Friday, November 02, 2007

Dumbledore's Sexuality

A lot of hue and cry has been raised about the fact that Rowling "declared" that the Headmaster of Hogwarts - Dumbledore is Gay...
The argument has gone on both in the blogging world and out of it. Since, so much has been written about this and instead of hogging the comment's space of fellow bloggers - I decided to post my 2 cents worth on the same topic...
When I first heard/read that "Dumbledore was gay" article on the Internet, my first reaction was - So? How does it matter?
Whether he is a Homo or a Hetero, what does it matter?It's a fictitious character and what does it matter?
Then, I went ahead and read the various reactions to it. The first was - it was a major victory to the LGBT Community.
How?
How is it a victory if a fictional character is declared gay? How is it helping the LGBT community in fighting for their rights/acceptance?

This so-called declaration has made sure that the parents don't let their children pick up the 5 - 7 series' books at any age below 10-12...
Right?
I mean, if I had kids now - I would make sure that they read age-appropriate books which fuel their mental growth, which in turn will help them at a later stage to understand what "Being Gay" actually means...
Mad Momma has written a balanced post on the whole issue here which is so appropriate.
How many of us would explain the terms homosexual to a child below 10-12 yrs of age?

Why should children grow up any faster? She makes a very valid point by saying that -
"I'd rather they sit under a tree and eat jam and scones a la Enid Blyton."
Again, arguments arose for her article for which she says again -
" GAY IS NOT AN ISSUE BUT BRINGING UP A CHARACTER'S SEXUAL ORIENTATION IN A CHILD'S BOOK IS POINTLESS. " Which is again true!
* MM you had me nodding all along! *
Here, the question is not about Gay couples or whether they can provide the necessary security children should have. It doesn't mean that all heterosexual couples are giving the required security for children - no, it just means that the sexual orientation of a fictional character is pointless.
Why bring it up now? When you say your books are targeted for children - why bring this out now?? What is the point?
Again, I ask the same question - how is it actually helping the LGBT community?
Will the declaration of Dumbledore's sexuality make Gay marriages/relationships legal?
Will parents across the globe stop treating homosexuality as a contagious disease? NO...

Our society is rife with prejudices against LGBT communities...
And I just spoke to a colleague - and he said that - now, after all this - he doesn't want his 8 yr old son to read the 5th book of the series and he won't be buying it!!!

You will find people of this sort of mentality more than the ones who say - it's alright.

I really don't think that this has helped the Gay community...
More awareness, more acceptance is needed and that is happening very slowly and I definitely don't think Rowling's declaration has helped anyone - Homo or Hetero in conquering their fears, prejudices...
Its really a death for children's literature as MM aptly mentions...
We still symbolise innocence with children - I don't think that we want that to be taken away from us...

Please note: This doesn't mean I am against or prejudiced against the LGBT community.It just means that the sexual orientation of a fictitious character isn't helping anyone...

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice post Pixie. I agree with what you have said and you have written it well.

rayshma said...

D's sexual orientation is helping. it's kept the buzz alive abt the potter series way after the last in the series has been devoured by the loyals. it's a mega publicity stunt. and it has paid off well!
D's sexuality is not being spoken abt in the book. it's only in d media.
rowling has picked an already dead character and created hype around him. from a marketer's perspective - brilliant work! from a potter fan's perspective *which i am* - irrelevant.

GettingThereNow said...

Made my over here from MM's blog. I am going around peppering the blogworld with my comments on this issue :D

You said "How many of us would explain the terms homosexual to a child below 10-12 yrs of age?"

I would. I did. My daughter asked me last year (when she was 8) what gay/lesbian means when she heard the term on news one day. We don't need to go into details of what a gay/lesbian relationship is like - just giving an age appropriate answer is enough. Even if JKR hadn't made this statement, there would have been ample opportunities for kids around the world to pick these terms up.

"This so-called declaration has made sure that the parents don't let their children pick up the 5 - 7 series' books at any age below 10-12..."

I think even before this declaration parents shouldn't have let their kids read books 5-7. I made that decision long BEFORE JKR's declaration. And it is not because of Dumbledore's sexual orientation but because of the other stuff in there which is not appropriate for children under age 12 (or even age 14). But you'd be surprised how many parents don't pay attention to the age appropriatemess of any movies their kids are watching or any books they are reading. I do (pay attention, I mean) and let me tell you - I am a definite minority. Some parents look at me like I have horns and a tail when I ask the rating on a TV program that my daughter wants to watch.

And the last three books are NOT children's literature. As with ANY book, parents should make sure what their kids are reading is age-appropriate. So, I don't agree that it is "the death of children's literature".

