Neville Longbottom shouldn’t have grabbed the sword

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The one in the hat. The Sorting hat. You know which one I mean.

The caste system of Hogwarts is one of the things we’re most acutely aware of in the series. At the age of eleven, children deemed “brave” are sent to Gryffindor, the “wise” are sent to Ravenclaw, the “noble” to Hufflepuf and the “cunning” to Slytherin. This is problematic, not just because most children are a lot more than one of these above traits, or even because we don’t know, as Harry notices, for sure if eleven year olds can be deemed to be any of these at all. It is problematic because of the effect it has on them.

We see this caste system from Harry’s point of view, a “true Gryffindor”. Like any caste system, it leads the people within their caste to believe that their caste is the best one to be in. Aldous Huxley shows us that in Chapter two of Brave New World. Beta children sleeping are conditioned to be glad that they don’t have to work as hard as those above them, don’t have to live like those below them, etc. Harry, too, believes that Gryffindor is the best house. Draco Malfoy believes Slytherin is the best house, again, because Slytherin treats this young boy well. Social acceptance is not something anyone can give up lightly, especially when they’re in their teens. It would be a mistake, therefore, to believe what Harry believes- that the house of Godric Gryffindor is the best one. It would be falling prey to the social injustices depicted in these books, advocating the expectations that comes with each house.

“Remember”, JKR writes in the Sorting Quiz on Pottermore, “The Sorting Hat’s decision is final”. That is probably one of the biggest problems with this system. The aspirational qualities of the houses are not aspirational, they are supposedly inside the children, and the children must live up to them for their whole lives. This, for one, leads to gradations in these qualities, with Neville never being seen as brave compared to the others, and Hermione being considered a Ravenclaw by many. Children who don’t fit in their houses, can’t change their houses.

Sirius Black, for instance, comes from an entire family of Slytherins, but believes that he will be in Gryffindor. This desire to be in Gryffindor is part of what ostracizes him from his family. Perhaps this is merely a symptom, not a cause. I would argue that we don’t have enough textual evidence to support either side, because we only hear stories of rebellion from after he joined Hogwarts. However, we know that he is a Gryffindor, and his family hates him; I cannot dismiss this as a coincidence. He manages to transgress the family based nature of the house system. The Weasleys are all Gryffindors, the Malfoys are all Slytherin. Neville Longbottom’s Gran isn’t sure he will be a Gryffindor, because he is coward. The Potters, all the way till Harry’s son, though I’m not sure if Cursed Child is canon. More on him later.

Regulus Black is another rebel to the system. He is a Slytherin, the largely vilified house, but both represents the best of Slytherin and sacrifices himself to stop Voldemort. Sirius raises the question of individualism versus family expectations with regard to Hogwarts, he falls prey to the tensions that follow. he grows to hate his family, he grows to be anything as long as it isn’t them. He cannot answer this question satisfactorily, but Regulus Black answers it. Why, though, should a Slytherin be Regulus or Snape before they are deemed good? Because we are looking at a Gryffindor-centric world, through the eyes of one Gryffindor. Where Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs are happy to play second fiddle to the lions, or so we are told.

If it is not all right for Draco Malfoy to call Hermione a “mudblood” or for Snape to call Lily one, how on earth is it all right to dismiss all Slytherins as “evil” because they are Slytherin? If you tell a kid they are bad long enough they will believe it. If you expect evil from an eleven year old, you are creating evil. How is it acceptable for Hufflepuffs to be dismissed as “duffers” unless they resemble pre-Twilight Robert Pattinson? However, this shows the second big problem- the amount of importance families place on the Sorting. The adults in this series seriously consider the Sorting a reflection on their children’s characters. This is ridiculous, and infuriating and exactly why The Sorting Hat can be likened to dystopia, but I am not interested in talking about genres.

Enter Harry’s choice. Until this moment, no one is apparently even aware that the Sorting Hat can even take your choice into account. Harry is made to realize the Slytherin inside him- which unfortunately just refers to the evil piece of Voldemort’s soul. But he chooses Gryffindor. If JKR is positing an answer to the questions she raises, it must be examined as a possible solution. This carries more weight because this comes from the Protagonist of her novels. Therefore, this raises other questions- how informed can this choice be at eleven? How well do you know yourself at that age? How well do you understand the consequences of this choice? Why would any eleven year old choose to be “loyal, helpful and kind”? Does having a choice imply self imposed exclusion to other traits?

Harry’s character arc as a protagonist begins literally from his first active choice- to be a Gryffindor. It doesn’t end when he kills Voldemort, that living symbol of everything wrong with Slytherin. It ends in the epilogue, when he tells his son that it is fine to be a Slytherin, because Slytherin is a good house, while his friends joke about their daughter making eyes at the young Malfoy son. It ends when he sees the sorting isn’t a remark on character, personality, or, more importantly, morality. It is indeed absurd when you realize the people who were placed in these structures are teenagers. Is Harry only special because he’s the only one in the wizarding community who gains common sense when he grows up?

Hermione is acknowledged to possess Ravenclaw-like traits.- “The Sorting Hat had a hard time choosing between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor”. So then, the children are indeed acknowledged to have more than one trait, just in different proportions. However, like with any system, there will be people who don’t fit. Even with the use of magic, the Sorting Hat cannot keep students from falling through the cracks. The oppressive house system is already flawed in many ways, but this accentuates the problems, because the casualties are young children. The Slytherins Draco, Crabbe and Goyle taunt Neville, telling him he “shouldn’t be in Gryffindor, he should be in Hufflepuff instead”.

