Alyssa Rosenberg of The Atlantic recently ranted about overly idealized relationships and a lack of intimate adult sex scenes in the Harry Potter series, accusing J.K. Rowling of being “really awful at writing about adult sexual and romantic relationships.” Her first complaint is that everyone in the books ends up with their first love, avoiding the hardships and dating cycles those of us in real life are forced to endure. She then complains that Rowling doesn’t give readers enough intimate details involving adult sexual relationships — the Weasleys are too preoccupied with their children, the Potters’ relationship is too idealized, Lupin isn’t sexual enough, and a description of Fleur Delacour’s married life is lacking. She finishes her critique by noting that Hogwarts is lacking a sex ed course.
And what Rosenberg is obviously lacking is the ability to see Harry Potter for what it is: A story about young wizards! I mean, sex ed at Hogwarts? Who cares! The story isn’t about pregnancy prevention. It’s about magic-filled adventure! It’s not a commentary on the struggles relationships bring, and it’s not meant to offer a view into the sexual intimacies of adults. I mean, hello — this was a book initially targeted at kids. Adults only started reading it because it was so darn brilliant! Rowling has created a story so exciting it doesn’t need to be layered with complex love stories (thank god). I mean, would we really want to read about the details of a married wizard couple’s love life when we can experience a battle scene with Voldemort? I think not.
And, by the way, love and relationships do factor into the Harry Potter plot: Harry, Ron, and Hermione each have their own adolescent crushes to deal with. I would argue that Rowling incorporates the perfect amount of awkward teenage love and sexuality in her story line. However, I really couldn’t care less about Lupin’s dwindling libido.