I agree in that it isn't a help for the gay/lesbian community. It is the sexual orientation of a FICTIONAL character, for crying out loud :D

Whew!! I LOVE a good debate :P

the mad momma said...

well said. specially from a non-parent.. i am so glad you see my point. thanks.

the mad momma said...

PS: I dont mind explaining gay or lesbian to my child. I just think its not something that should concern them. and i think it adds nothing to the story.

RR said...

I agree with what gettingtherenow said,JKR stopped writing children's books at book 3. Beyond that, gay or not, Dumbledore and his pack of school children weren't being treated as part of children's literature anyway. She wrote the books for an audience that grew with Harry and his friends. They were 11 when they read the first book and they were 17 when they read the last. What about the others you ask? Well, it is the author's wish to determine which audience he/she wants to cater to.

Pixie said...

@Rayshma: I agree it's brilliant marketing, But as you mention - it's irrelevant since the character is fictitious and dead!

@ Gettingtherenow: Read your blog! Loved your posts... But, I am speaking about a parent here in India - where sex itself is an uncomfortable subject - and homosexuality is taboo in most households...
Now-a-days parents might be unwinding just a little, but when I speak to my colleagues here - Gay/Lesbian topics are not discussed at home and most kids are admonished for asking such questions! That's the reality and the parents who have explainined things to their children are a minority
I do agree that the books 5-7 weren't exactly children's read...
And, I think that you are a great parent - to make sure your children read age appropriate books, I'm so going to be following the same thing with my kids in the future :-)
Thanks for dropping by!

@Mad Momma: Thank you! A compliment from you sure goes a long way!! And I again agree with what you say!

Pixie said...

@RR: I agree with what you say, but other than the brilliant marketing strtegy, it's an irrelevant fact as Rayshma mentions...

claytonia vices said...

I agree with gettingtherenow, how much of the potter series or anything else is age-appropriate these days?

It is just that people seem to be OK with death, violence, etc appearing so frequently on TV and movies so they are OK with even kids watching them.

And of course, even if you don't allow kids to read those harry potter issues chances are kids will come to know these words elsewhere. So if you are talking often to your kids they will ask you questions. Otherwise they will ask someone else who may or may not give them the right answers...

Pixie said...

@Vikki: I agree to all that, but practically speaking, how many parents do you see around you - answering questions their kids ask (according to their age) freely without discomfort?
Sex and anything related to it is still a very uncomfortable topic in most households.. Maybe, now-a-days things are changing, but it isn't drastic.
Also, Dumbledore being Gay or not is not something which will help anyone other than Rowling herself (marketing strategy) - I maintain that...
Also, kids should be kids - growing up is inevitable - but, the innocence of childhood is something most parents want to maintain at least till they are 10...
Talking helps - but, again, it depends how broadminded you are as a parent to explain things properly to your child.

illusionaire said...

Hehehe... I am an Anti-Potter from the very beginning :-P I have never read a single book of the HP series, but I have seen all his movies at the theater thanx to my girlfriend who would drag me there, otherwise I will have to deal with the biggest tantrum the World has ever witnessed :) Sometimes if it is during her periods, I buy the HP tickets even before she asked me to accompany her to the movies *GRIN*

Coming to the topic, I have just read Mad Momma's post and it was an excellent read. It was really unnecessary of JKR to announce that.

And hey, leaving all those issues on "publicity stunts" and "target audiences" aside, I think JKR should have been more considerate of all her readers' sentiments. I mean, gay issues may be a big thing back in the US and parents may not mind their children exploring different paths, but to her ardent fans here in India, things are sooooo different here. Gay issues need to be tackled by the society first as it is still not accepted in our society. When even the mere word heterosexual is taboo, where do you think homosexual, bisexual, trisexual, quadrosexual etc stand here in India? :)

Pixie said...

@Illisionaire: Thank you! That's exactly my point too... :-)

GettingThereNow said...

I agree that there aren't many parents answering their kids' questions frankly and maybe they even discourage such questions. Even in that case, how and why is it JKR's fault to have made the declaration in question? She doesn't cater to the Indian community solely. I remember someone commented somewhere how she should be considerate to ALL her readers, including the Indian community. How would she, or any other author, do that? The problem here is not JKR's declaration, or the violence in the Harry Potter books. It is the closed minded attitude that many parents have - and I am not talking about just the Indian community. I have seen plenty of American parents/people with such an attitude too. I wish we could change that but sadly, we can't. We can only work with our kids and hope that they will grow up to be better parents than we are. Same for the kids with narrow-minded parents - hope they will learn how NOT to parent from their parents in this respect (JUST this respect - don't mean to say that such parents are bad or less concerned about their kids' wellbeing)

Thanks for dropping by my blog!