He is seen from the beginning as someone who is shy, quiet, timid and diffident; someone who inevitably always gets in trouble. Ginny Weasley, too, starts the school year shy and timid, even though being a Gryffindor, but quickly blossoms into everything Gryffindor holds dear. Neville almost for the entirety is the same, but the pivotal scene in his characterization occurs when he quietly grieves over his parents in St. Mungo’s. He is now a boy who wakes up every morning both with the absence of any parental figure, but also with the crippling knowledge that they have been tortured into insanity. In my opinion, a swift heroic death of your parents in Harry’s case is much more bearable than seeing your parents reduced to a shell of human beings. Neville is brave, incredibly brave, just not conventionally so. He is not the spell wielding, hex flinging, athletic, aggressive brave of so many of the Gryffindor heroes. He’s quietly brave, privately, and his fight is internal, as is his bravery. This I loved. I felt that JKR was acknowledging the many kinds of brave that can exist. I felt Neville might be acknowledged by his peers, might not be, but that didn’t matter to his personal journey. He didn’t need to be improved, like so many of his classmates and bullies believed.

The sixth novel, however, showed Neville becoming a copy of fifth year Harry. I felt someone with Neville’s childhood, understanding of cruelty and experience with victimization would not stand by and watch as young children were killed. He didn’t, but he didn’t do it as Neville would believably have. He did it like Harry, and one Harry Potter is enough for this book series.

Skip to the scene in question. This is the one time we know of that the Sorting in the school is cancelled, and it is by Lord Voldemort. The hat is placed on Neville’s head, the boy who never fit in, and erupts into flames. Neville is literally being tortured by the instrument that placed him in the house that never understood him. The other thing that stands out is Voldemort’s complete faith in the house system. He believes so strongly in the qualities and their relation to the houses, that he assumes that by making everyone a Slytherin, he can manufacture endless Death Eaters and the problem of resistance is void. He assumes that all Slytherins will be like himself. The hat which was a cause of oppression, hatred and division in numerous accounts throughout the novels is transformed by Voldemort into a beacon of individuality and agency, as he attempts its destruction.  And Neville Longbottom, flames surrounding his eyes, is the one who is most affected by its destruction.

Neville turns this moment of pain into Voldemort’s most visible moment of defeat- he pulls the sword out of the hat, and kills the snake Nagini. As far as actions go, I will argue, again, that this doesn’t seem character appropriate, any more than his stirring speech to everyone around him, but this isn’t particularly relevent, as it is my opinion, and largely pedantic. He is only seen as a true Gryffindor when he has repeatedly performed acts of conventional bravery, throughout the night. He is only appreciated for said bravery by his classmates, when he has picked up a sword and killed a snake- an act that is both conventionally brave and conventionally masculine. They may be victims of this system, believing that this is the only bravery worth noticing, but there is poignant narrative approval in these scenes, if everything turns around for this character in terms of friends because of a moment’s aggression. JKR says Gryffindor is the house to be, the house of bravery. She then says, Oh, and by bravery, I mean the conventional kind. Neville is allowed privacy for his personal tragedy, but he should also not have to conform to everyone’s expectations of what he should be. He should be in some way acknowledged for what he has suffered. That is what novels have narrative for, when they can’t express through dialogue or conversation.

In fact, JKR didn’t tell us Neville’s tragedy. She walked us in to St. Mungo’s, right into the closed ward and let us experience it ourselves, trusting that we would understand and empathise. The power of that moment, the narrative laying out raw emotion an fact came with an expectation. It was expecting something from readers who are told that chocolate frogs are indeed, frog shaped chocolate. The supportive, devastated boy in that scene that the narrative trusts every reader with deserves much more and much else than what he is finally given.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why ” Always” ruined Snape forever

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“You have your mother’s eyes”

This is in answer to the widespread love for Snape’s character after realizing that he had performed every act of sacrifice in his undying love and devotion to Lily Potter, Harry’s late mother.

Snape’s entry is an interesting one, and I originally loved his character because by the end of the first book, he proved something that I felt had never been proved before: In a novel, you can be a jerk, and hate the novel’s protagonist, but at the same time, be a good person who does the right thing. This, for me at twelve was a new idea. I loved it. I thought, he’s wrong about many things, biased, cruel, and picks on Harry, for no other reason it seems than the fact that every one loves him, The logical (but still limited by her age) Hermione assumed that Snape was the man responsible for attempting to kill Harry. As children’s novels go, this structure seemed set to me. But in the end, when it was found that he had saved the Boy Who Was About To Get Killed Because He Didn’t Listen To Reason, I realized (or thought) that Snape had done something that no one else in the entire series would do. He had proven Hermione Granger wrong. He was a good guy. Not in the sense that anyone would give him awards for niceness, but he simply had shown a trait that the other heroes including Hagrid and later on, Dumbledore, seemed to lack; maturity. He had proven the range there existed to being a character. You aren’t just good or just bad, in your morality. You can be an asshole, but do the right thing, because it’s right. Because it’s wrong to let an eleven year old boy die, no matter how much you hate him. Again, let me clarify, this doesn’t make him a hero. It does, however, make him very interesting. Because it made him human. Or so I thought.

In other children’s books, even the ones with more complex characters like Percy Jackson, the general rule was: if you hate the cute, intrepid, strong kids, you turn out to be evil. If you like them, you’re good. Mrs. Dodds is a Fury, Mr. Brunner is Chiron. I was happy, because I thought Snape broke that rule. In real life, we hate teachers that pick on us for no reason. Anyone who has been subject to bullying often wonder “What did I do wrong?” and never get an answer. But JKR seemed to say that teachers may seem to hate you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will actively let you come to harm. It turns out that she was actually saying is they have a reason for picking on you, because they could never get over your mother.

Snape was a much more complex character before “Always”. He couldn’t be explained fully- petty meanness and bullying rarely can, especially when coupled with his insistence on doing the right thing against all expectations. Every hero we know and trust within the novel, from Sirius to Tonks will look at Snape and either misunderstand him, hate him or assume he should only be trusted on Dumbledore’s word. In response to his questionable (ahem, biased) attitude toward his students is the much justified hatred from Ron, Harry and the Gryfindors. They can hate him all they like, for picking on them, but he will continue to be a jerk, and also save their lives, because he is a talented, intelligent wizard whom they can’t actually do without. He seemed to symbolize a lot of what I thought was Slytherin- cunning, determination, loyalty to his people, uncaring of what anyone else thinks, but also his own rigid moral code, separate from the others, which he would not break or bend. Equally justified is the blind adoration of Draco Malfoy toward his Potions master. The Slytherins, too, have his protection, he’s just nicer to them while he’s at it. But, in the final book, just when I thought I’d lost enough of my HP loves, JKR attempted to purify his intentions which caused him to act this way. The author in my humble opinion, created a much less interesting and much more melodramatic, plain, unrealistic and- I’ll say it- grating character.

