Harry potter and Romilda Vane

So I’ve got a real issue with the “love potions” found in the Harry Potter universe. In book six we find that at Fred and George’s shop they sell love potions to kids, for some reason only the girls are interested. Romilda Vane apparently buys some and tries to drug Harry with them only accidently drugging Ron with “hilarious” results. Here is my problem, why is it those love potions are legal? The book makes it clear they don’t create love but rather an obsession in the victim. They’re basically rape drugs and seem to me to be on the same level as the imperious curse. Seriously Romilda should have been thrown out of Hogwarts and possibly sent to Azkaban for her crimes. Had Draco Malfoy slipped Hermione one I’m sure the fall out would have been much worse.

This is a universe where no one bats an eyelid when teenagers are expected to get past dragons, where there exist soul-sucking creatures, who guard a school, where schoolkids are given lethal weapons (aka “wands”) to carry at all times and instructions on how to bets use them…and that is what you find unacceptable?

Yes, anything that removes free-will must be considered inherently evil.

I find the forgetfulness charm and the false memory charm rather chilling as well as they strike directly at what I consider to be the deepest part of a person’s innate being.

My take is that they don’t “remove free will” any more than normal teenage hormones do. Think of the effect of using a love potion as similar to the effect of showing some cleavage, only focused on just one person.

Because it’s ok for girls to rape boys but not ok for boys to rape girls, at least to JK.

How exactly is free will maintained by getting kissed by a dementor or being turned into a canary or a ferret?

Ehh, I think the effect is supposed to be far stronger than that. Ron was completely obsessed with Romilda after he was dosed. It’s been a while since I read the books, but I recall Harry having to restrain him (or at least trick him) to prevent him from hurting himself or throwing himself at Romilda.

Again, I can’t remember the book, but I seem to recall that the love potion was illegal or at least illegally obtained. It’s entirely possible that Romilda may have been expelled or charged if something bad had happened to Ron because of the potion (ignoring the mostly unrelated poisoning that followed). As it was, they probably confiscated it from her, gave her a reprimand, and chalked it up to kids being kids.

Recall that Voldemort was conceived while his father was under the effects of a love potion. The book did not suggest that such behavior was acceptable. The book seems to make a distinction based on consequences. Ron just got a little love sick for a bit, then was cured; no harm done. Had Romilda had her way with him or Harry, I suspect that the book would have treated it far more seriously.

If I recall correctly, the book states that love potions get stronger as they age. The dosed chocolates had been hanging around since Christmas. Had Ron eaten them at that time, he probably would have been just garden-variety horny, not obsessed.

Note that love potions are in fact banned at Hogwarts. The Weasley twins, for whom strict adherence to the law is, shall we say, not a high priority, have included as part of their delivery service the misrepresentation of such potions as permitted cosmetics or some such.

As for why they’re legal, plenty of things both in the Rowling universe and the real world are legal that minors aren’t allowed to have or use. Nowhere do we see any indication that using a love potion on an unwilling or unsuspecting victim is legal or socially condoned.

If we want to fanwank the issue, we might imagine that responsible modern wizards and witches use love potions only as part of consensual romantic activities to heighten amorous feelings, the way many couples in our world get drunk or stoned together to spice up their sexytimes.

The fact that love potions are known to the non-magical community primarily as sinister devices for sexual coercion is probably just another manifestation of the traditional ignorance, distrust and fear of magic outside the magical community. There, how’s that for a rationalization?

(As for why only girls seem interested in them, recollect that Rowling’s universe mostly preserves the real world’s continuance of traditional sexism and culturally enforced gender roles in many aspects of life. Love potions are packaged in “girly” colors and marketed to girls, so most boys would consider it “girly” to take any interest in them.)

See above. Also, note that there’s a major difference between a curse that makes the victim completely subject to somebody else’s will in all respects indefinitely (unless they have unusual strength of will to resist the curse or it’s lifted by somebody else), and an enchantment that makes them temporarily infatuated with another person but still under their own control in other matters.

And besides all the overdose/increased potency past expiration date issues, it’s probably fair to infer that teenage Ron is a very receptive subject to the effects of love potion. Presumably somebody less susceptible might not have exhibited such pronounced symptoms.

