37

So the other week I was at a friends house, and the conversation briefly touched on Harry Potter. I’m a huge fan, like many of the those in the literate world, or as they used to be I guess. I’ve been careful not to mention HP fandom around my friend because she always brings up how “she’s mad at JK still!” I haven’t wanted to broach the subject because she’s very aggressive and not a great listener on many issues, and I wasn’t going to talk to her about it when she clearly has demonstrated her unwillingness to even discuss things outside of her world view.

This time however, once it was mentioned, I asked her if she had actually read the statement that JK had released... of course she hadn’t, but she explained to me that “this has been a long time coming”. She explained sadly that JK was homophobic, because lupin’s werewolf disease represents the aids epidemic (i don’t know how that’s homophobic... gay men did suffer an epidemic which was largely and tragically ignored by the public) and that she also hates Jews??? Of course I don’t believe that, and she didn’t offer any proof. Has anyone else ever heard of that? Is that a new thing?

I was just disappointed, but not surprised. As soon as I asked if she had actually read what JK said, (and I mentioned I had and it didn’t seem hateful to me at all) she immediately moved goalposts, and was vehemently saying “she’s the kind of feminist who only thinks that women who have periods are women - it’s terfy and horrible.” She described how terrible these women are who believe biological women are women, and here I’m standing there awkwardly thinking, “well that’s me.”

Idk what I’m looking for here. Just feels good to talk about it and not be told I’m terrible for caring about women’s rights. I have no hate for trans people, or any people at all of course. But I want to be able to talk about how great HP is and not feel like it’s a political discussion, because saying a woman is a woman shouldn’t be a ground breaking thing, and it certainly isn’t hate speech.

So the other week I was at a friends house, and the conversation briefly touched on Harry Potter. I’m a huge fan, like many of the those in the literate world, or as they used to be I guess. I’ve been careful not to mention HP fandom around my friend because she always brings up how “she’s mad at JK still!” I haven’t wanted to broach the subject because she’s very aggressive and not a great listener on many issues, and I wasn’t going to talk to her about it when she clearly has demonstrated her unwillingness to even discuss things outside of her world view. This time however, once it was mentioned, I asked her if she had actually read the statement that JK had released... of course she hadn’t, but she explained to me that “this has been a long time coming”. She explained sadly that JK was homophobic, because lupin’s werewolf disease represents the aids epidemic (i don’t know how that’s homophobic... gay men did suffer an epidemic which was largely and tragically ignored by the public) and that she also hates Jews??? Of course I don’t believe that, and she didn’t offer any proof. Has anyone else ever heard of that? Is that a new thing? I was just disappointed, but not surprised. As soon as I asked if she had actually read what JK said, (and I mentioned I had and it didn’t seem hateful to me at all) she immediately moved goalposts, and was vehemently saying “she’s the kind of feminist who only thinks that women who have periods are women - it’s terfy and horrible.” She described how terrible these women are who believe biological women are women, and here I’m standing there awkwardly thinking, “well that’s me.” Idk what I’m looking for here. Just feels good to talk about it and not be told I’m terrible for caring about women’s rights. I have no hate for trans people, or any people at all of course. But I want to be able to talk about how great HP is and not feel like it’s a political discussion, because saying a woman is a woman shouldn’t be a ground breaking thing, and it certainly isn’t hate speech.

63 comments

[–] TheEthicalHedonist 58 points (+58|-0) Edited

Jew here! I do understand how the whole goblin thing could possibly be seen as anti-Semitic, but I do not believe at all that JKR is an anti-Semite. Yes, even with $-loving, big-nosed Goblins. They’re goblins! Fictional fucking creatures!!!

And not for nothing, but if someone automatically sees “Jew” when any character has a large nose or likes $....they might want to think about their own anti-semitism 🤷🏻‍♀️

Tbf, I could “find” anti-semitism in a lot of places if I wanted to look hard enough. But I just don’t think it’s in the HP world. If anything, Malfoy and his crew are the “nazis” for being pure blood obsessed and JKR is very clear in showing how wrong that obsession is.

As for the whole Lupin- werewolf disease BS, the concepts of werewolves and their affliction has existed a LOT longer than the 80s and the AIDS epidemic.

These children need a history lesson and a better hobby 🙄

But just for education’s sake...anti-semitism exists without needing to go looking for it. Look up the ASL signs for Jew and then tell me what you think

The goblins might be based on antisemitic stereotypes: but JK Rowling was drawing from existing ideas about goblins and probably wasn't thinking about that (ironically, as you pointed out, the less you hold those stereotypes the harder it can be to spot antisemitic tropes).

