Gay - Umbridge is alarmed

FictionAlley Park Post - JKR, Black!Hermione, and the Salem Witch Trials

Not sure if anyone is still reading this, but I thought I'd re-post something I just wrote in FictionAlley Park on the "Can't Stand Extra Non-Book Information From JKR" thread.

So according to JKR, anyone who points out that women as dark-skinned as Noma Dumezweni don't turn white with fear - and, therefore, Canon!Hermione does not look like Noma Dumezweni - is a racist.

'With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot.

'But what can you say? That's the way the world is. Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job.'

'I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione 'turned white' – that is, lost colour from her face after a shock – that she must be a white woman, which I have a great deal of difficulty with.'

If JKR's logic was that Noma Dumezweni was the best actress for the job and, therefore, it didn't matter to her that ND doesn't look like Canon!Hermione, I would have been fine with that. It's the insistence that the books allow for Canon!Hermione to be interpreted as looking like Noma Dumezweni that bothers me, because it's simply not true. Canon!Hermione can be interpreted as European, or Mediterranean, or a lighter-skinned biracial person. She has brown, frizzy hair; she's light-skinned enough that her face can be described as white when the blood drains from it; she's light-skinned enough that she tans to "very brown" after coming back from holiday (PoA). Noma Dumezweni has black hair, could not be described as ever having a white face, and is always "very brown" because, hello, she's a black African woman.

Various media articles have pointed out the fanart that depicts Hermione as black, but they don't point out that the majority of them have Hermione as being a light-skinned black girl. There's a reason that fanart interpretations of Hermione as being black have had her as light-skinned, and it's because canon doesn't support the interpretation of her as dark-skinned. If it is a change for you to be "very brown" after getting tan, you are not a dark-skinned person.

Normally, a white woman insisting that dark-skinned black girls can have white faces from fear would be branded as the racist, as someone who thinks blackness is temporary or able to be changed. If Hermione had been depicted as dark-skinned in early HP books and then described as going white with fear in later ones, we'd have seen opinion articles with headlines like "J. K. Rowling Thinks Black Girls Can Turn White." But JKR's back at her old tricks of trying to claim there's diversity in her writing that she didn't actually bother to write, and anyone who doesn't see it is a bigot. Thanks a lot, JKR.

On a different note, I have to critique another piece of non-book information that no one seems to have mentioned here yet - JKR's historical rewrite of the reasons behind the Salem Witch Trials.

I should start by mentioning that the Salem Witch Trials have been kind of my thing since I was in third grade. I read all kinds of books about them and was even a "Salem witch" for Halloween. I've been to Salem twice (once for an HP convention in 2005) and I keep up with any new books on the subject that are published.

I don't have a problem with historical fiction, but I think historical fiction that claims that any of the accused really were witches is pretty disgusting. The whole point of the Salem Witch Trials is that a community got caught up in false accusations and people died, not that there was maybe some grain of truth to the accusations but don't worry, no one was actually evil or anything.

The Salem Witch Trials were horrible. They involved old ladies being hanged, an old man being suffocated to death, a four-year-old girl being imprisoned, and two babies dying in jail. They're not some cute little historical hijinks for JKR to rewrite for the sake of her fictional universe. Her Pottermore page on the Salem Witch Trials shows people being burned at the stake, because JKR's Didn't Do The Research is so strong that she isn't even aware that no one was burned at the stake at Salem.

Making some of the accused "Salem witches" real witches in the context of the HP universe is an insult, because it casts them as allowing the atrocities to continue without using their powers to stop them. Which "Salem witches" are supposed to be real witches in JKR's universe, I wonder? Sarah Good, who wouldn't use her magic to get her pregnant self and her little girl out of prison and was eventually hanged, all while insisting she wasn't a witch? Giles Corey, who refused to use magic to blast the stones off his chest? Rebecca Nurse, who spent her life masquerading as a good Puritan woman with the abhorrence of witchcraft that that title implies?

