I got an email from reader Jez Grove pointing out how Oxfam has (literally) demonized J. K. Rowling in a recent video discussed by the Sunday Times of London. The original Times article is here, but it’s paywalled for most of us. However, you can access an archived copy here or by clicking the screenshot below.
Oxfam is a consortium of charitable organizations devoted to alleviating poverty throughout the world. At least it was that way when I lived in England and Scotland, but it’s now taking on social justice at home as well. Unfortunately, they’re being a bit hamhanded about it, as the article notes:
Oxfam has been branded “utterly shocking” for releasing an anti-trans cartoon character apparently based on JK Rowling.
The charity’s animated #ProtectThePride video was issued to mark Pride month. It said it could not “ignore the cruel backdrop” against which LGBT people marked the celebration.
The strip included a woman resembling Rowling, who was wearing a badge saying “Terf” — which stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” and is used as a slur to describe those, like the Harry Potter writer, who believe people cannot change sex.
The woman, with blood-red eyes and face contorted in hate, was wearing a green dress – similar to one worn by Rowling at a film premiere – and was looking at the Pride flag. As she appeared on screen, a caption said that LGBT people were “preyed on by hate groups online and offline”.
Gender-critical campaigners attacked Oxfam, which later removed a link to the video.
Milli Hill, a feminist author, told The Times: “Oxfam’s caricature of an ‘ugly hag’ wearing a Terf badge is so typical of the attitudes displayed to feminists who stand up for women’s rights. We are evil old witches basically, and this is the same old misogyny we’ve been fighting for decades, repackaged as ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’.
Here’s the scene from the video, which, as Jez notes below, has now been eliminated. If that’s not supposed to be J. K. Rowling, complete with red hair and a TERF patch where her poppy is, I’ll eat my hat. This removed screenshot, found by Jez, is in The Daily Mail:
The charity has also been accused of hounding out a volunteer who defended Rowling. A former worker, calling herself Maria, said she was accused of transphobia after a colleague asked on an internal message board if Oxfam shops should ban the sale of Rowling’s books.
Maria “had come to the defence of Britain’s most popular living author, asking for evidence of Rowling’s supposed transphobia”, the website UnHerd said. It prompted a “gruelling internal investigation”, with Maria struggling to clear her name, having a nervous breakdown and leaving her job and the country, the website claimed.
She claimed constructive dismissal and belief discrimination and in July last year.
Following the claim, both parties agreed to settle, with Oxfam issuing a public apology for its handling of the process.
Maria told UnHerd: “My life has been torn apart. It drove me to a breakdown, I lost my confidence and, worst of all, I began to doubt myself.”
More from the article:
The video, shared with the charity’s millions of supporters, was made by the Bangalore-based Falana Films to highlight the “lack of safety” that LGBT people feel around the world.
Rowling later liked a tweet criticising the depiction of the cartoon character. Oxfam said: “We have listened to concerns and removed the post.”
Rowling has denied she is transphobic and says she is campaigning for women’s rights and female-only spaces.
It looks as if Oxfam is having some mission creep, just like the ACLU and the SPLC in the U.S. Jez wrote more about the situation and sent me a link to the video, which you can watch below. Here’s what he said (name and quotes used with permission):
Oxfam has since re-released the video, but with the offending scene, which has also been branded as racist, deleted from the video. Hardly surprising, given that screenshot.
However, the new version has also been criticised, not least because it still seems to celebrate the double mastectomy of healthy breasts of gender non-conforming young women. Ironically, the person next to the woman with the mastectomy scars in the cartoon is wearing a “Protect Trans Kids” t-shirt:
Here’s the video (second tweet) and Oxfam’s apology (first tweet). Do watch the video.
We are posting the updated video below, please re-share to show solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community. None of us are safe until all of us are safe. This June, we call you to #ProtectThePride! pic.twitter.com/1iN4nFzmiX
— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) June 6, 2023
And the photo of the biological woman with mastectomy scars next to someone wearing a “Protect Trans Kids” short, right at the beginning of the video:
The rest from Jez:
Oxfam is a humanitarian aid charity; its senior staff in Haiti were accused of hiring prostitutes and exploiting young female victims of the earthquake. The charity’s country lead in Haiti was also accused of using prostitutes during his previous post in Chad.
And an Oxfam employee recently brought an employment tribunal claim after she was given a final warning simply for asking for evidence on a staff forum that JK Rowling had been transphobic. The charity settled with her and apologised before the case was heard [see above as well].
Very shocking – I won’t be donating to Oxfam in a hurry.
Now there’s nothing wrong with the video except for its extolling double mastectomies of children as “protecting trans kids.” What sticks in my craw here—and in Jez’s—is the demonization of J. K. Rowling as a transphobe, looking Satanic, when she’s clearly not transphobic. One can also criticize this flubbed mission creep of Oxfam, whose record isn’t very good—including that previous incident in which the charity dissed Rowling.