JK Rowling sucks.

Naomi Hancock, Opinion Editor

My parents gave me “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” on Christmas Day of 2012. I was seven, two days shy of eight, and it was my first big kid book.

I’ve always been an avid reader. I started with “The Boxcar Children, then the “Magic Tree House,” and eventually, “Harry Potter.” With age and time, my taste has changed immensely, though the love I have for the Harry Potter universe has never wavered. 

But it would be a lie to say that there isn’t a part of “Harry Potter” that has soured for me.

On June 6, 2020, in the midst of a lockdown, I was doing what I usually did on those afternoons: scrolling through Twitter. The app is a platform for the community to speak their minds; a town square, as some say, where controversial opinions frequently become the topic of conversation.

In this case, the author of the “Harry Potter” series Joanne Rowling––or J.K. Rowling, as she’s more commonly known––tweeted out a response to an opinion piece from Devex about making menstrual products more accessible for those in developing countries: “‘People who menstruate,’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

The backlash was immediate and unrelenting. Despite the criticism, Rowling defended her statement. Four days later, on June 10, Rowling uploaded a lengthy essay originally titled “TERF Wars” on her blog page. 

TERF, or, Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, is the term used to describe women who are feminists, as long as the “women” they advocate for are not transgender. The essay is over 3,600 words of her defending the fact that she thinks that biological sex is more important than one’s gender identity. 

Rowling claims that there is a fundamental flaw with the way we are teaching gender to our children. She argues that because of the transition and de-transition (the process of transitioning back to one’s original gender) rates in the population, there is a crisis in youth. Rowling says that there is pressure to alter your gender identity because the people you surround yourself with are doing so as well, especially in youth.  

J.K. Rowling’s reasoning is not only faulty at best but incredibly dehumanizing and demoralizing to transgender people who may have been fans of her work. 

Actors from the film adaptations of “Harry Potter,” including leads Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, have come out against Rowling. Many have made public statements, expressing their belief that transgender women are women. 

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t change who apologizes for her, not when what she has said and done has potentially ruined the magic of “Harry Potter” for readers. 

Of course, that’s not the only thing she has done. Rowling has come under fire for numerous things in the Harry Potter universe: her lack of diversity (racial, queer, etc.) canonically has been of concern to many readers. 

This isn’t the first time Rowling has reentered the limeline for negative reasons. Many readers have expressed their concern with the lack of diversity in the books. 

For instance, the wide majority of the characters in “Harry Potter” are white, straight, and cisgender. The only characters that are anything other than white are poorly handled.

The sole Asian lead, named Cho Chang, shows nothing but a lack of creativity and knowledge about other cultures. For a writer creative enough to create an entire universe, it’s disappointing how unoriginal she can get. 

The deeper you delve, the more obvious racial stereotyping seems to become. The Gringotts goblins are slimy, mistrustful, and greedy, an embodiment of the Jewish moneylender stereotype.

Readers have also criticized the house-elf system. Rowling writes that house-elves like to be enslaved because it is in their nature to be servient. Commentators have argued that the house-elves are a metaphor for Antebellum America, or the South. 

Hermione Granger seems to be the sole advocate for freeing the elves, and her efforts are seen as unimportant and even often foolish by the characters around them. The fact that no one cares about the slaves that surround them, and that we, the audience, are supposed to accept it as “a quirky magical world” is unacceptable. 

Writing children’s books with real-world problems is not an issue, and it’s been done many times before. The issue is that J.K. Rowling does it poorly. Instead of the problem being slavery in itself, the problem seen through the eyes of the narrator and his friends is that Hermione Granger’s advocacy is uncultured and annoying. 

When the series comes to its end, its closing sentence is, “All is well.” 

Except, all is not well. Rowling fails to wrap up critical issues in the series, such as the house-elf system. After Voldemort’s defeat, there is no substantial change in the wizarding world. Everything goes back to the way it was––the only difference is that Voldemort and the Death Eaters are gone. 

Like many beloved childhood series, it’s easy to see the holes in the tapestry the older you get. Often, we can ignore them and enjoy our favorite childhood books.

With “Harry Potter,” the problems extend beyond problematic worldbuilding and into, well, the real world. 

There are arguments to be made about separating art from the artists. These discussions are hard and long and are also a very personal decision, since many of these pieces of work lie close to our hearts. 

Personally, I still love “Harry Potter.” But I don’t think I can ever read the books without having a sour taste on my tongue. Maybe that’s for the better, though, as I’ve had the emotional and intellectual growth to take a deeper, more critical look at my favorite pieces of work.