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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Guest Editorial: James Potter - JK Rowling's Accidental Wife Beater. (TW: Domestic violence and sexual assault.) (Guest editorial by Reecey.)

Editor's note: This perhaps goes without saying, but trigger warning for discussions of domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Okay, on with the guest editorial, another offering from Reecey to fill the one day a week that I'm really busy.

James Potter
JK Rowling's Accidental Wife Beater.
(Guest editorial by Reecey).

There is no way she did this on purpose.

Absolutely no possible way that a woman who wholesale lifted characters from The Worst Witch purposefully wrote the dead parents of her main character to be in an abusive relationship.

She’s just not that competent of a writer.

A lot of the problems of the series can be boiled down to the change in tone that she decided to impose on the story as she went on, going from a Dahlian one to something more akin to a Martinesque one. Although, oddly, she never passed through Pratchettian territory like you’d expect.

The Dursleys are a prime example of this, as is Snape.

Of course, Snape is also explained by being one of the characters she stole from Jill Murphy (no relation). He’s just Miss Hardbroom with male genitalia and a bad nineties haircut in those first couple of books.

This isn’t the result of that, this is a consequence of two separate problems in her writing.

The first is her attempts to undo the Mary-Sue character that she had every single person, bar two, create when talking about his father to Harry.

While trying to do this, she ended up going too far in the other direction. James Potter doesn’t come across as a normal human being who bullied Snape a bit out of misplaced jealousy.

She turned him into this monster who was so possessive of a girl who didn’t even like him that he harassed her vulnerable friend for the express purpose of driving a wedge between them.

Going so far as to have him commit, or at least attempt to commit, a form of sexual assault on a vulnerable boy from a broken home.

He forcibly exposed Snape’s underwear to a crowd of onlookers. He threatened to expose his genitals before Harry couldn’t bear to watch any more of the debacle.

He also treated two of his ‘friends’ with little more than contempt.

Remus got treated less than brilliantly because he was a werewolf and Peter was more or less emotionally abused for the better part of seven years.

And yet, in spite of all of this, I’m expected to believe that this boy grew out of this horrendous and borderline psychopathic behaviour in just a couple of years?

Just in time to get married, unusually young, to the object of his obsession during a wizarding war caused by the hatred of people like her by people like him?

Especially when the well meaning people in his category fundamentally misunderstand people like her and treat them like a novelty?

Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

The other major problem?

Why do we never meet any of Lily’s friends?

Oh, we’re up to our ears in James’ friends, and people who were friends with both of them, but not someone who was either only friends with Lily, or friends with her first.

She had friends, we saw some in the Pensieve flashback. Yet nowhere outside of that one short scene do we ever see any of Lily's friends.

Except, of course, for Snape.

Interesting case, Snape, isn’t he?

He’s the only one of Lily’s friends we ever meet, and he absolutely despises James to the point where he takes his frustrations out on his borderline clone son (seriously, that’s not how genetics works).

Now, remember when I said that there were two people who didn’t give James Potter glowing reviews?

Yeah, the other one would be Petunia, Lily’s sister.

Do you think that a relative and former friend who was pushed out by James both hating him might be something of a sign?

And the fact that Lily apparently cut ties with her other friends to such an extent that absolutely none of them, in a community this ridiculously small, have any interest in checking up on the son of their deceased friend might also be something of a sign?

This seems like such an obvious thing to miss, but I don’t think it actually occurred to Rowling that she’d need to introduce friends of Harry’s mother. His dad’s friends were so much more interesting.

Also, male.

Oh, come on, you know as well as I do that Lily, bright and popular Lily, would have mostly female friends. That’s the general makeup of most women’s friend circles, especially at school. Not to mention that James’ was exclusively male.

In fact, there’s something of a dearth of important adult female characters. They’re outnumbered by the male characters at least three to one.

And this is totally unnecessary. She could have had a character show up in later books who was in deep cover for the Order of the Phoenix and was Lily’s friend.

She could have consolidated the Marauders into a three man band. James, Remus and Peter. Consolidated aspects of Sirius’ character in Remus and Peter, and possibly a friend of Lily’s who could have taken Sirius’ role.

Her friends could have kids at Hogwarts and check up on Harry at Platform Nine and Three Quarters once or twice.

And any of these potential characters could have lamented at being shut out by Petunia.

But no, there’s nothing.

Combined with the obsessive and violent behaviour James directs towards Lily during school, this total abandonment of all her prior relationships, and estrangement from her sister and it’s clear that we have a distressing number of the hallmarks of an abusive relationship.

“Oh, but what about the Order?”

What about the Order?

This Order has Dumbledore in it, who didn’t expel James despite the assault mentioned earlier.

This is a man who takes advantage of people’s weaknesses to get what he wants, even if the consequences could cause them physical injury, mental and emotional distress or death.

He constantly puts a whole school of children at risk because he wants Harry there.

There is no reason to think that he’d actually give one ounce of a crap about domestic abuse.

As for everyone else, how many real people have to be abused by people who come across to the world as just the best person ever does it have to take before you get the picture that abuse isn’t always easy to spot.

And these people were involved in a wizarding war, they had other concerns that would make this sort of thing even easier to miss.

Also, if you ask ‘why wouldn’t she ask for help?!’ I may just punch you.

As for why she got with him in the first place, maybe he did manage to win her over. Or, you know, he used magic to get her into a relationship.

Because love potions and spells to control the actions of others or befuddle them exist in this world.

This is a guy who worked out how to turn into a stag, I wouldn’t put being able to coax a woman into a relationship using magic beyond him.

Look, I don’t want to think that this is the case, but it’s the only natural conclusion that I can come to when I consider all of the facts as presented in the books.

This entire editorial should be, if nothing else, a stark warning to any of you writing out there to understand what abusive relationships entail so you don’t make mistakes like these.

J.K. Rowling put so little thought into writing this relationship between Lily and James that it genuinely comes across as abusive.

Don’t be like her.

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