xenologer: (Ravenna)
Check them out on Tumblr here.

For a long time I assumed I was a Gryffindor because I went and did things rather than sort of... just passively accepting the decision framework I saw around me. It's a really good thing that fan communities put more thought into this kind of thing than we see in the canon pieces Rowlings showed.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality convinced me that, okay, fine. Slytherin. I'd hate everybody else in that house, but it's where I would go (especially if I were sorted at age 11).

But SortingHatChats... this is a level of wonderful detail that appeals to me as part of the generation that grew up with Quizilla shit like "which color is your soul" and "what is the shape of your anime hair fringe" or whatever the hell ways to categorize ourselves we found through bullshit internet quizzes. So I'm gonna go for a little while about the SHC considerations. It's a level of nuance I am finding helpful.

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xenologer: (Ravenna)
Content Warnings: abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, family, harry potter, mental illness, substance abuse

WTF I Just Saw This Wall of Text Why Did You Do This

I know a lot of genuinely good people. Good people often lack a sort of... brutal realism. To put it in the nerdiest possible terms, Hufflepuffs make excellent friends, but they might not spot what a Slytherin does. A Slytherin with any kind of sense of balance will do the right thing and use their cunning and cynicism to watch everybody else's backs.

So, my beloved good-hearted Hufflepuffs and straightforwardly honest Ravenclaws and doggedly honest Gryffindors, I'm gonna try to do the right thing and share what I've learned from learning how to... well, "make people useful" sounds bad, so I'll just say "manipulate people." I can't think of too many ways to use that for good except to reveal the social bad guy secrets so they at least won't have the element of surprise. Nobody deserves to be blindsided by some of this crap, and right now I'm gonna focus on one big big big trap in particular. Some of this comes from actual therapist literature, and a whole helluva lot of it comes from needing to develop certain skills to survive that are not ethical to use in the adult world. Other people's mileage may vary but unfortunately... it probably varies less than a lot of people think it does.

Why I Picked Triangulation

We're all from the internet, and one common experience a lot of us have had is that anybody even remotely interesting is broken or at least a little cracked in some kind of a way. Some people can learn what the world really looks like entirely from watching bad things from a distance, but they are few and far between. People with personality tend to develop it from contact with the actual world.

Unfortunately, people who have bad things crash into them or even just near them can pick up bad habits. After all, the habits that help us survive in emotional wartime aren't always the ones that serve us best longterm. I've tended to think about it like lycanthropy; getting bitten is nobody's fault but that doesn't mean it's okay to pass on the curse.

One of the most insidious versions of this is triangulation. More info about this here. The very very short explanation is that crappy families can often shake down to a trio of roles, with members shifting between them. If someone is consistently scary, they become everybody else's Persecutor (and it's not much of a stretch to see how). Scary people often have at least one person attached to them who sees it as their job to moderate or insulate the scary one, and to those who're getting scared, this person might be their Rescuer. And of course, the Victim of all of this is just that: they're the victim and none of this is their fault.

Where this becomes entertaining (in an abstract sort of way, if you can look past the tangled knot of human suffering feeding itself) is that the Persecutor frequently sees themselves as the innocent Victim who is to blame for nothing, and they have the same Rescuer as the people they scare the crap out of. The Rescuer is the Rescuer to everybody, because at some point they decided it was their job to save everybody from everybody else and themselves. (Full disclosure: I have done the Rescuer thing, bigtime.)

Thing is... when the Rescuer is surrounded by people they're just trying to help and... well, rescue... there's nobody to protect them. And since they've bought into the triangle (or they wouldn't have accepted a role within it), they have to identify who's Victimizing them, and who's their best chance at Rescuing them.

(Victim and Rescuer are the roles people tend to want to be in. Persecutor is usually a role they reserve for someone else.)

Common Example (CN: Addiction, Emotional Abuse)

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xenologer: (objection!)
Okay, so the Harry Potter universe? I hate the wizarding world. Hate hate hate. I would go absolutely barmy there because I actually give a damn about anybody but myself and people exactly like me. Maybe I'm not always going to do a great job of getting past the various privileges accorded to me because of my race, level of ability, or the fact that my gender and orientation are generally able to pass cultural muster. That's fair. However. I am at the point in my basic humanity where I understand that I am not the only real person in the world and that other people's experiences matter even if I am not having them.

