Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sex, Power and Albus Dumbledore I

At a recent book reading J.K Rowling announced that Albus Dumbledore, the Dr. Middos character of the Harry Potter series, was in fact gay. (link) I am in middle of mulling over the news trying to decide if I am in any way bothered by this revelation, should I be bothered and does this in any way affect my opinion of the series. In theory I should not be bothered in the least by this. I have no objection what so ever to people having such inclinations. Five to ten percent of the population is this way. That is the way the world works. I do not even have any personal objections to the action itself. It just happens to be forbidden by my religion. I no more object to non Orthodox Jews engaging in homosexual sex than I object to non Orthodox Jews eating pork or violating any of the commandments. Rowling did not say if Dumbledore ever actually consummated any homosexual relationship she just said that he was in love with Grindelwald. Even if Dumbledore was involved in an actual homosexual relationship it should not be a problem. I never was under the impression that Dumbledore was an Orthodox Jew, despite his long white beard.
For me this decision on Rowling’s part perfectly illustrates what I had long suspected of her, that she is a shallow liberal. Her liberalism consists of declaring her creeds of tolerance and questioning authority, without truly comprehending what that entails. This is not an attack on liberalism. I have a problem with any intellectual position that is turned into a series of talking points to be mouthed by its adherents like a catechism. (At least a small part of what is wrong with Orthodox Judaism today can be laid at the feet of whoever bowdlerized Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Faith into the thirteen ani mamins.) Does Rowling really believe that by making Dumbledore gay she is helping to stop the persecution of gays, particularly when she waited until after she finished the books to tell anyone? What active intolerance against gays is there in the western world that Rowling feels she has to fight? (Clearly she is not trying to help the gay community of Iran since, as we all know, there is no such thing.) Ultimately for Liberals gay rights is not really about tolerance. The intellectual left rejects the notion of the hegemonic traditional family because it sees that as one of the major thought structures behind patriarchy. For them the gay rights movements is about the normalization of homosexuality as a means of deconstructing the traditional family. For most of the left, those unable to comprehend the very conceptual debates over family and patriarchy, gay rights are a creed to rally behind. As with any religious creed, the point is not that people should intellectually comprehend and believe, but that they should accept the creed as a something to declare and come to believe that they are superior to those who do not declare their belief in it. Most Liberals, in my experience, talk about their belief in gay rights, not as an intellectual position, but as words to be mouthed in order to make themselves superior to those who do not mouth the same words. What Rowling was essentially saying to her audience was that she was one of the brave tolerant people, unlike those nasty Christian fundamentalists out there. She even has a gay character in her books, albeit one that no one knew about. Three cheers for J.K Rowling for really sticking it to those intolerant people out there.
(To be continued.)

1 comment:

therapydoc said...

At least you don't pick any of this up in her books. She kept lust OUT of the novels, and if she chose to take a stab at our heterosexist world post-publication, it is her political prerogative.

What's interesting is that she DOES illustrate true love in same sex relationships, she's not afraid to say that children love one another in non-sexual ways, like people. I had no idea Dumbledore was gay, and honestly, like you, still don't care.

Which is still another point.