A Harry Potter event was canceled at an upcoming book festival in New Zealand over headline-making comments the best selling author J.K. Rowling made, in which she said only women can menstruate.
Organizers of the Featherston Booktown Karukatea festival in New Zealand, which will be held on May 6-9 have canceled an interactive Harry Potter quiz — which had been very popular at past events — according to a report by Stuff.
Rowling has faced backlash by transgender activists for saying only women can menstruate. The author has also been labeled a “TERF” (trans exclusionary radical feminist) — a term referring to feminists who are considered too “radical” for even left-wing activists, as they do not believe that a biological man is a woman.
In a lengthy essay Rowling wrote last summer, responding the attacks she has received from transgender activists, Rowling said, “I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it.”
“It isn’t enough for women to be trans allies,” she continued. “Women [are told they] must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves.”
“But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive,” Rowling said. “Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanizing and demeaning.”
Featherston resident and feminist activist Jenny Whyte told Stuff the organizers’ decision not to have the Harry Potter quiz at the festival is ironic.
“I think they might be trying to capitalize on the current fad of cancel culture — Featherston Booktown has a session selling tickets to a panel discussing cancel culture, so there’s an irony certainly,” Whyte said.
Whyte, who is also lesbian, said she shares some of Rowling’s views regarding biological women’s rights, and argued they are not transphobic.
“It’s really funny that all the way from the UK where a world-famous writer has gotten into trouble for expressing quite compassionate and reasonable views, all the way down to tiny little Featherston,” she said. “It encapsulates the whole madness of it quite well.”
Festival board chairman Peter Biggs said the decision to cancel the Harry Potter quiz was not easy and said the event was ultimately canceled after consulting with members of the literary sector, local supporters, and the LGBTQ community.
“The overwhelming response was there was a risk around causing distress to particular members of the community and that was the last thing we wanted to do,” Biggs said. “We always thought Booktown should be an inclusive, welcoming place for everyone, so we took the decision not to go with Harry Potter.”