Pardon my French, but I think it’s time for everyone to chill the fuck out.
Over the last few months, J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame has been taking heaps of criticism for some perceived slight she may have accidentally implied on Twitter back in December.
This is what she said:
Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
Soon after, all hell apparently broke loose.
To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention at the time. I did see her Tweet, but to me it seemed incredibly open-minded and even enlightened. Love all, serve all, be happy in your own skin….what could possibly be offensive about that? I didn’t know or really care who this Maya person was, and while I now know who she is, I don’t understand why I’m supposed to run out and burn all my copies of the Harry Potter books and dispose of the marvelous audio books because of a Tweet.
This is “cancel culture” at its worst, which is really saying something. The stupidity that has taken away the Washington Redskins, Aunt Jemima, Splash Mountain and the Easter Bunny is now trying to take away my daughter’s absolute favorite imaginary world?
And yes, I was kidding about the Easter Bunny.
I mean, I think I was kidding. These days, who knows?
Rowling later clarified what she meant by her Tweet in a thorough explanation that I’m sure no one read. You can find it here, and it’s worth checking out. She was not in any way disrespecting people of the LGBTQ community, merely pointing out that replacing sex with gender may have some widespread complications.
Rowling’s conclusion was this:
“I haven’t written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one. I’m extraordinarily fortunate; I’m a survivor, certainly not a victim. I’ve only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex backstory, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions. I never forget that inner complexity when I’m creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people.”
We all have complex backstories, some more than others. We’ve all had terrible things happen to us that were beyond our control and that we didn’t deserve. We have either risen above it and found life on the other side, or we are still suffering through it to one degree or another.
Most people have it worse than me, as I am a white, heterosexual male born to incredibly smart parents who made plenty of money to keep us comfortable. Most of the biases in this world seem to work in my favor, in one way or the other, and I don’t take that for granted or overlook it in my dealings with others. I have friends of many different races, religions and of different sexual orientations and it’s all good. Rowling said: “Live your best life in peace and security,” which is how I feel. Granted, I prefer “Live Long and Prosper,” but it’s the same basic idea.
In recent years, Rowling has made some statements that I would have been happier had she not made. She talked about Albus Dumbledore being gay, about Hermione Granger being black, and other things that I really just choose to ignore. I have been a regular visitor to the Wizarding World since my mom sent me the first book (The Sorceror’s Stone) with a note that said: “Read this!!!” At that time there were only three Potter books and within a couple of weeks I had purchased and read all three. I have a wonderful vision of that world in my mind, and nothing Rowling says can retcon that world for me.
All of that said, parsing a few words she said in a Tweet seems like a waste of time. It certainly isn’t cause to throw away beloved books and stop planning elaborate vacations to Universal Studios to taste that world once again. As with so many other things in this bizarre season of “cancel culture,” I am left wondering why we don’t focus our energies on bigger issues facing the world around us and let other people’s opinions roll off of our backs.
Thanks for reading! I think I’ll go pick up The Deathly Hallows again.