Harry Potter and the Reverse Voltaire

[A]pparently what had prompted my colleague’s enthusiastic denunciation of J. K. Rowling’s statement of the political importance of the concept of sex was not so much any disagreement with the essence of what was said, but the thought that it may or may not be hateful to say so.

“I agree completely with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death to prevent you from saying it.”

If we are denied the language and resources to recognise, record, and respond to the facts of female oppression, we will not be able to ameliorate these harms. That is why, despite the many efforts made to prevent us from doing so, so many of us continue to speak.

The ‘Reverse Voltaire’ is of course a nod to its more famous cousin, the quote so-often attributed to Voltaire in defence of free speech:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

The words were not actually Voltaire’s, but those of his biographer, one S. G. Tallentyre. Stephen G. Tallentyre was itself a pseudonym, of one Evelyn Beatrice Hall. Writing in 1906, the female Evelyn chose a male pseudonym to increase her chances of being listened to. And her words certainly were heard, though their true attribution is more often forgotten.

Source: Harry Potter and the Reverse Voltaire | by Mary Leng | Jul, 2020 | Medium

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