Maybe JKR should spend less time making ridiculous accusations of racism and more time contemplating why she thinks it's okay to hijack one of the greatest tragedies of the American colonial era.


I started watching Sherlock on Netflix a couple of weeks ago, and now I've watched the whole thing. I went into it knowing that there were a lot of "Johnlock" shippers, but that actually didn't have too much to do with why I was watching it. At the end of the first season, I didn't quite see where the shippers were coming from, mostly because the thought of Sherlock in a romantic relationship was kind of incomprehensible to me. Partway through second season, though, all the couple-y references got to be a bit much and by the end of third season I was on board.

Everything I know about this show I've learned in the past two weeks, and everything I know about the fandom I've learned in the past few days. Apparently there's this thing called The Johnlock Conspiracy, which is the theory that the show intends for Sherlock and John to end up together. As much as I would love, love, love to believe this, I used to be convinced back in the day that J. K. Rowling was going to have Sirius and Remus be together (or at least left ambiguous), only to get smacked in the face with Remus/Tonks (which, I think even its shippers have to admit, came out of nowhere). Also, as the mother of a baby, the idea of Sherlock as some little girl's stepfather is kind of scary.

If The Johnlock Conspiracy isn't real, the show's writers are really being jerks by dangling the possibility in our faces.

Writer's block

I've been writer's-blocked on the next chapter of Another Prisoner, Another Professor for almost two years now. O_O It doesn't help that I've spent most of that time off my regular medications. (Another few months until Marauder Junior hopefully gets weaned...) I'm actually at the point now where I have some time to update it, but I am blocked, blocked, blocked. I know what's happening later in the fic, but I need to get past this part.

Okay. You are Harry Potter, age thirteen - AU Harry, but still essentially Harry. You go into your dormitory and you realize that someone has opened your trunk and stolen the Marauder's Map. Clearly, you're going to tell Ron and Hermione. Because you are AU!Harry, you've known Sirius for several months now - he's the current DADA professor, has never been to Azkaban, and now you know he's your godfather and you're going to live with him over the summer. (Remus Lupin, on the other hand, is an escaped prisoner, but you and Sirius have recently started to believe he's innocent, even though neither of you quite knows how.) You, AU!Harry, are not supposed to be keeping secrets from Sirius. He does not know you ever had the Marauder's Map, and you don't know that he's Padfoot. You hope to get the Map back and not even have to address whether or not you should tell him that this map that could leave evil people right to you has been stolen from your room. As far as you're aware, you, Ron, Hermione, Fred and George are the only people aware that you had the Map.

What's your strategy for how to get the Map back? Where do you even start?
Gay - Umbridge is alarmed

"This edition features new modernized text"

Motherhood has left me without time to do a lot of things, but reading books isn't one of them. Marauder Junior is breastfed and usually eats with her eyes closed or with her arm thrown over her face, so she doesn't particularly care if I'm reading a book while she's eating. I prop up the book on a little stand in front of me (I feed her sitting on the floor a lot) and only need one hand to turn the page. I've been reading a lot of non-fiction, young-adult books I read as a kid, and young-adult books I never read as a kid. Marauder Junior and I go to the library at least once a week, where we get more books for me and more board books for her.

When I was a kid, my mom wouldn't let me give away any of my books, even ones I said I didn't even like all that much or was tired of. She said a lot of them were classics and if I had my own kids I'd just have to re-buy them anyway. For the last several years I've been glad she didn't let me get rid of any books, but now I'm extremely glad she didn't, because in the time that I've been out of the loop when it comes to children's and young-adult books, a bunch of them have gotten "modernized text," as the blurb on one back cover put it. As in, Margaret (of Are You There, God? fame) now uses tampons instead of belted pads and Sheila Tubman (Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great) duplicates the camp newspaper on the photocopier, not the mimeograph machine. The reissued Baby-Sitters Club books have "headphones" where they originally had Walkmans. Boo. And. Hiss.

