Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dumbledore "is" gay, part the second

In his NYT piece, "Is Dumbledore Gay? Depends on Definitions of 'Is' and 'Gay'," Edward Rothstein opines that even if Dumbledore "is" gay, the books make him asexual, like all proper old wizard dudes.
This is why Dumbledore’s supposed gayness is ultimately as unimportant as Ron’s shabby clothes. These wounded outsiders recognize the nature of evil, and finally that is what matters.
But what does "asexual" mean, when the default is heterosexual? Isn't the wise mentor figure above "sex" because he is above women, who are simply defined as the sexual?

When Merlin "falls," for example, isn't it to female pollution, as opposed to the pure Socratic bond with Arthur? It seems disingenuous to suppose that there is no economy of gender at work in the genre, even surrounding the "asexual" mentor figure (isn't it convenient that they're all men, however "asexual"? and that their mentees are similarly male?). Suppositions of sexuality, or lack thereof, are finally not extricable from the gender values that surround them.

I think that if Rowling is arguing for tolerance, as she claims, then it seems odd that she would create a "homosexual" character with, in fact, no discernible sexuality in the books.

It also seems odd that the sole homosexual encounter of the series (if we take it as such) is tragic (not to mention undertaken with a Hitler figure).

Rothstein takes this to mean that we can ignore Rowling's pronouncement. He seems to breathe a sigh of relief, as gayness is brushed to the side as irrelevant.

I'm not so sure.