JK Rowling has made it extremely clear when talking about real world politics that she understands antisemitism quite well and opposes it, even when other people are excusing it for being politically inconvenient. She's actually quite consistent.

[–] Capturedthecastle 26 points (+26|-0)

She tweeted a fair bit about her opposition to Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader and how he tolerated antisemitism.

[–] TheEthicalHedonist 21 points (+21|-0)

She is very consistent! And there is a definite subset of folks that are desperate to find anything they can use against her, imagined or not.

[–] ArmyofMe 6 points (+6|-0)

I agree 10000 percent. Vampire lore and stories are also historically anti Semitic but I don’t think anyone who writes a vampire tale is anti Semitic because of it.

[–] DaughtersOfLilith 31 points (+31|-0)

if someone automatically sees “Jew” when any character has a large nose or likes $....they might want to think about their own anti-semitism 🤷🏻‍♀️

Well put.

[–] diapason 16 points (+16|-0)

Look up the ASL signs for Jew and then tell me what you think

Wow I'd never even heard of that. That's awful

https://www.aish.com/jw/s/Anti-Semitism-in-Sign-Language.html

[–] Verdandi 12 points (+12|-0) Edited

Mr. Zaurov notes that in Ukrainian sign language one way to sign Jew is to depict a horn coming out of one’s head.

:O

Well you weren't joking!

[–] TheEthicalHedonist 11 points (+11|-0)

The “Jews have horns” thing is insane!

My mother always told the story of having lunch with the wife of a classmate of my father’s (in med school) and the woman said to my mom that she’d never met an actual Jew before and asked if she could see my mother’s horns.

To my mother’s credit, and endless patience, she calmly and kindly explained to this woman that no, Jews do not have horns.

This was the early 70s.

[–] holy_santo [OP] 1 points (+1|-0) Edited

Lol she’s actually older than me and I consider myself well aged enough to be an adult.

And not for nothing, but if someone automatically sees “Jew” when any character has a large nose or likes $....they might want to think about their own anti-semitism >

Yes! I agree so much with that. To be honest, I’m pretty ignorant on these topics. I’ve never understood why people today are anti-semitic at all. I know it’s historical and complex but I just don’t get it.... like, everyone is just a person.

That statement also reminds me some woke piece I read about aspects of systemic racism, and how math is inherently racist against black people. Not schools or redlining districts or the educational systems in place.... just math. Like, excuse me?? MATH? Yes math is hard to learn sometimes, but someone’s skin color doesn’t affect their intelligence or ability to learn!! I found the whole thing to be incredibly offensive. And also - math is a human invention, not a white people invention... it was developed by many different people. Bleh. Just saying I’ve found that sentiment elsewhere too.

I looked up the ASL sign for Jew and... what the hell? 😧 thanks for your response, it was helpful!

[–] Bogos 30 points (+30|-0)

I can guarantee most wokists are more anti Semitic than JKR who is capable of independent thought. I’m surprised your friend even cared, unless she herself is Jewish. Most Leftist are anti Semitic in so far as Israel is demonized far beyond other regimes (at least before Covid now there’s renewed hatred for China - nvm the human rights abuses there).

[–] TheEthicalHedonist 13 points (+13|-0)

You are very right! But covid has definitely seen some more shit thrown at Israel re: vaccines and Palestine. There’s a lot of anti-semitism on the left, but because they’re “woke,” it’s like, totally ok to hate on those awful Jews 🤬

[+] [Deleted] 2 points (+7|-5)

Yeah, I was about to write the same. The same morons who accuse her of anti-semitism would probably be the first in line to bomb Israel if they could. But of course when it' s time to use Jewish people to show how not nazis they are, they are more than happy to exploit them. See also all the people who were outraged by Gina Carano' s tweets.

[–] InvisibleWoman 20 points (+20|-0) Edited

I see the "jkr is antisemitic" thing pop up on twitter a lot, alongside more and more people saying they found her essay reasonable. It might be an approach to smear her reputation as more people realise that her position on women's rights isn't actually unreasonable and extreme like they were told it was. More people are thinking rationally about what she had actually said instead of toeing the party line, so those who want to prevent that must find a new tactic. My two cents.

ETA: Is anyone surprised TRAs are trying to equate their idea of transphobia with antisemitism? If a "violent transphobe" is also antisemitic, it adds validity to their claims of oppression. Which, tbh, sickens me.

[–] diapason 10 points (+10|-0)

ETA: Is anyone surprised TRAs are trying to equate their idea of transphobia with antisemitism? If a "violent transphobe" is also antisemitic, it adds validity to their claims of oppression. Which, tbh, sickens me.

