re in a parallel dimension where Jimmy Saville and Rotherham didn’t happen.

But they’re not in a parallel dimension. They’re in the one we have to share with them, where these things did happen and where these things continue to happen. Strategic ignorance allows them to behave as if they’re unaware men like this exist, men who will use any and every means at their disposal to get to women and girls, including the weaponising of fashionable and incoherent theories on ‘gender identity’.

(Apologies for linking to a BBC report, which, outrageously, uses the pronouns ‘she’ and ‘her’ throughout a story about a man jacking off to child porn in a women’s hospital ward.)

My contempt for the kind of men who would dismiss the concerns of women like, most famously and recently, JK Rowling, was such that when I ran into them 300 times a day on Twitter, I only ever responded to them with the single word ‘BEARD’. I’d already exhaustively articulated our arguments, why waste more time? They know men are a danger to women and girls, but they pretend they don’t. Why?

More disturbing than the bearded men is that there are even some middle class, liberal women who feel that the safety of other women and girls is theirs to give away. Can you imagine such a thing? And as for my disgraceful colleagues in the entertainment industry…if your idea of slumming it is attending the Craft Baftas, do you really think you’re in a position to advise on the relaxing of safeguarding principles at a woman’s shelter?

Widespread strategic ignorance among middle-class liberals is the only conceivable explanation as to why so many people refuse to engage with the issues. People are probably not even aware they’re employing the tactic half the time. But in a world where you can lose your livelihood, your support groups, your social circle, even your social networking accounts for stepping out of line, strategic ignorance is clearly going to be a necessary article of our mental armour as we move forward.

While the insanely vitriolic and frightening reaction to JK Rowling’s nuanced and compassionate letter was first and foremost, I believe, a warning to other women, it was also designed to bring her as much pain as possible. Book burning has been unfashionable for quite some time now, but only because of the optics. If these people could burn her books, they would. They’ve done everything else to her and women like her.

“The books that the world calls immoral are those that show the world its own shame.” One day, people like Nicola Coughlan, Alice Roberts, and the entire editorial team on the Guardian are going to have to face the fact that their strategic ignorance has empowered the Bully Class to a terrifying degree. The dehumanisation of JK Rowling, a domestic abuse survivor who conquered the world through the compassion, wit and wisdom that shines out from her books, was only possible because these same “be kind” merchants ignored the identical abuse less-powerful women had been enduring for years. Abuse that we had been pointing at, and pointing at, and pointing at, while they kept talking about how rude it is to point.

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