I'm not sure what the "modernized text" in one of my new library books, Lois Duncan's Don't Look Behind You is, because I've never read the original from 1989. But whatever the changes are, they bug me. They bug me because reading books from decades past is how I learned about little things in contemporary history like belted menstrual pads and mimeograph machines, and they bug me because I suspect that behind this whole "modernized text" thing is a belief that kids will only care about characters whose world closely resembles their own.

Anyone who writes contemporary fiction has to accept that whatever they write is going to be historical fiction someday. When Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women, Mr. March being a Civil War chaplain was contemporary. Publishers in later years didn't decide he had to be a chaplain in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan in order for readers to like the book. I've never actually read Little Women, but I know that part of what fans like about it is the historical aspect, and part of what I like about books from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s or 1990s is the historical/nostalgic aspect. C. S. Lewis didn't have to explain why Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were sent to the Professor's house "because of the air-raids" at the time he wrote The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Now kids have to find out what the air-raids were and why a bunch of London siblings would be sent to the country because of them. And that's okay. It teaches them something about WWII, and the 1940s setting of the book shows them that kids from the last century had sibling rivalries and got bored just like modern kids, even if they tried to patch up sibling rivalries by asking their sisters to "make it pax" and even if they fought their boredom by playing hide-and-seek instead of playing games on their iPhones.

Still having all my old books means Marauder Junior can read the original text. I wonder how far publishers are intending to go with this "modernized text" thing - will Sheila running off the camp newspaper on the photocopier eventually turn into Sheila texting everyone the link to the camp blog? Maybe eventually they're realize the futility of trying to keep books modern and they'll just leave them alone. I hope, anyway.
Garden gate and blossoms

Halloween and Marauder Junior

Last year on Halloween, I decided during the middle of the day to go see the remake of Carrie by myself, and went. This year on Halloween, my mom is coming over so I can take a nap, after which I'm taking my seven-week-old daughter to go get her picture taken in her Halloween costume. She's going to be a pirate.

Marauder Junior has huge eyes, frequent hiccups, Mr. Marauder's detached earlobes and long eyelashes, my long toes, not much hair on the top of her head and a whole lot in the back, tiny little pink lips that made me understand for the first time what a "Cupid's-bow mouth" looks like, baby acne, a short middle finger on her left hand which requires a splint to help her learn to fully lift it, and is incredibly adorable. It still feels weird that I'm actually someone's mom. (Right now as I'm typing, she's in a sling on my chest and trying to figure out if she wants to fall asleep or not.) I had hellish postpartum depression for the first couple of weeks after she was born. It didn't help that:

1. I was recovering from a C-section and wasn't allowed to go up and down stairs more than strictly necessary, or lift anything over ten pounds.
2. I was hugely sleep-deprived.
3. Our heater quit working and Mr. Marauder was up fixing it in the middle of the night.
4. Our cat ate part of a stargazer lily and had to be rushed to the emergency vet's for charcoal treatments and IV fluids.
5. I found out about the short middle finger in the middle of the night when Marauder Junior was a week old - it took us that long to think to stretch out the fingers she kept curling in - and my mind jumped to a worst-possible-scenario of Marauder Junior, age five or so, crying because she couldn't do things everybody else could and other kids were mean to her. (The orthopedic surgeon we saw says she's seen kids with similar fingers who type and play the piano.)
6. The aftereffects of the Oxycodone they gave me in the hospital totally messed up my digestive system.
7. My hormones were all over the place.
8. It was my first time ever taking care of a baby. (This is what happens when you're an only child who grew up in a rural area with no one around to babysit.)
9. Mr. Marauder's dad was coming from out of state to visit with his new girlfriend, who I'd never met, and I was anxious about having a total stranger come into my house and meet my newborn child when I felt awful and the house was a complete mess. (Still haven't met her - she decided to stay home and Mr. Marauder's dad came by himself.)
10. I couldn't drive for the first week after the C-section and felt trapped in the house.
11. I couldn't even knit, because I knit with one needle propped against my abdomen and I was afraid of poking the incision.