I don't think anyone's surprised. They constantly try to add validity to their claims of oppression by drawing from racism and homophobia so it's no surprise they'd use anti-Semitism in much the same way.

[–] Astraea1284 4 points (+4|-0)

Totally unsurprising. They're already trying to appropriate the Holocaust and other acts of genocide.

[–] ArmyofMe 17 points (+17|-0)

Ugh I have seen this a lot and as a Jewish woman who is gender critical and a huge HP fan it’s super annoying.

She uses historical antisemitic tropes with both the goblins and Snape. The goblins, however, are an antisemitic trope that is so intertwined in the history of fantasy fiction that I don’t put the blame on her. I think a savvier writer would avoid it but I don’t think any author who uses that trope is automatically antisemitic (see also Tolkien). Snape is a little more insidious with his hook nose and could be a straight antisemitic character but he is a complex and rounded character. Not a good guy, but someone with depth. I have also seen criticism about lack of Jewish rep in the books and like, so few books have good Jewish rep including most of these woke SJW books that I have to laugh.

The ONLY time I have felt she has actually been antisemitic is her handling of the Israel situation that doesn’t get talked about at all because she is again on the opposite side of the wokists. She made a statement against BDS (yey!) but then justified her stance by basically comparing the Israelis to death eaters, aka genocidal wizard nazis. Very frustrating even as I remember it I get upset.

Still, Harry Potter and Rowling hold really important places in my heart, and her gender critical stance is important and, in my opinion, on the right side of history.

Can you point me to the statement comparing Israel to death eaters? All I can find is her signing the letter against BDS.

[–] ArmyofMe 6 points (+6|-0)

Here. Basically it’s like yeah they are kinda like death eaters but actually it’s ok because Snape was a good death eater

https://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sno25c

Thank you. And yeah, that definitely adds information/depth that I hadn’t seen before.

I’m going to have to marinate on this for a bit and figure out how I feel about it.

Thanks again for the counterpoint :)

[–] WatcherattheGates 16 points (+16|-0)

It's always hard when a society loses common sense; it makes people who have it feel very isolated. But you have all of us! And we can tell you that you are not the crazy one . . . Just keep speaking out, even softly, because eventually the worm will turn.

[–] holy_santo [OP] 12 points (+12|-0)

Thank you ☺️ I feel I can talk with my close friends irl and my fiancé about it - he’s about 90% in agreement with me about everything (I really think he’s 100% in agreement with me, just doesn’t realize it yet. He has trans friends he’s very fond of, of course, and feels like acknowledging these arguments 100% would be a betrayal to them. I’ve told him there are trans people who still believe that biological sex is reality though.) But reading everyone’s comments here and being able to talk has definitely been a breath of fresh air, and I appreciate it.

[–] CriminallyCritical 11 points (+11|-0)

I have trans friends who know my beliefs. We truly view it like a difference in religious beliefs. I don't want any harm to come to them, I just want to protect women. They are trans but understand not everyone believes it and don't want it pushed on people. That exists.

Okay, so I read the article, and obviously it's not transphobic. I've seen that lupin and the gay pandemic might have some corellation, but that is certainly not homophobic.

Actually the only two things I've read are about the Jews and slavery. Now keep in mind, I haven't read the books. Saw the movies. So I'm mostly just repeating what I read, but this is apparently where those statements come in:

The "hate the Jews" thing has to do with the goblins and the banking. And how they are othered in the Wizarding world. That's about it for that argument.

Slavery: well, this has to do with dobby and the house elves, and how dobby, even when emancipated, still ended up working for other people.

I feel both arguments were inferred where JKR probably didn't mean anything by it. Also, she is a white English woman. The English did like 50% of colonization in the world, so I suppose from their end she might have a bit of a biased view of how slavery works. But I do remember reading that in the books Hermione fights for the freeing of all house elfs, and that the screwed version the world got from the movies, were the choices of the studio.

I can't really weigh in on the Jewish matter, as I'm really more familiar with ancient Judaism than modern problems (aside from the big stuff, you know). Mostly this is just me repeating other arguments, and I have to wonder how hard people suddenly started looking for -isms in her work that wasn't there, mostly because the world turned against her.

[–] InvisibleWoman 23 points (+23|-0)

Yeah, in the books Hermione formed a house elf liberation society and knitted hats to give to the elves so they would be freed. Many of them didn't want to take them possibly because living conditions for them would have been worse outside of Hogwarts, which Hermione didn't really consider in her approach. She campaigned for better treatment of the elves, even those who didn't want to be free. The books had a little more nuance than the movies. It was interesting because it showed that because of how long they'd been enslaved, the elves didn't really know what to do with freedom and found it difficult to make decisions.