I was likely to trust Snape even after his killing Dumbledore, because thanks to literally every other book before it, I had understood, that with Snape, everything is a lot more complicated and grey than it seems. Turns out, I was right. Also, I was wrong.

I read Snape’s Worst Memory, and I initially thought was a powerful comment on bullying. It is often something we carry with ourselves for years after wards, whether we want to or not. Yes, they were children when they did it to us, yes, it seems more mature to let it go and never think on it again, but the human brain is never so quick to let you forget. Emotions, too are messy. Bullying is, simply put, emotional abuse, and it leaves scars on you whether or not you want it to. It changes, affects and sometimes destroys you. If you think that school shootings are an extreme reaction to bullying, in the absence of outer influence, every reaction is only as big or small as the action that caused it. I liked this scene. It showed a vulnerability. A sensitivity. One that many deem to be shameful, immature, or just plain stupid, which seemed to be given importance by the author. It explained his own childish prejudice toward Harry, or so I thought, and revealed a similar vulnerability inside Harry, who knew how it felt to be a victim of cruel taunts and humiliation.

We know what happened to his character. He turned out to be, not a man who was cold, largely mature and talented, struggling with his own difficult past being reflected by his proximity to a young child who couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble. Every act of helping Harry, wasn’t magnified by the fact that he suffered the relatable trauma of being bullied and friendless in high school, which he was reminded of every day by Harry. If I had to constantly save the daughter of the girl who picked on me in high school, I’d be grumpy when I did it too. Every action was diminished by the fact that his trauma was the long ago death of Lily Potter.

Many characters in the novel have had loved ones taken away by Voldemort and his supporters. It makes the stakes real, the drama relatable. Harry, the hero, Neville Longbottom (another character ruined in the end, which I will save for another post), to just name a couple.  However, if you tell me that Snape saved Harry not because he was being moral, but because he was being emotional, I now see a character who was immature. I see someone who falls behind a long tedious line of tragic heroes- for that is what the once undefinable Severus Snape is now reduced to. He has gone from being a man who’s more or less all right, to a man who is fanatically devoted to a woman who he met at the age of ten, who he lost because of one accidental slur. This means the girl probably never understood him anyway. It also means this man never changed, found himself, or his idea of a relationship after his teens. This is a man who stayed in love with the same woman from the age of ten to the age of sixty(ish). This sounds like an unhealthy relationship, an obsession, a product of his love-starved childhood, rather than true love. He didn’t spend time with her after the age of fifteen. He was in love with a fifteen year old girl when he was fifty. He was in love with her idea, not her person. The main character would not have survived if Snape had ever decided to stop loving this idea, put his past behind him, to give up this near-religious devotion. The Snape in the earlier books may not have been as cuddly, but he would never have let innocents come to harm. Apparently, that protection is just limited to Harry. We don’t need a dumb reason to be cruel to the main protagonist, which in the end makes no sense. He loved Lily, why would he hate her son for having the same eyes? Green eyes of that shape, color and size can’t be one of a kind.  Will he be pointlessly cruel to every person with those eyes? Some people may argue it’s because he’s her son from another man, his bully, but unfortunately that’s not how the world works. I’m sure people with more knowledge than I can piece apart the exact nature of Snape’s codependency, and people with more experience than I can better debate the difficulty of giving up love or putting a turbulent past behind you for good. But I will merely debate JKR’s narrative choices.  This man apparently had the courage to move worlds and save Harry, but not the courage to tell this woman how he felt. This, as a character trait is frustrating, but is the only one I can find to be mildly compelling. But this doesn’t save him. He has turned from a force of nature to a lovesick puppy, who won’t save a boy for the sake of saving a boy. In fact, in his lowest point as a character, he won’t even debate the ethics of letting him be sacrificed in an unfortunate Jesus metaphor. Dumbledore jests that Snape is getting fond of Harry, simply because he wants to let Harry live and is showing what I would have assumed to be his moral outrage toward treating a vulnerable, trusting person that way. No. He was in love with the boy’s mother. It’s disappointing, demeaning and infuriating, not just to what I had seen so far from him, but in relation to Harry. Did neither of the men who decided Harry fate remotely care about the boy? Why then, should the audience care any more about Harry? In this point in the narrative, any reason to be emotionally invested in Harry’s journey is neutered. He has been reduced from a brave, strong, powerful man, to a puppet and a pawn in other people’s fate. He is then complicit in it, even naming his son after the two people who sentenced him to death for the greater good, neither of whom cared about his happiness, neither of whom saw him as a person. This is the drastic emotional consequence within the narrative of explaining Snape’s motives in such a childish, forced way. It makes us detached from Harry, because his actions simply do not matter. Snape is no longer a humanitarian, who looks at the vulnerable, remembers his own helplessness and saves them because he knows that helplessness better than anyone. He is now at his core a selfish, denied, repressed human being, who only cares about his heartbreak. And from his scene with Dumbledore, begging for Lily’s life, we know he cares about nothing more. His scene in the movie picturing Snape cradling Lily’s body isn’t tragic, it’s downright creepy. Yes, it’s Snape losing the one thing he cares about, but it isn’t compelling storytelling, because this is an emotionally and morally stunted man who has not grown up, who has not gotten over his fantasy with a married woman. A woman whose dead body he is cradling in front of her baby son. This is not how healthy people react to situations, though perhaps judgement isn’t something I should pass on this character,