I would probably be a Gryffindor because I am probably too RARRRRRRRRRRRRR INJUSTICE I WILL FIGHT IT, but here's the thing. Even Gryffindor falls dismally short by my standards. Even people who aren't overtly whitewizard supremacists still don't really see muggles as anything but an exotic non-magical Other who must be prevented from having access to magic at all costs, because... apparently they thought that without any real witches or wizards, religious fanatics would stop killing each other over accusations of witchcraft (hahahahahaha yeah okay) and, no shit, because then wizards might have to help muggles.

No, I am not kidding. That's why there is a Wizarding Masquerade. Those are the reasons. The first one pretty much just means they don't know how religion works, which... y'know, whatever. I can excuse that, because I actually wouldn't mind living in a world where I didn't need to know about religion as a survival skill. So I won't hate on them for that. But the latter? Muggles will make them cast magic "for their own ends."

Well, yes, you assholes. Because you have all this magical shit and muggles have actual real world problems that you could be helping with given your superior access to magical resources and training. Yes, actually, muggles might expect you to use your privilege for anybody's benefit but your own. DAMN UPPITY MUGGLES AMIRITE?


Philanthropic Wizards and What They Could Really Do If They Didn't Suck

Sadly, muggles cannot actually mix potions, but a lot of powerful potions in the Harry Potter universe are literally stuff children can make. Some will require more precision and a more-educated intuition about them, but the amount of raw power required seems fairly minimal. Nonetheless, a wizard who graduates toward the bottom of his class is still a wizard, and you wouldn't have to be much of one to make potions provided you had the skill to compensate for a lack of raw power.

Muggle studies teachers need to be doing fieldwork, or else they need to get actual muggles to teach the course. Before you tell me there aren't muggles who know what magic is, where exactly do you think Hermione Granger's parents think she's going to school? And yes, her mother and father both know what witches are and think it's keen that their daughter is one.

Considering that it was apparently standard procedure to tell the parents what is really going on, consider how many wizards are not pure-blood wizards and then consider how many muggles that means they have in the hiring pool. In fact, if it were important to people in the setting to keep this secret, they'd have a huge problem.

Let's get right into what wizards can actually do, what they choose not to do, and why that means they are useless assholes that I hate.

Either the girding potion or strengthening solution would be literally a performance-enhancing drug. You think that shows up in drug tests? I bet it doesn't. And even if it does, I can think of plenty of legit uses for it besides cheating at sports. Then again, the most important accomplishment in the Wizarding world seems to be Quidditch, so perhaps by wizard priorities cheating at muggle sports is an absolutely brilliant way to make yourself significant to history through magic.

Personally, though, I would be more likely to try any number of these goddamn antidotes for things.

Look at that list. Look at that list. If you can find a cure for malaria or this miracle drug for amputees or people with serious skeletal injuries or a memory potion that you could at least offer to people with Alzheimer's or any number of the stuff that phoenix tears could save you from provided there's any phoenix in the world that considers muggles worth the trouble of shedding a single tear--something that I'd like to point out they can do voluntarily and without anybody needing to torture them for or anything--or any of the things which are clearly magical psych meds and not think, "I can actually make the world a better place for millions of people," you are an asshole and I seriously would hate you if this were actually the Harry Potter universe.

If you as a muggle--which I know you are because this is real life--look at this list and don't immediately think of helping muggles as a valid use for all this magic, what makes you think that if you were surrounded by wizard supremacists who only ever hear about muggles in a high school elective course you'd give a single damn about how many muggle children die of malaria every year?

And this isn't even getting into the bullshit about luck potions that allow you to succeed at anything (Such as actually going and killing Voldemort since even a small dose is clearly enough to protect you from insta-death curses? Or maybe researching a vaccine for HIV? Or for brewing more luck potions?). Keep in mind that potions that never wear off or never run out of doses are a canonical certainty and read those options I listed again.

No, they're fiercely preoccupied with Quidditch (and other ways of establishing and defending Wizard Cred among other wizards) and magical date rape.

And don't tell me wizards aren't smart enough to think of these things. They have potions to make themselves smarter, too.