Awww, she knitted them little hats! Hermoine is the smartest girl in the school, punched Draco and in her spare time knitted elves hats. I see how that got cut in the movies - those later books were thick! But it's a nice twist to a character that could have been told as "not like other girls."

[–] InvisibleWoman 7 points (+7|-0)

I thought it was cute how she was really bad at knitting when she started, so much so that the hats weren't recognisable as hats, but got better because she made so many.

[–] Verdandi 13 points (+13|-0)

Read the books! They left SO MUCH out!

I can imagine. In many ways film can be very limiting - actually most books would be better served by being a mini-series. Admittedly some books hardly have enough stuffing for a movie (still boggles my mind how some authors get published with like 10 minutes of actual things happening), but imagine if the hp books had each been a mini series! So much of the extra stuff could have been shown!

[–] diapason 11 points (+11|-0)

Slavery: well, this has to do with dobby and the house elves, and how dobby, even when emancipated, still ended up working for other people.

IMO most of the Twitter crowd's arguments about this boil down to thinking that any depiction of slavery is automatically wrong and shouldn't be done even if it's a negative portrayal of it. The way it was presented in the books (I'm only looking at the books since that's what Rowling actually had control over, and also cause I don't remember the movies very well) definitely took a negative view of the enslavement of the house elves and had a pretty nuanced look at how the wizarding world and the characters treated it. The wizarding world basically treated it as just the way things were, while Hermione, who came from a non-wizard background, thought it was awful and started a society campaigning for better treatment of house elves (can't remember off the top of my head what it was called) and put a lot of energy into the cause while many of the other characters shrugged it off or thought she was being ridiculous. IIRC Harry was sympathetic but didn't really do much of anything for the house elves. The house elves, for their part, were so used to servitude that many of them didn't see the point of Hermione's activism. When freed, they generally didn't really know what to do with themselves and didn't really have many options.

I think the book did a good job of portraying the topic in a way that was accessible to children. The way the treatment of the house elves was handled in the book had nuance to it that showed the dynamics of how the society viewed it.

Yes, this is kind of what I was thinking since I posted. I think some of the back-lash was the idea that the house elves didn't want freedom, and how this is a metaphor for "the happy slave." Again, this is not my take, but what I've gathered from some remarks.

I think it is interesting that the Wizarding world didn't see much wrong with the treatment of the House elves, and that it took an outsider to point it out. Depending on where you are in the world, I suppose that is open for interpretation - and probably ought to stay open. As long as it's open, we can keep on discussing it.

The other thing I've been thinking about hard, is how high our standards for JKR are. The world wishes her books to be perfect at every point, and if we find one measly problem, it's enough to throw out the whole thing. Meanwhile, have you read some of the shit Stephen King writes? Blatant misogyny, racism and just common bad plots abound, but we smile and say: "that's King for you." He even has this one idiom he keeps misusing. At first I thought it was just a character thing, but then multiple characters - whom have never met - used it. "We'll burn that bridge when we get to it." And didn't he turn against JKR, too? So he can go rot under whatever rock he needs to crawl back under.

[–] diapason 8 points (+8|-0)

Meanwhile, have you read some of the shit Stephen King writes? Blatant misogyny, racism and just common bad plots abound, but we smile and say: "that's King for you."

Exactly, there are such higher standards for women than there are for men. And didn't he write a child orgy in one of his books too? Any fault of male writers is an idiosynchrocy while any fault of female writers is something they deserve to be picked apart over

[–] holy_santo [OP] 1 points (+1|-0)

Yeah I’ve seen that “happy slave” take. But how happy could they really be? It’s probably not out of the question for wizards to spell them into happily and enthusiastically working, which IMO is so much more insidious. Great takes. I’ve tried to hard to get into Stephen King cause everyone loves him, but I’ve never, ever liked his books. They’re just not good. 🤷‍♀️

[–] salty-tomorrow 9 points (+9|-0) Edited

SPEW :) Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare. And she’d get upset when Harry and Ron called it “spew” lol

[–] diapason 6 points (+6|-0)

Thank you! I was wracking my brain trying to remember haha

[–] Avadavat 14 points (+14|-0)

"Just feels good to talk about it and not be told I’m terrible for caring about women’s rights." That's why a lot of us are here...confounded by the fact that in the first decades of the 21st century adult human females centering women's rights, women's concerns has become "transphobic"..."hateful"....insufficiently validating for sissy porn-soaked men who make believe they are nubile, submissive anime girls...inside.