The biggest problem with explaining Snape’s motives isn’t that it reduced him. It is that we didn’t really need this. Snape’s unjustified anger toward Harry didn’t need to be explained. Not many children who spend their hours sitting indoors alone reading and then thinking about what they read need to be told that people can be mean and petty for no particular reason. Most of them know. What they needed to be told was that there’s a life after this. There’s a career where they can shine, no apologies to be given, people’s expectations to contradict, enough emotional maturity to save whiny children of bullies. And JKR nearly goddamn said it. She nearly created a masterful grey character who at the same time was probably the most accurate reflection of reality. She nearly created a character who was grounded in everyday problems, who was nearly shattered by the mundane, by the strain of being normal, but refused to let that hold them for long. A character who was surrounded by magic, but knew that there were demons in the world that magic couldn’t fix. A character who was seen as greasy and slimy, but didn’t let that affect his life choices. Instead she opted for an angsty, unrequited lover who existed, like movie Lupin, to make Lily Potter desirable,  I can’t begin to piece apart the issues with the plain teenage melodrama of this idea. Yes, teenagers think its forever. But then they go to college, and work. They realize how wrong they are, and in how many much more excruciating and varied ways the world can continue to break their hearts. My problem isn’t that love was the answer, it was the kind of love that JKR chose to focus on. In fact, that is my biggest problem with this choice. Snape didn’t just get his heart broken by Lily. He didn’t get it broken by anyone or anything else.

 

 

 

Comparing the Big Bang Theory and Fifty Shades of Grey

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“This is a contract. Read it carefully, then sign.”

-Fifty Shades of Grey

“I present to you, a Relationship agreement. A binding covenant, that in its 51 pages enumerates, iterates and codifies the rights and responsibilities of Sheldon Lee Cooper, here and after known as ‘the Boyfriend’ and Amy Farrah Fowler, here and after known as ‘the Girlfriend’ ”

“It’s so romantic!”

-The Big Bang Theory

 

Christian Grey drafted a BDSM contract for Anastasia Steele, but the contract was not exclusive to their relationship. Many real life Dominants and Submissives have been writing long agreements or at least verbally discussing them long before Fifty Shades of Grey came out. However, these contracts are far more explicit and painfully detailed than the one we see in Fifty Shades of Grey. While it is easy to dismiss these dominant submissive relationships as “slavery” and “anti feminist”, this seems as though we are allowing a much-too-easy reading of the relationship. However, after collecting information, it is more convoluted than it seems. First, the contract, which seems embarrassing and demeaning, is still very much a confident assertion of consent by both parties to enter this relationship. If you are consenting to have this relationship and are taking the time to explain your likes and dislikes to each other while participating in this activity (this includes nicknames for each, punishment and limits), then the assumption of this kind of connection being slavery at all becomes problematic. There is no such thing as consensual slavery. Slavery implies you belong to someone against your will. The element of sado- masochism is definitely a major part of this relationship. However, willing, understanding and intelligent individuals agree to this with eyes open. This means we have entered a society that even has a space for consensual sadism and masochism, without marginalizing or shunning. In a world where such fantasies which are passed off as humiliating by many, some can find titillating. They can be carried out in safe circumstances, without any actual rape or abuse. This only means that we have created a place in society, which is becoming mainstream, for this sexual behavior.

Fifty Shades of Grey problematizes this subculture, as it simultaneously both brings it to the mainstream, and is responsible for the “sex slavery” notions regarding it. There is a somewhat scandalous contract in the book; however, this contract is never signed. This means that all the sexual activity that occurs between Christian and Anastasia, where he “takes her” can be seen as abuse rather than BDSM, and is actual slavery as he stalks her, limits her movements and controls her food intake without her consent. Ironically, Anastasia sees a written acknowledgement of her consent as a subversion of her freedom, and feels that she withholds her freedom by not signing, believing it will make her his “sex slave”, while submitting to him and his every whim anyhow, a glaring contradiction. At this point, the novel becomes little more than a lengthy kinky rape fantasy. She does exactly what he wants, while not mentioning any of her desires. In almost demeaning fashion, she lets him force himself on her before she gives him consent to do anything to her. Perhaps the only empowering moment is the contract negotiation, where Anastasia takes on an assertive role, recognizes she wants this relationship and decides to go forward with it. After research, she comes to informed decisions about what she would like or not like. However, this is instantly subverted after, when Christian attempts to seduce her.

Another factor is that Anastasia is a virgin; this shouldn’t be a problem, but the author assumes lack of sexual experience equals non-existent sexual knowledge. Anastasia has never heard of BDSM, doesn’t know what sex toys are and has no idea about sex. All this, despite being a young woman in her twenties, with a college degree and apparently of high intellect. She is also often downright naïve and foolish. For instance, she signed an NDA without reading it. She doesn’t question the man who finds her in her place of work and can track her movements. In response to Fifty Shades, many real-life Submissives wrote out in protest about Grey controlling every facet of Anastasia’s life, her movements, her food or drink, thus treating her not even like a slave, but like a child.

The contract for their relationship provides an uncomfortable juxtaposition between the sexual and the rational. Every painstaking detail of their forthcoming relationship is etched out in detail. However, Anastasia being a newcomer to this kind of relationship is handed this lengthy formality without any former context by Christian, and instead of feeling any kind of understanding and questioning of her motives, of whether she wants this relationship, the contract evokes shock, humor and ridicule, at best, from the audience. The contract in the book and the movie exists to be redundant. The only form of consent that can save their relationship is left to evoke horror and comedy, and to be consequently ignored in favor of Steele’s natural need to please Grey.

