A clusterfuck of racefail and misogyny on Snapedom
Some time ago, when there were complaints about sexist treatment of Lily in Snape fandom, people on snapedom insisted that there isn't an ounce of sexism in their attitude towards Lily. Several days ago the snapedom mod sylvanawood issued totally not a misogynistic challenge - Lily revisited:
Years ago (we've been around for a while, oh yes!)we had 'Severus and Lily' as a monthly challenge.
alicekinsno1 suggested to take a closer look at Lily's character:
Maybe something that discusses the character of Lily more deeply? I'd love to see what some of your ideas are for just how Lily went from treating Snape so harshly and talking back to James, to being the stereotypical "saintly mother" at the end of her life. There's something about her personality that doesn't add up.
That is to say, how her apparently selfless decision to die for her baby makes sense in light of the way she treated Severus or even James. With possibly a side comment about how despite being so powerful and gifted she didn't really show any of that by dying pleading for her baby's life without even trying to take on Voldemort.
Please post your entries here or in a separate post. I'm looking forward to your entries.
That couldn't go well. And it didn't. Some comments of choice:
I don't see a dichotomy. In JK-world every mother is self-sacrificing, and even in the real world, many people treat their children differently than their friends/boyfriends/husbands.
That said, I must admit that I don't see Lily's death as an "apparently selfless decision to die for her baby". To me the scene reads as if she was just too panicked and/or hysterical to move.
Right, Duj. I think, to some of us, the dichotomy in Lily's character that's most jarring is how she went from an outspoken, fiery young girl to a passive, terrified young woman. Or so it could seem. Terri had some interesting ideas about this.
But Lily is never, at any point, a saint. Rowling clearly modelled her on Catherine Earnshaw, just as she modelled Severus on Heathcliff. And Catherine Earnshaw is a spoiled, rather narcissistic young woman who treats both Heathcliff (whom she really loves) and her husband (whom she doesn't really love - and who's a fairly decent young man who deserves better than to be married to a woman who doesn't love him) quite badly.
I'm not saying that Lily = Catherine Earnshaw, any more than Severus = Heathcliff. But, having chosen to rewrite a part of Wuthering Heights in her opus, Rowling does have Lily replicate some of Catherine's unpleasant behavior. To then hold her up as the paragon of mother love is downright odd, IMHO.
I have more problems with the idea that no preset escape plans were set up. But then we don't have any indications that Lily was ever a very careful or logical person.
Yes, logic suggests they certainly OUGHT to have had an escape plan (preferably with a premade portkey included if one is going to put up barriers against apparation), But as Hermione told us - wizards and witches are rarely logical. And even tho' Lily came from a muggle background, not even all muggles are logical either.
I think the main problem was that Lily was VERY sure of her own beliefs. Once she's decided, then few can change her mind. We see this in her conversations with Sev and even when we see her in the playground with Tuney.
Just as sure (in her own way) as James was of his own cleverness. And her beliefs led her to join in on James' belief that he could outsmart anyone. The real trouble was that both Lily and James felt the fidelius secret keeper switch was perfect and therefore saw no need for back up escape plans.
I think it also important to note that Lily's 'sacrifice' is NOT what actually saved Harry, Whatever her efforts or reasons, asking Voldy to kill her instead of Harry wouldn't have made any difference if Voldy was going to AK him. The difference came from Voldy - in the genuine offer to allow her to live - which we all know comes from Sev asking Voldy to spare her.
And Lily might truthfully feel that she doesn't WANT to live on if both her husband and child are dead. So, it really isn't so much a 'mother's sacrifice' as a mother trying her best to influence Voldy into leaving her baby alive (as he had apparently done for other children).
All in all, 'Saint Lily' never exists except in the statue in Godric's Hollow. So, Lily herself never actually changed into this 'being'. It is an ideal suggested by the ministry, something they felt the wizarding public would like to believe in.
And when have we ever seen a wizarding statue to 'ideals' that was truthful. Perhaps individual statues of individual people - but certainly not in statues built by the Ministry in honor of some ideal they hold - or rather that they prefer the wizarding public to believe. This goes hand-in-hand with Fudge (and even Scrimgoer) wishing to pacify the public by promoting ideas without basis in fact.
The worst came when mary_j_59, who is white and who knows that there are WOC who identify with Lily out there (such as ravenstar84 and randomneses, who both wrote essays in Lily's defense), posted this:
Another thought about Lily - this one is completely random. Lily, like Hermione, is a bright and talented Muggleborn, and a lot of people have attacked us here because they identify with her and consider Severus a lifelong racist.
Of course, he's not. It's canon that he changes. But-
I am starting to wonder why bright young women of color would identify with Lily. After all, her situation is not at all like theirs. They may well suffer low-level prejudice everywhere they go. Anyone can tell, by looking at another person, whether they are primarily of European, Asian, or African descent. And far too many people make judgements about others based on their ancestry. I can completely understand why these fans get outraged by young Sev's yelling "Mudblood" if they equate it with the "n" word.