Keep in mind that Ron was anxious to meet Romilda and thought she was pretty. He was acting silly, but at no point was it implied that he was ready to run off and have sex with Romilda under the affects of the drug.

Harry wanted to save Ron some embarrassment. Ron was dating Lavender at the time as well. Harry was just trying to do his mate a solid to protect him from some silliness with girls.

Ron did punch Harry but I don’t remember any restraining in the book. Harry tricked Ron. Ron goes along with Harry to the professor’s room.

There are different love potions in JK’s world. There was nothing to imply that the love potion sold at WWW is the same potency as the one that produced Tom Riddle.

The first one isn’t, which is why it is evil and dementors are evil. Turning someone crazy is definitely, 100% evil.

The second one is more nuanced. Obviously, if they choose to change or be changed into an animal, that’s free will, and not evil. And if you tranform them against their will for your own amusement, that is evil. If you do it like as a way to save them for a bit, you could argue that it’s okay, the same way that you can knock someone down if you’re saving them from an explosion or something.

The main difference is that, once transformed, the person retains free will. They aren’t being mind controlled from there. They don’t turn stupid or anything.

And I do hate these “not as bad as” arguments. Especially when they bring in the central conceit of the work. If you pay attention, the children aren’t in any real danger–save for when they are fighting Voldemort. No one dies except by the hand of evil–and they’re doing their very best to get rid of that evil.

But apparently the law does in some circumstances permit criminals to be subjected to the Dementor’s Kiss. I’m not arguing that because it’s the law it can’t still be evil, but it’s clearly not “definitely, 100%” forbidden.

As for the OP, I do kinda have to agree. Even if all it does is increase your desire, that’s still drugging someone without their consent. And while maybe they can be enjoyed in consensual relationships, that does not appear to be how they are marketed. Girls are told it will get their crush to fall for them.

I do think it probably isn’t a real love potion. Those are almost certainly illegal, and the recipe only known via oral transmission through certain less that good people. But that doesn’t make use of them okay, either.

I mean, alcohol isn’t a real love potion, but you would look badly on someone who spiked a girl’s drink to get into her panties, now wouldn’t you?

Rowlings a woman. She is more comfortable with a female perspective. While she manages to avoid stereotypical gender roles, she does not do so when she writes of romance. And it shows.

And Azkaban does a lot worse. Both are indeed quite evil. Having them as guards is one thing–as long as you keep them far enough away. Letting them steal all their happy thoughts? That’s torture.

But I can at least understand why a society might allow such evil things to happen to criminals. It’s not right, but it’s understandable. A lot of people in the real world want prisoners to be raped.

It is a little odd that love potions are treated so lightly in this universe–like something a good little girl might even want to use. It makes sense in our universe, since love potions don’t work. But, in their universe, why aren’t they treated like date rape drugs?

Snape killed Dumbledore.

:confused: Where do you get the idea that Rowling “avoids stereotypical gender roles” in non-romance situations? That’s totally not true, as shown by thousands of examples.

To name but a few: Teachers at Hogwarts call students by their last names if male but “Miss [lastname]” if female. Mr. Weasley has a job outside the home, Mrs. Weasley doesn’t. A group of wizards at the World Cup is described as sitting in dignified discussion, whereas a group of witches is “gossiping happily”. The Leaky Cauldron’s patrons include venerable wizards arguing over abstruse articles in Transfiguration Today and witches “up from the country for shopping”. Even the Hogwarts founders are immortalized in song as being “brave” or “cunning” if male and “lovely” or “kind” or “wise” if female.

Rowling is accurately portraying the common social background of both the wizarding and actual modern worlds, in which women currently have total nominal (and a lot of actual) equality with men in terms of opportunity and achievement (and it’s assumed that such equality in the wizarding world long pre-dates its equivalent in the Muggle world), but there are still a lot of cultural assumptions about gender differences and gender roles. I don’t see why or how a male author would necessarily have portrayed that background any differently.

See my above fanwank about the actual permitted uses of love potions being strictly consensual in nature. We prejudiced Muggles, of course, naturally leap to the conclusion that those horrible witches must be doing something bad. :wink:

Spoiler alert :eek: :smiley: But seriously they make it clear that Snape killing Dumbledore was a form of assisted suicide rather than murder.