The other occasion when any such contract for a relationship was drawn was in “The Big Bang Theory”, where Sheldon Cooper attempts to enter into a relationship with Amy. Juxtapose “Fifty Shades of Grey” ’s contract with Sheldon Cooper’s Relationship Agreement with Amy Farrah Fowler and we can draw some interesting conclusions. He is a brilliant scientist who cannot negotiate the emotional and romantic without intellectualizing it. On surface, this too seems simple, he is attempting to enter a relationship the only way he knows how: logically, by planning every single detail about it in advance. His Asperger’s makes him emotionally incapable of spontaneity. He is someone we can sympathize with. He has never had a romantic experience in his life, and is approaching on solid ground. Unlike Grey, he is an innocent; in the sense the he does not understand sexual overtones in his adult relationship. In fact, seeing Amy’s repeated attempts for physical proximity, he is the only innocent in the relationship. If he is ever kinky, it is unknowingly. Unlike Christian Grey, his only explanation for a relationship of this kind is not a somewhat traumatic formative life and the famous and utterly meaningless “fifty shades of fucked up”. Grey takes undue advantage of Steele, but Sheldon does not know how to take advantage. Additionally, “The Big Bang Theory” is a comedy show from the outset, which means that the contract is meant to evoke humor, unlike the contract from “Fifty Shades of Grey”, which is meant to be scandalous, but evokes humor unwittingly. However, it not all black and white here either. He writes the Agreement, but he has it in his favor. Sheldon in his own way does not relinquish control either. He accommodates all his needs and wants, telling Amy she is free to find a lawyer if she disagrees with anything. Sheldon is decidedly asexual, while Christian Grey (clear from the recent novel “Grey”) seems to think of nothing else but kinky sex. However, these two men approach relationships in similar ways- through iron clad legal contracts where they hold all the strings.

Again we sympathize more with Sheldon as we understand that he would never abuse Amy. However, Grey does not think he is abusing Steele, any more than Sheldon is accommodating Amy’s desires. Furthermore, Steele only tells him (or maybe only realizes) at the end of the first book that he is abusing her. We might say that Sheldon changes over time; he becomes more human, and Amy has incredible influence over him and manages to make him more sympathetic and understanding to those around him. However, cannot the same be said for Grey? He too understands by the end of the tedious trilogy that Anastasia is willing to continue only some of the activity they used to do and not others, and he accepts it. The physical proximity that Anastasia too covets (to sleep next to him, kiss him or to touch him outside of his playroom) is something she manages to get from Christian. Similarly, in recent episodes, Amy finally sleeps with Sheldon. Grey negotiates his relationship the way he knows how, by abusing and stalking his love interest. He has been the victim of a pedophile, in a kind of relationship that sounds horrific to everyone but himself. Even Anastasia notices how frightening it sounds, and says so multiple times, though the author attempts to write this off mere sexual jealousy. This is what distorts his understanding of a romantic relationship. He thinks caring is controlling and obsession, because he has never had a healthy relationship. Counter to this, Sheldon’s fight is more internal, he has a mental acumen, a genius, which will always be a burden to him and mar his interactions with everyone else.

While the contract in The Big Bang Theory is the backbone of their romantic relationship that only gets healthier and healthier, despite taking numerous years to do so, the contract in Fifty Shades serves as a nod to the BDSM subculture. Their relationship, some might believe, becomes healthy after they marry one another, but this is somewhat reminiscent of the patriarchal idea of forgiving and marrying a man who has hurt you simply because he “loves” you. How can Anastasia’s journey from novice in BDSM to wife of dominant be seen as acceptable when the only aspect of consent is forsaken to give an illusion of romance to their relationship? And when the narrative tries at every turn to deny equality between the two characters. Conversely, Sheldon Cooper draws a contract to attempt a healthy normal relationship and does not move forward in it until Amy has signed. Sheldon shows an endearing streak of nobility here and we can’t help but be in his corner, as he has found a woman who will surely be his equal in this relationship and who he attempts to be more normal for.

Everything Wrong With TV Series Reign

Exactly what Is Wrong with Reign

Quick intro for those who are unaware- Reign is a so-called historical drama about the lovely Mary, Queen of Scots. The first season aired and it is basically a teen drama set in a historical time. While there may be a market for these things, I’d prefer if you didn’t lay claim on a real Queen and her real life while you did it.

First off

1. the Accents: what in hell? Mary Queen of SCOTS speaks in a British accent. The French speak in a British accent. The British speak in a British accent. Heck, the *Scottish* who come frequently into the court with news from her mother, speak in a mangled Irish-Scottish accent. They alternatively roll their Rs and bite on it. I thought at first, maybe the French speak in a British accent, and to tell the difference, the British will use a different accent and the Scottish a third? Nope. Didn’t happen.

2. The Language: what is Mary doing telling Bash (we’ll get to Bash later) “Bully to you on your speedy recovery”???? What is Mary doing telling the King and Queen “Maybe I sent him a wrong message”??? (About Colin). What is this, One Tree Hill? Why is Mary talking like a high schooler? Greer telling Leith ” but he’s not you”?? (When referring to Julien). King f@&₹** Henry, telling Kenna ” you can think about that as well”??? “Well, that is just too bad”. Too bad? Too bad?? Find me one 16th century person, forget a Queen, talking like this.
Credit to Catherine, the Queen of France for maximum appropriate language.

3. The Costumes: okay, maybe it’s cause I’m a girl, but credit where credits due, the dresses are gorgeous. I just wish they were…I don’t know, remotely accurate? Queen Mary and her ladies don’t have sleeves in their dresses, (at that time!!!) the top is sometimes sheer, they wear weird vests and their hair? I half expected Kenna or Aylee to pull out a straightening iron, or Lola a curling one. Credit to servant girls and occasionally Queen C and Marie DeGuise for maximum appropriate costumes.

4. Bash: the worst part is that the only good looking guy is imaginary. Bash never existed. Diane De Portiers had two other children from a previous marriage, none with Henry. It’s fine to create characters when you’re fictionalizing history, but why would you create one just to make a medieval Vampire Diaries? We should rename this: Bash/ Damon, the dark haired, sexy looking older brother, notorious with women, who is darker and more disturbing, “uncivilized” than the younger brother. Francis/Stefan, the blonde, nice guy who is all about honor and duty, falls in love (with a girl who better resembles a TV Elena Gilbert than Mary Queen of Scots), but-shock-so does his brother! What can they all do? At one point they kiss, but it “doesn’t mean anything”, Bash killed a man( in the woods) for Mary. In the end, Elena ends up with Stefan. Oh, sorry, I mean Queen Mary ends up with Prince Francis. Credit to Bash for smoldering.

