I don’t know why she does this, but I think its safe to say that while the Harry Potter books will have a special place in my heart, their author made her way out of it a while ago. I mean she was never really there anyway. I loved the books, but in their moment in time. I think the stories are timeless but the casual imperialism is very much not (though in actuality, imperialism is timeless, so far).
But today, J.K. Rowling posted this:
What an idiot. And not just because she is wrong, but because she is so insulated that she said this during Pride Month.
Look, I’m a cis-gendered, heterosexual, middle-aged, middle-class, white female. There’s my subject position. And I have been working really hard to battle over 40 years of binary programming in my language and culture. I want to exist in and create a more inclusive and aware environment for the people I care about and the people I work with. I do not agree with Rowling at all.
There’s no but coming. Sorry. I have an idea that I might have an inkling on where her misguided anger is coming from. We’ve heard it before about the erasure of women within the larger pool of identity politics (whatever that means). There is a mistaken idea that women have to subsume all non-male, non-het identities. They feel that woman-hood is something that can be put on as easily as a costume. They are wrong. They are falling for the binary – male/female, where “female” is the inferior. Because white, cis, het, male is the default, everything else is female. Because they are ignorant of their own internal patriarchy, they believe that everything that is not the default subsequently dilutes their own identity, which, yes, includes menstruation.
I believe we can still celebrate menstruation without having it owned by one gender. We can celebrate the life-giving power it represents while also understanding the terrible pain and shame that have gone hand-in-hand with it. I’m menstruating as I write this. Celebrate me. Or not. I don’t care. The association of shame and the necessity to celebrate menstruation is because it has been associated with the non-default, the Other, the non-men. Ever hear the joke “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for seven days and doesn’t die.” That’s how it’s made to be not-default. Not-normal. Men don’t menstruate, so it’s seen as not normal.
OH! (I see you.)
But some men do. And they should be celebrated as well. And cared for and supported. And we need to find more words to describe all the facets of who we are and we need to disassociate things and processes with identities and allow people to be and to be well. We need to break out of our butterfly boxes, all pinned and labeled and dead. We need to realize that these associations, so important to earlier generations of feminism, are still wrapped up in the default, in being the non-default. Their power is/was in a singular opposition to the binary. And that’s not enough anymore.
We are too diverse. We are multitudes. We menstruate. We don’t. We are beautiful.
Shut the fuck up, J.K. Rowling. Go jump in your money, Scrooge McDuck style.