[–] RememberThis 13 points (+13|-0) Edited

The antisemitism accusation is always directed to Tolkien as well, and if I'm not mistaken many say both Tolkien and Rowling were inspired by norse mythology for the trope of goblins (as good artesans, for examples). But I don't know much about that so can't confirm!

I remember that the correlation of lycanthropy and HIV was intentional, but in a good way. Lupin had to quit teaching because of all the complaints parents sent once the fact he was a werewolf was known by everyone (that's why Dumbledore and Snape kept it a secret during the school year), much like people with HIV were let go form their jobs, at the time, basically because of the stigma being positive placed on them. So she wanted to draw attention to that issue, in fact every student was sad he left (maybe Slytherins aside lol, don't remember clearly tho and btw I am a proud Slytherin) cause he was maybe the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher they ever had, and if I'm not wrong Harry states this literally in the book :)

[–] BluecatSarah 2 points (+2|-0)

IIRC with Tolkien it was the dwarves (the enemies of goblins).

However, he got his ideas (and a lot of the names) from the dwarfs in Norse mythology, who were regarded as mysterious, gold loving, highly skilled & stubborn (one of the names, Thrain, in both Tolkien & the Eddas, actually means stubborn, as in "thrawn" in Northern English dialect), which almost certainly predate Norse culture having any concept of Jewishness, and certainly pre-date antisemitic tropes that circulated in Europe.

He obviously was aware of the unfortunate implications in his own time: he was asked to certify that he was "Aryan" by a German publisher who wanted to do a translation of the Hobbit in 1938 or so: his reply is a masterpiece of scholarly contempt.

Apart from "Aryan" only being meaningful as a term in linguistics (which of course he knew all about: we call it Indo-European nowadays), he ended by saying that if he was being asked to say that he had no Jewish ancestry, then, to his regret, he "could claim no share in that race which has done so much for civilisation" (quoting from memory, may be slightly misworded).

He didn't get published in Germany until after the war.

[–] CaptainLavender 7 points (+7|-0)

The werewolf homophobia thing comes from the fact that Fenrir Greyback is a werewolf who deliberately spreads his disease....so some people took that and turned it into “JK thinks gay men spread AIDs deliberately”. Completely ignoring the fact that there ARE men who deliberately spread it (I guess all these people are naive af) and the fact that Lupin’s (and Bill’s) portrayal is very sympathetic and fleshed out.

[–] RememberThis 6 points (+6|-0)

And Greyback is maybe depicted as the vilest villain in the saga. I interpreted his character as another rapresentation of different ways people can be evil (compared to Umbridge and Voldemort mostly), but he is not gay right? He attacks children preferably (ew :/) and I remember he wanted to bite Hermione at some point. The gay comparison is a reach imo, as all their arguments are, and homophobic since they think a character that has Wizarding World HIV---->gay

[–] CaptainLavender 5 points (+5|-0) Edited

It’s not that these characters are literally gay, it’s that it’s a possible metaphor (or allegory, not sure). I can see why people believe it (I feel very on the fence as to whether there was anything deliberate there), it’s a theory that’s been floated about for like a decade, but I doubt JKR has ever said anything about it

Edit: I did some googling and, actually, she confirmed this! Werewolves/werewolf symptoms are an analogy for "stygmatised illness like HIV/AIDs", her own words. The outrage is still overblown and bizarre.....for every disease like this, there will be people who spread it deliberately. Doesn't have to be a finger pointed at gay men specifically.

[–] Jellyfishes 5 points (+5|-0) Edited

But there are lots of stories out there of werewolves who think they are better than humans, want to increase their numbers and rule the world, it's not a new concept.

[–] CaptainLavender 4 points (+4|-0) Edited

I think it’s more that Fenrir wants to inflict pain on people deliberately, more than make more werewolves (it’s been a long time since I read the books though, might be wrong). Werewolves aren’t a new concept either obviously but every author is going to have “their” werewolf

[–] Verdandi 6 points (+6|-0) Edited

Why are you friends with such an unstable and unhinged person?

Edit: I mean I just couldn't tolerate being around people who actively deteriorate my mental health.

[–] holy_santo [OP] 4 points (+4|-0)

There are not many options for friendship in my community honestly. It’s small town and there are lots of people who are REALLY into Trump, or are Qanon.

[–] gold_bee 2 points (+2|-0)

I feel that! I think a lot of women in the US are in the same situation.

[–] DiamondFalls 5 points (+5|-0)

I just had a random thought.

What if you print JK Rowling's essay without her name on it, and present it to your friend. What would she think about it? What if she could not find hate there (because come on), and then you made the big reveal that it's JK she just read? Do you think her head would explode? :)

Load more (1 comment)