5. Random Teenage Drama: which consists about at least half of the entire time. All the girls and their various loves seem to be central rather than subplots. Greer and Leith, Kenna and the King? Ahh! And kenna later marries Bash. Why they had to ruin the sweet brotherhood between Bash and Francis, why there’s a random Natalia at the beginning…it feels a lot more like PLL or TVD than a historical story. Why is the King being such a creep? Credit to Nostradamus, because even he managed some teen drama (Olivia D’Amencourt, you beast! No, just kidding really).

6. The Political Scene in Scotland: doesn’t make sense. I’ve counted five times that Marie De Guise’s life and country was threatened, and each time, someone comes to the French Court, each time Mary demands armies from either Henry or money from Catherine and each time she’s let down. If, by the fourth time, Marie DeGuise isn’t dead, I think everyone can just relax about the entire army-sending scenario. And each time just seems like a chance for Mary and Francis to get closer. What about her country? Credit to Marie DeGuise for NEVER dying.

7. The Bean Queen: Penelope is a weird addition to this mix. There was never any tradition to make a girl the Queen for a day, and I doubt the king would “amuse” himself with kitchen girls if there were ladies like Kenna around. Also, the bondage
scene is…weird.

8. Nostradamus and his prophecy: Nostradamus was definitely a renowned healer and prophecy maker, but he never prophesied the prince’s death by Mary. That would have been fine if it was a side plot, an additional motivation to get rid of Mary. As that was the main riveting plot point around which a large chunk of the first season spins, and as Nostradamus has stayed behind and sent Olivia alone, it’s clear that this is not only crucial, it is also going to crop up in later seasons.

9. Music: was so inaccurate it freaked me out. I might compare costumes and music with Tudors, but I have my own issues with Tudors, so I won’t.

I suppose, if you want to watch it for fun, or entertainment (because it is entertaining) then that’s fine. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wishes for historical accuracy. Btw, things like Hair color and eye color are not always possible to copy on screen, so it’s something you can forgive (don’t stone me, historical puritans!). There were black Prosperos and female Hamlets, so a Mary without auburn hair and hazel eyes (exactly like Elizabeth I’s, by the way) is still acceptable. Once you know it’s gonna be about the four girls and their boyfriends, and lovely Mary QoS’s love life is overemphasized, then you can enjoy it and relax.

Happy Reign Watching. Or not. 

Aside

What women want to say to men

Men, you do not have the right to tell girls what to wear, where to go or what to do or say, unless of course you are their biological father (i say “biological”, to escape the creeps who claim ownership by age).

So, they can wear short skirts and roam the nights and go to the darkest corners of town, and if you cannot control your son’s disgusting sexual urges then keep him inside the house after 7.

If they have a problem of staring at girls who dress freely, walk with confidence, or feel like whistling or even pass lewd comments, teach them this simple exercise: whenever they see a girl who is dressed up, tell them to cross the road for their own safety. If they feel inferior or insulted by the girls dress or confidence, teach them to ignore it for their family’s sake. If they develop problems by girl’s awesomeness, take them in for counseling.

Men, train your boys to do housework, as they spend so much time at home anyway (after7) and need to take their heads out of their genitals. It’s convenient, easy and they’ll be trained to run their own house one day.

Men, when boys reach a marriageable age, marry them off to avoid them thinking they are capable of self sustaindnce or empowerment. Women, make your men work at home, because of course, how could you take tine off from your job To take care of kids, and run the household? And anyway, you’ve been working for longer, right?

Men, if you are out after 7 remember the groups of girls who may see you and reduce your self confidence, and remember to carry a pepper spray, because no one knows with crazy girls.

Men, just because there is more opportunity, try not to abort your boy children. Remember, it is illegal (that might help a little) and just because girls will give you more money, opportunity and girls, it is both inhumane (gender equality!) and it is the mothers choice, actually.

Men and boys, you might have to work for a year while women are giving birth. In those months, try to stay away from the more pressing tasks, as men don’t work well in the workforce, and anyway earn less, but most of all avoid office harassment. Whenever your female boss proves her intellectual superiority or whenever your female coworkers step on your toes with pointy heels, keep your head down. If you receive emails from your boss criticizing your latest project, Just shelve it and never mention it.

boys when you get married, remember that you need a lot of wealth to make up for the insecurity you would have definitely built up over the years from women outsmarting you, or sassing off at you, or just hearing horror stories about it happening to other people, and you not being able to handle your uncontrollable sexual urges. So stock up to give to the girls family.

boys, if you aren’t able to control your urges, not only will you probably not be helped, and be mocked by the gangs of girls you meet, you will have to give excruciatingly detailed and extensive reports on the nature of your sexual urges to your parents, the police, lawyers and the government.

Which came first? The Chicken or the Egg? Famous Characters from literature try to answer this question:

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Liz: the chicken must have been a vain creature indeed, to have thought up such a clever way of tormenting young minds. I do fancy puzzles, but not many so surely built to antagonize.

Hamlet: To chicken or to egg? That is the question!                                                   To progeny or mother? Which was engendered by                                                      or which engendered? Such a choice! Of my choosing? Nay,                                      Both exist only encompassed by each other, both need one another                        to survive, both could not have been born without the other.                                    Through flesh and blood and life both are bound?                                                      Which then, is the choice? Is it indeed of my choosing?                                               Oh, how to rest my fickle heart! The rise of a new from the old,                                To generations gone, till the same….

Sherlock Holmes: an interesting puzzle this. I need more facts. Data! I need data! How is one to make a house with no bricks? You have no evidence to suggest either is true! Your question, in fact, must be wrong. A chicken or an egg? Mere idiom, mere idiocy. There is clearly no such thing as a chicken.

Murakami: The chicken boils pasta on the stove, its color is rotund, its smell oblique…it bubbles on the stove while the lines blur with the steam.

James Bond: I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

History Graveyard

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The Guillotine- The Original Mean, Lean, Killing Machine

They have many names for it – The Regretful Climb, The Patriotic Shorten-er, The National Razor, The Widow… I was in many different countries before France. The Guillotine was a wooden structure with a blade for cutting off heads from bodies and killed over 44,000 people. Everyone came for days on end to watch and cheer for the executions. In short, this mean lean killing machine is impossible to be made boring (though many people have made sincere, earnest attempts).