Luckily, Mr. Marauder was home for the first few weeks - he got a week of paid family leave, then took a week of vacation time, then worked from home for two weeks after that before going back full-time. Also luckily, my mom was able to come over for at least a few hours on most weekdays, which she's still doing. So incredibly thankful for both of them.

The more chances I have to do the things I did before Marauder Junior was born, the better I feel. It really helps now that I'm finally off weight restrictions and able to carry Marauder Junior in the car seat, and that stairs aren't an issue anymore and I can watch Netflix again. (We have a split-level house and one TV downstairs. Marauder Junior's first words are going to be either "Magic always comes at a price" or "Previously on Pretty Little Liars." My mom watched soap operas when I was a baby and I turned out all right, although TV exposure did lead me, at the age of two, to notice a black woman in the grocery store and exclaim, "Oprah!")

Biggest surprises from Marauder Junior's birth and the days following:

1. The actual C-section was easy and pain-free compared to the recovery. I'm going for VBAC next time if at all possible.
2. The doctor had to cut me slightly wider because Marauder Junior's head got stuck on the way out.
3. Oxycodone is heinous and made me throw up water all over the bed.
4. The incision was gray until recently and is now pink.
5. Marauder Junior weighed a whole pound and a half less at birth than I did.
6. On the second night after Marauder Junior was born, I was so tired that I fell asleep in the middle of a sentence and then, when I woke up two seconds later, couldn't remember what the first part of the sentence had been.

Favorite baby milestones so far, in order that they happened:

1. The umbilical cord stump finally falling off after something like twenty days. No more sponge baths! (Haven't been able to bring myself to throw the stump away yet. My mom still has mine in an envelope somewhere.)
2. Moving from two middle-of-the-night feedings to one late-evening feeding, one middle-of-the-night feeding, and one early-morning feeding. (I'm going to be so thrilled when she starts sleeping through the night. SO. THRILLED.)
3. Marauder Junior learning to smile in response to other people smiling at her. (Question most likely to provoke a smile: "Did you make poops?")
4. Today! First post-utero holiday!

Happy Halloween, everyone. :D
  • Current Mood
    awake awake
Very happy baby

Marauder Junior is here

Marauder Junior - who is a little girl - was born on September 10 via C-section. We're home from the hospital and I'm doing my best to cope with all the feelings and responsibilities. I love her and I'm very glad she's here safely. Online time will be very limited for some time.
Garden gate and blossoms

Marauder Junior, Thane of Fife

Remember last entry, when I said "The reality that I actually have to push out this kid in another few weeks is setting in"? Well, now it appears I'm not going to be pushing Marauder Junior out at all, because s/he is still in a breech position at 36 weeks and unless s/he manages to flip, it looks like I'm having a C-section. This is going to be my first major surgery ever, so I'm a little freaked out by the idea.

Disadvantages of C-section:

- they have to actually cut me open!
- I can't drive for two weeks afterwards
- I can't lift stuff over ten pounds for six weeks afterwards (this will be an issue if Marauder Junior grows really fast)
- can't eat before surgery and it's scheduled for late morning, which means I'll probably be hungry
- scar on abdomen
- will have to figure out "second C-section vs. VBAC" issues with Marauder Junior Two someday
- what if it gets infected?
- what if if gets infected and I have to have a hysterectomy?

