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Jumping into Harry Potter Meta - Mo's Journal
May 30th, 2006
02:02 pm

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Jumping into Harry Potter Meta

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From:lilacsigil
Date:May 31st, 2006 01:15 am (UTC)
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The school life really does seem to be coming from a previous era - either the 1930s or the 1950s, which certainly makes sense if you read Harry Potter as a British school story. That would match the lots-of-fooling-around-but-no-sex vibe of Ron and Lavender, the lack of awareness of same-sex attraction (let alone activity!), and the idea that girls can be trusted but boys can't. It also makes sense, in that time period, that Bill and Fleur sleep in separate rooms at his parents' house, as the prevailing standard (if not truth!) is no premarital sex. And it explains all the young marriages.

Ginny was a very oddly presented character in the later books: on the one hand, she's an athletic, smart-mouthed, pretty girl, on the other her brother worries that people think she's a slut. He seemed as concerned with the rumours as with her actual behaviour.
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From:mofic
Date:May 31st, 2006 01:29 am (UTC)
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That would match the lots-of-fooling-around-but-no-sex vibe of Ron and Lavender, the lack of awareness of same-sex attraction (let alone activity!), and the idea that girls can be trusted but boys can't

The interesting thing about all that, though, is it's not portrayed at all realistically. It's not that they fool around but the girl, as guardian of her worth which is held in her virginity, resists going further as the boy presses her to. It's not that girls can be trusted because they will say no to sex. It's as if they don't know that sex exists, as if snogging is all they know to do. It reminds me of the movie Pleasantville. Which just brings me back to pretending that sex does not exist, because these are children's books and - as minisinoo points out - JKR is not the kind of author who pushes the envelope on adult topics.

Ginny was a very oddly presented character in the later books: on the one hand, she's an athletic, smart-mouthed, pretty girl, on the other her brother worries that people think she's a slut. He seemed as concerned with the rumours as with her actual behaviour.

Absolutely. He's concerned with her reputation. And her reputation is damaged by kissing more than one boy because - again - kissing is all that exists. It's very weird, because OT1H there's a lot of very real teenage feeling in the books, I think. One of the things I like about them is how well she ages the characters - they really do grow into a very realistic adolescence in most respects. But OTOH an adolescence where the kids don't think or talk about sex (never mind doing it) is hard to believe in. Yet that's the adolescence of 1950s teen literature and movies and tv programs. It's certainly not the adolescence that was experienced in the 1950s or any other time, I don't think!
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From:mofic
Date:May 31st, 2006 11:00 am (UTC)
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Interesting about smoking - I never thought of that. I agree it's deliberate decisions not to show certain things. The books - from the start - are generally classified as children's rather than YA (in library parlance, a "young adult" book is one geared towards 11-17-year-olds). I think leaving out certain topics is pretty standard in children's books.

I think it kind of goes the other way, too. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series gets classified YA, even though it's a very sophisticated story with rather adult (not in the sexual sense) themes and pretty advanced language. But I think the publisher looked at the first book and said "11-year-old heroine, no sex, former children's author. Beyond the reading ability of little kids - YA." There's kind of an expectation that books published for adults do have sex in them, if only briefly mentioned.
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From:mofic
Date:May 31st, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
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Or at least that books for adults have sexuality incorporated/understood, at least in lit fic.

Yes, that's a better way of putting it. I'm not saying there are sex scenes in every book, but there isn't this weird sense that sex doesn't exist in modern mainstream fiction (although there was in much of literature for a long time).

Hey, I tried to comment on your latest post and I found I could read but got "not authorized" on the commenting. I do have relevant experience and an opinion...
From:tartanboxers
Date:June 1st, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
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*sneaking in from the D/S*

Actually Dudley and his gang smoke in OOP. I suppose if she's making any comment there, she's portraying smoking as a 'bad thing' that only hoodlums and bullies do.
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From:mofic
Date:June 1st, 2006 01:17 pm (UTC)
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Oh thanks for that! I didn't remember that bit.

What's "D/S"? I'm thinking Dudley/Snape slash but that seems so improbable.
From:tartanboxers
Date:June 1st, 2006 01:18 pm (UTC)
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Sorry. daily_snitch.
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From:lilacsigil
Date:May 31st, 2006 05:04 am (UTC)
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Oh yes, I didn't mean the actual 1930s or 1950s, just the one presented in books! I grew up reading boarding school stories, mostly published in this era and snaffled from second-hand bookshops, so I have to really think about it before the sexlessness of the stories becomes odd.

But otherwise, yes, the characters really do behave like adolescents, so I have to think that this is all a deliberate, possibly nostalgic, choice. It's not as if YA books leave the sex out any more!
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From:mofic
Date:May 31st, 2006 11:01 am (UTC)
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Yes, nostalgic. That's the feel of it.
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From:marymac
Date:May 31st, 2006 01:29 pm (UTC)
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*wandered in off Metafandom*

In all fairness, Ron's reaction to Ginny's love life is the archetypal older sibling response to the thought of a younger sibling actually, y'know, being grown up. I know that the first proper boyfriend I had, my elder male cousins (to whom I'm very close) freaked out and were ready to put the poor lad through the Spanish Inquisition. They did give my little sister's fella a grilling. In a family where there's six over-protective elder brothers and one baby sister, not to mention a mother who will hold him personally responsible for everything realating to said baby sister, I can see Ron's response as perfectly natural. Boys are all for the snogging as long as its not their baby sisters doing it.
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From:mofic
Date:May 31st, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)
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Yes, that's a good point. And it's not just Ron - it's the twins, too. I remember when I first read that part I said to my daughters (with whom I was reading it) "It must be hell to be a teenage girl with six older brothers."

Thanks for wandering by!
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