The Guillotine was the fearful, terrible climax of the practically unsuccessful French Revolution (though more successful than the American one) It was a tall, imposing machine, kept in the center of the square and with people all around. No trial, only executions. All the French nobles were sentenced to death by guillotine. The last chapter of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities describes this tragedy at it’s worst. Certainly, many of the people killed this way probably deserved it, but even then how can you condone this kind of evil…and what about the rest?

The French Revolution called through its streets for Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite. They decided enough is enough, and they will overthrow the cruel French Aristocrats, and behead them with this machine as true bloody revenge, and replace the vermin upper class with another group of equally cruel people. Le Bon!

See, the guillotine may be weirdly sadistic and cold, but at least they got rid of those exploitative rich people! It was pretty gruesome, by the way and also (since my head is on the chopping block) really, really efficient.

The Guillotine did bite your head off, but the heads that were bitten lost hearing and sight FIFTEEN MINUTES later. So the dismembered head was alive for a quarter of an hour before it died along with the rest of the body. Also, the bodies piled up together and really stank up the place.

Oh, and the  French aristocrats in question were something of a cross between Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games, and after they were guillotined, the headless huntsman from Sleepy Hollow,

Quick Fact File – Adolf Hitler

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Name- Adolf Schiklgruber Hitler

Date of birth- April 20, 1889

Date of Death- April 30, 1945, Berlin

Why him? Important facts-  We first meet him in World War I where he nearly gets killed but escapes just in time. He lives, and thousands are doomed to die in Wold War 2. He joins the Nationalist Socialist Party, the Nat-so, or Nazi Party. He is evil and charismatic and leads Germany in the second World War. He is the mastermind behind the most evil mass genocide/ ethnic cleansing of history- the killing of Jews. He decides that Jews should be worked to death or starved in concentration camps. Nice guy.

Loves- Killing Jews. the occasional Axis, and ruling the world

Hates- Everyone.

Most Likely to say- Don’t touch my mustache.

Least Likely to say- Let’s be calm and reasonable about this.

The Odyssey Irish Drinking Song

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The odyssey Irish Drinking Song:

My tale is so sad and tragic,
Homer too must have been drunk,
It’s got cyclops, gods and magic,
Here it is a little shrunk.
The fighting days have gone by,
And the nights now will be long,
So let’s all gather round the table,
For an Irish drinking song.
(Music)

I started off from the gold city
After the ten year war was done,
I got a boat and some sailors,
And headed towards the sun.

I straightaway found the lair,
Of the lotus eating cult.
They were a little strange,
But I didn’t want to insult.
I became a little stranger,
And a little drunk.
But I didn’t seem to care,
Till Athene saved me from the punks.
Everyone else had left me for sunk,
But, still I did escape no worse for wear.

(Ch)
We drink and drink and drink and drink,
And drink our nights away,
We ain’t got no reason,
Except for us so say,

But I still ain’t learnt my lesson,
And I made another pit stop.
This time it was a one eyed beast,
Tried to make me into chops.
I had his eye poked,
with a red hot iron poker.
Poseidon now loves me the least,
Nobody hates the beast.

(Ch)

The next island I stopped at,
I nearly became a pig.
Circe was a very pretty lady,
She didn’t seem like a witch.
I took her by the throat,
Before she tried the switch.
But when she said, she’d fallen
Promptly in love with me,
I decided to go figure,
And left travelling- briefly.

(Ch)

When I finally took to sailing home,
I got it figured out,
The sirens nearly killed me,
But I found a less painful route.
Then I headed to hades,
And met my old, dead pals.
And then I saw a prophet,
And got into a couple of brawls.

(Ch)

One was a sea monster
with really ugly teeth.
She had a liking for humans,
it wasn’t healthy.
She tried to grab me and to eat me,
but now I was used,
To women trying to kill me,
So now I knew what to do.

(Ch)

Calypso kept me on her island,
And At first I didn’t mind.
But she was really clingy,
And my wife was very kind.
She finally let me go,
Because of the gods.
(I clearly tell it better,
Than Percy and his lighting rod.)

(Ch)

After that when I got back home,
And everyone was wowed.
My wife must have asked how,
It took shorter to go than come?
I had a really long time,
To come up with a good answer.
But in the meantime,
I killed all of her suitors.

(Ch)

I crowned my son,
And retired all my day.
The war was won,
But for all my ways.
My kingdom ain’t got left a penny,
Except my wife Penelope.

We Are Not Human

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How wrong were you, Nehru? 

India is experiencing deterioration; it is ram shackled, rundown, literally on the path to utter ruin.

Those are vague terms. The more specific, concrete ones are rape, gang-rape and murder. The reasons can be many, but the truth is, people have been desensitised to violence against women. Literal weeks after the Nirbhaya rage subsided, a little girl, under the age of ten was raped in a similar way, and whole candles were extracted from her stomach by doctors. Unavoidably, and perhaps even mercifully, she died. What changed?

Women are under oppression, an oppression so carefully formed that we still call it’s men “men”, we give it’s masterful, animalistic causers a label and move on, and assume indifference to the suffering of the victims. This oppression is found in all the women forced into marriage by their families, by all the women who are attacked on the streets at night, as if their spilt blood and pieces of their shattered mind left forever there, marks the sick male territory in some way. It rears its ugly head sometimes in the domestic life, sometimes echoed in whistles and comments, seen in hands moving in strange ways. It is so much worse than not letting us vote, not letting us remarry, because this oppression is internal, psychological. This is masterfully embedded in our psyche, until its a part of us, our way of thinking, until it is a dormant gene that has found the exact moment to become active. This starts so small, but becomes bigger and bigger, fed by our fear and desperation, till it determines the most basic life choices; what we wear on the street and when we come and go from our homes.