Advantages of C-section:

- possibility of Marauder Junior being born on September 11 is now off the table
- don't have to push (I've had Braxton-Hicks contractions twice and both times were painful)
- extended hospital stay means all early visitors will show up when I'm still in the hospital, and I don't feel obligated to clean the house ahead of time
- whole thing should be over with in three to four hours start to finish
- Marauder Junior can skip the cone-shaped head phase
- will be around lactation consultants once milk comes in
- didn't really have the whole "birth plan" worked out yet anyway, so it's not like I'm one of those people who was all set on a natural birth in water (or whatever) and this ruined it
- it's kind of a relief to have a lot of the uncertainty taken out of the whole thing

I'm trying not to spend too much time dwelling on it, which isn't hard to do because there's still so much stuff to get done around here before Marauder Junior shows up.
Very happy baby

Marauder Junior update

Posting because I haven't posted in a few months - I'm 34 weeks pregnant and pretty preoccupied with getting all the baby stuff together. Marauder Junior has gotten really big (although on the smaller side compared to other babies the same age) and likes kicking me a lot. We don't know if we're having a boy or a girl. Room theme is bunnies. I've tried several times to finish a new chapter of Another Prisoner, Another Professor while I still have the time, but between just being pregnant in general and having been taken off all my medications, my brain is kind of fuzzed over and I'd rather post a really good chapter later than a mediocre chapter earlier. The kitty cat is dealing well with no longer being able to sleep in "her" room (Marauder Junior's room) at night. So far my feet haven't swelled up and all my shoes still fit, so I'm hoping it stays that way. Mr. Marauder put the crib together the day before yesterday and is going to take a week off work after Marauder Junior is born (he could do more than a week, but it would be unpaid). The reality that I actually have to push out this kid in another few weeks is setting in. I'm just hoping to be one of those people who's in labor no more than six hours or so.

Wizard rock allegations

Having been preoccupied with Marauder Junior, I only now just found out that a number of sexual abuse/sexual coercion allegations were made against some people in the wizard rock community a couple of months ago. Although Mr. Marauder and I had a wrock band called The First Task Is Dragons and I wrote for Wizrocklopedia for a while, I was never "in the wrock community" outside of online activities and therefore I don't personally know anyone involved. The band consisted of Mr. Marauder and me recording random stuff in my old apartment during law school, before we got married, and what I did for Wizrocklopedia was mostly round up new bands to add to the master list, along with doing a few update posts about new songs or albums. Because I don't know anyone involved, I don't feel qualified to comment on the allegations, but there is one thing I want to say.

In reading reports of people claiming they were sexually abused or exploited by wizard rockers - there are a lot of links here and here, with more on the topic here and here - there seems to be a prevailing theme. People didn't want to come forward with what had happened to them because their allegations involved popular wrockers. I quit wizard rock partly because I'm not very good at it (which I always knew) and partly because life took over, but the other part was because, for a community that was supposed to be so big on love and friendship and acceptance, wizard rock always felt really cliquish to me. It seemed like a lot of the fandom was centered around telling the BNFs how great and talented they were, and around in-jokes between bands and band members. It was to a level that I've never personally seen in other parts of Harry Potter fandom, and after a while it was like hanging around a group of people, all close friends with each other, who weren't particularly interested in hanging around you. Therefore, it doesn't surprise me at all that people didn't want to come forward. In other subsets of HP fandom - this is a generalization based on my personal experience - the subset, whether it's the ship, the character, or whatever, is what the fans are there for. In wizard rock, it seemed like the BNFs were a lot of what the fans were there for, as opposed to the music or the community at large. In retrospect, it almost seems like wizard rock was a perfect breeding ground for this kind of behavior - several male BNFs in their twenties or older, female fans who could be as young as high schoolers, and an attitude that "we're all one big happy family here and we don't criticize each other." These allegations are not nearly as much of a shock to me as they could have been.


Okay, not going to go into the circumstances that prompted this post, is not okay to engage in stereotyping about only children and then claim that you can do that because you yourself are an only child. Having said that, it is extremely not okay to engage in stereotyping about only children and claim you can do that because you yourself are an only child when it turns out that you're not actually an only child, but consider yourself one because your only sibling is significantly older than you.