But - it's really not equivalent. And Lily's situation is not in the least like theirs. She suffers no prejudice in the WW at large - yes, there is a fair-sized group whose leader wants to oppress Muggleborns, but, for most of her life, that group is not in power. No one can tell, by looking at her, whether she is Muggleborn or not. She is pretty, popular, talented, and apparently near the top of her class, at least in Potions. She would seem, as a girl, to have several friends, and not one, but at least two, bright and talented boys are after her. Her Potions professor loves her, and, since she becomes a prefect and is Head Girl, her other professors must think well of her. In short, she does not suffer from constant, low-level prejudice wherever she goes. On the contrary, she seems quite privileged, happy, and sure of her place in the Wizarding World. She's a queen bee.
So I really, really, don't see why those young women identify with her so strongly, while failing to identify with Sev or any other character with Muggle (not Muggleborn) descent.
That's my random thought. I realize it doesn't have much to do with the original question, but I'd be curious to know what others think of this dichotomy. Lily seems to be a very contradictory character, no matter how you look at her.
totalreadr and Lynn (lynn_waterfall on LJ) also added to the fail:
Oh, I dunno. The whole reason I couldn't get up much sympathy for Emmett Till over on terri's lj was because he was popular and "acting macho." In my reading on the case I even found his family quoted as expressing that his death was *especially* tragic because he *was* so popular! For me their cris de coeur Did Not Work As Intended in the same way that Gerda Weissman Klein's /All But My Life/ did not (http://raisin-gal.livejournal.com/1
Emmett Till was popular, macho, had a bright future, etc....up north. Down south, none of that mattered because he was still black.
Likewise Dr. Cornel West who, despite being a professor at Princeton and dressed like one, still couldn't get a cab to stop for him. His class privilege was trumped by racism.
Lily's in a similar situation: In Hogwarts, the anti-Muggle folks are out of power. "Judged on her own merits," she's a queen bee. But outside Hogwarts, Voldemort is gaining more and more power. Outside Hogwarts, her life is in danger.
Inside Hogwarts, OTOH, her privilege there blinds her to Severus' situation. Inside Hogwarts, *Severus* is the one who almost dies. She never finds out because she can't feel enough empathy for him to pick up on the situation -- he's a reject, after all.
Which is why I put "judged on her own merits," in quotes above. Just because Hogwarts isn't ruled by the anti-Muggle contingent doesn't mean its leadership doesn't have other prejudices.
I don't have much personal sympathy for people whose Privilege A gets trumped by someone else's Privilege B. They're both privileged, and neither privilege should exist.
But hey, a lot of the time what looks like a "privilege" to those who don't have it really should be a right -- rather than no one having it, everyone should.
It's just that it's sometimes hard to care that someone's being deprived of "rights" -- rights they may be automatically expecting -- that *you* routinely don't have and can't *afford* to expect. When you don't typically have it, it doesn't look like a right, just a privilege. A feminist friend once horrified me with her unholy schadenfreude at seeing male privilege get trumped by class privilege. Then I realized I experienced the exact same schadenfreude at seeing class privilege get trumped by...anything else. (Still have a chip on my shoulder.) And then there's Eldridge Cleaver....
So I think the answer to your question is: Intersectionality. And difficulty coping with it. As have we all.
I think that an important part of it is that JKR's writing is poor, so there are a lot of blanks left for the reader to fill, and a lot of us here refuse to fill in blanks for her. The overall tone of the books makes it fairly clear how JKR would have us fill in those blanks, even if some of us aren't impressed with writing that has so many blanks.
Still, plenty of readers are happy to fill them in for her. Even without thinking about it; they settle into the books' mindset, and naturally fill things in. In which case they see Lily as someone who *does* face prejudice regularly. Probably the same with Hermione. Hermione's a better example because we see so much of her life at Hogwarts, and we never do see her face much there other than one kid who hates her and her friends anyway, and a genocidal lunatic (Diary!Riddle). I suspect, though, that people fill in blanks anyway, and assume that she faces prejudice from other people on a regular basis.
Which is possible. It isn't denied by the text. It's just that there isn't very much actually stated by the text, and we tend to make that distinction often.
(For instance, I know that some people say Severus hates Hermione because she's muggleborn. I don't think that he *likes* her, but I'm not aware of any evidence that her ancestry is the reason for his dislike. But Severus is a Slytherin, and Slytherins are anti- muggleborn, so that must be his reason, even if there's no evidence of it.)
Anyway, that's what I think it is. If it isn't that, though... it might be a kind of wish fulfillment thing. Lily (and Hermione) do face prejudice, as demonstrated by their facing racist terrorists, but they don't have to deal with it in their daily lives (on screen) in any realistic way. Draco is a jerk, but he isn't very good at it, and Hermione is confident enough to brush off his insults. Lily's best friend calls her an epithet, but she has plenty of other friends who would never do that, including the really cool boy who wants to go out with her. It's all for the best that she drop her now-former best friend, anyway, and all of her other friends will support her -- they even encourage her to drop him and to never speak to him again, to never have to deal with his prejudice again.
So, on the level that readers can relate to, Lily and Hermione have things pretty good, albeit not *perfect*. If anything worse happens to these characters at that level, the readers don't have to deal with it because it isn't on the page. The serious problems come in at a level that the readers don't deal with in their daily lives, so it doesn't interfere with the wish fulfillment. Just as Harry's story works as wish fulfillment even though we readers wouldn't want to have a Dark Lord out to kill us, or to have our childhoods revolve around a murderous lunatic.
Both ravenstar84 and randomneses wrote responses to this in their livejournals:
Oh...oh this is just gold....
When fandom and privilege meet!
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