When we say it comes from a history of degrading and dominating women, of patriarchy, we don’t really understand what were saying. Literally every human culture had this shameful history. American women were denied voting till the feminism waves. Japanese womens feet were bound. I believe African tribes came up with colourful and painful ways to suppress women, yet they have mostly put that behind them. Every single lasting human culture and society is patriarchal in society, and they all came out of it and learn to accept women.
Yes, rape does happen everywhere, but its a matter of gigantic, enormous degrees. Please, we’d be happy if rude comments and derogatory comments which are a big deal elsewhere were our biggest problem when it comes to the way we treat women. We cannot compare to America or Britain or Africa or China in the simple way that we are not human, if women in this country are treated this way. We Are Not Human. We are savage, barbaric, bestial, creatures, and we have found a way to utterly destroy other creatures and then make them believe they were at fault.

If you women think that you can avoid this by taking certain precautions- wrong.
There are no precautions against something that is happening anyway, anywhere and everywhere. Men say its caused by short skirts? Roaming around at night? Frequenting night clubs? if jyothi, or priya, or sari, or whoever, was out of the house at an odd hour, in a night club, in a sexy short skirt, it still should be okay. She should still know that she is safe, and will not be harmed.

Men in India seem to have this strange perception about women. They think about humans, then women. They seem to think “women” is a whole new species. One that can be grouped, touched, literally “manhandled” at will. To all those men: “no” really means “no”. 

The cause for this problem are men and women. Because when we say the problem is psychological it’s in their mindset, we forget that it isn’t the way (most of them, the ones who aren’t confirmed psychopaths) were wired. People learn by example and conditioning, and, somewhere along the way, humans forget that they are humans and become merely men and women. So, yes the problem is with the man and the woman, not just in this sense, but in the sense of their upbringing. Because somewhere, somehow, boys assume that raping, beating up women or passing lewd or decisive comments is allowed. Boys and girls, men and women, nowhere, utterly nowhere else in the world would you be allowed to tell a girl how to dress, or what is “appropriate” to wear, unless you could claim them as your child. You would be stoned for perversion and interference. 

A MCDonalds or a Starbucks or ten or twenty or fifty five is not growth for india. It’s breakfast. Everyone has one. if we really want to outsource something from America, that will monopolise our lives, cost us less than what we have here and is in better quality and better managed than indigenous options, pick the way they treat women, not burgers and fries. Thats the main reason for growing obesity in their country so It’s a healthier option if nothing else. 

 
Letter to Bollywood- you ain’t helping. If you think you create beautiful, strong assertive women who can take care of themselves and protect those who they love…a little off the mark. Way, way off the mark. You create people who consistently objectify themselves and who are constantly giving out the same message-through fairness creams, through wrinkle ads, through bizarre dresses and showing skin-to young girls like I was, who look to you for role models of beauty, that they are not good enough, that they lack, and that they will always lack. This insecurity which has trickled all the way into our cosmetic industry and markets till it is no big deal to think you aren’t good enough. And that will be only magnified by harassment. 

 In addition, every time you agree to let the male character tease or rag your female character, knowing that she will eventually get together with him, you are telling everyone that it is okay to rag or tease a girl if you’ll marry her or make her fall in love with you. An even worse role model than the scantily dressed  object for mens lewd admiration, is the docile creature known as the Yash Chopra Heroine. I don’t know what to say to her, except…how does she, an invertebrate, so cleverly pass for human? 
xxooxxx 

The beautiful actor who plays Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games said that they had a chance to create a heroine who is healthy and beautiful and strong…so why not let her be? 
She pulled it off. I honestly thank her for being so truly amazing for everyone who won’t. 

I don’t really know how to address families who try to keep it in the dark once they know that their daughter was raped…but i know that this is merely one step towards your beautiful strong daughter losing her faith in you, someone who she has taken the huge effort to tell, and, if you refuse her help or choose to not believe or ignore her at this moment of utter despair, she will (and she doesn’t) have no it may, as it often has, result in worse, even suicide. As for those people who marry their daughters to the men who rape them, you may say some them are “illiterate” but you are insulting illiteracy, because they are just idiots. You may say they’re scared, but their actually cowards. And they clearly fail to understand the severe magnitude of their child’s position, because even the most cowardly, idiotic person would not do this if they understood.

Where other traditions from other various countries and cultures of trying to make women submit have become subsumed by new thinking, modernity and advancement, India, still steeped in it’s basic problems of poverty, corruption, unemployment and illiteracy, has decided to look back instead of forward, and sought to redeem itself in neurotic pride in past and traditions, which, though kept our country stable, has ended it up almost in cryo-sleep, and somehow been twisted by certain people to justify crime and decimation of it’s women.

Even the terms “rapist” or “sex offender” have stopped being much more than a label. The word seems to mute the horror and terror it should imply. That is because no longer do people treat the rapist or the sex offender with the appropriate reaction. Which isn’t horror or shock, it’s life imprisonment or the death sentence. Instead, none of these four are picked, and he walks free. Not only does the woman spend forever knowing that the man who raped her could easily be out there looking for revenge against her attempt to imprison him, she also has to know that the violence committed against her is left unpunished. If you want more women to come forward and report sex crimes, you should meet them half way and make sure that you believe the ones reported and that something is done about it. 

India, entirely due to uncontrollable reasons, was not able to experience a wave of feminism. This is because, if truth be told, for the longest of times, we had deem-ably bigger problems. Caste, social evils, untouchability, the British raj leaving us destitute and poor. To be honest it would almost seem as though we were grappling with bigger issues. But now, I think we have finally reached the point where we must try and work out this issue too. The reason barely anyone cares is because when you walk ten miles to get water, barely earn enough for the straw thatched hut you live in and own one outfit, high minded ideals like feminism are far from your mind, and if that isn’t bad enough, you couldn’t care about your rights unless it would somehow earn you food.

Yes, there are other cultures where women are treated worse. But, is that the kind of culture you want to become like? Is that the culture we are trying to be? is that culture the one you want you use as an excuse- “they’re raping and humiliating women so we can too?”. or do you want to look at cultures where women are deemed equal to men, cultures who have managed to accept the fact that all humans were created equal, and say, “yes we made a mistake. But we are capable of change. And we do not believe that changing the unjust way we treat women will do anything but further enrich our great traditions”, “yes we had a great past. Now we can have a great future. All of us.”