Wizards are just assholes, that's all. They're assholes who clearly just don't consider "muggle problems" to be worthy of their attention, never mind all the wizards who are themselves related to muggles or dependent on the good graces of muggles willing to help wizards maintain The Wizarding Masquerade.

But! But!

I mean, maybe you're thinking, "But there aren't actually enough wizards in the world to meaningfully participate in solving the problems that plague the human race!" Okay, maybe you're thinking that. Maybe there are just so many utterly-unsolveable-by-muggles problems and not enough wizards to impact those problems even slightly. At that rate, is it really their fault that millions and possibly billions of innocent muggles have suffered and died for lack of access to things like magical medicine? How can we blame wizards for not being able to be everywhere at once? Is that fair or reasonable?


I'm just gonna leave this here.

It's not like those are literally given to children so they can take more classes or anything.

I mean maybe magic is inexplicably and inexcusably useless with NO IN-SETTING JUSTIFICATION, or maybe... just maybe... wizards are simply assholes who can't see past their goddamn wizarding privilege to the fact that real human people are suffering and dying completely needlessly because wizards have the worst priorities ever.

A Game I'd Run

I was talking to my husband earlier tonight about what I would do if I ever ran a game in the Harry Potter universe. I would play a muggle-born potions or muggle studies instructor who sends students out on philanthropic adventures. Their first mission would be something super simple and innocuous and easy to cover up, like finding people's lost pets. This would also serve to give an enormous emotional reward to the students for helping a ten year old muggle child get their puppy back. We'd scale this up in their final years at school to disaster relief using apparition to get food and medical supplies into afflicted areas and get survivors out with minimal risk to a skilled user or to the people they're helping.

Why? Because wizards are citizens of the whole world, not just the wizarding world. I don't care what the classist wizard supremacist assholes in Slytherin are telling kids, and I don't care that apparently nobody else at Hogwarts is telling them to quit being so goddamn racist all the time. They're wrong, and muggles matter.

That's what I would use for adventure plot hooks. Go help people, kids. Understand that great power doesn't just come with great responsibility in comic books. If you're a witch or a wizard, you are a superhero, so get out and goddamn act like it.

Naturally, this teacher would probably get in trouble with the wizard supremacists. So here is what would happen. Wizard supremacists teleport to the outside of this teacher's house and decide that they're going to have a duel, because I guess in the wizarding world if you don't want to get thrown in Azkaban, you settle all disputes by seeing who can toss the other's wand into a corner, and the one who has to go pick up their wand loses at everything now and... I guess is forced to stop what they're doing to piss people off by... the honor system, I guess?

That's what the wizard supremacists expect. Unfortunately, this is a muggle studies professor who actually has done fieldwork among muggles and done shit like watch television or movies and guess what. Professor Not-A-Dick owns a gun and tells them to get the fuck offa her lawn or she's going to defend herself and her property.

Even if the wizard supremacists start throwing around killing curses, they can get what? One person at a time? What if this professor and her students have... I don't know... guns? One person on the side of good will definitely die--probably the teacher for dramatic effect--but then the students can retaliate by gunning down an entire crowd of people who expected to be able to win a war by killing a single person every round, because they didn't take their don't be a dumbass potion that day, or apparently pay attention in muggle studies.

So now the students are fugitives who have to continue their teacher's legacy of actually doing anything significant at all with magic. Quite probably I would have them eventually break out Carlotta Pinkstone from Azkaban because until 1996 she was seriously being subjected to Dementors as punishment for civil disobedience founded in her opinion that muggles shouldn't be denied access to magic, and that is not okay. But hey. It's 2012. No Dementors to contend with now, so go get her and let the revolution begin.

Meanwhile the wizard supremacists are wanking off to their obvious natural supremacy while accomplishing absolutely nothing with their magic except to own people (I swear if more wizards were farmers they'd have Field Elves, too) and pass those people on to their children who will also pretty much just sit around circle-jerking about how pure their lineage is and how significant they mistakenly believe they are.

I mean, they've done everything but set in place a system of squib pla├žage.

So fuck Harry Potter wizards.

Except you, Carlotta. You're okay; I'm not mad at you.

Everybody else, you need to GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.

Edit: If you want to share this, please share the public version over at Dissent of a Woman.

April 2016

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